Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford says he wasn’t taking an intentional shot at the Columbus Blue Jackets when he made an assessment about Jack Johnson‘s usage that didn’t sit well with John Tortorella.

“I have nothing but respect for the Columbus Blue Jackets,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey. “They’ve got a good city, a good franchise, a great owner, and (president of hockey operations) John Davidson to run the franchise. I feel bad that it either (came) out the way it did or it upset people; that certainly wasn’t my intent. They have a very good franchise there, and it’s very well run.”

After the Penguins made the signing of Johnson to a five-year, $16.25-million deal official on the first day of free agency, Rutherford told reporters the following about the veteran defenseman, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline:

“I don’t think he had a bad year. He was a healthy scratch at the end of the season. I know the reason why. It wasn’t because of how he was playing.”

When asked Thursday to clarify what he meant by the latter remark, Rutherford declined to elaborate.

“I don’t think that’s going to do anybody any good at this point,” he told Mackey. “We feel comfortable with the homework that we did on this player.”

Rutherford’s initial comments, along with Johnson telling reporters on July 1 that, “I’ve been really wanting to be a part of a winning culture and a place where the expectations to win are as high as they can be,” clearly irked Tortorella at the time.

The always forthright Blue Jackets head coach issued an expletive-laden response in which he said that for Rutherford “to question our decision-making from three hours away, he must be a fucking magician,” later adding that the Penguins GM should “shut the fuck up,” and that Johnson’s statement was “utter bullshit.”

Johnson was scratched in all six of the Blue Jackets’ playoff games this spring and he collected only 11 points in 77 regular-season contests in 2017-18.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are bringing back defenseman Jamie Oleksiak on a three-year contract worth $6,412,500, the club announced Thursday.

Oleksiak’s new pact carries an average annual value of $2,137,500, or more than twice the $964,688 he earned in 2017-18, according to CapFriendly.

He was a restricted free agent.

The 25-year-old chipped in 14 points in 47 games for the Penguins after being acquired from the Dallas Stars in December.

Former NHL goaltender Ray Emery died early Sunday morning in Hamilton, Ontario after drowning while swimming with friends, Hamilton police confirmed.

Emery was 35 years old.

He played 287 career NHL games across an 11-year career that included stops with the Ottawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersAnaheim Ducks, and Chicago Blackhawks.

Emery last suited up during the 2015-16 season where he split his time between the Ontario Reign and Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and the Manheim Eagles of the DEL in Germany.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a three-year contract extension Friday, the team announced. His new deal is worth an annual average value of $7 million.

Flower had one year remaining on his previous contract, which carried an AAV of $5.75 million. This extension keeps the 33-year-old on the Strip until the end of the 2022 campaign.

The Sorel, Quebec native joined the Knights via the expansion draft last June and went on to have one of the best seasons of his storied 14-year career. Fleury posted a record of 29-13-4 to go along with a sensational 2.24 goals-against average and .927 save percentage while backstopping Vegas to the Pacific Division crown and a Stanley Cup Final run.

Fleury proved last season that despite his age and lengthy track record, he can still turn in Vezina Trophy-level performances. He’s a three-time Cup champion and ranks 11th all time in victories with 404.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick in next year’s draft, the Sabres announced Wednesday.

The pick will become a third-rounder if Sheary notches 20 goals or 40 points, or if the Sabres trade Hunwick before next year’s draft, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

There is no salary being retained in the deal, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports. Sheary is on the books for $3 million over the next two seasons, and Hunwick is also under contract for two more years at a cap hit of $2.25 million.

Sheary potted 18 goals this past season and 23 goals in 2016-17, often playing on Sidney Crosby‘s wing. He was a member of the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championship squads, and played parts of three seasons with the club after being signed as an undrafted NCAA free agent out of UMass-Amherst.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $650,000 deal, the club announced Friday.

Ennis was a first-round draft selection by the Buffalo Sabres in 2008, netting 20 goals and 49 points in his first full season. He was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2017, along with Marcus Foligno, in a deal for Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella.

Last season, the 28-year-old Ennis tallied 22 points, including three game-winning goals. The Alberta native joins the Maple Leafs with 258 career points in 492 games.

Taylor Hall finally got a taste. Now he wants the full course.

This spring, the eventual MVP winner and his 93 points dragged the New Jersey Devils into the NHL playoffs for the first time in five years. The experience lasted just five games, however, as the Devils were bounced by the Tampa Bay Lightning in unceremonious fashion.

Following seven playoff-free seasons with both the Edmonton Oilers and the Devils, Hall finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He’s happy in red and black, but hungry for more.

“Definitely a successful season, but at the same time I watched playoff hockey for a month and a half before the Cup was handed out,” Hall said Wednesday before teeing off at the NHLPA’s annual charity golf tournament. “We’re a long way from where we want to be, but I think it was a great first step.”

Despite the playoff berth, the Devils have been quiet this summer. General manager Ray Shero hasn’t acquired anybody of significance via free agency or trade; he also let a number of veteran players walk, with forwards Brian Gibbons(Anaheim), Michael Grabner (Arizona), and Patrick Maroon (St. Louis), as well as defenseman John Moore (Boston), all signing elsewhere.

“We’re going to have to find a way to make up for that,” the 26-year-old said. “Those are guys that played key roles on our team, whether they were (picked up) at the trade deadline or just guys who came into (training) camp and surprised and made a huge difference for us.”

Hall, whose 26-game point streak, career-high 39 goals, and 1.2 points per game helped him claim the 2018 Hart Trophy, laughed when he was asked about the potential of Shero using the club’s salary cap space ($23 million in 2018-19) to add talent sooner than later.

“I just sit here like you guys …” he told a scrum of reporters. “I’d love to see us add a couple more pieces, but at the end of the day that’s not my job. My job’s to come into camp as healthy as possible, as committed as possible, and just worry about that.”

While the Devils’ depth chart remains unfilled, the team has Nico Hischier, the 2017 first-overall pick. Hall lauded the Swiss centre at the NHL awards, and heaped more praise onto him on Wednesday.

“If he was playing in Toronto, or a big market that would have a lot more spotlight, I think that he’d have a bigger name, a lot more recognition, certainly a lot more Calder votes than he had,” Hall said of Hischier, who finished seventh in rookie-of-the-year voting.

“He had 50 points (52) as a centerman as an 18-year-old and, us playing on a line together, we played the top lines each and every night. I’m proud to be his teammate, I’m proud to be on a line with him, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the evolution of him, how he can improve next year.”

The Devils vastly improved in 2017-18. Playing a speed game under coach John Hynes, they jumped from a winning percentage of .427 in 2016-17 to .591. It’s an appetizing start, a jolt to the franchise’s internal and external expectations.

“It’s hard to get out of the basement. It’s hard to get out of the basement and make the playoffs,” Hall said, emphasizing the leap. “Now, I think the hardest step is going from making the playoffs to being a team that can challenge for the Cup. I’m really looking forward to trying to do that.”