Empty Netter Assists - 06-26-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Mike Johnston era begins.

-What does Johnston need to do now that he has the job?

-Rick Tocchet (above, with Johnston) was hired as an assistant coach while Tony Granato and Todd Reirden were fired.

-Later in the day, Reirden was hired by the Capitals as an assistant coach.

-EN Says: Reirden did wonders for some individuals on the Penguins' blue line. He helped save Matt Niskanen's career. He'll face a tall task with the Capitals' defense, particularly with former Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green.

-“Saves me some gas money." - Tocchet on no longer having to commute from Mt. Lebanon to Philadelphia to work as a broadcaster for Comcast Sportsnet.

-Jim Rutherford, Johnston and Tocchet speak:

-“I don’t feel like I’ve missed a season, if that makes any sense. I know what to do, I’ve played the game for 30 years. I played over 700 games in the NHL, I know mentally what I need to do.” - Tomas Vokoun on being sidelined all of 2013-14 due to blood clots. Vokoun, a pending unrestricted free agent, still wants to play next season.

-The NHL's free agency interview period has begun.

-Former Penguins forward Brett Sterling has joined EC Salzburg of Austria's EBEL.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-"For me, to go outside the bubble, that’s something I never did. So it will be interesting." - Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on potentially leaving New Jersey as an unrestricted free agent.

Atlantic Division

-The Lightning has opted to use a compliance buyout on the contract of former Penguins forward Ryan Malone (right). The move will spare the Lightning from a salary cap hit of $4.5 million.

-The Lightning re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Ryan Callahan to a six-year contract extension worth a total of $34.8 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.275 million, Callahan's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.8 million. Callahan, 29, appeared in 65 games last season and scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists).

-EN Says: This is an overpayment for a player with limited impact who plays a style which will wear out his aging body. Callahan isn't ancient by means but he's almost 30. And considering he blocks a lot of shots and throws a bunch of hits, he has a lot of miles on his tires already. If healthy, he can offer a respectable 20 goals per season and brings plenty of intangibles as a leader, but not exactly a true top-line forward.

-With Callahan re-signing with the Lightning, the Lightning will send a second-round pick in 2015 to the Rangers while the Rangers will send a seventh-round pick in 2015 to the Lightning as a condition of a March trade which brought Callahan to Tampa Bay.

-The Lightning re-signed restricted free agent forward J.T. Brown to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $874,125, his new deal will have a cap it of $950,000. In 63 games last season, Brown, 23, scored 19 points (four goals, 15 assists).

-EN Says: Brown is a solid skater with some offensive upside. He needs to improve his consistency.

-“I feel comfortable in Montreal. My first priority was to sign there. I didn’t think about other (UFA) options. Maybe if I go on the free market I can get more. But after the money, maybe I lose more – maybe I lose the atmosphere, the city and the organization of Montreal." - Defenseman Andrei Markov (right) on his decision to re-sign with the Canadiens.

Central Division

-How did a move to left wing help Stars captain Jamie Benn break out as an all-star?

Pacific Division

-The Kings re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Marian Gaborik to a seven-year contract worth a total of $34.125 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $7.5 million, Gaborik's new deal will have a cap hit of $4.875 million. Gaborik, 32, appeared in 41 games last season and scored 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists). In 26 games this past postseason, Gaborik scored 22 points (14 goals, eight assists).

-EN Says: At first glance, this contract has a lot of question marks. Given Gaborik's age and propensity to suffer injuries, a seven-year commitment seems excessive. That said, the deal is front loaded as Gaborik will make $6.075 million in the first three years of the contract and "only" $3.075 million the final two years. Should Gaborik want to retire at any point, the team would not incur any of the "over-35" penalties team must absorb when a player over the age signs a contract. Gaborik was outstanding in the postseason and was a big reason the Kings won the Stanley Cup. That said, his health is always a factor.

-The Oilers acquired defenseman Nikita Nikitin from the the Blue Jackets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this weekend's draft. After the trade, the Oilers signed Nikitin, a pending unrestricted free agent, to a two-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.15 million, Nikitin's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $4.5 million.

-EN Says: With the emergence of David Savard, Dalton Prout and Tim Erixon, the Blue Jackets have plenty of options for bottom pairing defensemen so Nikitin (right) was expendable. They were able to move him for a future asset. For the Oilers, they have had a seemingly never-ending hole on defense. Nikitin brings an all-around game to Edmonton but he can be prone to bouts of inconsistencies. And despite having decent size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds), he's not overly physical. He's capable of playing 20-plus minutes a game and moving the puck.

Norris Division

-Windsor Spitfire forward Joshua Ho-Sang, one of the top forwards available in the draft, has taken the path less traveled to the NHL.

-Former Blue Jackets/Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla has joined HC Trinec of the Czech Republic's ELH.

-Former Bruins/Lightning/Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Lashoff has joined Metallurg Novokuznetsk of Russia's KHL.

-Former Panthers/Jets forward Kenndal McArdle has joined Malmö of Sweden's SHL.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Mike Carlson/Getty Images, Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images and Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

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