Two of the more notable names left without an NHL contract when the 2017-18 season began have come to terms on new deals elsewhere. Teddy Purcell, a former 65-point scorer who of late was on a PTO with the Boston Bruins, signed with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk today, the team announced. Lauri Korpikoski, fresh off a strong campaign with the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets, somewhat surprisingly drew little attention this off-season and has now signed with the ZSC Lions of the NLA, according to a team release. The former Edmonton teammates will each look to rejuvenate their careers overseas this season.
Purcell, 32, was had a roller coaster career. The undrafted University of Maine product made a surprise jump to the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings in 2007-08 after just one year of college and made an immediate impact. After being swapped for Jeff Halpern early in his career, Purcell took off with the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 51 points his first season and 65 the next. His scoring continued, but that didn’t stop the Bolts from trading him to the Edmonton Oilers, who in turn traded him to the Florida Panthers less than two years later. During this time, Purcell had continued to be a consistent scorer no matter where he landed. So, when Purcell given nearly no attention in the free agent market last year and ended up back in L.A. and soon after buried in the minors, it came as a shock to many. This time around, no one was surprised when Purcell was unable to turn his tryout in Boston into a contract, but the fact remains that there is still no evidence that Purcell ever stopped being a solid play-making forward. Now in Russia, Purcell has the potential to light it up with Avangard. Don’t be surprised if the swift winger scores early and often in the KHL and catches the eye of the Canadian Olympic team.
As for Korpikoski, his off-season went much like Purcell’s last year. 20 points in 60 games aren’t eye-popping numbers, but it was a pleasantly surprising season for Korpikoski in Dallas. The two-way forward had never been a big producer – his career high 40 points came back in 2010-11 with the Phoenix Coyotes, a team on which he was pressed into a top-six role due to a lack of talent – but Korpikoski had made a career out of his well-rounded game. A 2004 first-round pick of the New York Rangers, the now-31-year-old was a hard-working and reliable player for long stretches in New York and Arizona, but a drop-off in production in the desert and a subsequent trade to the Edmonton Oilers in 2015 looked like the beginning of the end. Yet, the Stars took a gamble last summer and it paid off with a sold effort from Korpikoski and a trade return of young defenseman Dillon Heatherington from Columbus at the deadline. However, the renewed interest never came and Korpikoski has had to settle for Switzerland. With ZSC, Korpikoski will join a talented NLA team and will get a chance to skate alongside NHL veterans like Robert Nilsson and Drew Shore. While Finland is in better shape for the upcoming Winter Games than the U.S. or Canada, don’t count out the possibility of the veteran Finn winger from getting the call to go to Pyeongchang as well.