Print

Penguins sign Comeau - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins addressed their bottom-six forwards by signing former Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau to a one-year contract worth $700,000.

Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1 million, Comeau, 28, appeared in 61 games last season and scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists).

Capable of playing either wing position, Comeau (6-foot-1, 202 pounds) averaged 12:03 of ice time per game last season. He has played for the Blue Jackets, Flames and Islanders in his NHL career.

In 2010-11 with the Islanders, Comeau appeared in 77 games and set career-highs with 24 goals and 46 points.

A few highlights:

Comeau was suspended two games this past season for boarding Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and would be considered a repeat offender by the NHL with regards to any future supplemental discipline:

-EN Says: This looks like another signing motivated by advanced statistics. Comeau was one of Columbus' better possession players last season.

Beyond the "fancy stats," Comeau has the talent to be a reliable goal-scorer as evidenced by his 24-goal campaign with the Islanders but he doesn't have a ton of consistency. This signing has "Matt D'Agostini 2.0" written all over it.

At the very least, Comeau is an option on the bottom two lines.

(Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Penguins agree to sign Ehrhoff - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a one-year contract worth $4 million according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Ehrhoff, 31, had the final seven seasons of his previous contract bought out by the Sabres this past week. In 79 games last season, he scored 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) for a pretty poor Sabres team.

A native of Germany, Ehrhoff (6-foot-2, 196 pounds) has played for the Sabres, Canucks and Sharks in his NHL career.

-A few highlights:

 

His signing leaves the Penguins with $10,630,833 of salary cap space according to CapGeek.com.

 

EN Says: There are a few layers to this signing.

First, with the team putting a greater emphasis on advanced statistics, Ehrhoff is a good fit. Over the past five years, Ehrhoff has been of the top defensemen in the NHL with various advanced metrics.

Beyond the advanced numbers, Ehrhoff is a pretty good player. He's a left-handed puck-moving defenseman who has a rocket of a shot. Playing for two pretty good Canucks teams in 2009-10 and 2010-11, he boomed in 14 goals each season.

Ehrhoff is a big-minutes eater. He lead the Sabres last season with 23:54 of ice time per game. He spent 3:27 on the power play and 2:35 on the penalty kill. In his own zone, he's reliable but he's hardly a bulldozer when it comes to playing around his own net.

Additionally, Ehrhoff has been pretty durable throughout his career having never played fewer than 64 games in a full NHL season since becoming a full-time player at the level in 2005-06.

That said, given the Penguins' abundance of assets on the blue line, we're not sure the Penguins really had a need on the blue line with so many prospects in the system, albeit with Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot recovering from significant shoulder ailments.

Ehrhoff's signing leads us to suspect something else is in the mix with a potential trade to clear up some cap space. There are still some significant holes up front among the bottom-six forwards.

This signing further cements the end of days for Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik in Pittsburgh.

For Ehrhoff, this appears about joining a winning team after some lean years in Buffalo. He told TSN, "I'm excited to play with [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin. Hopefully that can take me to my ultimate goal, winning the Cup."

Erhoff is still getting paid handsomly by the Sabres as a condition of his buyout. He doesn't appear to mind taking a one-year contract to get a chance at the Stanley Cup and to potentially cash in with another big contract as a free agent next summer.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

NHL free agency chat - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

We will be hosting a live chat for the start of the NHL's free agent signing period at noon. You can participate in the chat box below.

Live Blog NHL free agency chat with Seth Rorabaugh
 

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Empty Netter Assists - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-We will be holding a chat regarding free agency starting today around noon. Tune in later.

-Who are some of the unrestricted free agent forwards the Penguins will take a look at to fill out their bottom six forward roles?

-The Penguins extended qualifying offers to all six of their restricted free agents; Forwards Brandon Sutter, Nick Spaling, Jayson Megna Bobby Farnham, defensemen Simon Despres (above) and Philip Samuelsson.

-"When you don’t win, change is needed and that’s why things are changing in that organization." - Predators forward James Neal on his former team, the Penguins.

-"I don’t think I could have really dreamed it any better being taken by my hometown team." - Forward Sam Lafferty, a native of Hollidaysburg, on being drafted by the Penguins.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins forward Jarome Iginla. Acquired prior to last season's trade deadline in a deal which sent forwards Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a draft pick, Iginla appeared in 13 games for the Penguins in 2012-13 and scored 11 points. Iginla saw action in 15 postseason games last spring and scored 12 points. He joined the Bruins as a free agent last offseason.

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins forward Mike Eastwood. A free agent signing in the 2003 offseason, Eastwood spent one season with the Penguins. In 2003-04, he appeared in all 82 of the team's games and recorded 19 points. He retired in 2004.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Devils placed defenseman Anton Volchenkov on waivers with the intention of using a compliance buyout on the remainder of his contract.

-The Devils re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Adam Larsson to a one-year contract worth $900,000. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $925,000, Larsson, 21, appeared ni 26 games last season and scored three points (one goal, two assists).

-EN Says: Larsson (right) is a former first-round pick (No. 4 overall in 2011) who hasn't quite worked out yet. This is a prove-it contract for Larsson to show he has a place with this team at the NHL level.

-The Flyers made qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Jason Akeson, Tye McGinn, defensemen Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson. They did not extend a qualifying offer to goaltender Cal Heeter.

-Will Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden, formerly of the Penguins, make a pitch to Brooks Orpik or Matt Niskanen?

Atlantic Division

-The Canadiens acquired forward P.A. Parenteau from the Avalanche in exchange for forward Daniel Briere and a fifth-round pick in 2015. Parenteau, 31, had two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4 million. In 55 games last season, Parenteau had 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists). Briere, 36, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4 million. In 69 games last season, Briere had 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists).

-EN Says: We really like this move for the Canadiens. They bring in in a younger, more productive player at a position they have a hole at. With captain Brian Gionta expected to leave as a free agent, Parenteau can fill in on the right wing of one of the top two lines. Parenteau (6-foot-0, 193 pounds) isn't overly large and can be knocked off the puck, but he's larger than Briere (5-foot-10, 175 pounds). While Briere did have some key moments for the Canadiens in the postseason, he was mostly unproductive in regular season play. Additionally, as a center, he was stuck behind other players on a team with solid depth at the position. For Colorado, Briere is insurance if pending unrestricted free agent forward Paul Stastny leaves the teams.

-“You’re never ready for it. You’re never expecting it so yeah, you’re a little bit blown away." - Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges on general manager Marc Bergevin asking him to wave is no-trade clause.

-The Canadiens extended qualifying offers to forwards Joonas Nattinen, Lars Eller and defenseman P.K. Subban. They did not extend a qualifying offer to forward Ryan White.

-The Maple Leafs placed defenseman Tim Gleason (right) on waivers with the intention of using a normal buyout on the remainder of his contract.

-One year after signing with the Bruins, Iginla appears set to become an unrestricted free agent once again.

-The Sabres did not extend qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Cory Conacher and defenseman Jamie McBain.

-The Panthers officially used a compliance buyout on the remainder of captain/defenseman Ed Jovanovski's contract. The move will spare the Panthers Jovanovski's salary cap hit of $4.125 million.

-The Red Wings issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan, Andrej Nestrasil, defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Adam Almquist. Forward Cory Emmerton was among those who did not receive a qualifying offer.

-The Lightning issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Richard Panik, Brett Connolly, Cody Kunyk and Philippe Paradis, defensemen Andrej Sustr and Dmitry Korobov. It did not issue qualifying offers to defenseman Keith Aulie or goaltender Anders Lindback.

Central Division

-The Jets re-signed former Penguins forward Chris Thorburn to a three-year contract worth a total of $3.6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $866,667, Thorburn's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.2 million. Thorburn, 31, appeared in 51 games last season and scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: This is a questionable contract given Thornburn's  (right) age and his style of play. Never shy about dropping the gloves or throwing a big hit, he doesn't spare himself much wear and tear. This is a sizeable commitment to a player on the wrong side of 30.

-The Stars issues qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Cody Eakin, Scott Glennie, Antoine Roussel, defensemen Brenden Dillon and Cameron Gaunce. Former Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey was among those who did not get a qualifying offer.

-The Wild issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Justin Fontaine, defenseman Jonathon Blum and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Defenseman Tyler Cuma did not receive an offer.

-The Oilers gave Todd Nelson, head coach of their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City, a three-year contract extension. A former Penguins forward, he was considered a candidate for their recently vacant head coaching position.

Pacific Division

-The Kings re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jeff Schultz to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.7 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $700,000, Schultz's new deal will have a cap hit of $850,000. Schultz, 28, appeared in 67 games last season and scored 13 points (two goals, 11 assists).

-EN Says: This is a depth signing. Schultz is a No. 6 or 7 defenseman on this team and has filled in competently when injuries have set in. With the team expected to lose defenseman Willie Mitchell to free agency, it might have to rely on Schultz even more.

-The Kings tendered qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Andy Andreoff, Dwight King (right), goaltender J.F. Berube, and defenseman Brayden McNabb.

-The Flames extended qualifying offers to defensemen Chad Billins Mark Cundari, forwards Lance Bouma, Joe Colborne, Ben Hanowski and goaltender Joni Ortio. Forwards Paul Byron and T.J. Galiardi, were among those not given qualifying offers.

-The Sharks extended qualifying offers to restricted free agent defenseman Jason Demers, Taylor Doherty, Matt Tennyson, forwards James Sheppard, Tommy Wingels and goaltender Harri Sateri.

-The Ducks re-signed restricted free agent goaltender Igor Bobkov to a one-year two-way contract.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Claus Andersen/Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Neal: 'When you don’t win, change is needed' - 06-30-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The last time the Penguins made a major trade during the NHL draft, they traded forward Jordan Staal the day of his wedding in 2012.

During this past weekend's draft, James Neal found out he was traded a day prior to the wedding of former teammate Matt Niskanen.

Earlier today, Neal, now a member of the Nashville Predators held a conference call with media and talked about the trade, his time in Pittsburgh, his history of discipline and his future with the Predators.

Here are the highlights of the call:

(Note: Much of the call was interrupted by audio feedback and could not be transcribed.)

Opening statement:

"I’d like to thank the Penguins organization for everything over the past three years. Coming from Dallas and playing in Pittsburgh was an unbelievable opportunity for me. And now a new chapter in my career. I couldn’t be more excited to be with the Nashville Predators and get things going."

On being traded:

"Anytime you’re traded, it always comes as a shock. I think even if you knew you were going to get traded, it comes as a shock. To be welcomed into Nashville by so many people and so many fans and to come in to be a top guy and take on a lot of responsibility in Nashville, it’s something I’m looking forward to and something I’m excited for. It’s a crazy time but a real exciting time. I’m real excited to get into Nashville and get ready for a great season."

On the Predators having offensive woes last season:

"That’s part of why I came into Nashville. You look what Nashville did last year in playing over 50 games without their best player in our goaltender Pekka Rinne. Our defense is unbelievable and so is [captain/defenseman] Shea Weber. Obviously things are changing here. We’re going to be a more offensive team. I talked to coach [Peter] Laviolette. Nothing but a bright future ahead. That’s something I’m looking forward to. I’ve need to step up and be a top guy in this game and be a leader. I’m excited for that challenge."

On Laviolette’s style of play:

I like it a lot. It sounds very exciting. Winning puck battles. … It’s going to be big changes and I get to be a part of that.

On his suspensions:

"Your emotion gets the better of you. Obviously, there were things that have happened in my game that you regret. I have to change and be better for it. I've changed as a player, I've grown as a player. I'm still young, I have a very long way to go. Mistakes happen and I'm going to be better for it and move forward and not let that stuff happen again. I have to concentrate on being a leader on this team and taking my game to the next level."

On potentially helping the Predators recruit potential free agents:

“We've started that, obviously it started with me, and with myself coming here. Hopefully guys will want to come to Nashville. Like I’ve said, we have great goaltending, great defense and now we're starting to build our offense to be a more powerful team. That's a great start.”

On being back in the Western Conference:

"The West, I know a lot about the West coming up with Dallas. It’s tough. There’s a lot of great teams. My time in Pittsburgh and in the East helped me grow as a player. I’m thankful for that. It’s exciting to be back in the West."

On the Penguins coming up short in the playoffs in recent seasons:

"I think anytime when you’re surrounded like [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang you have those expectations to win. … It’s hard to put your finger on why you didn’t succeed. When you don’t win, change is needed and that’s why things are changing in that organization."

What do you see with the Predators?

"You see a team that missed the playoffs by three points in the tough Western Conference. They missed it by three points without their best player in Pekka. So everything is there, and I hope I can come in here and supply offense for a team that was lacking a little bit of offense. Things are changing and things are changing for the best. We have a great leader and a captain (Shea Weber), and we're just getting better."

Last time you were traded, it was midseason. How different is it being traded during the offseason?

"I think it’s better to go in and get to set up in Nashville. Find a place to live in. … When you get traded during the year, it happens so fast. You have to leave your teammates quick. Everything is a little hard to adjust to."

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.