The final full week of January has come to an end with quite a bit of big news across the NHL. We’ll recap those in our key stories.
Done For The Year…Again: When the shoulder injury to Senators center Josh Norris was initially diagnosed, he was ruled out for the season. However, after getting a second opinion, they opted for rehab and he was able to return to the lineup last week. Unfortunately, the injury returned in just his third game back and Norris has once again been ruled as done for the year. This time, the designation will stick as he will be undergoing surgery. Suffice it to say, the first season of his eight-year, $63.6MM contract didn’t go as planned as his season ends with just two goals and an assist in a total of eight games played.
Trade Candidate Injured: Going back to last season, there has been an expectation that the Coyotes would move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere by this trade deadline. Interested teams have likely seen the last of him in the desert as the 29-year-old suffered an upper-body injury that will keep him out four-to-six weeks. On the long end of the timeline, he might not be ready by March 3rd (but should be soon after). The pending unrestricted free agent is having another nice season offensively with nine goals and 20 assists in 48 games and assuming Arizona is willing to retain the maximum 50% on his contract, he’d be a nice addition for several playoff-bound squads at a prorated $2.25MM AAV.
Bridge For Kuzmenko: Generally speaking, a player entering the UFA market at 27 isn’t looking for a short-term bridge contract. But Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko isn’t a typical UFA as he’s in the midst of his first NHL season so his preference was to not sign a long-term agreement. In the end, he got his wish as the two sides agreed to a two-year, $11MM extension that will kick in next season and contains a 12-team no-trade clause. It has been a successful first season in North America for Kuzmenko as he has 22 goals and 21 assists in 48 games, good for fifth on the team in scoring. The agreement keeps him with Vancouver for at least a little while longer while giving him a shot at testing the open market in 2025 when he’ll be more established at the top level.
More Injuries: Still with Vancouver, Ilya Mikheyev’s first season with them has come to an end as he will undergo season-ending knee surgery to fix an ACL injury. The winger actually suffered the injury back in the preseason but only missed a handful of games as he was able to play through it. Mikheyev’s year comes to an end with 13 goals and 15 assists in 46 games. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs will be without their top center for at least three weeks as Auston Matthews is out with a knee sprain that will also keep him out of the upcoming All-Star Game. While his numbers are down this season, Matthews still has 25 goals and 28 assists in 47 games, his fifth straight year of averaging over a point per game.
Sharks-Avalanche Trade: The Sharks and Avalanche made a four-player swap with Colorado acquiring blueliner Ryan Merkley and winger Matt Nieto in exchange for winger Martin Kaut and defenseman/winger Jacob MacDonald. Merkley and Kaut are 2018 first-round picks that haven’t panned out with their original clubs and will look to rebuild their value elsewhere. MacDonald is a depth defender on a cheap two-way deal for a couple of seasons which holds some value for San Jose who doesn’t have a lot of cap flexibility while Nieto gives Colorado some reliable depth scoring and a player who is already familiar with playing there having previously spent parts of four seasons with the Avs.
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