On the eve of the 2017-18 NHL regular season, here’s a look at some of the last-minute tweaks and adjustments that teams have made to their lineups.
With the regular season upon us, teams are making the final tweaks to their opening-night rosters, and that has resulted in a flurry of movement across the league.
From trades coming in under the wire to waiver claims ahead of a new campaign, here are the moves you may have missed as we prepare for the 2017-18 campaign:
BLUE JACKETS, ANDERSON GET A DEAL DONE
It came down to the wire — less than two days before their season was set to begin — but the Blue Jackets and restricted free agent Josh Anderson have come to terms on a three-year deal worth $5.5 million. Over the past few weeks, numerous reports have indicated that neither side was all that willing to budge in contract negotiations, but Anderson eventually decided he’d rather play than miss any time, especially time that could be crucial for his development.
Anderson, 23, had his breakout season with Columbus in 2016-17, scoring 17 goals and 29 points in 78 games while playing fourth-line minutes. Before the season, he was projected to take on a bigger role, leaping up to the third line with potential to even creep into the top-six with some power play time mixed in.
The big question for both parties is whether Anderson can repeat his performance. He shot a remarkable 14.3 percent last season and doing so again is a tall task. Still, Anderson has the frame to be a dominant net-front force — he stands 6-foot-3, 221 pounds — and he still has room to grow. At the tail end of what is essentially a bridge deal, Anderson could be looking like a steal at $1.85 million.
PENGUINS SHIP OUT POULIOT FOR PEDAN AND DRAFT PICK
Drafted eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012, Derrick Pouliot carried with him some big expectations. The belief was he had all the tools to become a solid top-four guy in the NHL, but, through three pro seasons, he’s yet to show that he can be a full-time NHLer. So, when he signed a one-year deal with the Penguins this summer, it looked like a show-me contract; Pittsburgh wanted to know if he could ever put it all together in their system.
Turns out Pouliot won’t get that shot after all, though, as the Penguins and Vancouver Canucks announced a surprising swap Tuesday afternoon. To the Canucks goes Pouliot, while the Penguins receive Andrey Pedan, a big-bodied defender who couldn’t crack the lineup in Vancouver, as well as a fourth-round pick.
In Vancouver, Pouliot is likely going to get a chance to crack the lineup at some point, if not out of the gate, and it could be just what he needs at this point in his career. Now 23, he has been able to shine in the AHL, but now is his chance to prove he can bring something more to an NHL squad.
As for Pedan, who cleared waivers Tuesday, chances are he starts the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but he could get a look with the big club at some point in the campaign.
HOSSA, LUPUL GET GREEN LIGHT FOR LTIR
After independent reviews by the league, the Chicago Blackhawks have been given the OK to place Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been told that Joffrey Lupul can likewise be placed on the injured list. The independent reviews for both players came amidst speculation that one or both may be able to play this season despite assertions otherwise by their respective clubs.
In the case of Hossa, the veteran winger announced in June that a skin condition would render him unable to play this season, and while his loss is a blow to the Blackhawks on-ice, the off-ice implications brought about suspicion from some. With Hossa out of the lineup, Chicago is able to get well under the salary cap and gain some relief from Hossa’s $5.25-million cap hit. That allows the Blackhawks, up against the cap once again, to bulk up a depleted blueline and get prepared for the campaign without having to make any last-minute deals.
As for Toronto, there weren’t really many implications salary-wise when it came to Lupul. He could’ve remained on the roster at full cost with the Maple Leafs remaining under the cap. That he has been ruled out, however, does remove some of the doubt that was placed on the organization after Lupul seemingly made accusations about the process of his physical shortly after it was announced that he had failed the exam.
The Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins have each lost a player via the waiver wire ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
In Dallas, a crowded blueline led the Stars to trim their defense by one and the odd man out on the back end was Patrik Nemeth. While far from a fixture of the lineup during his time in Dallas, Nemeth, who was drafted 41st overall by the Stars in 2010, had managed to work his way into a part-time role with the big club. Over the past two seasons, he skated in 78 games while averaging close to 16 minutes per night. He’s off to Colorado now, though, as the Avalanche look to strengthen a defense corps that still leaves much to be desired.
As for the Bruins, it’s goalie Malcolm Subban, the organization’s lone first-round pick, 24th overall, from the 2012 draft, who is heading elsewhere. Coincidentally, though, he’s heading to the Vegas Golden Knights, which is where many expected he would end up ahead of the 2016-17 campaign when the expansion draft rules were first announced. As it turns out, Subban struggled to find his game in the NHL and was mediocre in the AHL, leading the Golden Knights to look elsewhere for goaltending help. It’s clear Vegas kept a watchful eye and saw a lot of Subban, though, because they’re taking their shot now.
At 6-foot-2, Subban has the size that can make him a big-league netminder, but he needs to find the consistency. He’s only 23, so there’s plenty of time to mature. He’s a project for Vegas, but with no risk, and there’s a chance for big reward.
In addition to Nemeth and Subban, a few notable names cleared through waivers on Tuesday as teams set their rosters. The Philadelphia Flyers officially shuffled Matt Read, who finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting as a rookie, to the AHL. Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kerby Rychel also made it through waivers, as did Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ryan Sproul.
SEVERAL LAND CONTRACTS OUT OF PTOs
Training camp has come and gone and several veteran players who signed PTOs with the chance fight for a contract have been rewarded with a deal.
On Sunday, Scottie Upshall, fresh off a PTO with the Vancouver Canucks, headed over to the St. Louis Blues to fill in as an injury replacement on a one-year, $800,000 deal, while Jimmy Hayes, bought out by the Bruins ahead of the off-season, managed to show enough in camp to land a one-year, $700,000 pact with the New Jersey Devils. Monday saw an additional signing as David Booth, fresh off two years in the KHL, impressed enough to score a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Detroit Red Wings, and the Calgary Flames awarded tough guy Tanner Glass with a one-year, $650,000 contract on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Cody Franson seems to have played his way into a contract with the Blackhawks after a strong pre-season, but, despite reports, nothing has been made official. As for Alex Chiasson, who was in camp with the Capitals, it appears as though a deal could be on the horizon that puts him on Washington’s roster once the season begins.
The list of players who weren’t so lucky is much, much longer, however. Here’s a complete list of players released from PTOs since Friday:
Boston Bruins: Teddy Purcell
Buffalo Sabres: Cody Goloubef
Detroit Red Wings: P-A Parenteau
Florida Panthers: Brandon Pirri, Harry Zolnierczyk*
Los Angeles Kings: Brooks Laich, Chris Lee
Minnesota Wild: Ryan Malone
Montreal Canadiens: Eric Gelinas
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jay McClement
Toronto Maple Leafs: Roman Polak
*Zolnierczyk signed a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators following his release
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