Empty Netter Assists - 07-04-11

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Welcome to Pittsburgh (or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) Boris Valabik.

-Do the Penguins need a fighter? (PG+)

-Former Penguins forward Brett Sterling (above) signed a one-year two-way contract with the Blues. In seven games with the Penguins last season, Sterling scored five points (three goals, two assists). Sterling led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in scoring last season with 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists) in 65 games.

-Happy 49th birthday to former Penguins forward Kevin McClelland. Acquired along with Pat Boutette as compensation for the Whalers' signing of Greg Millen, McClelland spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1981-82, he appeared in 10 games and recorded five points. He also appeared in all five of the team's playoff games that spring and contributed two points when the Penguins nearly upset the defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders in the first round. In 1982-83 McCleland played in 38 games and scored nine points. After appearing in 24 games and scoring six points in 1983-84, McClelland and a draft pick were traded to the Oilers in exchange for Tom Roulston. In 72 games with the Penguins, McClelland scored 20 points. He is currently the head coach of the CHL's Wichita Thunder.

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Atlantic Division

-Is former Penguins forward Maxime Talbot's contract with the Flyers legal?

-It didn't take long for the jersey to right to show up at the NHL Store in New York:

Northeast Division

-The Maple Leafs acquired forward Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Cody Franson in exchange for defenseman Brett Lebda and forward Robert Slaney. Lombardi missed all of two games last season due to a concussion. In 80 games last season, Franson scored 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists). In 41 games last season, Lebda scored four points (one goal, three assists). Slaney appeared in nine AHL games last season and recorded one assist.

-EN Says: In a hockey sense, the Maple Leafs win this deal hands down. Franson is a legit top-four defenseman who can produce points. That said, he's not exactly Hal Gill in his own zone despite his 6-foot-5 frame. If healthy, Lombardi is a solid point producer as he recorded 53 points for the Coyotes two seasons ago. But he has been slow to recover from a concussion he suffered in the second game of the season. The biggest benefit to the Predators is the salary savings. It clears a ton of salary to re-sign restricted free agent captain Shea Weber. Lebda is a No. 6 defenseman on his best days while Slaney is a minor leaguer.

-“I just want to get healthy. I’m excited. I wish I was healthy today. I wish I could say I was perfectly ready to play. I’m not there yet.” - Lombardi.

-After years of frugal spending, the Sabres are all of a sudden one of the big-money teams in the NHL.

Southeast Division

-“The money side, it’s not great, but I think the opportunity is unbelievable. Obviously it was disappointing day for me on July 1. For whatever reason I was in a bad spot, and Washington came in.” - Goaltender Tomas Vokoun (right) on his one-year $1.5 million.

-“We want people who want to be Panthers. We don’t want people who want to come down here for their tan or to play golf.” - Panthers general manager and former Penguins defenseman Dale Tallon on re-building his team.

Central Division

-The Predators signed former Panthers forward Niclas Bergfors (right) to a one-year contract worth $575,000. In 72 games last season, Bergfors scored 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists).

-EN Says: This is a shrewd signing by the Predators. They lost some skill and speed up front with the loss of Steve Sullivan to the Predators and that's what Bergfors has. Begfors has hit 20-goals once in the NHL before. If teamed up with a solid center, he could hit it again.

-The Blue Jackets signed forward Alexandre Giroux to a one-year, two way contract.

Northwest Division

-Here's a blockbuster. The Wild acquired all-star forward Dany Heatley (right) from the Sharks in exchange for all-star forward Martin Havlat. Heatley has three years left on a contract with a salary cap hit of $7.5 million. In 80 games last season, Heatley scored 64 points (26 goals, 38 assists). Havlat has four years left on a contract with salary cap hit of $5 million. In 78 games last season, Havlat scored 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists).

-EN Says: On the surface, this looks like a clear win for the Wild as Heatley is a potential 50-goal threat. But Havlat offers a much more diverse game than Heatley. Heatley is pretty much a goal scorer and that's hit. Havlat will skate up and down the rink playing in all three zones and can produce quite a few points himself. This seems like a good trade for both teams based on their respective needs.

-The Canucks re-signed forward Chris Higgins to a two-year deal worth a total of $3.8 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $1.9 million. In 62 games last season, Higgins had 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists).

-EN Says: Higgins is a nice penalty killer who can play in all three zones. A $1.9 million salary cap hit isn't bad.

-The Oilers signed former forward Josh Green to a one-year two-way contract.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes signed former Canucks forward Alex Bolduc to a one-year contract. Financial terms were not revealed. In 24 games last season, Bolduc scored four points.

-We're a few days late with this one, but the Coyotes re-signed forward Radim Vrbata (right) to a three-year contract worth a total of $9 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $3 million. In 79 games last season, Vrbata scored 48 points (19 goals, 29 assists).

-EN Says: Vrbata is a guy who has just never seemed to find success any where other than in Phoenix. He made the right choice staying. And the Coyotes get a 20-goal threat for an affordable price.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Vokoun-Paul Bereswill/Getty Images; Bergfors-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Heatley-Ezra Shaw/Getty Images; Vrbata-Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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