Empty Netter Assists - 07-27-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .



-Happy 22nd birthday to current Penguins defenseman Simon Despres (above). A first-round pick in 2009, Despres has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Penguins. In 2011-12, Despres appeared in 18 games and recorded four points. He played in three playoff games that spring and did not record a point. This past season, Despres played in 33 games and scored seven points. He saw action in three playoff games and did not record a point. In 51 career games with the Penguins, Despres has scored 11 points. In six postseason games, he has no points.

-Happy 64th birthday to former Penguins forward Rick Kessell. A second-round pick in 1969, Kessell spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. From 1969-70 through 1971-72, Kessell appeared in a total of 17 games and scored six points. In 1972-72, Kessell found a way to play in 67 games and scored 14 points. During the 1973 offseason, Kessell was claimed by the California Golden Seals in a reverse draft. In 84 games with the Penguins, Kessell scored 20 points.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins forward Dave Capuano. A second-round pick in 1986, Capuano's Penguins' career amounted to six games in 1989-90. Midway through the season, he was traded to the Canucks along with Andrew McBain and Dan Quinn in exchange for Rod Buskas, Barry Pederson and Tony Tanti.

-Happy 44th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jason Woolley (right). Acquired along with Stu Barnes early in the 1996-97 season in a deal which sent Chris Wells to the Panthers, Woolley's Penguins career amounted to 57 games and 36 points that season. In the 1997 offseason, he was traded to the Sabres in exchange for draft picks. Woolley is currently a player agent.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Hurricanes signed former Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe to a one-year two-way contract.

Atlantic Division

-The Senators signed undrafted free agent forward Ludwig Karlsson, formerly of Northeastern, to a two-year entry-level contract.

Central Division

-The Jets re-signed restricted free agent forward Blake Wheeler to a six-year contract worth $33.6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.55 million, Wheeler's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.6 million. In 48 games last season, Wheeler, 26, scored 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists).

-EN Says: Wheeler took a step forward last season in terms of production. A power forward, he provides a strong net-front presence to go with a nice scoring touch. He needs to improve in terms of defensive zone coverage. This is a large contract for a player with only one truly consistent season on his resume.

-The Blackhawks officially signed head coach Joel Quenneville (right) to a three-year contract extension through 2016-17. In parts of five seasons, the Quenneville has led the Blackhawks to a 222-106-44 record and two Stanley Cup championships.

Pacific Division

-The Ducks re-signed restricted free agent forward Kyle Palmieri to a three-year contract worth $4.4 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $1.025 million, Palmieri's new contract will have a cap hit of $1,466,667. Palmieri, 22, appeared in 42 games last season and scored 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists).

-EN Says: Palmieri is a former first-round pick (2009) has never truly gotten a chance to claim a full-time top-six forward role in Anaheim. With Bobby Ryan traded to Ottawa, Palmieri should have a chance to be a winger on one of the top two lines. He has shown an ability to score at the AHL level. He needs to show he can score at the NHL level now.

(Photos: Despres-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Woolley-Penguins Hockey Cards; Quenneville-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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