Even more reason to believe that last year’s backup, Louis Domingue, is on the trade block? After signing his replacement, Curtis McElhinney, the Tampa Bay Lightning have added two more goalies to the mix in Scott Wedgewood and Spencer Martin. The team has also signed forward Chris Mueller. The trio have all agreed to one-year, two-way contracts.
Several teams have fortified their depth in net before the NHL Trade Deadline, which also acts as a deadline for players to sign and be postseason-eligible. The New York Islanders have signed Jeremy Smith, the Florida Panthers have signed Chris Driedger, and the Buffalo Sabres have signed Adam Wilcox. All three deals are identical: two-way contracts worth the minimum $650K at the NHL level for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. The trio of keepers will need to clear waivers today.
Smith’s signing is the most significant, as the Islanders have all but clinched a playoff spot this season. The 29-year-old journeyman played in ten games for the Colorado Avalanche just two years ago and previous stops also include the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes. Smith has had several strong seasons in the AHL, including a two-year stretch with the Providence Bruins a few years back in which he was among the best keepers in the league. While the Islanders have hit the jackpot this season with outstanding performances from Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner, there was a significant lack of depth in net with third-string goalie Christopher Gibson struggling immensely this season in the AHL and having a poor track record in the NHL. With Smith signed, he is likely the new third-string should anything happen to Greiss or Lehner.
Driedger, 24, spent several years with the Ottawa Senators before signing an AHL contract with the Springfield Thunderbirds this off-season. Before the Panthers traded Michael Hutchinson away, Driedger was relegated to the ECHL with Hutchinson and Samuel Montembeault taking the AHL starts. However, he has gotten into 16 games with the Thunderbirds since and has outperformed Montembeault. The promising prospect likely remains Florida’s next man up in net, but given the injury histories of Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, it is certainly possible that both Montembeault and Driedger could see NHL action this season.
The Sabres’ signing of Wilcox is likely in response to a recent rash of injuries in net. Both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark have had injury scares lately, while young Jonas Johansson recently underwent season-ending surgery. While their postseason hopes are dwindling, it still remains a possibility for Buffalo and adding Wilcox gives them depth behind Hutton, Ullmark, and Scott Wedgewood. Wilcox, 26, is no stranger to being an emergency option; the Sabres were forced to call him up last season – again as the fourth-string option – and were pleased by a shutout performance in his lone appearance.
After 30 NHL teams played yesterday, just two take the ice tonight as the Arizona Coyotes host the Vegas Golden Knights in the day’s only action. However, that won’t stop a likely multitude of minor moves today ahead of a 13-game slate on New Year’s Eve tomorrow. Keep up with all of the transactions right here:
- The carousel at backup goalie in St. Louis continues to turn. Since the Blues lost Chad Johnson on waivers earlier this month, the team has swapped Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso several times. However, with Husso currently sidelined, it’s Binnington heading back to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, while first-year pro Evan Fitzpatrick gets the call to St. Louis, the team announced. Binnington has made two relief appearances this season, including just last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After starter Jake Allen was pulled after giving up four goals on 17 shots, Binnington surrendered two more on 13 shots. That performance may have earned him a demotion back to the minors, although the Rampage may simply need a starter today after Fitzpatrick played last night. Fitzpatrick, the Blues’ second-round pick in 2016, began the season in the ECHL and has only made two AHL appearances. However, the 20-year-old has impressed in San Antonio, allowing just two goals, which seemingly qualified him for his first NHL call-up. Whether Fitzpatrick has earned an NHL start already remains to be seen, but so far this season whoever sits behind Allen has a decent chance of seeing game action regardless.
- After acquiring Michael Hutchinson yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs have returned interim backup Kasimir Kaskisuo to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, per CapFriendly. Forward Trevor Moore will also reportedly be joining him on the short cross-town trip back to the minor league team. Both players had been on emergency recall, but will now resume their normal AHL activities. While Kaskisuo is suffering through a miserable season and was a scary sight on the Maple Leafs roster, Moore has impressed, recording 24 points in 27 games with the Marlies and two points in three games with the Leafs. Moore will likely continue to be the next man up at forward for Toronto this season.
- The Los Angeles Kings announced they have assigned forward Michael Amadio to the Ontario Reign of the AHL. Amadio has been shuttling back and forth between the two teams all year. He was recalled three days ago and has already appeared in 28 games for the Kings this season, having put up two goals and four points this season. While no corresponding move has been made, it’s possible the team will be activating goaltender Jack Campbell soon as he has made one start in a conditioning stint with Ontario.
- The Buffalo Sabres announced they have sent goaltender Scott Wedgewood to the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Wedgewood was recalled Saturday to fill in as an emergency backup when Linus Ullmark couldn’t go. However, Ulmark was ready to go during practice today.
- The Edmonton Oilers announced they have recalled forward Joseph Gambardella from the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL to fill the open forward spot which the team opened up after trading Drake Caggiula to the Chicago Blackhawks. Gambardella leads the Condors with 12 goals and 21 points in 28 games. The 25-year-old has not played in an NHL game yet.
- Winger Logan O’Connor has received his first NHL call-up as the Avalanche announced (Twitter link) that they’ve recalled him from Colorado of the AHL. The 22-year-old is in his first professional season after spending the past three years with Denver of the NCAA. O’Connor is off to a nice start in his rookie campaign with 16 points in 29 games with the Eagles.
Saturday is an extremely busy day on the NHL calendar as there are the maximum 15 games on the slate with only Columbus getting the day off. With that in mind, there is bound to be a lot of roster movement. We’ll keep tabs of those moves here.
- With winger Alex Chiasson headed for injured reserve, the Oilers announced the recall of winger Kailer Yamamoto from AHL Bakersfield. The 20-year-old has had some success in his first stint in the minors, collecting four goals and four assists in 11 games since being sent down last month. Meanwhile, the loss of Chiasson certainly stings as his 16 goals place him third on the team in that department behind only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
- The Stars have brought back winger Roope Hintz per a team release. The rookie has split the season between Dallas and Texas of the AHL and has had a fair bit of success offensively in the minors, posting 19 points in 17 games. He has held his own in the NHL as well, logging 11:41 per night in 14 contests while picking up a pair of goals and an assist.
- The Sabres announced the recall of goaltender Scott Wedgewood from AHL Rochester. He’s taking the place of goalie Linus Ullmark who missed practice on Friday due to illness. Wedgewood does have some NHL experience under his belt after playing 20 games with Arizona last year and four with New Jersey before that but Buffalo will likely call on Carter Hutton to play in Ullmark’s absence.
- Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a groin injury. Accordingly, Toronto announced the recall of goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo on an emergency basis from the AHLs Marlies. The 25-year-old has struggled this season, posting a 4.12 GAA with a .866 SV% in 11 games thus far.
- Two weeks ago, the Lightning weren’t planning to send defenseman Slater Koekkoek on a conditioning stint. They’ve had a change of heart as he has now been loaned to AHL Syracuse. The 24-year-old last played on November 19th and has been a healthy scratch since then. Koekkoek’s conditioning stint can last for up to two weeks.
- Following the injury to Thomas Chabot on Friday, the Senators announced (Twitter link) that they’ve recalled defensemen Stefan Elliott and Christian Wolanin from AHL Belleville. Ottawa had two vacant roster spots so no corresponding move needs to be made. Elliott was acquired from Pittsburgh earlier this month and has already played in two games with the Sens but has spent most of the year at the minor league level. Meanwhile, Wolanin has been quite productive in the minors with 18 points in 26 games while getting into one game with Ottawa back in late October. The Senators have also recalled forward Jack Rodewald, although it is unclear if he will play tonight. Rodewald has been a frequent call-up this season, but to this point has played in just one game for Ottawa.
- The Islanders announced (via Twitter) that winger Michael Dal Colle has been recalled from Bridgeport of the AHL. He takes the place of winger Jordan Eberle who was placed on IR retroactive to December 23rd. The 22-year-old didn’t fare too well in his first NHL stint but he has been quite productive with the Sound Tigers, averaging a point per game over 28 appearances.
- Dillon Dube is on his way back up to Calgary, as the Flames have recalled the impressive first-year pro from the AHL’s Stockton Heat. Dube began the season with the Flames, recording five points in 20 games, but since a late-November reassignment to the Heat, Dube has been a point-per-game player in the minors. Dube is expected to slot into the starting lineup right away tonight, taking the place of Michael Frolik.
- The Minnesota Wild have recalled free agent addition Matt Bartkowski for the first time this season, as the veteran defenseman will finally get back to the highest level. Bartkowski has made double-digit NHL appearances in each of the past six seasons, including an 80-game effort with the Vancouver Canucks in 2015-16. However, Bartkowski was very much a part-time player for the Calgary Flames the past two years and has even struggled to make much of a difference for the AHL’s Iowa Wild this season. However, with Nick Seeler presently sidelined, Minnesota opted to go with the experienced 30-year-old rather than one of their younger defensive options.
- The Arizona Coyotes have assigned forward Michael Bunting to the Tuscon Roadrunners of the AHL, according to AZ Sports’ Matt Layman. Bunting was recalled on Thursday and played against Los Angeles, playing 9:36 on the ice, registering only one hit. He will return to Tucscon where he has six goals and 18 points in 20 games there. Bunting was expendable with the return of Vinnie Hinostroza.
- The Vancouver Canucks have assigned forward Adam Gaudette to the Utica Comets of the AHL, according to Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal. Gaudette was recalled on Oct. 15 due to injuries and managed to stay with the team even when those players returned in a bottom-line role. The 2018 Hobey Baker award winner was averaging just 10:09 of ATOI this season and had just two goals and six points. A return to the AHL where he can get more significant ice time would be better for the young forward in his development.
- The Anaheim Ducks announced they have swapped out defenseman, recalling defenseman Andy Welinski from the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, while assigning Andrej Sustr there at the same time. Welinski last played for the Ducks in November where he played 11 games for Anaheim, posting one assist, while averaging 15:09 of ATOI. Sustr has only appeared in five games for the Ducks this season. CapFriendly adds that the Ducks also returned goaltender Kevin Boyle to San Diego. He was recalled Friday to fill in as an emergency backup while John Gibson and Ryan Miller dealt with injuries. His demotion suggests that one of them is ready to return to the active roster.
It’s a quiet Friday night in the NHL with just four games on the schedule, but many eyes will be watching the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks after yesterday’s TSN reporting. Both teams are apparently looking for upgrades, and will get a first hand look at some potential options when they meet in California. As for the rest of the league, we’ll keep track of all the minor moves right here.
- After serving as insurance last night for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gabriel Carlsson is on his way back to the minor leagues. The 21-year old has played just one game with the NHL club this season, but is a useful waiver-exempt option for them to help out whenever they have a need. Carlsson will eventually need some extended playing time with the Blue Jackets, but it doesn’t appear that is imminent.
- Matt Tennyson and Scott Wedgewood have been recalled by the Buffalo Sabres, despite the team announcing that Carter Hutton’s absence from practice yesterday was just maintenance. It’s unclear what this means for the Sabres game tomorrow night, but the team at least feels that it needs some insurance in net. Tennyson has been used in this way already this season, and now that Jake McCabe and Casey Nelson are out week-to-week he may stay with the club for a while.
- Jean-Sebastien Dea is in the NHL once again, taking the place of Dominik Simon on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster. Simon has been moved to injured reserve, while Dea returns to the team that he made his NHL debut for. After taking a quick trip to New Jersey through waivers and playing 20 games for the Devils, Dea was reclaimed by the Penguins in late November. He’s registered two points in two games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins since rejoining the organization.
- The Winnipeg Jets have activated Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov from injured reserve, while designating Andrew Copp there instead. The team will welcome two defenders back as they try to continue their pursuit of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division.
- Phil Varone has been recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers, perhaps to give the team an offensive boost after dropping last night’s game against Columbus. Varone is the reigning AHL MVP after recording 70 points last season, and is off to an even better pace this year. The 28-year old has played just 50 NHL games in his career.
- Austin Wagner is heading to the Ontario Reign of the AHL for the time being, assigned by the Los Angeles Kings today. Wagner played 18 games with the Kings this year, but now that Nikita Scherbak has been cleared to return to action he’s no longer needed.
- Riley Barber has been recalled by the Washington Capitals, giving them another option at forward for their game tomorrow evening. T.J. Oshie, who is still dealing with a concussion has been moved to injured reserve to make room. The Capitals are certainly not at full strength while Oshie and Tom Wilson remain out with head injuries, but it is to the benefit of Barber who will try to impress the coaching staff during the short stint. The 24-year old forward has just three NHL games under his belt but is working on a great start to the season in the AHL.
- Nick Paul is on his way up to the Ottawa Senators once again, already his seventh transaction of the season. The 23-year old forward is the definition of an insurance plan for the Senators so far this year, getting into six games but playing the majority of his season in the minor leagues. The 6’3″ forward has 11 points in 15 games in the AHL, but is still looking for his first goal in the NHL this year.
Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that the Edmonton Oilers have decided the price is no longer too high on Tobias Rieder, and will sign the free agent forward to a one-year contract worth $2MM. Rieder did not receive a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Kings and became an unrestricted free agent.
The deal is the optimal “prove it” contract as the Oilers aren’t risking more that $2MM to see if they can get him to have a breakout season and if it fails, they can move on with no repercussions. With Rieder’s speed, he might be a solid fit next to Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl on one of the top two lines. If he is a success, then Edmonton still gets his restricted free agent rights next season, so they can keep him in the fold. And at age 25, he’s still has potential to improve his game and fit in well with the younger core of Oilers. He also has some penalty killing experience, which can’t hurt an Edmonton team that struggled with special teams last season.
The speedy winger has always had a tremendous amount of potential and looked to be well on his way after his first three years in Arizona in which he tallied 13, 14 and 16 goals. However, he fell out of favor with Rick Tocchet and the team opted instead to send him and goaltender Scott Wedgewood to Los Angeles for backup goalie Darcy Kuemper. Rieder posted four goals and six points in 20 games after the trade, but it wasn’t enough for the Kings to give him an qualifying offer.
Among the flurry of signings this morning are a quartet of goaltenders that are likely to be third stringers with their new organizations. Here are those moves:
- The Red Wings have agreed to terms with Harri Sateri, reports Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland (Twitter link). The 28-year-old spent most of last season with Florida’s AHL affiliate in Springfield, posting a stellar .927 SV% with a 2.30 GAA in 29 games. He got into nine games with the Panthers down the stretch, going 4-4-0 with a 2.92 GAA and a .911 SV%.
- Replacing Sateri with Florida will be Michael Hutchinson, once again per Strickland on Twitter. He lost the number two spot in Winnipeg last year after they brought in Steve Mason although Mason’s frequent time on IR allowed Hutchinson to get into a handful of games with the Jets. He played in 26 games with AHL Manitoba, posting a sterling .935 SV% along with a 2.08 GAA. With 103 NHL games under his belt, the Panthers should be comfortable using him should one of Roberto Luongo or James Reimer get hurt.
- On top of adding Carter Hutton shortly, the Sabres are set to add Scott Wedgewood as well, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (via Twitter). The 25-year-old cleared waivers with New Jersey at the start of the year but was flipped to Arizona where he served as their backup for a big chunk of the season. He got into 20 games with the Coyotes where he put up a 3.45 GAA and a .893 SV% before being moved to the Kings as part of the Darcy Kuemper deal where he was once again waived and sent to the minors.
- Minnesota is set to have a competition for their number two spot as Michael Russo of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that the Wild have agreed to terms with Andrew Hammond. The 30-year-old spent most of the season with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Belleville (even after his NHL rights were moved to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene trade) but he did get into three postseason games with the Avalanche after their top two goalies went down with injuries. He will battle with Alex Stalock to back up Devan Dubnyk next year.
The Buffalo Sabres have decided that goaltending is an area of need after letting Robin Lehner walk in free agency, and are expected to sign Carter Hutton to a three-year contract. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet also reports that the team will sign Scott Wedgewood, giving them a third option behind Hutton and Linus Ullmark. Hutton is expected to command a cap hit just under $3MM per season, while Wedgewood is on a two-way deal.
Hutton, 32, is arguably the best goaltending option on the open market after another excellent season in St. Louis. The veteran netminder has plenty of experience pushing young goaltenders and supporting them when they invariably face inconsistency, and he’ll be asked to do much of the same with Ullmark in Buffalo. After posting a .931 save percentage in 32 appearances last year though, Hutton will also be asked to help lead the Sabres back into playoff contention. After finishing at the bottom of the standings once again, Buffalo will be bringing in young phenom Rasmus Dahlin on the blue line and have already acquired some help up front in Conor Sheary. Now with a solidified goaltending situation, the team is poised to find much more success in 2017-18.
Wedgewood on the other hand will be asked to fill a different role for the organization. GM Jason Botterill has been very clear that he intends on building a winning organization from top to bottom, and that includes the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Wedgewood is an extremely capable minor league goaltender, who should fill Ullmark’s shoes admirably going forward.
After a month of lead up, a sprinkling of trades over the last week or so, and a wild deadline day today, NHL teams are done with transactions for the 2017-18 NHL season. Here are the deals that improved contenders in the Western Conference:
Winnipeg Jets receive:
F Paul Stastny
St. Louis Blues receive:
F Erik Foley
2018 first-round pick
Conditional 2020 fourth-round pick
Vegas Golden Knights receive:
F Tomas Tatar
Detroit Red Wings receive:
2018 first-round pick
2019 second-round pick
2021 third-round pick
Nashville Predators receive:
F Ryan Hartman
2018 fifth-round pick
Chicago Blackhawks receive:
F Victor Ejdsell
2018 first-round pick
2018 fourth-round pick
San Jose Sharks receive:
F Evander Kane
Buffalo Sabres receive:
F Danny O’Regan
Conditional 2019 first-round pick
Conditional 2020 fourth-round pick
Anaheim Ducks receive:
F Jason Chimera
New York Islanders receive:
F Chris Wagner
Vegas Golden Knights receive:
D Philip Holm
Vancouver Canucks receive:
F Brendan Leipsic
Winnipeg Jets receive:
D Joe Morrow
Montreal Canadiens receive:
2018 fourth-round pick
Calgary Flames receive:
F Nick Shore
Ottawa Senators receive:
2019 seventh-round pick
Saturday: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Wedgewood has cleared waivers. Wedgewood will be a nice depth option for the Kings in the AHL, but don’t be surprised if L.A. takes a look at an upgrade to he and Campbell at backup goalie.
Friday: After acquiring him this week, the Los Angeles Kings have placed goaltender Scott Wedgewood on waivers according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. Wedgewood was part of the package acquired in exchange for Darcy Kuemper, but immediately seemed extraneous after the Kings recalled Jack Campbell.
Wedgewood, 25, is no stranger to the waiver process, having cleared twice since October 2016. If he does clear, he’ll become valuable depth for the Kings as they enter their stretch run, but has had a rough season so far. Though he looked sharp at times for the Coyotes, his entire body of work while Antti Raanta dealt with injury wasn’t good. He posted an .893 save percentage in 20 games for Arizona, but still could be claimed by a team looking for more depth.
Selected in the third-round of the 2010 draft, Wedgewood is a talented but small (by today’s standards) goaltender who has shown excellent ability in the minor leagues but rarely given a chance in the NHL. He made his debut last season with the New Jersey Devils, but is set to become a Group VI unrestricted free agent this summer if not given another handful of starts. Wedgewood has only played 30 minutes or more in a game 22 times in his NHL career, meaning he’d need six more appearances to become ineligible for Group VI status. With his placement on waivers, that doesn’t seem like it will happen with the Kings.