- Devils prospect Aarne Talvitie has decided to go back overseas as TPS of the Finnish SM-liiga announced that they’ve signed the forward to a two-year contract. The 24-year-old showed some promise at Penn State after being drafted and was quite effective at the World Juniors in 2020. However, that didn’t translate to much success in the pros as he followed up a 12-goal, 24-point rookie campaign with a three-goal, 14-point sophomore season in 2022-23, resulting in him looking to head back home. New Jersey can still retain Talvitie’s RFA rights with a qualifying offer in June and he isn’t UFA-eligible until 2026, they might still do so.
Dougie Hamilton Undergoes Wrist Surgery
- New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton wasn’t 100% when his team bowed out to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Second Round, and today, The Fourth Period’s James Nichols reports Hamilton had surgery to repair his right wrist. Per Nichols, Hamilton is expected to be ready for the start of the 2023-24 season, although he doesn’t offer clarity on whether this affects his availability for training camp. The 29-year-old is entering the third season of a seven-year, $63MM contract signed with the Devils in 2021.
Snapshots: Söderberg, Mock Draft, Stadium Series
The most transformative offseason in PHF history continued this morning, with the Connecticut Whale making a big splash in the goalie market. Goalie Emma Söderberg, a finalist for the 2022-23 IIHF Female Player of the Year award, has signed a two-year contract with the team, per an announcement Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Swede was among NCAA leaders this past season, recording a .938 save percentage and 12 shutouts in 33 appearances with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She also shined for Sweden at the Women’s World Championship, posting a .924 save percentage and a 2-3-0 record in five appearances. It’s a shrewd acquisition for Connecticut, which has finished in the league’s top three in the past three seasons. Söderberg’s services will help them remain in contention as they still seek to earn their first Isobel Cup.
Söderberg also represented Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- Two of the top public scouts around, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler and Corey Pronman, have released a second two-round mock ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft. While the first two selections are apparent, Wheeler has the Columbus Blue Jackets using their third overall pick on American center Will Smith, letting the consensus no. 1 European forward, Leo Carlsson, slip to the San Jose Sharks at fourth overall. The best overseas forward based on talent alone is Russian winger Matvei Michkov, but the geopolitical climate and his well-reported contract situation (he’s obligated to his Russian team through 2026) lower his draft position. Pronman has Michkov falling to the Washington Capitals at eighth overall.
- Next season’s Stadium Series game could actually be two, says The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta. Per his report, the 2024 edition will entail back-to-back days in February at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, first between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, followed by a New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers matchup. If confirmed, it will be the second outdoor appearance for the Devils and Islanders, the fifth for the Rangers, and the sixth for the Flyers.
List Of NHL Prospects Attending 2023 Memorial Cup
After the OHL’s Peterborough Petes and the QMJHL’s Québec Remparts took home their respective league championships yesterday, the field for the 2023 Memorial Cup is set. They’ll be joined by two WHL teams – the league champion Seattle Thunderbirds and the host team Kamloops Blazers – on their quest to capture the pinnacle of North American junior hockey.
Pitting best against best at the U21 level from across the continent, the tournament also gives NHL-drafted prospects an early taste of high-pressure hockey on a larger stage than regular junior play. If you’re looking to see your favorite team’s prospects have big performances at this tournament, which runs from May 26 to June 4, we’re providing a comprehensive list of NHL-affiliated prospects attending the tournament.
There will be a new champion this year after last year’s winner, the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, lost to the Gatineau Olympiques in five games in their first-round series in the QMJHL playoffs. Chicago and Dallas lead the way with three representatives at the tournament, while nine teams (Boston, Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Tampa Bay) don’t have any prospects playing this year.
C Nathan Gaucher (Québec, 2022 22nd overall)
LD Olen Zellweger (Kamloops, 2021 34th overall)
RW Dylan Guenther (Seattle, 2021 9th overall)
LD Jérémy Langlois (Québec, 2022 94th overall)
RD Vsevolod Komarov (Québec, 2022 134th overall)
LW Lucas Ciona (Seattle, 2021 173rd overall)
C Justin Robidas (Québec, 2021 147th overall)
LD Kevin Korchinski (Seattle, 2022 7th overall)
LD Nolan Allan (Seattle, 2021 32nd overall)
C Colton Dach (Seattle, 2021 62nd overall)
Columbus Blue Jackets
LW James Malatesta (Québec, 2021 133rd overall)
C Logan Stankoven (Kamloops, 2021 47th overall)
RD Gavin White (Peterborough, 2022 115th overall)
RW Matthew Seminoff (Kamloops, 2022 179th overall)
Detroit Red Wings
LD Evan Nause (Québec, 2021 56th overall)
Los Angeles Kings
C Caedan Bankier (Kamloops, 2021 86th overall)
RD Kyle Masters (Kamloops, 2021 118th overall)
C Owen Beck (Peterborough, 2022 33rd overall)
C Jared Davidson (Seattle, 2022 130th overall)
LW Reid Schaefer (Seattle, 2022 32nd overall)
RD Luke Prokop (Seattle, 2020 73rd overall)
New Jersey Devils
RW Chase Stillman (Peterborough, 2021 29th overall)
New York Islanders
LW Daylan Kuefler (Kamloops, 2022 174th overall)
New York Rangers
LW Brennan Othmann (Peterborough, 2021 16th overall)
LD Brian Zanetti (Peterborough, 2021 110th overall)
C Jon-Randall Avon (Peterborough, undrafted)
San Jose Sharks
C Tucker Robertson (Peterborough, 2022 123rd overall)
St. Louis Blues
C Zachary Bolduc (Québec, 2021 17th overall)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
C Fraser Minten (Kamloops, 2022 38th overall)
C Connor Lockhart (Peterborough, 2021 178th overall)
Vegas Golden Knights
C Jordan Gustafson (Seattle, 2022 79th overall)
RW Jakub Demek (Kamloops, 2021 128th overall)
C Ryan Hofer (Kamloops, 2022 181st overall)
C Brad Lambert (Seattle, 2022 30th overall)
Robbie Russo And Joseph Gambardella Sign With AHL Utica
Defenseman Robbie Russo and forward Joseph Gambardella were on two-way deals with the Devils this season and were slated to hit the open market this summer. However, they’ll remain with New Jersey’s farm team in Utica next season as the Comets announced that they’ve signed Gambardella to a two-year contract and Russo to a one-year pact.
Gambardella spent the last two seasons on a two-way deal with New Jersey but didn’t see any NHL action despite being relatively productive with the Comets. The 29-year-old had 35 points in 59 AHL contests this season, his second-highest AHL point total. His benchmark was 48 set with Bakersfield back in 2018-19 which is also the only campaign that Gambardella saw NHL action, picking up three assists in 15 contests with Edmonton.
As for Russo, he also is wrapping up a two-year, two-way deal with the Devils. The 30-year-old picked up 28 points in 72 games during the regular season while adding four helpers in six playoff contests but wasn’t able to earn a recall. He last saw NHL action back in 2016-17 with Detroit but is a veteran of 500 AHL appearances and should continue to be a mentor to New Jersey’s young blueline prospects.
Both players will technically remain NHL unrestricted free agents once the market opens up in July but it’s quite unlikely that they’ll receive an NHL contract. Instead, they’ll remain in the minors and hope to have their agreements converted at some point next season if injuries arise while New Jersey will have a couple of open contract slots that could be filled by someone else this summer.
Latest On Jesper Bratt, Timo Meier
New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has achieved a crucial step in a long rebuilding process: a return to relevancy and a promising postseason showing. Now, he has to keep them there.
Considering the Devils have 13 expiring contracts on their NHL roster (not including injured goalie Jonathan Bernier), this offseason isn’t just about staying the course for Fitzgerald and the Devils. The signings he makes this summer will largely dictate what the team’s future holds as their spending, and eventually, the salary cap, increases.
There are no priority items this offseason larger for Fitzgerald than the team’s most coveted restricted free agents: Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier. Speaking to reporters, including The Fourth Period’s James Nichols, at the Devils’ locker clean-out day yesterday, Fitzgerald offered updates on the status of Bratt’s and Meier’s pending extensions.
In regards to Bratt, Fitzgerald gave an expansive answer:
We paused the (extension) talks prior to the playoffs, which I think was the right thing to do. There was there’s definitely progression. For sure. There’s definitely a framework of a deal to be done long term if Jesper wants that. Jesper knows exactly what that framework looks like. I know Jesper wants to be a Devil long-term and so do we. He had a tremendous year. Nobody doubted he wouldn’t. He’s part of the fabric here, part of the core. We want to get this done. I don’t anticipate contentious negotiation. I think his agent knows where we’re at. So we’ll probably put the ball back in his court and we’ll touch base here soon. I haven’t yet. Like I said earlier, this Game 5 loss is still fresh.”
Coming off back-to-back 70-point seasons, contract talks surrounding the 24-year-old Bratt are much more positive than this time last season. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights for the second straight summer, eventually signing a one-year, $5.45MM deal in August 2022 after an arbitration filing.
His next cap hit is likely to come in well north of that and could easily hover near the $8MM mark on a long-term deal, which both Fitzgerald and Bratt allude to as a possibility. Regardless of the final cap hit, it doesn’t appear the Devils and Bratt are likely to hit many snags in the road on their way toward an extension.
The vibes are different around a potential commitment for Meier, who wasn’t as effective as the team hoped after acquiring him late in the season from the San Jose Sharks. The intrigue is still there – it’s not often you have a free agent with three 30-goal seasons under his belt still under team control. But the 26-year-old will undoubtedly be looking for a hefty commitment, especially after posting near point-per-game numbers over the past two seasons on a struggling Sharks squad.
Fitzgerald said contract talks with Meier haven’t begun in earnest yet but plans to touch base with Meier’s agent, Claude Lemieux, about an extension after the team wraps up its pre-draft scouting meetings this week.
New Jersey will likely prioritize getting the framework for an extension finalized with Meier as soon as possible. If it comes to a worst-case scenario, Meier is due a qualifying offer of $10MM on a one-year contract, which would both dig into New Jersey’s cap space next season and walk him right to unrestricted free agency in 2024.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Andrew Brunette Under Consideration For Anaheim's Coaching Vacancy
The Ducks have had a head coaching vacancy since the start of the offseason when it was revealed that Dallas Eakins wouldn’t be back after spending four years with the team. GM Pat Verbeek is known to be casting a wide net as he looks to make his first NHL head coaching hire but there haven’t been many names connected to them thus far. However, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports (Twitter link) that Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette, Maple Leafs assistant Spencer Carbery, and Penguins assistant Mike Vellucci are under consideration for the spot.
Afternoon Notes: Ruff, Teräväinen, Kase
Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com tweeted today that New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerard said that head coach Lindy Ruff is still the right coach for the Devils. It’s no surprise that Fitzgerard would speak of Ruff so highly as the veteran coach just led New Jersey to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and their first playoff series win since the club lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012. The Devils improved dramatically this season under Ruff as they went from 14th in the Eastern Conference to 3rd this season and won 52 games this year nearly doubling their 27 wins from 2021-22.
There was speculation around the future of the 63-year-old Ruff, but Fitzgerard put those whispers to bed today saying, “”He’s still the right coach. We deserve that, we deserve him.” In his three seasons with New Jersey Ruff has compiled a 98-98-24 record with just the one playoff appearance. While that record isn’t great, it’s hard to argue with this year’s results. The Devils look to be at the beginning of what could be a very special run of hockey these next few years and it appears from the outside as though the Devils stars enjoy playing for Lindy. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of rope Ruff gets next season if the Devils were to stutter out of the gate.
In other afternoon notes:
- Carolina Hurricanes reporter Walt Ruff tweeted today that head coach Rod Brind’Amour commented on the status of injured forward Teuvo Teräväinen saying that he is hopeful that the forward will be able to dress tomorrow night for game 1. Brind’Amour added that Carolina will likely decide on the 28-year-old after the team’s morning skate tomorrow. Teräväinen has been pointless in two games in these playoffs but would provide a jolt to an already strong Hurricanes forward group.
- Tyler Madarasz of NHL Morning Skate tweeted that he sat down with Carolina general manager Don Waddell today and the long-time NHL executive discussed Ondrej Kase. Waddell said that Kase is still dealing with issues from concussions and to this day doesn’t feel right. He mentioned that Kase may be forced to call it a career, which would be a real shame for a young player with so much career left in him. Kase dressed in just one game for Carolina this season but is just a year removed from putting up 14 goals and 13 assists in 50 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed the potential to be a perennial 20-goal scorer in Anaheim just a few seasons ago, but sadly it looks as though his career could be coming to an end.
Latest On Pittsburgh Penguins Front Office Search
The Pittsburgh Penguins are in for a busy offseason, replacing key front-office fixtures after missing the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. In addition to yesterday’s reporting on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ intention to hire two separate people for the roles of general manager and president of hockey operations, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun expanded in detail today on the current status of Pittsburgh’s search to fill their vacant roles.
LeBrun relayed previously corroborated reports from league sources that the Penguins have conducted initial Zoom interviews with potential candidates for the general manager role, with this number set at around a dozen. From this group, Pittsburgh has begun the process of narrowing down individuals for in-person second-round interviews for the job.
LeBrun has now confirmed seven individuals who were part of that complement of about 12. Among them is Los Angeles Kings senior advisor Marc Bergevin, Carolina Hurricanes assistant general manager Eric Tulsky, St. Louis Blues VP of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli, Buffalo Sabres associate general manager Jason Karmanos, and three members of the New Jersey Devils organization: senior vice president and assistant general manager Dan MacKinnon, assistant general manager Kate Madigan, and director of player development Meghan Duggan. There are two other likely candidates that LeBrun could not confirm, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Mathieu Darche and Seattle Kraken assistant general manager Jason Botterill, who previously held the same role with Pittsburgh.
Some candidates from the first round of interviews were informed today that they are no longer being considered for the positions, LeBrun said.
Also in line with previous reporting, LeBrun mentioned the Penguins expressed interest in including Brad Treliving, the former general manager of the Calgary Flames, in their first round of interviews. However, the Flames denied permission, given Treliving’s expiring contract with the team legally expires on June 30.
As for a president of hockey operations, LeBrun also linked the Penguins to former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka. Chayka held his post with the Coyotes from May 2016 to July 2020, when he abruptly resigned before the start of the delayed Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL later suspended Chayka from working in the league for the entire 2021 calendar year after he pursued other league opportunities while still under contract with Arizona. It also later came to light that, under Chayka, the Coyotes had held an illegal private scouting combine for eligible draft prospects in direct violation of league rules, resulting in multiple pick forfeitures for Arizona.
Surprisingly, the reason for the uncertainty about Chayka’s potential involvement with the Penguins isn’t due to his concerning NHL history – rather, LeBrun reports Chayka could have additional NHL opportunities available to him outside of Pittsburgh.
New Jersey Devils Extend Timur Ibragimov On AHL Contract
New Jersey Devils prospect Timur Ibragimov will be staying in the organization next season on an AHL contract. The Utica Comets announced today they’ve reached a one-year agreement with Ibragimov, who New Jersey acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Timo Meier trade.
San Jose had selected Ibragimov, 22, in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Draft. The Russian winger has split the last two seasons between the AHL and ECHL, trying to acclimate his offensive game to North American ice.
Some extended ECHL time with the Wichita Thunder seemed to help Ibragimov this season, recording 32 points in 53 games there. While they aren’t earth-shattering numbers by any means, and likely why he didn’t earn an NHL contract with the Devils this offseason, he did have six points in 15 games with the Comets after the trade from San Jose.
Ibragimov also has two years of professional experience overseas under his belt, with the Russian minor league VHL in 2019-20 and a 51-game loan to TPS in the Finnish Liiga in 2020-21. With TPS, he recorded 14 points in 51 games, eventually losing in the league final.
He boasts decent size at six feet and 201 pounds, but he’ll need to maintain the scoring pace he displayed near the end of the season in Utica to avoid another ECHL demotion, especially as he’s not signed to an NHL contract.