The wallet of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Markus Niemelainen is a little lighter today. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced today that Niemelainen has been fined $2043.75 for cross-checking, the maximum fine allowed under the terms of the CBA. The incident in question occurred during the Oilers’ match-up with the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Niemelainen cross-checked Jets forward and fellow Finn Kristian Vesalainen in the third period as he cut toward the net on a scoring chance. Despite what in retrospect was an obvious and vicious cross-check to Vesalainen’s face, no penalty was called on the play. Niemelainen is somewhat fortunate to have escaped with only a fine in this situation.
- Following multiple PTO’s with the AHL’s Belleville Senators this season, including suiting up for 11 games, veteran defenseman Cody Goloubef finally has a contract – except it isn’t with Belleville nor with Ottawa. Instead, the 32-year-old has signed a contract with SC Bern of the Swiss National League for the remainder of the season. Goloubef undoubtedly had his sights set on a return to Ottawa, having played in 29 games with the club over the last three seasons, but for whatever reason that did not come to fruition. An alternate captain for Belleville last season, Goloubef clearly still has strong ties to the Senators organization but it is unknown if he was offered a contract with the AHL Sens and opted to go to Switzerland instead. Bern gains a two-way defender with 160 NHL games to his credit as they fight to earn a playoff berth.
- The nearer to the trade deadline, the more rumors begin to emerge and, of course, not all rumors are grounded in truth. Two such whispers that were put to rest this weekend revolved around Ottawa Senators defenseman Artem Zub and Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Hagel. While both the Sens and the Hawks are struggling again this season expect to be sellers at the deadline, they aren’t eager to move cost-controlled assets that are actually contributing on a regular basis. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports rather definitively that Zub will not be moved this season, which makes perfect sense. The 26-year-old is signed through next season at $2.5MM and while he will be an unrestricted free agent at that time, possibly making him a deadline target next season, the Senators don’t want to move on too quickly from a blue liner playing top pair minutes while also leading the team in plus/minus. In Chicago, the Blackhawks have even less reason to trade young winger Hagel, signed on for just $1.5MM AAV for two more years and still a restricted free agent after that. The 23-year-old is fourth on the team in scoring and second in goals, shooting percentage, and Corsi. While Chicago is understandably receiving interest in Hagel, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus reports that they have zero interest in moving him.