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Empty Netter Assists - 07-02-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins make major changes on the first day of free agency.

-The Penguins signed former Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau.

-The Penguins signed former Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (above).

-The Penguins re-signed Marcel Goc.

-The Penguins signed former Coyotes goaltender Thomas Greiss.

-The Penguins signed former Oilers/Blues defenseman Taylor Chorney to a one-year two-way contract. The son of former Penguins defenseman Marc Chorney, Taylor Chorney, 27, appeared in 69 games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves last season and scored 25 points (five goals, 20 assists).

-EN Says: This would appear to be a signing for the AHL Penguins. He is a mobile puck-moving defenseman who has never had much success beyond the AHL level.

-"The biggest deciding factor was the chance to play more." - Greiss.

-Jim Rutherford speaks:

-Deryk Engelland signed with the Flames.

-Jussi Jokinen signed with the Panthers.

-Brooks Orpik signed with the Capitals.

-Matt Nisanen signed a seven-year contract worth a total of $40.25 million with the Capitals. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.3 million, Niskanen's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.75 million. Appearing in 81 games last season, Niskanen, 27, scored 46 points.

-EN Says: Niskanen cashed in after having a career season at the right time. He joins former Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden in Washington. Reirden played a significant role in Niskanen's success with the Penguins. Obviously the money and the term were huge factors for Niskanen but Reirden's presence lured him to the Capitals.

-Chris Conner signed a one-year two-way contract with the Capitals. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $650,000, Conner's new contract will have a cap hit of $550,000. Appearing in 19 games last season, Conner, 30, scored five points (four goals, one assist).

-EN Says: Conner was a favorite of former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. So with Bylsma's departure, Conner's days in Pittsburgh were numbered. He can be a serviceable fill-in when injuries hit the NHL roster.

-Harry Zolnierczyk signed a one-year two-way contract with the Islanders. Appearing in 13 games with the Penguins last season, Zolnierczyk, 26, scored two goals.

-Chuck Kobasew has joined Bern of Switzerland's NLA.

-"Shortly after [general manager Jim Rutherford] was hired, just based on the info [agent] Neil Sheehy relayed to me on what their thoughts were, what their feelings were, it just didn’t seem like it was going to be a fit anymore." - Niskanen on leaving the Penguins.

-"I know with the group we had, we all collectively felt we blew a lot of good opportunities." - Brooks Orpik on the Penguins' past five seasons.

-“I would definitely say that the interest in me was more than I thought it was going to be, especially from Calgary. I was really interested in hearing what they had to say and what they expected.” - Engelland on being pursued by nine teams as a free agent.

-“He’s improved since I had him. I think we’re getting a real solid player there.” - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on signing Glass. Vigneault coached Glass with the Canucks.

-The Hurricanes hired former Penguins scout Don Waddell as president of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the corporate group which owns the franchise and operates PNC Arena. Waddell spent the past three seasons with the Penguins.

-Happy 38th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun (right). Acquired in a trade last year, Vokoun played in 20 games last season and had a record of 13-0-4 record along with a 2.45 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and three shutouts. In the postseason, Vokoun appeared in 11 games and had a 6-5 record, a 2.01 goals against average, a .933 save percentage and one shutout. A blood clot forced him to miss the entire 2013-14 season. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Devils signed former Flames forward Mike Cammalleri to a five-year contract worth a total of $25 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $6 million, Cammalleri's new contract will have a cap hit of $5 million. In 63 games last season, Cammalleri, 32, scored 45 points (26 goals, 19 assists).

-EN Says: This is quite an addition for the Devils who were offensively challenged last season. Cammalleri has one of the better shots in the NHL and has produced some impressive offensive totals for some teams which haven't always been outstanding in terms of generating offense. Injuries are a concern with Cammalleri but if healthy, he can give the Devils a boost when it comes to goals.

-The Devils signed former Sharks forward Martin Havlat (right) to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $5 million, Havlat, 33, appeared in 48 games last season and scored 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists). 

-EN Says: This is a low-risk, high-reward contract for the Devils. Havlat is a very talented player who has had his career derailed by injuries. If healthy, he's a legit top-six winger.

-The Devils re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Steve Bernier to a one-year contract worth $600,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $775,000, Bernier, 29, appeared in 78 games last season and scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: Bernier has been a pretty solid fourth-liner for the Devils for a few seasons.

-The Devils re-signed former goaltender Scott Clemmensen to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Rangers signed former Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle to a two-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $6,666,667, Boyle's new deal will have a cap hit of $4.5 million. Appearing in 75 games last season, Boyle, 37, scored 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists).

-EN Says: With the loss of Anton Stralman, the Rangers needed someone to fill his minutes. Boyle probably isn't as strong of a defensive player as Stralman but he's fairly reliable in his own zone. And he's a high-end puck mover. This is a nice addition.

-The Rangers re-signed former Penguins forward Dominic Moore (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $3 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1 million, Moore's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.5 million. Appearing in 73 games last season, Moore, 33, scored 18 points (six goals, 12 assists).

-EN Says: This is a nice signing for the Rangers. Moore fits what this team does very well and has shown an ability to elevate his game in the postseason.

-The Rangers signed former Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick to a one-year contract worth $600,000.

-The Rangers signed former Stars forward Chris Mueller. Terms were not report.

-The Hurricanes signed former Avalanche forward Brad Malone to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.3 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $735,000, Malone's new deal will have a cap hit of $650,000. In 35 games last season, Malone, 25, scored 15 points (eight goals, seven assists).

-EN Says: Malone is a bottom-six forward who offers a physical game and the ability to play multiple positions. This is a depth signing which makes the Hurricanes a little tougher.

-The Hurricanes re-signed restricted free agent forward Jiri Tlusty to a one-year contract worth $2.95 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.6 million, Tlusty, 26, appeared in 68 games last season and scored 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists).

-EN Says: Tlusty has had some limited success with the Hurricanes having played primarily with Eric Staal. This seems like a "prove-it" contract for Tlusty to prove he has a future as an NHLer.

-The Hurricanes signed former Maple Leafs goaltender Drew MacIntyre to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Islanders signed former Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.6 million. Coming off a contract worth a total of $600,000, Johnson's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.3 million. Johnson appeared in 27 games last season and had a record of 17-4-3 along with a 2.10 goals against average, a .925 save percentage and two shutouts.

-EN Says: This is a shrewd signing by the Islanders. Johnson, a former Penguins prospect, churned out a solid season as a backup in Boston. It's doubtful he will have the same success with the Islanders but he provides some stability at a role the Islanders have been shaky at for several seasons.

-The Islanders signed former Sabres forward Cory Conacher to a one-year contract worth $600,000. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $871,250, Conacher, 24, played in 79 games last season and scored 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists).

-EN Says: This is a low-risk, high-reward signing. Conacher, a feisty agitator with some skill. has shown an ability to produce earlier his career. If teamed with some skilled linemates, he can potentially produce once again.

-The Islanders signed former Panthers defenseman T.J. Brennan to a one-year contract worth $600,000. Coming off a contract with an identical salary cap hit, Brennan, 25, appeared in 76 games with the AHL's Toronto Marlies last season and scored 72 points (25 goals, 47 assists).

-EN Says: This is another low-risk, high-reward signing. Brennan will never produce at the same clip in the NHL, but he's good enough to crack this lineup.

-The Islanders signed former Blue Jackets forward Jack Skille to a one-year contract. Terms were not reported. In 16 games last season, Skille, 27, scored four goals.

-The Capitals re-signed restricted free agent forward Michael Latta (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.15 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $590,833, Latta's new deal will have a cap hit of $575,000. Appearing in 17 games last season, Latta, 23, scored four points (one goal, three assists).

-The Capitals signed former Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peters to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $537,500, Peters' new deal will have a cap hit of $950,000.

-EN Says: The Capitals needed a backup goaltender and this is a pretty low-rent option. He'll compete with Philip Grubauer for the No. 2 role.

-Former Sharks defenseman Mike Moore signed a one-year two-way deal with the Capitals.

-The Flyers re-signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Ray Emery (right) to a one-year contract worth $1 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.65 million, Emery, appeared in 28 games last season and had a 9-12-2 record, a 2.96 goals against average, a .903 save percentage and two shutouts.

-EN Says: Emery is a solid backup. Getting him to return at a paycut is a good move.

-The Flyers signed former Flames forward Blair Jones to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Flyer signed German goaltender Rob Zepp to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Blue Jackets acquired forward Jerry D'Amigo from the Maple Leafs in exchange forward Matt Frattin. A restricted free agent, D'Amigo, 26, appeared in 22 games last season and scored three points (one goal, two assists). Frattin is entering the first year of two-year contract with a salary cap hit of $800,000. In 44 games last season, Frattin scored seven points (two goals, five assists).

Atlantic Division

 -The Sabres signed former Canadiens forward Brian Gionta to a three-year contract worth a total of $12.75 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $5 million, Gionta's new deal will have a $4.25 million. Appearing in 81 games last season, Gionta, 35, scored 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists).

-EN Says: This seems like an overpayment. Gionta is an aging declining player without a ton of size (5-foot-7, 176 pounds). He bring quite a few intangibles to a young team but his on-ice production has been drying up the past few seasons.

-“Yesterday, he was the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, a storied franchise, a playoff team. That wasn’t a token title. That was real. That was legendary stuff. Now he’s a Buffalo Sabre.” - Sabres general manager Tim Murray on signing Gionta.

-The Sabres acquired defenseman Josh Gorges (right) from the Canadiens in exchange second-round pick in 2016. Gorges, 29, has four years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.9 million. In 66 games last season, Gorges scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists).

-EN Says: The Canadiens were trying to move Georges to clear his salary cap hit and got a pretty high-end asset for him in return. For the Sabres, they were looking to add salary and acquired a player who is a pretty dependable defensive player. Gorges can take on a shutdown role against the opponents' top offensive forwards.

-The Sabres re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Matt Moulson to a five-year contract worth $5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3,133,333, Moulson's new deal will have a cap hit of $5 million. Dealt by the Sabres to the Wild at the trade deadline this past season, Moulson, 30, appeared in 75 games last season and scored 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists).

-EN Says: Moulson, a native of North York, Ont., a town relatively close to Buffalo, is a pretty effective net-front presence who has been a consistent scorer the past decade. Even after leaving the Islanders and playmaking center John Tavares, Moulson was able to scrape out a 20-goal season. Giving a five-year commitment to a player just entering his 30s might seem suspect but Moulson, a former Penguins prospect, has been fairly durable throughout his career.

-The Sabres re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Cody McCormick to a three-year contract worth a total of $4.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.2 million, McCormick's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.5 million. Also traded to the Wild at the trade deadline, McCormick, 31, appeared in 43 games last season and scored seven points (two goals, five assists).

-EN Says: McCormick's a fourth-line energy player who will drop the gloves to defend a teammate. This seems like an overpayment but the Sabres needed to add some salary to get to the salary cap floor.

-The Sabres re-signed restricted free agent forward Marcus Foligno (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $3.75 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $826,667, Foligno's new deal has a salary cap hit of $1.875 million. In 74 games last season, Foligno, 22, scored 19 assists.

-EN Says: Foligno is a part of Buffalo's future. He's a large (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) power forward who goes to the net. This appears to be a bridge contract to a deal with longer term.

-The Canadiens signed former Panthers defenseman Tom Gilbert to a two-year contract worth a total of $5.6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000, Gilbert's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $2.8 million. Appearing in 73 games last season, Gilbert, 31, scored 28 points (three goals, 25 assists).

-EN Says: Gilbert is a mobile puck-moving defenseman who can eat some big minutes. He's not overly physical despite decent size (6-foot-2, 206 pounds). Coming off a solid season with a bad Panthers team this is a solid signing.

-The Red Wings re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Kyle Quincey (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $8.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.775 million, Quincey's new contract will have a cap hit of $4.25 million. In 82 games last season, Quincey, 28, scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: Quincey is a safe reliable option for the Red Wings. He doesn't offer any spectacular attribute but he is familiar with the team and the system and competent as a bottom-four defenseman.

-The Red Wings re-signed restricted free agent forward Riley Sheahan to a two-year contract wort a total of $1.9 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $785,000 Shehan's new deal will have a cap hit of $950,000. Appearing in 42 games last season, Sheahan, 22, scored 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists).

-EN Says: A first-round pick in 2010 Sheahan is a big part of the team's future. With a aging crew of centers prone to injury on the NHL roster, Sheahan will likely need to pick up some significant minutes.

-The Red Wings re-signed restricted free agent goaltender Petr Mrazek to a one-year contract worth $737,500. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $595,000, Mrazek, 22, appeared in nine games last season and had a 2-4-0 record with a 1.74 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts.

-EN Says: Mrazek is in line to become the team's future backup goaltender. With Jonas Gustavsson signed for one more season this contract keeps Mrazek in place as the goaltender of the AHL's Grand Rapid Griffins for 2014-15.

-The Red Wings signed former Sabres forward Kevin Porter to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Canadiens signed former Hurricanes forward Manny Malhotra (right) to a one-year contract worth $850,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,000, Malhotra, 34, appeared in 69 games and scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists). 

-EN Says: Malhotra had a solid rebound season with Carolina after nearly having his career ended by an eye injury. While he isn't quite what he was before the injury, Malhotra is a solid penalty killer and faceoff specialists who will improve the Canadiens' fourth line.

-The Canadiens signed former Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Senators re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Milan Michalek to a three-year contract worth a total $12 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4,333,333, Michalek's new deal will have a cap hit of $4 million. Appearing in 82 games last season, Michalek, 29, scored 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists).

-EN Says: This is a lot of money for a player who has seen his production decline the past two seasons. At his best, Michalek is a steady goal scorer but a knee injury has seemed to impact his production.

-The Lightning signed former Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman to a five-year contract worth a total of $22.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.7 million, Stralman's new contract will have a cap hit of $4.5 million. In 81 games last season, Stralman, 27, scored 13 points (one goal, 12 assists).

-EN Says: Stralman bring a strong all-around game to the Lightning. He will never put up gaudy numbers but he's a good puck mover with a solid shot. He's not a big man (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) and will never be physical, but he's positionally sound. he's an ideal second-pairing defenseman.

-The Lightning signed former Rangers forward Brian Boyle (right) to a three-year contract worth a total of $6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.7 million, Boyle's new deal will have a cap hit of $2 million. Appearing in 82 games last season, 29, Boyle scored 18 points.

-EN Says: Boyle established himself as a big (6-foot-7, 244 pounds) bottom-six forward with the Rangers. He'll probably get an expanded role with the Lightning but he'll bring a physical element to team which didn't have a ton of that in the lineup.

-The Lightning signed former Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to one-year contract worth $1.55 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.25 million, Nabokov, 38, appeared in 40 games last season and had a 15-14-8 record, a 2.74 goals against average, a .905 save percentage and four shutouts.

-EN Says: This is a shrewd signing. With Ben Bishop established as the team's No. 1 goaltender, Nabokov can serve as a 1A backup to ease some of his workload. Nabokov is a probably too fragile to serve as a No. 1 backup at this stage of his career but he's more than suited to be a backup for a Stanley Cup contender.

-The Canadiens signed former Canadiens forward Mike Blunden to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Maple Leafs signed former Ducks defenseman Stephane Robidas to a three-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.3 million, Robidas' new contract will have a cap hit of $3 million. Appearing in 38 games last season, Robidas, 37, scored 10 points (five goals, five assists).

-EN Says: Robidas is coming off a tough season in which he a broken leg twice. One has to wonder if investing in a player coming off such injuries at this stage of his career is a wise investment. If healthy, he's a legit top-four defenseman who can smother an opponent's top forward.

-The Maple Leafs re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Leo Komarov (right) to a four-year contract worth a total of $11.8 million. Returning to the Maple Leafs after spending last season with Dynamo Moskva of Russia's KHL, Komarov, 27, will have a cap hit of $2.95 million.

-EN Says: Komarov is an agitating third-line type of player who had some success with the Maple Leafs before. He should be welcomed back.

-The Panthers signed former Maple Leafs forward Dave Bolland to a five-year contract worth a total of $27.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.375 million, Bolland's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.5 million. Appearing in 23 games last season, Bolland, 28, scored 12 points (eight goals, four assists). Last playing in the NHL during 2012-13, he appeared in 47 games that season and scored nine points (four goals, four assists).

-EN Says: This a gross overpayment. Bolland is a No. 3 center at best but given the Panthers situation, they needed overpay to get him to sign. Bolland, who has a history with general manager Dale Tallon from their time in Chicago, can be a pretty effective two-way player when healthy. A tenacious defender, he has a history of coming up big in the postseason. An ankle injury limited him last season.

-The Panthers signed former Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell to a two-year contract worth a total of $8.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.5 million, Mitchell's new contract with have a cap hit of $4.25 million. Appearing in 76 games last season, Mitchell, 37, scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists).

-EN Says: Mitchell is coming off a solid season with the Stanley Cup champion Kings who didn't have the salary cap space to re-sign him. A positionally sound defenseman who plays a responsible game in his own zone, he will bring experience to a young team. That said, at his age and with as many miles he has on his tires, this is a pretty large investment.

-The Panthers signed former Bruins forward Shawn Thornton (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.4 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.1 million, Thornton's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.2 million. Appearing in 64 games last season, Thornton, 36, scored eight points (five goals, three assists).

-EN Says: Thornton brings toughness and experience to a team short on both fronts. A few seasons ago, Thornton was one of the league's best fourth-liners but he labored through a difficult 2013-14 season and was jettisoned by the Bruins.

-The Panthers signed former Blue Jackets forward Derek MacKenzie to a three-year contract worth a total of $3.9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1 million, MacKenzie's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.3 million. Appearing in 71 games last season MacKenzie, 33, scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: MacKenzie is a fourth-line banger and crasher.

-The Panthers signed former Jets goaltender Al Montoya to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.1 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $601,000, Montoya's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.05 million. Appearing in 28 games last season, Montoya, 29, had a 13-8-3 record, a 2.30 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and two shutouts.

-EN Says: Montoya is a good backup. This is a solid signing.

Central Division

-The Stars acquired forward Jason Spezza (right) from the Senators in exchange for forwards Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nick Paul and a second-round pick in 2015. Spezza, 31, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $7 million. In 75 games last season, he scored 66 points (23 goals, 66 points). Chiasson, 23, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $866,667. In 79 games last season, Chiasson scored 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists). A third-round pick in 2010, Guptil, 22, just signed a two-year entry-level contract. Paul, a fourth-round pick in 2013, is unsigned.

-EN Says: What a coup for the Stars. They had a No. 1 center who might end up being a No. 2 center on this team behind Tyler Seguin. Either way, the Stars will have one of the better 1-2 punches at the center positions in the NHL. The best part of his this is the fact they didn't really give up much in return. The Senators were kind of hamstrung as Spezza has final say over his destination due to a no-trade clause. Chiasson is the best player out of the bundle they gave up. He stepped up last season as a solid power forward but he's hardly a franchise player. Guptil and Paul are marginal prospects. The second-rounder in 2015 might end being pretty valuable as that draft is expected to be pretty deep.

-The Stars signed former Senators forward Ales Hemsky to a three-year contract worth a total of $12 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $5 million, Hemsky's new contract will have a salary cap hit of $4 million. In 75 games last season, Hemsky, 30, scored 43 points (13 goals, 30 assists).

-EN Says: Hemsky was traded to the Senators from the Oilers this past season and seemed to find some chemistry with Spezza. They'll presumably reunite on a line in Dallas and helped balance Dallas' offense. Hemsky is capable of being a spectacular playmaker but injuries have led to inconsistency throughout his career.

-The Stars signed former Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback (right) to a one-year contract worth $925,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.8 million, Lindback, 26, appeared in 23 games last season and had an 8-12-2 record with a 2.90 goals against average, an .891 save percentage and one shutout.

-EN Says: With the Stars parting ways with Tim Thomas, they needed another backup goaltender. Lindback struggled quite a bit with the Lightning. He'll need to prove himself to stick in the NHL.

-The Stars signed former Predators forward Patrick eaves to a one-year contract worth $650,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.2 million, Eaves, 30, appeared in 30 games last season and scored five points (two goals, three assists).

-EN Says: Eaves is a fairly strong skater who can kill penalties. Injuries have really limited his effectiveness in recent seasons.

-The Blackhawks signed former Rangers forward Brad Richards to a one-year contract worth $2 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $6,666,667, Richards, 34, appeared in 82 games last season and scored 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists).

-EN Says: What a shrewd signing by the Blackhawks. A No. 2 center was a void for this team last season and Richards fills that need quite well. Despite having his contract bought out by the Rangers, Richards came through with a respectable amount of production last season. Which the Blackhawks, Richards doesn't need to the heavy lifting like he did with the Rangers. He just needs to be a contributor.

-The Blackhawks re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Peter Regin to a one-year contract worth $650,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $750,000, Regin, 28, appeared in 61 games last season and scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists).

-EN Says: This is a depth signing. At one time, Regin had a bright future as an NHLer but a shoulder injury has derailed his career.

-The Blackhawks signed former Lightning forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie and former Blue Jackets forward Cody Bass to one-year contracts.

-The Wild signed former Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek (right) to a three-year contract worth a total of $19.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $7,142,857, Vanek's new deal will have a cap hit of $6.5 million. Appearing in 78 games last season, Vanek, 30, scored 68 points (28 goals, 41 points).

-EN Says: Vanek, a former star with the University of Minnesota, seemed destined to sign with the Wild as he was long rumored to want to sign with the franchise. Vanek is a proven regular season producer but has never quite established himself in the postseason. This is a fair contract based on what he can do in the regular season.

-The Blues signed former Avalanche forward Paul Stastny to a four-year contract worth a total of $28 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $6.6 million, Stastny's new contract will have a cap hit of $7 million. Appearing in 71 games last season, Stastny, 28, scored 60 points (25 goals, 35 assists).

-EN Says: Stastny immediately boosts the Blues' already impressive crew of forwards, particularly at center. He's probably better suited as a No. 2 center but he'll likely be a No. 1 center with the Blues. $7 million might seem a bit high for Stastny, but in this market, this is normal.

-The Blues re-signed former forward Phil McRae to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Avalanche signed former Bruins forward Jarome Iginla to a three-year contract worth a total of $16 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.8 million, Iginla's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $5,333,333. Appearing in 78 games last season, Iginla, 37, scored 61 points (30 goals, 31 assists).

-EN Says: This is quite an addition for the Avalanche. Already one of the more offensively gifted teams in the NHL, Iginla is still capable of scoring 30 goals a season while offering plenty of intangibles as a veteran to a young, inexperienced team.

-The Avalanche acquired defenseman Brad Stuart from the Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in 2016 and a sixth-round pick in 2017. Stuart, 34, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.6 million. Appearing in 61 games last season, Stuart scored 11 points (three goals, eight assists).

-EN Says: Stuart isn't quite what he was earlier in his career, but he's still a steady, physical defender in his own zone. Never an offensively gifted player, his value is strictly in what he can provide as a defender. He adds quite a bit to area of need for Colorado.

-The Avalanche signed former Panthers forward Jesse Winchester to a two-year contract worth $1.8 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,00, Wincester's new deal will have a cap hit of $900,000. Appearing in 52 games last season, Wincester, 30, scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: This is a depth signing for the fourth line. Winchester (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) will throw plenty of hits and can kill penalties.

-The Avalanche signed former Jets defenseman Zach Redmond (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $715,000, Redmond's new deal will have a cap hit of $750,000. Appearing in 10 games last season, Redmond, 25, had three points (one goal, two assists).

-EN Says: Depth signing.

-The Avalanche signed former Flames and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Ben Street to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Avalanche signed former Flyers defenseman Bruno Gervais to a one-year two-way contract.

-The Jets signed former Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault to a three-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.05 million, Perreault's new contract will have a cap hit of $3 million. Appearing in 69 games last season, Perreault scored 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists).

-EN Says: After Ryan Kesler joined the Ducks, Perreault became expendable in Anaheim. He came through with a productive season and cashed in with the first substantial contract of his contract. He is a smallish (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) but creative playmaker who can produce when teamed with talented linemates.

Pacific Division

-The Canucks signed former Blues goaltender Ryan Miller to a three-year contract worth a total of $4.6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $6.25 million, Miller's new deal will have a cap hit of $6 million. Appearing in 59 games last season, Miller had a 25-30-4 record with a 2.64 goals against average, a .918 save percentage and one shutout.

-EN Says: The Canucks needed a goaltender and they got the best one on the market. Miller has his shortcomings - his playoff resume is lean - but he's still one of the NHL's top 10 goaltenders and immediately boosts a position where the Canucks had few options. This is a fair contract.

-The Ducks signed former Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner (right) to a four-year contract worth $13 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.05 million, Stoner's new deal will have a cap hit of $3.25 million. In 63 games last season, Stoner, 29, scored five points (one goal, five assists).

-EN Says: Given the high prices defensemen were commanding yesterday, Stoner's price wasn't that bad. He's a physical defender with decent size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) who will mix it up with anyone. Ideally, he's nothing more than a bottom-pairing defenseman.

-The Coyotes signed former Predators goaltender Devan Dubnyk to a one-year contract worth $800,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.5 million, Dubnyk, 28, appeared in 34 games last season and had an 11-18-3 record with a 3.43 goals against average, an .891 save percentage and two shutouts.

-EN Says: This is quite a fall for Dubnyk who at one point, was the goaltender of the future for the Oilers. He goes to a place in Phoenix where goaltending coach Sean Burke has been known to resurrect careers.

-The Coyotes signed former Penguins defenseman Dylan Reese to a one-year two-way contract. The Upper St. Clair native appeared in 45 games with Khabarovsk Amur of Russia's KHL last season and scored seven points (two goals, five assists).

-The Coyotes signed former Kings deenseman Andrew Campbell and Canucks forward Alexandre Bolduc to one-year two-way contracts.

-The Flames signed former Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.5 million, Hiller's new deal will have an identical cap hit. In 50 games last season, Hiller, 32, had a 29-13-7 record with a 2.48 goals against average, a .911 save percentage and five shutouts.

-EN Says: The Flames needed a starting goaltender and Hiller was one of the few on the market. He's coming off a poor season with the Ducks in which he lost his job as a starter and dealt with inconsistency. It's hard to imagine him having an easy time behind a rebuilding team in Calgary, but this appears to be his last chance to show he's still an NHLer.

-The Flames signed former Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond to a three-year contract worth a total of $9.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1 million, Raymond's new deal will have a cap hit of $3,166,667. In 82 games last season, Raymond, 28, scored 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists).

-EN Says: Raymond is a slick waterbug of a perimeter scoring winger who has scored 20 goals in his career. He's not exceptionally large (6-foot-0, 185 pounds) and can get muscled off the puck. Ultimately, he'll give the Flames some offensive pop.

-The Oilers signed former Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot to a five-year contract worth a total of $20 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.3 million, Pouliot's new contract will have a salary cap hit of $5 million. In 80 games last season, Pouliot, 27, scored 36 points (15 goals, 21 points).

-EN Says: What a gross overpayment. Pouliot has rarely displayed any sort of consistency in his NHL career. A first-round pick in 2005 (No. 4 overall), Pouliot has primarily underachieved throughout his career. He was pretty effective in the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup final this past spring but this is still way too much.

-The Oilers signed former Devils defenseman Mark Fayne (right) to a four-year contract worth a total of $14.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.3 million, Fayne's new deal will have a cap hit of $3.625 million. In 72 games last season, Fayne, 27, scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists).

-EN Says: Fayne is a typical Devils defenseman in the mold of an Andy Greene or Paul Martin. He doesn't do anything spectacular but he seems to do a lot of things correctly. He won't blow anyone away with any particular skill but he will bring a stabilizing presence to a lean blue line in Edmonton.

-The Kings signed former Blues forward Adam Cracknell and former Avalanche forward David Van der Gulik to one-year two-way contracts.

Adams Division

-Former Sabres/Capitals/Blue Jackets forward Jiri Novotny has joined Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of Russia's KHL.

-Former Kings forward Oscar Moller has joined Ak Bars Kazan of Russia's KHL.

(Photos: Claus Andersen/Getty Images, Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Joel Auerbach/Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Paul Bereswill/Getty Images, Chris Carlson/Associated Press; Jeff Gross/Getty Images, Marianne Helm/Getty Images, Harry How/Getty Images, Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Sean Rudyk/Getty Images, Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, Rick Stewart/Getty Images, Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images, Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images and Elsa/Getty Images)

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For Niskanen, Penguins were 'going a different direction' - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

Former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen held a conference call today to discuss his signing with the Capitals. Here is the transcript:

What was the process of choosing the Capitals?

"The new big thing I think is the five-day [free agent interview] period before July 1 where you can see what interest is out there. My agent got a lot of calls. It was kind of cool to see and hear what teams were interested. Hearing the [Capitals] come up, my ears perked up right away. It got down to last night and today, I was seriously looking at two or three teams … It felt right to me go to [Washington]. Talking to [former Penguins assistant coach] Todd Reirden, I heard nothing but good things about Barry Trotz and the way things are going there and just the fit with my strengths as a player and what they have there already, I just thought it was a really good thing."

What was today like?

"I woke up this morning and I didn’t know where I was going. I kind of had a gut feeling and I was leaning towards [Washington] and just the more and more I thought about it, it just felt. I was going through a little bit of that process probably the first hour as the actually deals were coming to my agent and he was getting them up to me. Once we decided, there were more discussing to iron out more details of the contract and whatnot so that took a little bit of time. I exchanged 15 or 16 phone calls with [agent] Neil Sheehy today. … Obviously I’ve very, very luck and excited for a new team."

How key has Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden been to your success in Pittsburgh?

"He’s been huge. Four seasons ago, I get traded from Dallas along with James Neal to Pittsburgh. My career was not in a good spot at that point. Todd helped me come up with a plan to become a regular again, and we would build from there. … a regular in the lineup. Helped me along the way. Extra video sessions, extra time after practice, talked with me. He just helped build my confidence back up and he’s been a big part of why I’m at where I am today as a player and in this position. I said this all along. Todd helps young defensemen get better. He works on details extensively. He tries to get the most out of everybody he works with."

Where were any other larger offers?

"There was one that was slightly more. … I think potentially a few other teams by the way they were talking the past five days leading today, they were thinking of going higher if they could. They legally can’t offer anything [during the free agency interview period] but just the way the discussions were going, my agent said he got that feeling that other teams could have went higher. But to me, I wanted to find the best hockey fit. The things I described earlier as the reason I picked Washington. I’m glad they wanted me and I think it worked out well."

What's it like going switching sides in the Penguins-Capitals rivalry?

"It’s quite the change. Between the [Capitals] and Flyers, being in Pittsburgh, those are the two biggest teams that you play. … Now I’m glad I don’t have [Capitals captain/forward Alex] Ovechkin forechecking me, driving me into the glass. Now I’m on his side and I get to pass him the puck. All the forwards really. We have a good group with the forward group. We’ve got size and skill and can skate. It’s going to be a challenge playing against the Penguins. They’re always going to be with the players that they have there. It’s a fun rivalry and I’m excited to be on the other side now."

How much communication did you have with former Penguins/new Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik on joining the Capitals?

"I talked to Brooks yesterday evening and really what I wanted to talk about was his visit. He didn’t get into specifics. He said he was just really impressed with the people, the facilities. He said he really got a good feel from [head coach] Barry Trotz, [general manager] Brian MacLellan. We both know Todd really well obviously. He got a really good feel for what they’re trying to do, the direction that they’re headed and the people that are around, he got a really good feel. He said he was really impressed and he felt really good about [Washington]. That got my attention. It was really good to hear. I was interested already before I heard that. That was a good thing for me to talk to [Orpik]."

What are the expectations that come with a contract like this?

"Certainly, the better you play in previous years, the expectations go up. With a long-term contract and large money, the expectations go up. That’s reality. I think I’m ready for that challenge. I played essentially top-four minutes 80 percent of the year last year. Had a lot of responsibility at times where I was the oldest defenseman by far on our team and our team had a lot of success. I’m really excited for that challenge. I had a good year, it definitely was a breakout year. Now the challenge for me is to try keep moving forward. That was one thing me and Todd had talked about the first day I met him. How do you get just a little bit better today? How do you get better this week, this season? That’s kind of the process that we go through and I’m going to look forward to working with him some more and try to continue to get better and help the team where it needs and improve individually."

At what point did it seem like a return to the Penguins wasn't likely?

"I don’t remember the exact day. Shortly after [general manager Jim Rutherford] was hired, just based on the info Neil Sheehy relayed to me on what their thoughts were, what their feelings were, it just didn’t seem like it was going to be a fit anymore. It seemed like the team was going a different direction. Obviously, the business-side of it, things were tight with their cap issues there. Once you hear that, you didn’t want to entirely rule them out but I was prepared and excited to get to this day."

You acknowledged that playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had a positive boost on your career. Do you suspect the same could happen with Ovechkin?

"Certainly. Playing with Sid and Malkin … that culture there, that winning attitude…. those are all contagious things and just playing with those guys you’re going to be a better player. That’s the effect they have. Alex Ovechkin is going to have that effect too. [Capitals forward] Nicklas Backstrom is going to have that effect. They’ve got a lot of good players in [Washington]. So I’m excited. I think that’s one of my strengths, is that I can play with those high-end guys and I can help those guys out. I’m probably going to get some probably pretty good looks to shoot the puck and guys who can finish off for me. That’s one of my strength is getting pucks off to the net so forwards can finish off rebounds tips, those things. You see the playoffs the last few years, you’ve’ got to have some high-end talent to win and the Capitals definitely have that."

What was this weekend like with your wedding Saturday and free agency looming?

"When I got engaged, we scheduled the date about 15 months ago. I didn’t anticipate it being this big of a weekend for me over a year ago. About a month ago or so, I thought this could be a pretty big weekend when my agent started about what interest there might be and so obviously it was a fun day getting married on Saturday and kind of a nerve-wracking but exciting couple of days leading up today."

Do you prefer the left or the right side?

"As far as playing one side or the other, I have played both. Over the course of my career, I’d say it’s half and half. I played on the left a good portion of my time in Pittsburgh and also a lot of my rookie year in Dallas. There’s advantages to playing the left side from one-timing pucks and getting shots off quickly and getting your stick in the middle of the ice. I played the right more the last two years in Dallas. I’m comfortable with that. Either side is fined."

How much have you played with Orpik on a defensive pairing?

"I have played briefly off and on with Brooks. [Brooks] is a good guy to pay with. You know exactly where he’s going to be all the time. He plays his position. He’s a vocal guy on the ice. I think a good compliment to a guy like [Capitals defenseman Mike] Green or myself or [Capitals defenseman John] Carlson. He’s very steady. Does his job. Makes a good outlet pass. He can move pretty well for a bigger, physical guy. Make a good partner for anyone. Those are things he brings. We’ll see how this shakes out in camp I guess."

How important was the length of the contract?

"Oh, it’s a big commitment. A very big commitment from [Washington]. That’s no small thing. You’re talking a seven-year commitment for a pretty substantial amount of money. I’m grateful for that opportunity and excited for that challenge to be that player. As far as the stability that’s obviously awesome. I set myself up with a pretty good year. I wanted to go to a place where I knew I could be in a good spot and have a chance win for an extended period of time and I think I really found that with the [Capitals]. I’m excited for the opportunity and hope to stay for the duration."

Is it odd for three members of the Penguins to be joining the Capitals?

"It would seem odd wouldn’t it? But in professional sports everyone’s got a job to do. The three guys – myself, Brooks and Todd – we all want to win. We all want to win. Teams make changes and you’ve got to find a new place to work. When you start talking about where you want to be and what you’re looking for and what situation you want to be in, if the [Capitals] call, you’ve got to listen. That’s something I was very excited about. A big reason why all of us wanted to come here."

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

 

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Orpik: 'We blew a lot of good opportunities' - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Former Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik held a conference call this afternoon. He talked about his decision to sign with the Capitals as a free agent and his time with the Penguins. Here is the transcript:

On signing with the Capitals:

"I’ve got to be honest, up until this year, I really didn’t envision seeing myself leaving Pittsburgh. As everybody new, a lot has changed in the last little bit with management and players going in and out. It really was a perfect time for my wife and myself. I guess since [June 25], we kind of narrowed it down as best we could. We had two real, real good options in the end where we I think we could have been happy in either place. I went down to Washington on Sunday. Met with the coaches, the [general manager] and [owner] Ted Leonsis. It was a combination of a lot of things but the whole situation just felt right. It’s a group obviously the last couple of years people have felt it has underachieved. But I’ve played against that group enough that I know what the potential is four that group and how hard it can be to play against them. When I met with [head coach Barry Trotz] and kind of saw what his plan was and his visions was, it was kind of a no-brainer to be honest."

Did the hiring of former Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden play a factor in signing there?

“It definitely helped a little bit. It talked to [former Penguins defenseman] Matt Niskanen last night and this morning. We’re obviously both very familiar with Todd and how he handles us as hockey players and people so there’s definitely some familiarity there. It would take too long to go down the list that were really, really appealing to the situation. I’m lucky enough to say I’ve won the Stanley Cup already. That was probably the biggest factor knowing that there is a real strong hunger within this group. They’re not far from winning. They obviously need a little direction and I think Barry and some of the people he brought in will provide that.

Did you talk with Niskanen about each of you joining the Penguins?

"I think we were both just a little overwhelmed at the time by the process. It was kind of good to talk to each other and trade what emotions we were going through. And we shared a lot of the same ones. We weren’t really talking about teams that were interested in ourselves. I think the only reason I talked about Washington with him was because he got married over the weekend and he didn’t get a chance to go down to Washington like I did so I kind of just relayed some of the information, some of the thoughts I had on that. I don’t want to take the credit for it but hopefully it provided him some good information that hopefully came into his decision."

Why are you worth as large of a contract as you received?

"Why am I worth that? That’s probably a better question for the people who gave out the contract. I think my body of work speaks for itself. In terms of the age, the age to me really isn’t a huge factor. I think if you talk to anyone that has played with me, I take care of myself nutrition-wise and diet-wise. Whether your 22 or 33, anytime you give out a long contract there’s always some type of risk with injury. In terms of the dollar value, I think that’s just something that evolves. Every year the [salary] cap seems to be going up now with the way the league is. It’s growing. The dollar amount, no matter who you are, someone’s going to think you’re overpaid, or underpaid or you got just what you’re worth. I don’t think that’s for the player to worry about. Whatever that number may be, you just come in and do what you’ve been doing. You don’t try live up to a certain number or apply any pressure on yourself because it’s a new contract. There’s a reason they gave it to you and you remind yourself of that and you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing. … You try to get better and better every day."

On reuniting with Niskanen:

"I was really excited when I found out. I know my wife and his wife were really excited. I never played for another team before so I don’t know what it’s like to change teams. I did a lot of research on the people on the locker room in Washington and got a lot of good feedback from the people I’ve talked too. But I think when you’re making a big change like this, it’s always a little nice to have someone with your taking that jump. Hope it makes the transition a little bit easier for the two of us. I did a lot asking around on the guys who are in that dressing room and got nothing but good information."

On being teammates with long-time rival Alex Ovechkin:

“Well it will be a little different. I think we’ll be both be asked about it because I we beat one each other pretty good. It might be the best thing for the both of us. It’s funny. I got to know him pretty well at the Olympics. We actually got to do drug testing together after the [United State-Russia] game. Neither of us could [urinate] at the time so we got to spend a good couple of hours together. Guys like that aren’t too fun to go up against whether it be practice or games. I had the opportunity to go up against guys like [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby everyday in practice. … He’s done enough damage against us. It will be fun to have him on our side.

How familiar are you with the Capitals' other defensemen?

"We played against them a lot so I’m familiar with those guys and some of the younger guys who have come up the last couple of years like [Dmitry] Orlov, [Connor] Carrick and [Nate] Schmidt. … In terms of where exactly we’re going to fit in, that’s obviously for the coaches to decide. I think over time, that kind of stuff sorts itself out, exactly who fits with who best. I’m sure my role in Washington will be similar to the one I had in Pittsburgh. Johnny Carlson was definitely the resource for the information. I got to know him during the Olympics and he seemed like a really nice kid and obviously a really good player who is only scratching the surface on his potential."

On the Penguins not having success in the postseason the past five years:

“I think it’s different every year. It’s a different group every year. There’s always a lot of speculation afterwards, externally, which a lot of it is not very accurate. I don’t know the best way to answer that. In terms of this past year, I guess I’ll just touch on this past year. This past year, there was such strong expectations for the team internally and externally and I think we had a real tough time handling those expectations. We had a group … our core group had been through a lot of those situations. It was a little bit surprising. Nothing is given to you in this league. You see it time and time again in the playoffs. There’s so many good teams. You look at [Los Angeles] this year and you look at L.A. a couple of years ago, they squeezed into the playoffs on the last day. And really, anytime you get into the playoffs, anyone has a real good chance of winning. I don’t really have one good reason for you on that but I know with the group we had, we all collectively felt we blew a lot of good opportunities.

On the Penguins hosting the Capitals for the first time in the 2014-15 season Dec. 27:

"Like I said before, I’ve never switched teams so it will definitely be a new challenge for me, a new emotion for me. It actually might help me a little bit just because there has been and there will be a lot of changeover on that roster which will make it a little bit easier for me. That’s a tough question to answer. I think you have to get to the game and see how it goes. I’ve got a lot of good friends there that I’ll remain good friends with. It will be definitely be different. It probably would have been easier if I had signed in the Western Conference. Only have to play them twice."

On his career in Pittsburgh:

“Got drafted there in 2000 and when I signed, we definitely went through some lean years there. It was a couple of years before we got to that first [2004-05] lockout and the whole landscape of the league changed with the salary cap and obviously that created a lot more parity throughout the league and some of the smaller markets could compete a lot better. Some of the down years we had led to some great draft picks with Sid and [Malkin] and [Marc-Andre] Fleury. Those were definitely the more memorable years, building that team up making the playoffs. I think eight years in a row we did. I look back and I don’t really have any regrets or negative reflections. There were so many good people there that I got to play with and meet both through hockey and living there. There are definitely things that you probably could have done different but you just try look back on those and try to see what you could do better. Hopefully if you get into a similar situation again, you just try to do something different, try to improve upon yourself. I look back there the last few years, with the group we had, we felt like probably should have done better than we did so that’s a little disappointing. I look back, I think the thing that sticks out to me is just the friendships and relationships I developed around here.

On Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry:

"When the process first started, something I though about was trying to get out of the division. … It’s not quite like going to Philadelphia like Max Talbot did a couple of years ago. I don’t think it will be that difficult to me. You want to go where you’re wanted. Obviously Washington touched base with us right away. And my trip down there Sunday like I said before, after that trip, I kind of knew that was the spot for my wife and I. It was a perfect fit. Where the hockey team is going and the potential that group has. And my wife has got some family there too. That was a big part of our decision was making sure she was happy and familiar with where we were going."

On the injury he suffered during the second round of the playoffs against the Rangers which ended his season and his career in Pittsburgh:

"I’m not going to get into the details of it. I can tell you I was hoping that we were going to beat the Rangers so I could come back and play. I had a pretty good feeling towards the end of the year that I might not be going back to Pittsburgh. I think it’s a little bit of a helpless feeling not being able to help your teammates out. You never like being injured but at that time of the year, that’s really, really frustrating. I think the only way to describe is you feel like you’re letting a lot of people down whether it be teammates or fans or management. Injuries are a part of the game but I know that’s how I felt especially this year knowing that might be my last go-around with Pittsburgh."

On the other option he had as a free agent:

"It was in the other conference. That’s as much detail as I’ll give you. I think we would have been really happy with both decisions or options. It was a really hard decision for my wife and I. We probably didn’t sleep a whole lot last night and we were really on edge today. I know for my wife, it was really important to stay on the East Coast closer to my families. She’s got some family in the D.C. area. My dad is in Buffalo and he likes coming to our games and that would have been a little tougher for him. And he would have been staying up a little bit later watching the games on the West Coast. Like I said before, there’s a whole lot of reasons that factored into the decision and I think both options really, really filled a lot of checkmarks. It really came down to the proximity of our families and the feeling I got when I was there Sunday, I knew that was the perfect fit for us."

 

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Penguins re-sign Goc - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Pittsburgh is starting to look a lot like Potsdam these days.

The Penguins have re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Marcel Goc to a one-year contract worth $1.2 million.

Goc, 30, is coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.7 million. Acquired from the Panthers at last season's trade deadline, Goc played in 74 games last season (combined between the Panthers and Penguins) and scored 25 points (11 goals, 13 assists).

To this point, Goc is the only unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Penguins. According to CapGeek.com, the Penguins have $8,330,833 of salary cap space remaining.

Goc, a native of Germany, has been joined on the Penguins by fellow countrymen Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Greiss who joined the team as unrestricted free agents earlier in the day.

EN Says: This is a surprise, especially since he is accepting a pay cut and on a short-term deal. Goc showed a few flashes in his brief time with the Penguins which was marred by a leg injury which sidelined approximately a month.

When he was in the lineup he helped boost the team's overall numbers in the faceoff circle and allowed the team to use Brandon Sutter as a No. 2 center when Evgeni Malkin was bumped up to Sidney Crosby's line.

Once again, with this team now stressing analytics, the advanced statistics for Goc are solid for a player who has primarily been a bottom-six forward. Additionally, with new coach Mike Johnston stressing play down the middle of the ice, Goc will give the Penguins a strong presence at the center position on all four lines.

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Vitale signs with Coyotes; Glass joins Rangers - 07-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Two of the Penguins' much maligned bottom-six forwards have found work elsewhere.

Joe Vitale (above) has signed a three-year contract worth $3.35 million with the Coyotes. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $550,000, Vitale's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $1,116,667. In 53 games last season, Vitale, 28, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists).

A seventh round pick of the Penguins in 2005, Vitale spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins at the NHL level. In 163 career regular season games he scored 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists).

The man who occupied the locker stall next to Vitale in Consol Energy Center has left as well. Tanner Glass has signed a three-year contract worth $4.35 million.

Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.1 million, Glass' new deal will have a cap hit of $1.45 million. In 67 games last season, Glass, 30, had 13 points (four goals, nine assists).

In two seasons with the Penguins, Glass (right) appeared in 86 regular season games and and 19 points.

-EN Says: The writing was on the wall for each of the players who were pretty popular under the previous management. With the current management placing an emphasis on analytics, advanced statistics, at least the ones the general public has access too, don't reflect well for either player.

Vitale seems set to to fill in on the Coyotes' fourth line with the team presumably parting ways with unrestricted free agent center Jeff Halpern. He'll be asked to do what he did in Pittsburgh; Win faceoffs and forecheck.

For the Rangers, having parted ways with fourth-line energy forward Derek Dorsett, they'll need Glass to fill in that role. He's not great with the puck but he is an effective forechecker, shot blocker and a fighter. He is also reunited with head coach Alain Vigneault who he played for with the Canucks.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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