While the trade deadline is now less than two weeks away, activity around the NHL was quite limited over the past seven days. Nevertheless, there was still some news of note which is recapped in our key stories.
Brodzinski Gets Rewarded: One of the nice feel-good stories of the season has been Rangers center Jonny Brodzinski. The 30-year-old had ranged from being a full-time minor leaguer to a serviceable recall option in his first eight professional years and even started this season in the minors. Since being recalled in late November, however, Brodzinski has been a regular in New York’s lineup and he was rewarded for his efforts with a two-year, $1.575MM one-way extension. Only one of his contract years before this one saw him receive a one-way salary so this gives Brodzinski some much-desired job and financial security while the Rangers get a good cap hit for a bottom-six forward.
Vegas Injuries: The Golden Knights had some good and bad news on the injury front. First, they got defenseman Shea Theodore back as he was activated off LTIR after missing nearly three months with an upper-body injury. The 28-year-old has put up five assists since returning to bring him up to the point-per-game mark on the season. However, it wasn’t all good news as winger Mark Stone has landed on IR due to what has been reported as a lacerated spleen and is set to be out for a while. The captain leads Vegas in scoring with 53 points in 56 games so his loss is a significant one. It will need to be determined if he’ll be able to return before the regular season ends. If not, he can go on LTIR, freeing up $9.5MM in extra spending flexibility for the Golden Knights.
Four For Rasmussen: Red Wings center Michael Rasmussen has worked his way into becoming a capable secondary contributor and he was rewarded for his efforts as Detroit signed him to a four-year, $12.8MM contract extension. The deal comes in a little less than double what his qualifying offer would have been ($1.752MM) while giving the Red Wings two extra years of club control. The 24-year-old was the ninth overall pick back in 2017 and while he hasn’t emerged as a top contributor that his draft slot might suggest, he has become a capable two-way player who can play both center and the wing. This price point for that type of versatile middle-six option is decent value for the Red Wings. Detroit still has two prominent RFAs to re-sign this summer, winger Lucas Raymond and defenseman Moritz Seider.
Fleury Doesn’t Want To Move: The future of Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been speculated about in recent weeks with Minnesota struggling until late in the standings; would he want another chance at a possible Stanley Cup run? However, the 39-year-old has indicated that his preference is to stay with the Wild and try to help them make the postseason. Fleury is on an expiring contract and could be of interest to a few contenders for a depth role but with a full no-move clause, he controls his short-term future. If Fleury ultimately chooses to stay, that will take one goaltending option off the market before the March 8th trade deadline.
Houston Looking For NHL Team: Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, revealed that he is in talks with the NHL about adding a team in Houston. The market already has NBA, NFL, MLB, and MLS franchises since at least 2005 but is big enough that another prominent sports team should still work. The Toyota Center (where the Rockets play) recently underwent renovations that would make it suitable should the city get an NHL franchise. Fertitta noted that he has had talks with the NHL since 2017 but that those discussions have picked up lately. With the future of the Coyotes looking uncertain, Houston could join Salt Lake City as a possible spot for relocation if their latest arena plans fall apart.
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