It was a bit of a surprise when forward Sven Andrighetto bolted for Europe last summer. The 27-year-old had shown flashes of great ability over the years, and while he failed to score consistently, he still had developed into a serviceable depth forward. Andrighetto had recorded 83 points in 216 NHL games with Montreal and Colorado and had played in a career-high 64 games in 2018-19. Yet, when the Avalanche declined to extend him a qualifying offer, Andrighetto left North America entirely, signing a two-year deal with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. A year later, he clearly has no regrets. Andrighetto has made a major career decision that puts a future NHL career in doubt. The ZSC Lions of the Swiss NLA, the same club who Andrighetto played for during his early developmental years, announced that they have brought their homegrown product back on a stunning five-year deal. The final year of Andrighetto’s deal with Omsk has been terminated and he is now under contract with ZSC through the 2024-25 season. Should he play out that entire contract, Andrighetto would be well into his 30’s by the next time he is a free agent. While he has the potential to put up big numbers with the Lions, filling the shoes of the departed Pius Suter under the tutelage of head coach Rickard Gronberg, it may not be enough to drum up interest in a 32-year-old who is six years removed from NHL action. If Andrighetto is to play in the NHL again, it would likely mean he has to break his contract with his hometown club to return within the next five years. That seems unlikely at this point, which could mean we have seen the last of a talented, capable forward in the NHL ranks.
- The same goes for NHL veteran Patrik Berglund. Hinted at earlier this month with reports that he was negotiating with the SHL’s Brynas IF, Berglund seemingly had no intention of a return to the NHL this off-season after abandoning the Buffalo Sabres midway through the 2018-19 season. That has now been confirmed, as Berglund has signed a two-year deal with Brynas per a team release. Berglund, 32, spent this year with Djurgardens IF and found great success; the long-time St. Louis Blue recorded 31 points in 49 games for one of the best per-game scoring seasons of his pro career. He now moves to Brynas, who did not make the SHL playoffs this year despite the efforts of star forward Anton Rodin. The team could desperately use some veteran leadership and Berglund hopes that he can fill that role and that he and Rodin can turn the team back into a contender. With his efforts clearly focused on making an impact at home in Sweden, Berglund is unlikely to be back in the NHL again.
- A wild ride continues for defenseman Joe Morrow. Morrow, 27, who earned a contract extension and 41 games with the Winnipeg Jets just two years ago, has been in a whirlwind ever since. Morrow was unable to find an NHL contract last off-season and attended training camp with the New York Rangers, only to earn a contract offer from the rival New Jersey Devils. However, after months with the Devils without seeing any NHL action, Morrow’s contract was terminated and he departed for the KHL, signing a two-year deal with Dynamo Minsk. This was amazingly the first multi-year deal of Morrow’s pro career since his entry-level deal had expired and it looked like Minsk might be a good place for the veteran to rebuild his stock as a top player for the club. Instead, Morrow was a bust in Minsk, managing just three assists and a -8 rating in 22 games. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the two sides have now gone their separate ways, with the second year of Morrow’s contract terminated according to the team. What’s next for the veteran defenseman remains a mystery at this point.
Ordinarily, Zach, the phrase “stunning five-year deal” isn’t associated with the vaunted European Tour. It truly is stunning. Seems to happen more with the older NHL vets, more than somebody still in his prime.