Aloha, and welcome back to NHL Transactions of the Week, a retroactive look at player movement around the league from January 28-February 3, 2013. For those wondering whether the column had perished in the wake of a Sunday evening devoted entirely to football, fear not, for I have attempted to round up everything notable from the aforementioned window to the best of my abilities. If you would be kind enough to excuse my tardiness in posting the following breakdown, without further ado, we shall neutrally, impartially, evenhandedly, and without bias, start in the Eastern Conference.
Recalled F Mika Zibanejad from Binghamton (AHL).
Jason Spezza is officially on the shelf with an injured back, so Zibanejad will get the call to help patch the Senators’ forward depth back together. Zibanejad was sent back to Sweden last season after nine NHL games in favor of his entry-level contract sliding another year, and Ottawa will have that option once again if he doesn’t exceed five NHL games during the shortened campaign. He’s done a little better than 0.4 PPG in both the Swedish Elite League and AHL during his brief professional career, but keep in mind there’s still quite a bit of growing to do at 19 years old.
Signed D P.K. Subban to a two-year contract for $5,750,000.
With Pernell Karl back in the fold, Colorado’s Ryan O’ Reilly becomes the last big-name RFA left unsigned. Rather than dish out the big bucks just yet, Montreal stuck to their guns, using the leverage they had to keep Subban’s salary low for as long as possible. For those clamoring the Habs to back the truck up and pay Subban ASAP, Brent wrote a short piece on the subject that’s worth a read. The gist of the situation is that GM Marc Bergevin did an excellent job managing his team’s salary cap, ensuring the greatest possible space to maneuver during the next two seasons. What is more, Subban is still RFA at the end of this deal which pays him a prorated $2,000,000 this season and $3,750,000 next year. Thus far, the Canadiens have only ten players and $33.7M committed to the cap in 2014-15, so P.K. will have to wait just a bit longer before he’s able to dive in piles of gold a la Scrooge McDuck.
Activated F Max Pacioretty from Injured Reserve.
Pacioretty missed only a fraction of the time he was expected to be out of the lineup after an emergency appendectomy. He figures to reassume big minutes with the Habs, allowing a certain Dr. Recchi to raise his hourly rate.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Assigned D Jake Gardiner to Toronto (AHL).
This is curious move at first glance considering Toronto isn’t exactly overflowing with NHL talent at the moment. Gardiner has apparently been suffering from concussion symptoms since December, so part of the formula could be to work him back to where he’s ready for the speed of the NHL level. However, considering the team has also buried capable NHLer Tim Connolly, it’s likely new GM Dave Nonis isn’t in any sort of hurry to put the Leafs’ best product on the ice. We could see Gardiner back on the big club before the end of the season, but until then, Brian Burke will be somewhere pouting while Toronto attempts to gather as many ping-pong balls as possible. In the meantime, Gardiner will collect ice time and experience in the AHL as the team gathers leverage down the road when negotiating his second contract.
Placed RW Mike Brown on injured reserve. Claimed F Frazer McLaren off waivers from San Jose.
It seems the loss of one fourth liner requires the acquisition of another. Brown will miss at least a week with a shoulder injury, and McLaren will assume his role of ‘matter on the ice’ for four to five minutes per game.
New Jersey Devils
Assigned LW Mattias Tedenby to Albany (AHL); Recalled RW Matt Anderson.
After just one assist in four games, the Devils decided it would be beneficial for Tedenby to see more ice time in the minors. Playing in his stead, 30 year-old Matt Anderson got his first look in the NHL after putting up 0.58 PPG in 315 AHL games. With Adam Henrique’s eventual return further limiting roster availability, the Devils were likely trying to get an idea of their options if and when a call-up is required later in the season.
Activated C Adam Henrique; waived RW Cam Janssen; later assigned to Albany (AHL).
Coming off hand surgery, last year’s Calder Trophy finalist and playoff hero is ready to reassume his spot on the big club. Once he gets up to speed, Henrique will help to solidify a forward group that looks to carry the Devils back into the postseason. Following Henrique’s activation, the Devils required roster space and waiving Janssen became a no-brainer.
Claimed forward Zach Boychuk off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes.
Looking for bottom-end depth at forward, the Penguins decided to take a chance on Boychuk. Both Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Tangradi were healthy scratches leading up to the move, so for now, Boychuk will have the chance to earn the confidence of Dan Bylsma & Co.
New York Islanders
Signed defenseman Brian Strait to a three-year contract extension for $2,325,000.
Always searching for capable defensemen, Islanders GM Garth Snow decided that Strait was worth locking in through 2015-16. Killing penalties and playing a hair over 16 minutes per game at even strength, he seems to have earned the confidence of Coach Jack Capuano thus far. If Lubomir Visnovsky assumes a spot in the Islanders’ top-four, it should allow them to ease Strait’s load in preparation for a larger role down the road. If Strait becomes a capable third-pairing defenseman, his cap hit of $775,000 per season is an excellent price for his services.
Sent forward Scott Laughton back to Oshawa (OHL).
After having a primarily defensive role in five games with the Flyers, the 18 year-old Laughton was sent back to Oshawa in favor of his contract sliding another year. In his absence, Philadelphia will search for forward depth via the likes of Mike Knuble, Tye McGinn, or perhaps Eric Wellwood if the team gets their wits about them. In what could be a long season for the orange & black, there’s neither a reason to rush Laughton’s development nor start the clock on his entry-level deal with raises to Giroux, Couturier, and Schenn the Younger due after next year.
Assigned D Erik Gudbranson and F Mike Santorelli to San Antonio (AHL).
Looking to clear a roster spot for Marcel Goc amongst other purposes, the Panthers sent Gudbranson and Santorelli to the AHL. The latter was buried after seeing only three games this season, while Gudbranson had yet to crack the lineup. Rather than waste their young D prospect in the press box, Florida looks to get him more minutes and experience at the AHL level.
Acquired F Zach Hamill from Washington for F Casey Wellman.
Swapping AHLer for AHLer, the Panthers decided to get a tad younger with the acquisition of Hamill. Playing in sixteen games for the Bruins last year, the former 8th overall pick in 2007 saw about ten minutes per game at even strength. However, scoring just 0.54 PPG in 297 career AHL games, Florida needs to get creative should they turn Hamill into their latest reclamation project.
Acquired F Casey Wellman from FLA for F Zach Hamill.
Looking to add a bit more skill to their farm system, the Caps decided to take a chance on Casey Wellman. A former point-per-game player at UMass Amherst, Wellman has a bit more scoring touch than Hamill, amassing 44 goals and 105 points in 177 career AHL games. Wellman also owns 13 career NHL points, 7 of which came in 14 games with the Wild last season. Considering the Washington’s lack of depth on the big club, continued success in Hershey could land the young forward in D.C. sooner rather than later.
Recalled F Andreas Nodl from Charlotte (AHL); Waived F Zach Boychuk.
After beginning the season in the minors, Carolina decided to once again give Andreas Nodl a look in their bottom six. The promotion came at the expense of Boychuk, who hadn’t seen action since January 19th, and is no longer waiver exempt.
Recalled D Jamie Oleksiak and from Texas (AHL).
Finally choosing to give Oleksiak a look at the NHL level, the Stars called up their first-round selection from the 2011 draft. Averaging 0.53 PPG in the AHL this season, Oleksiak will be the latest young blue-liner to try and secure a position on Dallas’ roster. After five games, the Stars will have to decide whether they want to start the clock on his entry-level contract.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Recalled F Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and D Tim Erixon from Springfield (AHL). Placed LW Matt Calvert and Nikita Nikitin on injured reserve.
With Calvert, Nikitin, and Adrian Aucoin all going down with injuries, young prospects Audy-Marchessault and Erixon will see their first action with Columbus this year. The former tore up the QMJHL with the Quebec Ramparts, scoring 239 points in 254 career games and hasn’t slowed down with 109 points in 119 AHL games over the past two seasons. Erixon will finally receive some ice time with the big club after beginning the year in the AHL, and looks to help a Power Play currently averaging the second highest SF/60 in the league pot a few more goals.
Placed defenseman Jared Spurgeon on injured reserve; recalled forward Charlie Coyle from Houston (AHL).
Part of Minnesota’s haul for trading Brent Burns to the Sharks, Coyle made his NHL debut with the Wild on Monday against Phoenix. With 14 goals in 44 AHL games thus far, Minnesota is hoping he can add scoring depth and balance to their lineup.
Waived G Yann Danis; later assigned to Oklahoma City (AHL).
Ever the journeyman, the 31 year-old Danis is no longer waiver exempt and was subject to clearance after starting the season as Devan Dubnyk’s backup in Edmonton. It was a bit peculiar for the Oilers to subject their AHL starter to waivers considering he only appeared in relief for one game, but then again there was also little incentive for another team to snatch him up. Anyone claiming Danis would have to keep him on the NHL roster, and goalie situations around the league are set to the point that he just isn’t a ‘must-claim’ guy.
Placed forward Gabriel Landeskog on injured reserve; recalled forward David Van Der Gulik from Lake Erie (AHL).
After what has become another sad tale in the epochs of sports concussions, last year’s Calder Trophy winner finally hit injured reserve. Van Der Gulik will take his roster spot for now, hoping to build on 11 career NHL points in a limited role.
Activated Mike Smith from injured reserve; Assigned G Chad Johnson to Portland (AHL).
Finally ready to return from injury, Phoenix had to create room in the crease for last year’s breakout star. Johnson was superb during his two starts in Smith’s absence and will definitely get some attention from GMs around the league after becoming UFA this summer.
Recalled defenseman David Rundblad from Portland (AHL).
Finally ready to give Rundblad another look, the Coyotes hope their prize for sending Kyle Turris to Ottawa can bolster a Power Play struggling to produce both shots and goals. Rundblad has some impressive numbers in both the SEL and AHL, likely on the cusp of making the jump for good if the ice time is available.