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Empty Netter Assists - 06-30-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins turn their sights on free agency.

-How was the NHL's salary cap set at $69 million?

-Will the Predators miss Nick Spaling more than Patric Hornqvist?

--Happy 31st birthday to former Penguins forward Karl Stewart (right). Claimed off waivers from the Ducks prior to the 2006-07 season, Stewart appeared in three games for the Penguins and failed to score a point before being claimed off waiver by the Blackhawks less than a month into the season. He spent last season with the Straubing Tigers of Germany's DEL.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Could Matt Niskanen's relationship with former Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden lead him to sign with the Capitals?

-“We’re not even close. They say ‘We want to sign you to a ‘bridge’ deal.’ We say ‘We don’t want to do a ‘bridge,’ and that’s the end of it.” - Restricted free agent forward Ryan Johansen on contract negotiations with the Blue Jackets.

Atlantic Division

-The Sabres will use a compliance buyout on the remainder of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's contract. The move will spare the Sabres Ehrhoff's salary cap hit of $4 million over the next seven seasons.

-"The fact that he quite frankly doesn’t want to be here makes it easy. I’ve said at the start that if you don’t want to be here we’ll make it happen. He’s made I believe $22 million in three years and feels that we’re not going in the right direction, but he really hasn’t had much part in the direction the team has gone. So time to move on." - Sabres defenseman Tim Murray on Ehrhoff.

-The Lightning acquired forward Sam Gagner (right) from the Oilers in exchange for forward Ted Purcell. After that, the Lightning traded Gagner and forward B.J. Crombeen to the Coyotes in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2015. The Lightning will retain $1.6 million of Gagner's salary cap hit. Purcell, 28, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.5 million. In 81 games last season, he scored 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists). Gagner, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.8 million. In 67 games last season, Gagner had 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists). Crombeen, 28, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.15 million.

-EN Says: This was a salary dump for the Lightning, albeit they certainly went through a few steps to do it. The move will save the Lightning $5.65 million in salary cap space. For the Oilers, they've seemingly had Gagner on the block for a few seasons now. We're not sure Purcell is equal value in return but he has shown an ability to be productive when playing with skilled forwards, something the Oilers have an abundance of. For the Coyotes, they get a playmaking center in Gagner who can replace the recently departed Mike Riberio on the top two lines. Crombeen is a fourth-liner who will forecheck and drop the gloves.

-The Panthers placed captain/defenseman Ed Jovanovski on waivers with the intention of using a compliance buyout on the remainder of his contract.

Central Division

-The Jets re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Adam Pardy to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,000, Pardy, 30, appeared in 60 games last season and recorded six assists.

-EN Says: Pardy is a bottom-pairing defenseman who has a stay-at-home type. He's large (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but not overly physical and doesn't offer much in the way of an offensive game. This is a fair contract.

-The Predators will not re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Pacific Division

-The Ducks acquired forward Nate Thompson (right) from the Lightning in exchange for four- and seventh-round picks in 2015. Thompson, 29, has three years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.6 million. In 81 games last season, he had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists).

-EN Says: As stated above, the Lightning is trying to dump salary. The Ducks get a solid fourth-line center who can win faceoffs, kill penaltys and play physical.

-Canucks fans held a rally outside Vancouver General Hospital for former Vancouver forward/enforcer Gino Odjick who is dealing with a terminal cardiac illness.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Mike Carlson/Getty Images and Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 06-29-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins went heavy on forwards during the second day of the draft.

-The full draft round by round.

-Jim Rutherford (right) does not expect to re-sign any of his pending unrestricted free agents before Tuesday.

-"This is a very premier job, to be part of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You get a chance to coach some world-class players. It's a team that prides itself on excellence and winning. I lived here and played here and won a [Stanley] Cup." - Rick Tocchet on returning to the Penguins as an assistant coach.

-"You want to go after your top players but there’s also going to be cap restraints there. But it’s not as if we have to move players out because of our salary cap situation now." - Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill.

-"I didn't have any expectations. I knew if it was going to happen, it was going to be toward the later rounds. I was just happy to be in consideration." - Union College defenseman Jeff Taylor on being drafted in the seventh round by the Penguins.

-Rutherford speaks:

-Botterill speaks:

-Penguins co-director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton speaks:

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Dalton Prout to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.15 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $666,667, Prout's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $1.075 million. In 49 games last season, Prout, 24, scored six points (two goals, four assists).

-EN Says: Prout developed into a reliable bottom-pairing defenseman last season. Not overly skilled, he offers size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and a solid shot.

-In the fourth round, the Hurricanes selected defenseman Josh Wesley, son of former Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley.

-In the third round, the Capitals selected Nathan Walker, the first Australian-born player to be drafted by an NHL team.

Atlantic Division

-Senators captain/forward Jason Spezza rejected a potential trade to the Predators.

-The Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Roman Polak (right) from the Blues in exchange for defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and a fourth-round pick in yesterday's draft. Polak, 27, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.75 million. In 72 games last season, he had 13 points (four goals, nine assists). Gunnarsson, 27, has two years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.15 million. The Maple Leafs will retain a small portion of his cap hit. In 80 games last season, he had 17 points (three goals, 14 assists).

-EN Says: This is a skill-for-grit deal. Polak is a big (6-foot-0, 238 pounds), physical defender who is one of the stronger players in the NHL. Gunnarsson is a puck-mover who can eat minutes, although it should be noted he recently underwent hip surgery.

-With the first pick of the second round, the Sabres selected forward Brendan Lemieux, son of former NHL forward Claude Lemieux.

-In the second round, the Bruins selected forward Ryan Donato, son of former Bruins forward Ted Donato.

-In the fifth round, the Canadiens selected forward Daniel Audette, son of former Canadiens forward Donald Audette.

-In the third round, the Red Wings selected forward Dominic Turgeon, son of former NHL all-star forward Pierre Turgeon.

Central Division

-"I have to think it makes us more attractive to the free-agent centers out there to have a guy like Neal to play with." - Predators general manager David Poile on trading for former Penguins right winger James Neal (right).

Pacific Division

-The Canucks acquired forward Linden Vey from the Kings in exchange for a second-round pick in yesterday's draft. Vey, 22, is a pending restricted free agent who is coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $790,000. In 18 games last season, he had five assists.

-EN Says: Vey has shown ability to produce at the AHL level but simply hasn't been able to get much of a chance with the Kings at the NHL level due to that team's depth. This deal will give him a chance in Vancouver.

-The Flames acquired Brandon Bollig from the Blackhawks in exchange for a third round pick in yesterday's draft. Bollig, 27, is entering the first year of a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.25 million. In 82 games last season, he had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) and recorded 92 penalty minutes.

-EN Says: This was a salary dump for the Blackhawks and for the Flames, they'll always have a place for players like Bollig as long as Brian Burke is in charge. Bollig is a fourth-liner who will drop the gloves and can occasionally chip in a point or two.

-In the second round, the Coyotes selected forward Ryan MacInnis, son of Hockey Hall-of-Fame defenseman Al MacInnis.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Botterill: 'It’s not as if we have to move players out' - 06-28-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

Of the multiple people who are charged with trying to retool the Penguins, associate general manager Jason Botterill may have the most difficult task.

Responsible with managing the team's salary cap, Botterill must find a way to fill out a roster which only has 14 players signed at the NHL level while working with only $14,630,833 of salary cap space (according to CapGeek.com)

At the conclusion of the NHL draft today, Botterill held court with the media and addressed the team's salary cap, how they'll proceed with free agency and the team's depth on the blue line:

On the team's salary cap space:

"I think the good situation that we’re in right now is that it’s not that have to move players. We want to bring young players into our organization especially on defense here. It’s going to be a situation where we have to make some decisions on free agency. You want to go after your top players but there’s also going to be cap restraints there. But it’s not as if we have to move players out because of our salary cap situation now."

Can you be aggressive in free agency with limited cap space?

"I think you can always be aggressive [with] different roles. Are you going to be going for top-end forwards and defenseman? No. But if you’re being aggressive going for specific needs, I think that’s what we’ll be doing for sure on July 1."

With some veteran defenseman such as Brooks Orpik and Matt  Niskanen potentially leaving as free agents, how likely is it to see some of the younger defensive prospects get a chance to make the NHL roster?

"That’s always a possibility for sure. We also extremely excited. We’ve talked about these young defenseman in our system for a while here now. It’s time for Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington to get an opportunity here. Simon Despres. We saw it last year with Olli Maatta getting an opportunity. I think a lot of these young guys are ready for an opportunity too."

Will Despres get a legitimate look at the NHL level next season?

"Without a doubt. You saw how he played in the playoffs down in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton]. It was a great step in the right direction for him. It’s a situation where he went down with a better attitude. He was very physical. I think he enjoyed playing. It’s sometimes a difficult situation for some of our younger defenseman in the last couple of years just because of the depth we had. Moving forward here, I think they’re going to get a great opportunity to show how they can produce at the [NHL] level."

What do the additions of Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling do with regards to the team's overall depth?

"You’re adding depth. You’re changing things around a little bit. Hornqvist is a player our pro scouts have really targeted over the last couple of years and really wanted to go after. Just the way he plays. Spaling is a guy that just adds depth. We always talked about rearranging out bottom six [forwards]. He certainly does that. We were really excited about the trade yesterday."

Hornqvist and Spaling can each play multiple forward position. How much does that help with filling out a roster?

"I think it just any coach the flexibility to have player. … Just having the flexibility of having a guy to play wing. Having a guy play center. Play both sides, especially in a season when you’re going to face different types of injuries, it’s nice to have that flexibility."

 

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Penguins draft Taylor in seventh round - 06-28-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have drafted Union College defenseman Jeff Taylor (No. 203 overall) with their seventh-round pick in the NHL draft.

Taylor, 20, appeared in 41 games last season and scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists). A member of Union's NCAA championship team, is listed as 6-foot-0, 180 pounds.

Here's a recap of his freshman season in 2013-14 from Union's Web site:

"Named to ECACH Media Association All-Rookie Team ... ranked 14th among ECAC Hockey defensemen in conference scoring (nine points) ... led Union rookie defensemen in scoring (16 points) and blocked shots (26) ... finished a +20 – sixth-best on the team ... strung together a four-game points streak (11/15-12/1) ... scored first collegiate goal with a slapshot at Dartmouth (11/1) ... registered a goal, three shots and a block in 5-4 win at Penn State (11/30) ... scored a goal in Union’s Cleary Cup-clinching win against Clarkson (2/21) ... logged two assists in 4-3 win over #10 Rensselaer (11/15) ... assisted on Union’s opening goal in the NCAA Championship Game (4/12) ... factored in seven shutouts."

 

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Penguins select Lindo in sixth round - 06-28-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have selected Owen Sound right winger Jaden Lindo in the sixth round (No. 173 overall) of the NHL draft.

Lindo, 18, appeared in 40 games last season and scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists). A native of Brampton, Ont., he is listed at 6-foot-1 203 pounds.

A report on his 2013-14 season from Hockey's Future:

"Lindo was limited to 40 games with the Attack in his second OHL season due to a series of injuries in the second half— suffering a season-ending lower body injury in February. He scored 9 goals with 9 assists and was -9 with 41 penalty minutes. Owen Sound reached the playoffs; finishing fourth in the Midwest Division. Lindo was ranked 96th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting's mid-term rankings prior to the 2014 NHL Draft."

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