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Empty Netter Assists - 07-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-"The main reason for accepting the one-year deal was I thought Pittsburgh was the best fit for me, the best chance at the Stanley Cup." - Christian Ehrhoff.

-The Penguins sign Steve Downie (right).

-“It’s not out of the question for him to be able to play with Sidney Crosby some of the time.” - Rick Tocchet on Downie.

-The Penguins re-signed forward Nick Drazenovic to a one-year two-way contract. He appeared in one NHL game last season and did not score a point. In 63 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season, Drazenovic, 27, scored 43 points (13 goals, 29 assists).

-EN Says: Given the Penguins' depth at the center position, it's hard to see Drazenovic getting a shot at the NHL level unless injuries hit.

-After losing out on the NHL Penguins' head coach position, John Hynes will return as the AHL Penguins' head coach.

-Utica Comets (AHL) coach Travis Green declined an offer to become an assistant coach with the Penguins.

-Former Penguins all-star forward Alex Kovalev (right) announced his retirement from professional hockey. One of the first Russian players to win the Stanley Cup in 1994 with the Rangers, Kovalev spent parts of five seasons over two separate stints with the Penguins. Initially coming to the Penguins in a trade early during the 1998-99 season, Kovalev finished that campaign by by playing in 63 games for the Penguins and scoring 46 points. In the 1999 postseason, he played in in 10 games and scored 12 points. His first full season in Pittsburgh was 1999-2000. He appeared in all 82 games and scored 66 points. During that spring's postseason, he saw action in 11 games and scored six points. In 2000-01, Kovalev, who earned an all-star selection played in 79 games and set career highs in goals (44), assists (51) and points (95) while playing primarily on a line with Robert Lang and Martin Straka.  The 2001 postseason saw Kovalev appear in 18 games and score 10 points. In 2001-02, Kovalev was limited to to 67 games, but once again was selected to the all-star game while scoring a team-leading 76 points. After 54 games and 67 points in 2002-03, Kovalev was traded back to the Rangers. After bouncing between the Rangers, Canadiens and Senators, Kovalev returned to Pittsburgh when he was acquired from the Senators at the 2010-11 trade deadline. He saw action in 20 regular season games and contributed seven points. He appeared in seven postseason games and recorded two points. After the season, he went to the KHL. In 355 regular season games with the Penguins, Kovalev had 354 points, 16th-most in franchise history. In 46 postseason games, he scored 30 points. In addition to the Penguins, Rangers, Canadiens and Senators, Kovalev also played for the Panthers. In 1,316 career regular season games in the NHL, Kovalev scored 1,029 points. He spent last season with EHC Visp of Switzerland's NLB.

-Former Penguins forward Kris Beech has joined HC Innsbruck of Austria's EBEL.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Flyers forward Claude Giroux was jailed overnight in Ottawa Tuesday after he allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a police officer. Giroux, who lives in Ottawa, was not charged with a crime.

-The Flyers signed former Blue Jackets defenseman Nick Schultz to a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.5 million, Schultz, 31, appeared in 69 games last season and recorded five assists.

-EN Says: This is a depth signing. At one point, Schultz was a pretty reliable second-pairing defender but he's on the back nine holes of his career. He can still function as a No. 6 or 7 defenseman.

-The Flyers re-signed restricted free agent forward Jason Akeson to a one-year two-way contract and signed former Predators forward Zach Stortini as well as former Canucks forward Andrew Gordon to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Islanders signed former Capitals forward Mikhail Grabovski ($20 million total) and former Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin ($16.75 million) to four-year contracts. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3 million, Grabovski's new deal will have a cap hit of $5 million. Appearing in 53 games last season, Grabovski (right), 30, scored 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists). Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.8 million, Kulemin's new deal will have a cap hit of $4,187,500. Appearing in 70 games last season, Kulemin scored 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists).

-EN Says: Grabovski and Kulemin, teammates with the Maple Leafs at one time, appear to have been a tandem signing. If so, that would have ruled out the Penguins signing Kulemin as was rumored. This is a high-risk, high-reward move. Both players are fairly talented and had success as linemates in Toronto. The Islanders are banking on them rediscovering their chemistry on their second line. Both players come with a little baggage as they have underachieved for various reasons throughout their career. For a contract with limited financial resources, this is a big risk at a combined $36 million.

-The Hurricanes signed former Maple Leafs forward Jay McClement to a one-year contract worth $1 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.5 million, McClement, 31, appeared in 81 games last season and scored 10 points (four goals, six assists).

-EN Says: After losing Manny Malhotra to free agency, the Hurricanes needed a replacement fourth-line center. McClement (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) has some decent size and is a pretty tenacious defensive presence. He doesn't offer much offense. This is a decent signing.

-The Hurricanes re-signed former defenseman Tim Gleason (right) to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4 million, Gleason, 31, appeared in 56 games last season and scored six points (one goal, five assists). The Hurricanes traded him to the Maple Leafs mid-season.

-EN Says: At one point, Gleason was capable of being a top-four defenseman but those days have passed. He's still capable of being a bottom-pairing defenseman. He's capable of being physical and playing a shutdown role but rarely offers anything in terms of offense. This is a fair contract.

-The Hurricanes re-signed restricted free agent forwards Zach Boychuk, a former Penguin, and Greg Nemisz, to one-year two-way contracts.

-The Devils re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Stephen Gionta to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.7 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $562,500, Gionta's new deal will have a cap hit of $850,000. Appearing in 66 games last season, Gionta, 30, scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists).

-EN Say: Despite his small size, Gionta (5-foot-7, 185 pounds) has carved out a solid existence as a bottom-six winger with the Devils. This is a fair contract.

-New Devils forward Martin Havlat will be joining the "Czech boys" in New Jersey. He'll be teamed up with fellow countrymen Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky.

-The Rangers signed former Penguins forward Chris Bourque. Terms of the deal were not reported. He spent last season with Biel of Switzerland's NLA.

-Capitals forward Tom Wilson suffered an ankle injury in a fall at his home in Toronto. The extent of the injury is not known.

Atlantic Division

-“When I kind of sat down and thought about it, it was pretty neat. A team trades a big name and a big player like that and they’re looking for you. It means a lot.” - New Senators forward Alex Chiasson (right) on being the primary return in a deal which sent star forward Jason Spezza to the Stars.

-"This was my childhood team growing up. It’s a dream to play for them and to put on the jersey.” - New Sabres forward Brian Gionta, a native of Rochester, N.Y.

-Hall-of-fame Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret has been diagnosed with throat cancer. Jeannerett, 71, is dealing with stage III cancer and that he has an 85 percent chance of recovery. He is expected to work some Sabres games next season.

-The Red Wings signed former Coyotes forward Andy Miele to a one-year contract believed to be a two-way deal.

-The Panthers signed goaltender Sam Brittain, a fourth-round pick in 2010, to a three-year entry-level contract.

-The Lightning hired former general manager Jay Feaster as executive director of community hockey development. Feaster was the team's general manager when it won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Central Division

-The Predators signed former Jets forward Olli Jokinen to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.5 million, Jokinen, 35, appeared in 82 games last season and scored 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists).

-EN Says: James Neal has new center. While Jokinen (right) is hardly Evgeni Malkin and he's well past his own prime, Jokinen is still capable of being a top-six center. Presumably, he'll team up with Neal to give the Predators a potent duo on the top line. The Predators tried to trade for Jason Spezza and lost out on trading for Paul Statsny. Jokinen is their consolation prize.

-The Stars re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Vernon Fiddler to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.8 million, Fiddler's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.25 million. Appearing in 76 games last season, Fiddler, 24, scored 23 points (six goals, 17 assists).

-EN Says: Fiddler allegedly turned down a few more lucrative offers to return to Dallas. That says quite a bit for what general manager Jim Nill and head coach Lindy Ruff are doing with this franchise. Fiddler is an effective bottom-six center who is strong in the faceoff circle and can agitate the opponent's top forwards. 

-The Stars signed forward Brendan Ranford to a three-year entry-level contract. He was a seventh-round pick of the Flyers in 2010.

-The Wild signed former Capitals forward Joel Rechlicz to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Blackhawks signed former Avalanche defenseman Kyle Cumiskey to a one-year contract believed to be a two-way deal.

-Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Ryan Schnell has joined the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawk's AHL affiliate.

-The Jets re-signed restricted free agent goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.15 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,000, Hutchinson's new deal will have a cap hit of $575,000. Appearing in three games last season, Hutchinson, 24, had a 2-1-0 record with a 1.64 goals against average and a .943 save percentage.

-EN Says: With Al Montoya leaving as a free agent, Hutchinson will take over as the No. 2 goaltender. After leading the Jet's AHL affiliate in St. John's to the Calder Cup final, he's ready for the promotion.

Pacific Division

-The Canucks signed former Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $10 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3 million, Vrbata's new contract will have a salary cap hit of $5 million. Appearing in 80 games last season, Vrbata, 33, scored 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists).

-EN Says: For whatever reason, Vrbata has never enjoyed the same level of success he has had with the Coyotes as he has with other NHL teams. He topped the 20-goal mark four times in his career with the Coyotes but never reached that plateau with four other NHL teams. So there is risk in him leaving for Vancouver. That said, if he can play at that level with the Canucks, he is a viable top-six winger who offers a skilled perimeter game.

-The Canucks signed former Penguins forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Cal O'Reilly and former Hurricanes defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti. Terms were not reported. Jeffrey spent last season with the Stars while O'Reilly spent last season with the Canucks' AHL affiliate in Utica.

-The Ducks signed former Oilers goaltender Jason LaBarbera to a one-year contract worth $750,000. In seven games last season, LaBarbera, 34, had a 1-3-0 record with a 3.28 goals against average and .870 save percentage.

-EN Says: At one point, LaBarbera was a steady backup goaltender but he labored through a poor 2013-14 season primarily in the AHL. He figures to be the third organizational goaltender in Anaheim next season.

-“I talked to Brian Burke, Brad Treliving and Bob Hartley all within about 12 hours on the first day. I was expecting a call from one of them — not all three of them. To hear from all three of them, it just showed how interested they were.” - Former Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland (right) on being courted by Flames management.

-The Sharks acquired restricted free agent forward Tye McGinn from the Flyers in exchange for a third-round pick in 2015. McGinn, 23, appeared in 18 games last season and scored five points (one goal, four assists).

-EN Says: McGinn (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) has solid size and a little bit of scoring touch. He has shown an ability to produce at the AHL and junior levels but hasn't had many opportunities to do so at the NHL level.

-The Sharks signed forward/enforcer John Scott to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $750,000, Scott, 31, appeared in 56 games last season and scored one goal while recording 125 penalty minutes.

-EN Says: Why? What in the world would possess the Sharks to sign this goon? Granted, Scott (6-foot-8, 259 pounds) is one of the largest players in the game and will drop the gloves with anyone, but he is prone to having some really brain dead moments which hurt his team.

-The Coyotes signed former Blue Jackets goaltender Mike McKenna to a one-year two-way contract.

Patrick Division

-Former Devils forward Mattias Tedenby has joined Atlant Mytishchi of Russia's KHL.

(Photos: Claus Andersen/Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, Donald Miralle/Allsport and Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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