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Empty Netter Assists - 07-11-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins hired Gary Agnew (right) as an assistant coach. Agnew, 54, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Blues under head coach Ken Hitchcock. One of Agnew's primary duties in St. Louis was directing the team's power play which was ranked fifth in the NHL this past regular season at 19.8 percent but was last among all teams in the postseason at 6.9 percent. Agnew was fired after the Blues were eliminated in the first round. Before that, Agnew served as an assistant coach with the Blue Jackets and had a brief five-game stint as an interim coach with that team in 2006-07 which saw him compile a 0-4-1 record. A native of Niagara Falls, Ont., Agnew has also served as a head coach in the OHL and AHL.

-“I’ve been coaching so long, I’ve pretty much worked with everybody. One season in Columbus at one point I even took over in the goalie department for a few months. I think I’m experienced in all areas.” - Agnew.

-The Penguins re-signed restricted free agent forward Jayson Megna to a one-year two-way contract worth $874,125 at the NHL level. Megna, 24, appeared in 36 NHL games last season and scored 15 points (nine goals, six assists).

-EN Says: With the Penguins trying to re-build their bottom-six forwards, Megna stands a good chance at nailing down a full-time gig at the NHL level next season. He has a decent size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and has shown he isn't adverse to physical contact. He even showed a litle bit of scoring touch scoring nine goals in limited ice time. Injuries, consistency and a lack of trust from the previous coaching staff were his biggest issues last season.

-The Penguins re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Philip Samuelsson (right) to a one-year two-way contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level. Samuelsson, 22, made his NHL debut last season by appearing in five games with no points. In 64 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season, Samuelsson, a second-round pick in 2009, scored 22 points (three goals, 19 assists).

-EN Says: When injuries hit the defense last season, Samuelsson showed he was capable of playing at the NHL level in a brief cup of coffee. With the team parting ways with free agents Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik while also dealing with injuries to Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot, it would seem a role at the NHL level is certainly up for grabs for Samuelsson and the other defensive prospects in the system. If he does make it at the NHL level, Samuelsson will be a bottom-four defenseman in a shutdown role.

-The Penguin announced jersey numbers for their new players:

  1 - Thomas Greiss
10 - Christian Ehrhoff
13 - Nick Spaling
17 - Blake Comeau
23 - Steve Downie
72 - Patric Hornqvist

-The AHL approved two new rule changes. First, in order to reduce the number of shootouts in the regular season, the league will experiment with three-on-three overtime. Games will go from four-on-four to a three-on-three format at the first whistle after the three-minute mark. Additionally, the overtime period will be increased from five minutes to seven minutes. The second rule the league approved was giving a game misconduct to players who get into two fights in a game. Previously, game misconducts were given out after three fights.

-EN Says: This is a testing ground for the NHL. If either rule - especially the overtime change - has success in the AHL, expect it to take hold in the NHL in 2015-16.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Two Capitals prospects - forward Patrick Koudys and defenseman Zach Saar - are helping build Penn State's men's hockey program.

Atlantic Division

-The Panthers re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $5 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000, Gudbranson's new deal will have a cap hit of $2.5 million. Appearing in 65 games last season, Gudbranson, 22, scored nine points (three goals, six assists).

-EN Says: The third overall pick in 2010, Gudbranson has yet to truly display his considerable potential. A massive body at (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), Gudbranson is fully capable of battling just about any power forward in the NHL in one-on-one battles but injuries and a lack of organizational stability with Florida's coaching staff have delayed his development as an NHLer. If he can overcome both issues, he can become a top-tier shutdown defender. This deal appears to be a bridge contract to a long-term agreement.

-The Red Wings re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Danny Cleary to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.75 million, Cleary, 35, appeared in 52 games last season and scored eight points (four goals, four assists).

-EN Says: The Red Wings are loyal to their players but sometimes, they're too loyal. This appears to be a case of the latter. At one time, Cleary (right) was a truly effective two-way player who could chip in 20 goals and fit in nicely to the team's puck possession game under head coach Mike Babcock. These days, Cleary is worn down from years of abuse on his body and he struggles to stay healthy. With the Red Wings seeing so many young forward step up this past season from the AHL level, Cleary might have trouble making the NHL roster out of training camp.

-The Maple Leafs re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Trevor Smith, a former Penguin, to a one-year contract worth $550,000. Coming off an identical contract, Smith, 29, appeared in 28 games last season and scored nine points (four goals, five assists).

-EN Says: Smith is a "tweener" who bounces between the NHL and AHL. He's useful to fill out the lineup when injuries hit the NHL level.

-The Maple Leafs signed defenseman Rinat Valiev, a third-round pick in this year's draft, to a three-year entry-level contract.

-The Lightning re-signed restricted free agent forward Brett Connolly to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Lightning signed former Hurricanes forward Jerome Samson to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Senators re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Derek Grant to a one-year two-way contract.

Central Division

-The Blues re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Steve Ott (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $5.2 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.95 million, Ott's new deal will have a cap hit of $2.6 million. Appearing in 82 games last season, Ott, 31, scored 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists).

-EN Says: Ott is one of the league's best agitators is a pretty fair third-line center who is strong in the faceoff circle. His possession numbers aren't good but given his "talent" as an agitator, he has found a way to be valuable in other ways.

-Defenseman Nolan Zajac, younger brother of Devils forward Travis Zajac, is trying to make his own name with the Jets.

-The Wild moved Andrew Brunette from hockey operations advisor to assistant coach.

Pacific Division

-The Sharks re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Scott Hannan to a one-year contract worth $1 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1 million, Hannan, 35, appeared in 56 games last season and scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: At his age, Hannan isn't nearly as effective as he was a decade ago as a shutdown defender but he can still offer a respectable 17 to 18 minutes a game as a bottom-pairing defenseman. And as a veteran of 15 seasons, he brings plenty of intangibles as as leader.

-The Sharks re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Matt Tennyson to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.25 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $925,000, Tennyson's new deal will have a cap hit of $625,000. Appearing in 54 AHL games last season, Tennyson, 24, scored 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists).

-EN Says: With Dan Boyle leaving the Sharks as a free agent, Tennyson has a chance to claim a full-time NHL gig. Tennyson has offensive skill but doesn't play an overly physical game despite decent size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds).

-The Sharks signed former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Bryan Lerg to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Sharks signed former Rangers forward Micheal Haley to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Ducks re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Mat Clark to a one-year two-way contract.

Adams Division

-Former Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka (right) has joined Avangard Omsk of Russia's KHL. A restricted free agent in the NHL, Sobotka's contract talks with the Blues had hit a stalemate.

-Former Sharks forward Lukas Kaspar has joined Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk of Russia's KHL.

-Former Sabres/Canucks/Hurricanes defenseman Marc-André Gragnani has joined Bern of Switzerland's NLA.

(Photos: Claus Andersen/Getty Images, Joel Auerbach/Getty Images, Al Bello/Getty Images, Doug Pensinger/Getty Images, Gregory Shamus/Getty Images and Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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