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Empty Netter Assists - 07-05-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Don't expect the Penguins to be too aggressive in free agency.

-Former Penguins prospect Casey Pierro-Zabotel has joined Lausitzer Füchse of Germany's second-tier ESBG.

-Happy 28th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Alexandre Picard. A free agent signing last summer, Picard appeared in 17 NHL games last season and recorded four assists. After not being re-signed by the Penguins, he played for HC Lev Praha of Russia's KHL this past season.

-Happy 44th birthday to former Penguins forward John LeClair (above). An all-star with the rival Flyers, LeClair joined the Penguins as a free agent following the 2004-05 lockout. He appeared in 73 games in 2005-06 and recorded a respectable 51 points. After 21 games and seven points in 2006-07, LeClair was released in December. In 94 games with the Penguins, he scored 58 points.

Atlantic Division

-The Flyers signed captain/forward Claude Giroux to an eight-year contract extension worth a total of $66.2 million. Entering the final year of a contract with a cap hit of $3.75 million, Giroux's new deal will have cap hit of $8.275 million. Giroux, 25, appeared in 48 games last season and scored 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists).

-EN Says: For a player with a relatively modest resume in terms of individual accomplishment, this seems like a slight overpayment. In the long run, Giroux will be a bargain at this cap hit.

-The Flyers re-signed former Penguins forward Adam Hall (right) to a one-year deal worth a total of $600,000. Coming off a contract with a cap hit of $650,000, Hall, 32, appeared in 17 games last season and scored no points.

-EN Says: Hall is a fourth-line mucker and grinder who can play all three forward positions. This is a fair contract.

Northeast Division

-The Bruins acquired former Penguins defensive prospect Joe Morrow, forward Loui Eriksson and forward prospects Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser from the Stars in exchange for forwards Rich Peverly, Tyler Seguin and defensive prospect Ryan Button.

Morrow, 20, is still waiting to enter the first year of his entry-level contract and has a salary cap hit of $863,333 at the NHL level. In 66 AHL games last season, Morrow had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists). A first-round pick of the Penguins in 2011, Morrow was dealt to the Stars at this past trade deadline in exchange for forward Brenden Morrow. Eriksson, 27, has three years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million. In 48 games last season, Eriksson had 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists). Smith, 22, is entering the final year of his entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000 at the NHL level. In 37 games last season, he had nine points (three goals, six assists). Fraser, 23, is entering a one-year deal with a salary cap hit of $625,000. In 12 games last season, he had two points (one goal, one assist).

Peverly, 30, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.25 million. In 47 games last season, Peverly had 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Seguin, 21, is entering the first year of a six-year deal with a salary cap hit of $5.75 million. The second overall pick of the 2010 draft, Seguin appeared in 48 games last season and scored 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists). Peverly and Seguin were each members of the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup championship team. Button, 22, is entering the final year of an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $636,667 at the NHL level. In 25 AHL games last season, Button had no points.

-EN Says: The Bruins wanted to clear salary cap space to re-sign goaltender Tuukka Rask who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent today and forward Patrice Bergeron who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2014 offseason. The Stars continued a pretty aggressive offseason.

Eriksson (right) is an elite two-way talent who has been an all-star in the NHL. A complete all-around player, he will fit in well on Boston's top line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Morrow is a high-end prospect who had a pretty rough first professional season in the Pittsburgh and Dallas systems. He could benefit from some time in the Bruins system which has produced solid NHL defensemen such as Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug and others. Smith is a talented top-six style of winger who will need to develop his physical game if he hopes to have a future with the Bruins. Fraser is a physical, aggressive banger and crasher who fits the Bruins' style well.

Seguin will be a superstar in the NHL and the Stars will be able to re-build around him for the next decade. He simply didn't fit in with head coach Claude Julien's defensive system in Boston. Peverly is a terrific third-line style of player who can be a tenacious defensive presence, win faceoffs and chip in the occasional offense. Both players also each bring a Stanley Cup ring to Dallas where there isn't a lot of postseason experience on the roster. Button is a margainal prospect.

-"This year wasn't his best year, but it was a trying year and a weird year to assess players. Tyler's a real good kid. I know I see the Twitter-verse, whatever it's called, and a lot of these reports about his extracurricular stuff, and I've made comments that due to his professionalism and acting more like a professional, but what has to be remembered in all this is that he's 21 years old. He's a good kid, and he's a terrific player. He's probably better suited for center. He was very good for us as a winger." - Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli on Seguin.

-"We just look forward to him taking a leadership role down here in Dallas. He’s going to be growing up with the Jamie Benns and these guys. We’ve got a core group of players now that are all under the age of 25 and 26 and younger and I think it’s going to be great for him to kind of grow in with the rest of these players and help create a great environment down here for us.” - Stars general manager Jim Nill on Seguin (right).

-The Canadiens agreed to terms with former Flyers forward Daniel Briere to a two-year contract worth a total of $8 million. Coming off a contract with a cap hit of $6.5 million, Briere's new deal will have a cap hit of $8 million. Briere, 35, appeared in 34 games last season and scored 16 points (six goals, 10 assists). The Flyers recently used a compliance buyout on his previous contract.

-EN Says: Briere is getting old and has dealt with a fair amount of injuries in recent seasons but he's still a pretty high-end talent capable of playing on the top line five-on-five or the top power-play unit. It will be interesting to see how he responds to being a French Canadian star in the high-pressure market of Montreal and playing in the strict defensive system of head coach Michel Briere.

-Briere turned down offers from the Devils and Predators to join the Canadiens.

-According to TSN, long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson will no re-sign with the Senators.

-“Of course I feel (expletive) sad . . . I played (expletive) five years here. I’m supposed to feel upset about that. I loved it (here). . . . Toronto fans are the best fans in the world. An obviously emotional Grabovski felt Carlyle wrongly lost confidence in him. Grabovski, the club’s No. 2 centre, saw a drop-off in production this season, and as a result, less ice time and periodic shifts to a lower line. I play in the (expletive) KHK, I make lots of ( expletive) points and what’s going to happen. . . . He (Carlyle) makes me (expletive) play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again. Yeah, I don’t score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach . . . I don’t feel any support from this (expletive) idiot." - former Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski (right) on head coach Randy Carlyle. Toronto used a compliance buyout on Grabovski.

Southeast Division

-The Jets re-signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Al Montoya to a one-year contract worth a total of $601,000. Montoya, 28, appeared in seven games last season and had a 3-1-0 record along with a 2.90 goals against average, .899 save percentage and one shutout.

-EN Says: If healthy, Montoya is a solid back-up goaltender.

-The franchise's all-time leader in career games played, forward Stephen Weiss' time with the Panthers could be coming to an end.

Central Division

-Don't expect much noise from the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in free agency.

Northwest Division

-The Wild signed former Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $3 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.2 million, Ballard's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.5 million. Ballard, 30, appeared in 36 games last season and recorded two assists.

-EN Says: Ballard never fit in with the Canucks. He still has a solid skillset as a puck-moving defenseman and can be a top four blueliner. This is a low-risk high-reward contract for the Wild.

-The Flames re-signed enforcer/forward Brian McGrattan to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.5 million. Coming off a contract with a cap hit of $600,000, McGrattan's new deal will have a cap hit of $750,000. McGrattan, 31, appeared in 21 games last season and scored three goals and recorded 49 penalty minutes.

-EN Says: While there doesn't seem to be a place in the NHL for players like McGrattan any longer, this contract will hardly break the Flames' payroll.

-The Avalanche will use a standard buyout on the final year of defenseman Greg Zanon's contract. The move will spare the Avalanche some portion of his salary cap hit of $2.25 million.

Pacific Division

-The Stars acquired captain/forward Shawn Horcoff from the Oilers in exchange for defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh-round pick in 2016. Horcoff, 34, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $5.5 million. In 31 games last season, Horcoff had 12 points (seven goals, five assists). Larsen, 23, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.025 million. In 32 games last season, Larsen had five points (two goals, three assists).

-EN Says: This is an odd move for the Stars. Horcoff (right) offers a lot of intangible as a leader and veteran but injuries and age have robbed him of his effectiveness as a No. 2 center capable of scoring 20 goals. And he comes with a large cap hit. The Oilers acquire a puck-moving defenseman and shed a salary they were considering using a buyout on.

-The Kings re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Keaton Ellerby to a one-year contract worth a total of $735,000. Coming off a contract with a cap hit of $700,000, Ellerby, appeared in 44 games last season and had three points.

-EN Says: For a large (6-foot-5, 221 pounds) defenseman who offers a physical game and is idealy a No. 6 or 7 defenseman, this is a fair deal.

-“Now we have a legitimate chance to get anybody we want. It’s just a matter of paying for it.” - Coyotes general manager Don Maloney on being more aggressive in free agency now that his franchise's future has more solidarity off the ice.

(Photos: LeClair-Dave Sandford/Getty Images; Hall-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Eriksson and Ballard-Harry How/Getty Images; Seguin-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Grabovski-Jeff Gross/Getty Images; Horcoff-Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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