NHL Round Up: A busy week in the Big Show

by Georgia McCann

The starting pistol may have sounded in the opening week of the NHL, but it didn’t mean it was going to be a quiet one as we round up the main talking points from the week just gone.

CONTRACT SIGNINGS 

This week there was a number of players who signed with their teams:

  • The first of note was Mika Zibanejad who commited his future to the New York Rangers. The Swede agreed to an 8 year extension with an $8.5million AAV. Whilst Blueshirts fans will be pleased one of their top players is in it for the long term, the deal likely rules the Rangers out of any Jack Eichel talks
  • The Ottawa Senators finally tied a star up long term, by agreeing to a 7 year deal with Brady Tkachuck. The contact will carry an $8.214m AAV and will see Tkachuck back in action within the next
  • Following trade rumours last season, the Nashville Predators extended Matthias Ekholm. The four year deal carries a $6.25m AAV and could prove to be excellent value for the top pairing defenceman.
  • The New York Islanders also tied down their own underrated defenceman. The Isles extended Ryan Pulock in a fantastic 8 year deal worth $6.25 AAV.
  • After losing Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Phillip Danault to an offer sheet and free agency respectively, the Montreal Canadiens decided to lock up their star centre ASAP. Nick Suzuki committed his long term future by signing an 8 year deal worth $7.875m AAV. This should be a great deal for both sides, with Suzuki earning a big payday and Montreal ensuring there is little risk of another key player leaving Quebec. 
  • Finally, the Boston Bruins secured the services of Charlie McAvoy for another 8 years agreeing on a deal with a $9.5m AAV. McAvoy is now the highest paid Bruin, so this contract is interesting compared to the other deals the Massachusetts side’s stars are on. Additionally McAvoy’s former junior hockey teammate and reigning Norris Trophy winner, Adam Fox, will be looking at this deal with interest. Fox could hoping for around the $10m mark considering the personal hardware he has won.
Zdeno Chara has signed a new deal with New York Islanders (PHOTO: NHL)

PTO SIGNINGS

In the closing days of training camp, teams have signed a number of the professional try-out invitees to full-time contracts. The most notable are as follows:

  • Former college star Jimmy Vesey signed with the New Jersey Devils on a $800k one year deal
  • Veterans Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise signed $1.5m one year deals with the Islanders 
  • Alex Chiasson will be staying in British Columbia, after signing a $750k one year deal with the Vancouver Canucks 
  • After a fantastic camp, the Pittsburgh Penguins awarded Brian Boyle with a well deserved $750k one year deal 
  • However former Penguins Colton Sceviour and Jack Johnson have signed their $750k one year deals with the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche respectively
  • Erik Gustafsson was released from his PTO with the Islanders but was signed by his former side, the Chicago Blackhawks on a $800k one year deal 

Unfortunately, it seems fan-favourite Bobby Ryan did not do enough to impress the Detroit Red Wings management a second time and has been released. He is a free agent at the time of writing.

Dennis Cholowski is now a Capital (PHOTO: NHL)

WAIVERS

As always in the days before puck drop on the regular season, the waiver wire was very busy. Here are some notable players who did not clear:

  • The Red Wings’ 2016 first rounder, Dennis Cholowski, was placed on waivers by the Seattle Kraken, having previously been selected by them in the expansion draft. He was claimed by the Washington Capitals
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning placed the underrated Alex Barre-Boulet on waivers, for him to be selected by the Kraken. A nice pickup for the new team, he made his debut in Seattle’s first ever win.
  • Grinder Zack MacEwen was claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers from the  Vancouver Canucks. This one was surprising by the Cancuks, who could have used MacEwen’s grit to protect their young stars.
  • Finally this week’s waivers must have been a bizzare one for Swedish winger Axel Jonsson-Fjällby. After been placed on waivers by the Capitals, he was claimed by the Sabres. After being assigned to the Rochester Americans, Jonsson-Fjällby once again had to clear waivers but was again claimed, this time by his former team. This week he successfully made it to the Caps AHL side and is with the Hershey Bears.

NON-REPORTS 

Despite clearing waivers, two players did not report to their AHL sides. Mikko Lehtonen (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Matej Chalupa (Blackhawks) subsequently have had their contracts terminated and are now free agents. 

Mark Giordano is Seattle Kraken’s first ever captain (PHOTO: Sportsnet)

TRADE NEWS 

  • Vancouver sent Finnish defenceman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for some depth, in the form of Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen
  • The Rangers have given exciting prospect Vitali Kravstov permission to discuss trades with other teams. The Russian, who was New York’s 9th overall pick in 2018, is unhappy with being demoted to the AHL and will likely be suspended for not reporting to the Hartford Wolfpack. 

CAPTAINS 

Two captain-less sides named who would wear the prestigious letter this week, but another took a much more unorthodox route. 

The Kraken confirmed Mark Giordano as their first ever captain, with Adam Larsson, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde all awarded an A. Columbus named Boone Jenner as the 7th captain in franchise history. Zach Werenski, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Gustav Nyquist will serve as alternates.

Following Mika Zibanejad signing his new deal, many speculated he may be announced as captain. Instead he retains his A, with the Rangers opting for six alternates (Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Strome, Jacob Trouba) and no captain. It is possible they are still establishing who pulls ahead as the strongest leader, but they could be waiting on Adam Fox to develop in leadership roles. Fox, a New York-born Rangers fan since childhood, who had an important leadership role for the Harvard Crimson, would be a very popular choice among the fans.

LARKIN SUSPENSION 

Unfortunately for the Red Wings they will be without their captain for one game. Dylan Larkin has been suspended for sucker punching Mathieu Joseph in the head, after the Tampa Bay player hit Larkin into the boards from behind. The Michigan native was injured badly from a similar hit by Jamie Benn, so whilst you can’t condone his actions, you can understand his anger.

INJURIES

There has been a few headaches for team with some key players already in the medical room. Here is my pick of the major ones – you might need to bear them in mind for your fantasy team: 

  • Look away now Caps fans…..Nicklas Backström has been placed on injured reserve. The Swedish centre is struggling with a hip injury and will miss at least the opening 24 days of the new season. 
  • Las Vegas Golden Knights we’re dealt a bad hand this week. Captain Mark Stone and winger Max Pacioretty are both down, suffering from lower body injuries. Pacioretty is out for six weeks
  • Pittsburgh are still riddled with the injury bug. Not only are they missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but now have Bryan Rust to worry about. His injury is undisclosed.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without Ilya Mikheyev for 8 weeks with a broken thumb, but Auston Matthews is only expected to miss up to three games with his wrist problem 
  • Long Covid has reared its ugly head in the NHL again. This time Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter will miss a lengthy amount of time with the after effects of the disease 
Hank is back, but not in the way you think (PHOTO: New York Post)

LUNDQVIST JOINS MSG NETWORK

Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist is back on Broadway! After been bought out by New York, then signing with the Capitals, Lundqvist never played a game for Washington due to a heart condition and was forced to retire. However, the former goalie has quickly found work, joining MSG Networks as a studio analyst covering Rangers games. Expect great things from the Swede who has a fantastic hockey intelligence, has always been great in front of camera and when talking to the media. 

AND FINALLY….

An interesting story to end this weeks round up. Due to Petr Mrazek being injured and salary cap constraints preventing Michael Hutchinson being called up, Alex Bishop has been signed an amateur tryout contact with the Maple Leafs and will serve as Jack Campbell’s backup against Ottawa on Saturday 16th October. Bishop, 24, last played in February 2020 for the University of Toronto. He had a 19-2-5 record and a .927% SV percentage. Oh and he is currently studying for his midterms for his commerce degree. Not your normal NHL backup!