There are just eight teams left alive in the NHL postseason and by this time next week that number could be down to four. The off-season has arrived for most, with all other major hockey leagues long since wrapped up. While many will wait for the NHL off-season to officially begin before making a decision on their future, other are willing to make a decision right away. Here are some notable moves from the latter group:
- As previously suggested, Joakim Nordstrom has indeed signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. The club officially announced a one-year contract with the NHL veteran on Friday. While Nordstrom has never been a scoring threat in the NHL, his early commitment overseas is at least slightly suprising. The two-way forward clearly provides value, as evidenced by six straight seasons of starting at least two-thirds of his teams’ games across stops in Carolina, Boston, and Calgary. A solid checker and shot blocker, Nordstrom is a good defensive presence as a bottom-six forward, but does not provide much upside. Perhaps in Russia he will be able to do more offensively and play a more balanced game. He will be surrounded by plenty of talent with CSKA, a KHL juggernaut.
- Another forward heading to Europe is Tanner MacMaster. The former Quinnipiac University standout has played well in the AHL over the past three years, including playing a top-six role with 30 points for a loaded Toronto Marlies team last season, but has not earned an entry-level contract. He will look to Sweden for a bigger role and more substantial contract after spending this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. MODO of the Swedish second-tier Allsvenskan has announced a one-year deal with MacMaster, who they label as a top-six center for the club.
- After a year off in 2020-21, former NHL enforcer Luke Gazdic has decided to make the change permanent. The veteran of 11 pro seasons has announced his retirement from the game. Gazdic will be remembered most for his three seasons as a fixture on the Edmonton Oilers’ checking line, though he developed into a leader in the AHL as well, spending his final two seasons with the San Diego Gulls.
- Also calling it quits after a long pro career is longtime Cleveland Monsters goaltender Brad Thiessen. Thiessen, 35, has announced his retirement after twelve years at the pro level. Thiessen initially left Northeastern University early in 2009, signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a highly sought-after free agent. Thiessen played three seasons with the Penguins, including seeing action in five NHL games, and another with the Calgary Flames, but since 2015-16 has been with AHL Cleveland. Thiessen helped to develop Columbus Blue Jackets netminders Joonas Korpisalo and Matiss Kivlenieks while continually providing reliable play and even leading the club to a Calder Cup.