Eakin Agrees To Four-Year Extension With Stars
, C, DAL
News: Cody Eakin
agreed to a four-year, $15.4 million contract extension with the Stars on Friday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
The 24-year-old was a solid producer for the Stars in 2014-15, registering 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 78 games with the team. He will likely return to his role centering the Stars' third line this season, and should produce similarly barring significant injury.
Lindholm Signs Two-Year Extension With Hurricanes
, C, CAR
News: Elias Lindholm
signed a two-year, $5.4 million contract extension with the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Analysis: Elias Lindholm
was a solid contributor in his first full NHL season in 2014-15, registering 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 81 games with the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Carolina this season, and should have a great shot at improving upon his offensive numbers from a year ago as he continues his development as an NHL forward.
Blues' Berglund To Require Shoulder Surgery
, C, STL
News: Patrik Berglund
aggravated a dislocated right shoulder while working out and is set to undergo surgery Friday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He'll require at least four months of recovery time.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund
first dislocated the shoulder in 2013-14, and required surgery last offseason to address the issue. The center was able to recover in time from that procedure to play on Opening Night last season, but given how late in the offseason calendar the setback occurred this time around, it looks like Berglund won't take the ice again until the calendar flips to 2016. His extended absence could allow prospect Robby Fabbri to claim third-line center duties out of training camp, with veteran Scott Gomez also in the mix if coach Ken Hitchcock prefers a more experienced option for that role.
Gomez Signs PTO With Blues
, C, NJ
News: Scott Gomez
accepted a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Thursday, Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest reports.
After failing to garner a contract in free agency for the second straight offseason, Scott Gomez
will again head to training camp on a PTO, as he did last season in New Jersey. Though he wasn't able to crack the Devils' Opening Night roster, he continued to work out with the team after the tryout period ended and was eventually signed to the team when injuries opened up an opportunity in late November. Gomez would end the season as one of the more productive contributors on the offensively challenged Devils, finishing third on the team with 34 points. The Blues boast a far deeper roster of forward talent, but with the news surfacing after Gomez's signing that Patrik Berglund would miss at least four months following shoulder surgery, an opening on the third line could exist for the 35-year-old.
Pens' Crosby Likely To Play Next To Kessel
, C, PIT
Coach Mike Johnston said earlier this week that Sidney Crosby
is expected to play next to Phil Kessel to begin training camp, CBS Sports reports.
The Penguins have cycled in a number of right wingers next to Sidney Crosby
throughout his career, and while Patric Hornqvist proved capable in that capacity last season, he's not nearly as prolific at finding twine as Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer. With his health concerns beginning to fade away after missing only seven games over the last two seasons, Crosby once again looks like a reasonable choice at No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts, even after scoring only 28 goals in 2014-15, his lowest total in any year he's suited up for at least 60 contests. Crosby probably won't come close to approaching the 51-goal peak he reached in 2009-10, but a slight uptick in his anomalous 11.8 shooting percentage coupled with the likely increase in assist opportunities with Kessel blitzing the net could make a return to 100 points conceivable.
Charges Announced For Ex-King Richards
, C, LA
News: Mike Richards
was formally charged with possession of a controlled substance while entering Canada stemming from a June 17 border stop by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
The Kings determined the incident gave them just cause to release Mike Richards
for a "material breach" of his 12-year contract, a decision that prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance. The nature of the border stop likely won't affect the outcome of that legal battle, as both the NHLPA and the Kings were aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Currently a free agent, Richards is able to sign with any team while the grievance remains underway, but his steep decline in performance over the last few seasons coupled with this ongoing dispute probably has few organizations interested in his services.
News: Nicklas Backstrom
(hip) relayed to a Swedish newspaper that he's not confident he'll be ready to play in the Capitals' Oct. 10 season opener against the Devils, Yahoo Sports reports. "[Surgery] has gone well and I hope it stays that way," Backstrom said. "I don't know if I will be able to play right away when the season starts."
Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom
underwent the arthroscopic procedure on his hip in late May and has since been cleared to start skating with the Capitals in training camp, but full-contact practices may represent an obstacle that proves more difficult for the center to clear. He'll likely be limited throughout camp, and even if Backstrom gets enough work in to suit up for Opening Night, it's expected that he'll see far below the 20:32 of ice time he averaged last season. It shouldn't take long after the opener before Backstrom draws closer to full health, however, so it's still quite likely that he finishes among the league leaders in assists.
News: Alexander Wennberg
is expected to serve as the Blue Jackets' third-line center to open the upcoming season, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
With Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano out of the picture following the acquisition of winger Brandon Saad, the Blue Jackets aren't quite as deep up the middle any longer, which should open the door for Alexander Wennberg
to take on a larger role. As a rookie last season, Wennberg saw 68 games of action with the big club, mostly as a byproduct of injuries thinning the roster. The 20-year-old proved ill-prepared for the NHL assignment and finished with four goals, 16 assists, and a minus-19 rating, but he made significant strides over the final few weeks, showing the ability to be a functional two-way player. With Scott Hartnell expected to skate next to him for much of 2015-16, Wennberg should see his assist total jump fairly significantly.
Wings' Datsyuk (Ankle) Progressing In Rehab
, C, DET
News: Pavel Datsyuk
(ankle) continues to be "on schedule" with his rehabilitation after ankle surgery, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
The earliest Pavel Datsyuk
has given for a return is late October, but it appears he at least hasn't experienced any setbacks. The 37-year-old continues to be dynamite when healthy, but that has been a struggle over the last few years.
Leafs' Komarov: Heavy Fines For Traffic Offenses
, C, TOR
News: Leo Komarov
was fined $40,000 US in Finnish court this week for two speeding tickets in 2014, reports CTV Barrie.
He had been clocked doing 77 kph in a 50 kph zone and then 131 kph in a 100 kph zone. And in Finland, your fine is calculated based on your income. Leo Komarov
attempted to tell the judge his income was zero because hockey players don't get paid over the summer, but the judge was quick to remind him that both incidents occurred after he signed a four-year contract worth $2.95 million US per season. It won't affect him on the ice ... other than to take a bit of razzing about his lead foot.