Cross Checks: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins already have picked up top-line winger David Perron and fourth-line center Maxim Lapierre, but they’re likely not done.

Word is the Pens could still add both a piece up front and on the back end -- or at least one of them.

[+] EnlargeDavid Perron and Sidney Crosby
Joe Sargent/NHLI/Getty Images)The Penguins made a few moves early, but they hope to add another piece before March 2.
Among the forwards Pittsburgh is keeping a close on these days are Toronto Maple Leafs teammates Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli. Both are pending unrestricted free agents headed out the door and both carry cheap cap hits, which is very important to a cap-tight team such as Pittsburgh.

Thing is, they’re hardly alone in eyeing one of those two players for just that reason. It’s believed the Leafs are asking for a second-round pick for each of those players, a fairly high price that some teams are balking at right now, but given the interest, they just might get it from somebody.

On defense, I think the Pens would like to add a bit more experience if they can swing it. Those on their radar include Cody Franson, Jeff Petry and, to a lesser degree, Scott Hannan and Jan Hejda.

If Marc Methot doesn’t re-sign with the Ottawa Senators, he’d be another guy to throw on the list, although the competition would be fierce for his services.
Trending up: Cedric Paquette, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The 21-year-old forward, called up by the Lightning in October, notched his first NHL hat trick in the Bolts' 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, a game that Tampa head coach Jon Cooper eyed as a good measuring stick for his young club. Paquette has four goals in his past two games, a nice outburst following a 29-game slump that has dragged on since November.

Trending down: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Granted, Crosby is still the greatest player in the game. And yes, he’s coming back from a lower-body injury that he was likely battling through before getting some time off during the All-Star break. But No. 87 has been held off the score sheet for three straight games. What would be considered a minor blip for others is a more glaring lack of production for the prolific scorer. In Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Washington Capitals, Crosby also lost 17 of 24 faceoffs.

Surprise of the Week: Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Sharks -- The third-liner delivered a fine effort in the Sharks' decisive 6-3 effort against the league-leading Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, finishing with a goal and an assist, as well as four hits in 14:38 in ice time. Both Goodrow and linemate James Sheppard did some quality work for the Sharks, particularly in a five-goal second period that broke the Ducks’ willpower.

Trending up: John Klingberg, Dallas Stars -- Klingberg continues to be one of the most promising rookies to watch this season, as he continues to mature on Dallas’ blue line. The 22-year-old snapped a 3-3 draw with an unassisted goal in the third period after recording an assist on Jamie Benn's power-play goal earlier in the game. With 20 points in 34 games this season, Klingberg is second among rookie defensemen in scoring behind Florida's Aaron Ekblad.

[+] EnlargeJoe Pavelski, Ilya Bryzgalov
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezIlya Bryzgalov was pulled in the second period after coughing up six goals on 25 shots.
Trending down: Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo Sabres -- Not too much sunshine in Buffalo these days, so we don’t blame Zadorov for jetting off to the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend for the All-Star break. But the young defenseman made a major travel miscue in failing to get back on time and missing the team’s first practice Monday. Coach Ted Nolan suspended Zadorov, who missed Tuesday’s game against Calgary and sat again Thursday night against Edmonton.

Surprise of the week: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes -- There’s no surprise that the young Swede is among the top blueliners in the NHL, but his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Arizona Coyotes’ 3-1 win Thursday night earns him a spot in this category. Five seconds into the third period, Ekman-Larsson sailed an innocuous shot from his own blue line and caught Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier by surprise, knotting the game at 1 (shorthanded, no less) in the most Leafs-esque thing to happen this week.

Trending up: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens -- Price continues to assert his dominance against the New York Rangers, recording his sixth career shutout against the Blueshirts on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Price turned away all 24 shots faced in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals for his third shutout of the season. Makes you wonder how things might have worked out differently had Price been healthy for that series last spring ...

Trending down: Ilya Bryzgalov, Anaheim Ducks -- With so much to like about the way the league-leading Ducks are playing these days, goaltending remains a major concern, and Bryzgalov does not seem to be the answer. In his fourth start of the season, Bryz was pulled in the second period after coughing up six goals on 25 shots. That leaves him with a 1-3-0 record this season and an unsightly .832 save percentage and 4.68 goals-against average.

Surprise of the week: Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild -- We will admit that, like Bryzgalov in Anaheim, we have been skeptical that Dubnyk is the answer in net for the Minnesota Wild. But credit is due to the lanky netminder, who posted his second shutout since being acquired by general manager Chuck Fletcher. Most recently, Dubnyk blanked the Calgary Flames in Minny’s 1-0 victory, stopping all 30 shots he faced. If the Wild’s luck is going to turn, Dubnyk will have to continue playing a major role between the pipes.
[+] EnlargeDavid Perron
Joe Sargent/NHLI/Getty ImagesDavid Perron has five goals and two assists since joining the Penguins.
The Penguins made a big move by acquiring winger David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers earlier this month and he’s looked terrific since going to Pittsburgh.

Are the Pens done?

Maybe, maybe not.

"We’ll have a better idea once we get [Patric] Hornqvist and [Blake] Comeau back [from injury] so that we balance out our lines and get a better picture of what we got," Penguins GM Jim Rutherford told Tuesday. "But you’re always willing to listen and willing to make your team better."

Having said that, the Pens are tight against the salary cap, so any deal is likely dollar for dollar, which makes things harder.

In a perfect world, I suspect the Pens would like to further add a fourth-line forward to strengthen that unit.

Mumps? Sidney Crosby held out after concerns over swollen face

December, 12, 2014

Every pretend doctor on Twitter questioned whether Sidney Crosby was the latest player with mumps after he had a noticeably swollen face in an interview on Friday.

Crosby denied that he had mumps, telling reporters he would not be around his teammates and preparing for a game if he were sick. But later the team announced it would keep him out of the next two games as a "precautionary measure."

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said the recommendation was made by medical specialists after further test results came back Friday.

"There is no indication at this time that this is the mumps, but we are going to hold him out as a precaution," Rutherford said. "We'll have additional test results in a few days."
The Pittsburgh Penguins, as we reported earlier this season, already had planned to target a top-six winger by the March 2 trade deadline. With the unfortunate news that winger Pascal Dupuis is going to be out six months after doctors discovered a blood clot in his lungs, that plan is more important than ever.

[+] EnlargePascal Dupuis
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarThe loss of Pascal Dupuis opened up $3.75 million in cap space for the Penguins.
But for now, rallying around Dupuis takes precedence.

"My priority right now is to make sure Pascal is all right," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told Thursday. "I can’t do anything about his health, but I want to keep him involved with the team. We don’t want to treat him like an injured player, where injured players don’t feel part of it. I want him to be part of it, he’s very important to our team on and off the ice. We can’t put him on the ice but he can be part of it off the ice."

But yes, given the cap space that has opened up with the loss of Dupuis ($3.75 million cap hit), Rutherford will eventually see what’s out there.

"We’ll start the search . . . we’ll do what we’ve always done, gather names and scout players, and if and when a deal comes along, then we’ll make it," Rutherford said.

"The key, though, is that Pascal is the priority right now."

What the Penguins have to offer in any possible trade for a top-six winger lies in the number of young defensemen they have in the AHL. Some of them should be on NHL rosters already. That’s the carrot for other teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a four-year contract extension worth a total of $23 million. Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun debate the risks involved in the timing of the extension:

BURNSIDE: Good day, my friend. Both you and I had conversations with Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford in the past month, and he was very consistent: He didn’t care about the past, he believed in Marc-Andre Fleury and said Fleury would be his guy as long as he was GM. He made good on that promise Wednesday when he extended Fleury by four years at $5.75 million annually, eliminating the possibility that he would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The announcement triggered, as you might expect, a firestorm. That’s to be expected when it comes to a goaltender who is as polarizing a figure as there is at his position (OK, Ilya Bryzgalov factors into that list, too, but I digress). One of the most successful regular-season goaltenders of his generation and a Stanley Cup winner, Fleury has also more recently been guilty of horrific playoff meltdowns. So, let me ask you this, if you were the Pittsburgh GM, would you have inked Fleury to an extension, or would you have waited out one more playoff run before committing to another four years?

[+] EnlargeMarc-Andre Fleury
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsMarc-Andre Fleury is 7-2-0 this season with a 1.89 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
LEBRUN: Easy to say from my desk chair, but I would have waited until Fleury delivered next spring. It’s the same response I got from another NHL GM when we reacted together to the Fleury news. Having said that, the GM in question made a good point, which is probably at the heart of it: Had Rutherford not signed him now, that storyline would have tracked more attention and taken on more weight as the season went on; it pretty much would've been a constant talking point during the playoffs after good games (the price to sign goes up) or bad games (thank goodness he’s UFA).

At the end of the day, you get the sense that eliminating what might have been a huge distraction was worth it for the Penguins. It’s not as though this prevents Pittsburgh from ever making a change in goal next season or years beyond if the Penguins really want to. Every contract in the league can be moved, even though this new agreement has a no-move/limited no-trade clause. But for now, it eliminates what might have been a nagging issue.

BURNSIDE: For me, it’s a simple question of what was the alternative? Let’s say the Pens moved Fleury in the offseason or at some point during this season because they wanted something different next spring. Who’s better? Ilya Bryzgalov? Nope. Martin Brodeur? Nope. Tomas Vokoun? He was terrific for the Pens in 2013 but, with his health issues, he's not a real option long-term and maybe not even short-term. Let’s say the San Jose Sharks and the Pens swapped netminders with Antti Niemi coming to Pittsburgh, how is that an upgrade even though both Niemi and Fleury have won Cups and are off to terrific starts this season? And let’s not forget that Fleury could hardly be blamed for the Pens’ collapse against the New York Rangers in the second round of last spring’s playoffs when they let a 3-1 series lead slip away, scoring just three times in the last three games. If the Penguins win another Cup in June, or even if they go to a final or a conference final, this deal will look fine. If Fleury reverts to the form he showed from 2010-13, well, that’ll be an entirely different story, and the pressure from ownership to make use of that limited no-trade clause will be significant.

LEBRUN: Running an NHL team is all about managing your risks. The risk in signing Fleury now is that he stinks next spring and all the people on Twitter on Wednesday will go back and retweet their comments from today when they said this deal was crazy. And that’s very possible. The other risk is if you let Fleury walk away July 1 after he’s just won you a Cup, and you can’t find a replacement who’s as good as he is, not to mention the PR disaster of letting your Cup-winning goalie leave town. Is it very likely that the Pens win the Cup? Not based on the last couple of playoffs. But is it possible? Right now, they are playing the best hockey they've played in a long time, so yes. It’s more than possible.

Either way, this debate won’t be answered until next May or June, which is almost always the case.
John GibsonJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesAnaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson is expected to miss at least six weeks.

The Anaheim Ducks announced injury updates to their goalie duo Tuesday.

The news was good on Frederik Andersen, who is only day-to-day with leg tightness. Not so good was the news that prized rookie John Gibson is out approximately six weeks with a groin injury. Notice the word approximately. In fact, it’s possible it’s longer than that.

In any case, we hear the Ducks have begun to look at their goalie options if they indeed decide to add some insurance in goal. Obviously you’ve got unrestricted free agents such as Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov out there, in addition to the trade route.

Certainly Bryzgalov is an interesting possibility given his prior history with the Ducks.

Again, the Ducks might do nothing and just wait it out, but what we’re hearing is that they’re at least looking at what’s out there.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scoring goals like nobody’s business, and if they get their way, they’ll add another weapon before the March trade deadline.

The Pens don’t have anything in the hopper now, but when the time is right, we’re told the plan is to try and add a top-six winger to play with Evgeni Malkin. Blake Comeau has done a nice job of late on Malkin’s line with Pascal Dupuis, but in reality he’s a bottom-six forward. Pittsburgh eventually will look for an upgrade for that spot.

The chip to play is obvious: The Penguins are loaded on defense in the organization. Youngsters such as Scott Harrington, Derrick Pouliot, Philip Samuelsson or Brian Dumoulin could be put out there as trade bait, but I suspect if teams come calling on a more established NHLer from Pittsburgh’s back end, the Pens may have to listen depending on who’s being offered.

The biggest name on next summer’s UFA market is easily Jason Spezza, but whether he actually gets there remains to be seen.

The Dallas Stars plan to meet with Spezza’s camp over the next few weeks, said a source, to begin talks on what hopefully will be an eventual extension for the star center.

[+] EnlargeBlues vs. Stars
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesVladimir Tarasenko has 13 points (seven goals, 6 assists) through his first 11 games of the season.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored what could very well end up being the goal of the year Monday night in New York, continuing his terrific start to the season.

The St. Louis Blues' leading scorer just so happens to be playing the final year of his entry-level deal, making him one of the higher-profile restricted free agents for next summer.

St. Louis management was proactive, hoping to get the ball rolling on talks for an extension before the season even started.

"We reached out in September to see if there was any interest in getting things going," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told Tuesday. "He said he wanted to wait until the season was over and I said, 'No problem. After the year we can discuss it then.' I’m very comfortable with the situation. He’ll be a restricted free agent and I’m sure we’ll get something done when he’s ready to talk."

Veteran agent Mike Liut, who represents Tarasenko, echoed those facts, saying as much as it sounds like a cliché, Tarasenko just wants to focus on hockey and worry about the business side after the season.

If he maintains the offensive output he’s producing now, it should be a no-brainer contract, really. The Blues went long with Alex Pietrangelo out of his entry-level deal and I think they would be comfortable doing the same if Tarasenko has a huge year. I think where a bridge deal becomes a possibility is if he cools off and puts up decent-but-not-great numbers, inviting more uncertainty and desire to see more before committing long-term.

Personally, I think I’ve seen enough. This kid has unreal natural offensive ability. He can score goals from angles and places on the ice where only a handful of star snipers can hit in this league. You don’t teach that.

Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for a couple of the Carolina Hurricanes' games.

He’s a streaky player, so the benching might wake him up.

Clearly there isn’t a team in the league that would take on his contract, which hsa three more years after this season at $7 million each.

"The only [way] they can move him is to eat like 40 percent of that deal," said one Eastern Conference NHL team executive on Tuesday.

The league and NHLPA remain stuck in their positions vis-à-vis a solution to the Los Angeles Kings' cap issue with Slava Voynov, a source said Tuesday.

As we reported last week, the league is willing to get the Kings some cap relief but the players association won’t sign off due to escrow concerns. The union would like the money to be outside the system (therefore not count against the players’ share), but that’s a nonstarter for the league.

Trick or treat: Crosby in costume, Subban a 'Thriller'

October, 23, 2014
Anyone dressing up as Barry Melrose for Halloween? How about your favorite NHL player?

Send us pictures of your Halloween costume to @ESPN_NHL using #espnnhllive!

Before the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers game, the crowd at the Consol Energy Center sang along to "O Canada" in a sign of support after the shootings in Ottawa.

Rumblings: Futures of Fleury, Boychuk

October, 21, 2014
[+] EnlargeMarc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesMarc-Andre Fleury's contract expires at the end of the current season.
There's been much speculation about the future of Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, if for no other reason than the goaltender is playing the final year of his contract and wasn’t extended this past summer.

But people shouldn't read into that, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday. He doesn’t believe Fleury is going anywhere.

"As long as I'm GM here, he's my goalie," Rutherford told "My plan is to re-sign him when the time is right. When that is, I don’t know, if it’s during the year or after the year, but I do want to re-sign him. I believe in him."

Newly acquired blueliner Johnny Boychuk has looked dynamite in a New York Islanders uniform and he’s been a big hit in the room, too, a source saying Tuesday he’s already become a big leader for the team.

That won’t surprise anybody who knew him with the Boston Bruins, where he was a very popular player in the room but became a salary-cap victim on the eve of the NHL season.

He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but you can expect the Isles to put on a full-court press to try and re-sign him. Talks haven’t begun yet, as the Isles want Boychuk to settle into his new digs on Long Island, but at some point this season and probably in the not-too-distant future, the Isles will approach Boychuk’s camp with, my guess is, a pretty serious offer.

Speaking of those two second-round picks the Bruins got for Boychuk, those could come in handy before the March trade deadline if Boston makes a move or two.

The Bruins most likely will try to add a top-six winger and it’s believed that among the wingers of interest to Boston is Chris Stewart of the Buffalo Sabres, a pending UFA whom Buffalo will most likely move. Now, whether or not the Sabres would move him to a rival within the division remains to be seen. Although, the Sabres have had discussions over the past few months with divisional foe Detroit regarding defenseman Tyler Myers. So who knows, maybe the Sabres don't care.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association met again last week to further the agenda on the World Cup of Hockey.

It’s still not exactly clear just when both sides will be ready to finalize plans and make an announcement.

However, one decision seems to have been made. A source told that while the Montreal Canadiens were pushing hard to host some games along with main host Toronto, it sounds like the Maple Leafs will host the entire tournament.

That’s really been the vision from the beginning from NHL executive John Collins, who wants to make the return of the World Cup a huge, one-city event to create more buzz.

One of the reasons that the two sides have delayed any kind of announcement is that there is a desire to be able to commit to more than one year for this tournament and to detail the long-term commitment for the event, which hasn’t been played since 2004.

There was much debate during the Steve Yzerman-Martin St. Louis controversy last season whether it was smart for an Olympic team GM to also hold the same job with an NHL club.

There were some who wondered if it wasn’t a more prudent road to go down moving forward, at least in Canada where the roster choices are the most difficult, to have someone run the team who wasn’t an NHL GM so as to avoid the awkward, emotional situation where St. Louis reacted with such disappointment and anger at Yzerman not selecting him the first time around for the Sochi roster. (St. Louis eventually made the team as the injury replacement for Steven Stamkos, but the damage was done as he asked for a trade out of Tampa.)

But new Hockey Canada president Tom Renney doesn’t believe a change is needed in that regard.

If NHL players return for another Olympics, a decision that remains undecided, Renney told on Tuesday that he most likely will lean on an NHL GM once again.

"Yes, I think that would be the case," said Renney, who replaced Bob Nicholson as Hockey Canada president over the past summer.

Renney will need to find a new man for the job, Yzerman stepping down after leading Canada to back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

What’s not clear is whether Mike Babcock would return for a third straight Olympics as head coach. Renney, who was Babcock’s associate coach in Detroit the past few years before leaving for the Hockey Canada job, said the new Team Canada GM would have a big say in the coaching staff.

As for Babcock, reached via text about a third straight Olympics, the Red Wings coach responded: "You have to earn the right."

Which wasn’t a yes or a no, but then again, he’s got a lot on his plate these days when it comes to future career decisions.

The bloom is off the rose in Winnipeg, where fans aren’t thrilled with a slow start to the season.

The novelty is gone for Winnipeg fans in their fourth season back in the NHL. The passionate fans of Winnipeg want playoff hockey.

It’s way too early to overreact to losing four of their opening five games, but then again, playing in the NHL’s toughest division, the Central, there isn’t too much rope there in terms of digging an early hole.

But ever since moving to Winnipeg, it’s been about the long game for Jets management and ownership, embracing a patient draft-and-develop model that is going to take time to bear fruit.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a long-term deal and I believe he’s got full backing from ownership to stick with the plan.

There are only so many options at his disposal when you consider how bare the cupboard was when he inherited the Atlanta Thrashers roster, so restocking that fully takes time; plus throw in the Jets having the 25th-ranked payroll right now and it’s a reminder that, unlike some of their Canadian cousins, they’re not going to easily speed up the process by throwing money at it.

To be fair, the Jets did try to get in on the Paul Stastny UFA sweepstakes in late June, but it was clear early on that it would be St. Louis or Colorado for the center, who ended up signing with the Blues.

And sure, I’m guessing the Jets would have taken a stab at trading for Jason Spezza had he not indicated a desire to leave his home country.

The point being, the Jets’ current course is their only realistic option: drafting and developing homegrown talent. It’s just not happening as fast as the fans want.

NHL's 3 stars: Plekanec, Kuemper, Crosby

October, 13, 2014
Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, Minnesota Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 12.


Plekanec tied for the League lead with four goals (4-1—5), helping the Canadiens pick up a trio of road wins to open the season with a 3-0-0 record for the first time since 2005-06. He began the season with two goals, including the game-winner with 42.9 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Oct. 8. Plekanec then scored Montreal’s lone regulation goal in a 2-1 shootout win over the Washington Capitals Oct. 9. He closed the week with 1-1—2 in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 11, marking his first three-game goal streak since Oct. 25-29, 2010 (3-1—4). The 31-year-old Kladno, Czech Republic, native is playing in his 10th full NHL season and has compiled 180-264—444 over 682 regular-season games.


Kuemper stopped all 46 shots he faced in helping the Wild become the fifth team since 1943-44 to begin a season with consecutive shutouts (a feat also accomplished last week by the San Jose Sharks). He recorded 16 saves in a 5-0 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche Oct. 9 and then completed the home-and-home sweep with 30 stops in a 3-0 win Oct. 11. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 24-year-old Saskatoon, Sask., native is the youngest goaltender in NHL history to post shutouts in each of his team’s first two games of a season. A sixth-round pick (161st overall) by the Wild in the 2009 NHL Draft, Kuemper has a 15-10-4 record with a 2.22 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and four shutouts in 34 career regular-season appearances.


Crosby shared the League lead with six points (3-3—6) and four power-play points (2-2—4) in lifting the Penguins to a pair of victories to open the season. He posted 2-1—3 in a 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks Oct. 9, marking his third consecutive home opener with a goal and stretching his career totals in home openers to 7-6—13 (9 GP). Crosby then added 1-2—3 in a 5-2 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs Oct. 11. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first Penguins player to record at least three points in each of the team’s first two games of a season since 1995-96, when Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux each did so. The reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner, Crosby has compiled 277-498—775 in 552 regular-season games since being selected first overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft.

Metropolitan Division wrap

October, 13, 2014
Trending up
  • Isles starting strong: New owners, a few high-profile trade acquisitions and contributions from a bright young prospect are making for a fun time on Long Island in the first week of play. Forward Brock Nelson, 22, leads the league with six points heading into Week 2, and veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, a recent addition to the lineup via trade, is tops with four assists. The New York Islanders won their first two games of the season, a home-and-home against the Carolina Hurricanes, the latter of which was a fitting victory for the team’s final season opener at Nassau Coliseum.
  • Offensive outburst in N.J.: Hard to believe that the New Jersey Devils' offensive woes are completely behind them, but the team has shown no difficulty putting the puck in the net so far. The team has tallied 11 goals in the first two games of the season. Offseason addition Mike Cammalleri already has three goals, and trusty veteran Jaromir Jagr moved into sixth place on the NHL all-time scoring list with a pair of assists in the team’s season-opening 6-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
  • Top line in Columbus: Raise your hand if you thought that Ryan Johansen would struggle after missing all of preseason. Well, the protracted contract negotiations don’t seem to be having an adverse effect on the young pivot, who is centering a line with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson. The trio has combined for nine points through the first two games.
Trending down
  • Cursed in Carolina? Man, things went from bad to worse for the Carolina Hurricanes in the first week of action. Already without Jordan Staal, who sustained a broken leg in the preseason, and Jeff Skinner, who is dealing with yet another concussion, team captain Eric Staal left the team’s second match against the Islanders this week with what is reportedly an upper-body injury. Not many people had high hopes for the Hurricanes to begin with, but predicting this grim of a start would have been difficult.
  • Cause for concern on Broadway: The Blueshirts had an atrocious start last season and they still managed to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, but this is a concerning trend for the New York Rangers and they don’t have a grueling road trip to blame it on this time. The defending Eastern Conference champs got outworked by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and saw their star netminder Henrik Lundqvist chased from the crease just one night later in their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Injury update
  • Boyle suffers broken hand: A pair of injuries is partly to blame for the Rangers’ early troubles. With Derek Stepan already sidelined by a broken leg, the team is now without veteran defenseman Dan Boyle for four to six weeks. Their high-profile free-agent signing of the summer sustained a broken hand in the team’s season-opening victory against the St. Louis Blues.
  • Banged-up Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets had to limp through their first week of the season without key players Boone Jenner (hand), Nathan Horton (back) and Brandon Dubinsky, who recently underwent abdominal surgery that is supposed to sideline him up to six weeks. Still, Columbus is 2-0-0 to start the season.
What to watch for
  • Isles at Rangers: The new-look Islanders squad that appears to be brimming with confidence enters Madison Square Garden Tuesday night to square off against the team’s hated rival. Another loss for the Rangers could bring on a sense of panic on Broadway.
  • Simmonds’ hot start: Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds seems keen on building on a career year last season (29 goals, 60 points). The 26-year-old winger already has four goals and five points in the first three games.

Offseason player movement of all 30 teams

September, 19, 2014
Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny USA TODAY SportsRyan Kesler and Paul Stastny will be wearing different colors this season.
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 14: Acquired C Louis Leblanc from Montreal for a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
June 27: Acquired C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in 2014.
June 30: Acquired C Nate Thompson from Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay’s 4th- and 7th-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Clayton Stoner (Minnesota) and G Jason LaBarbera (Chicago).
July 9: Signed LW Dany Heatley (Minnesota).
Offseason Departures
RW Teemu Selanne (retired); C Saku Koivu (retired); C Nick Bonino (traded to Vancouver); D Luca Sbisa (traded to Vancouver); D Stephane Robidas (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); G Jonas Hiller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C Mathieu Perreault (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Daniel Winnik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C David Steckel (unrestricted free agent); D Nolan Yonkman (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 29: Acquired C Sam Gagner and RW B.J. Crombeen from Tampa Bay for a 6th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed C Joe Vitale (Pittsburgh), G Devan Dubnyk (Montreal), G Mike McKenna (Columbus) and D Andrew Campbell (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
C Mike Ribeiro (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Radim Vrbata (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); G Thomas Greiss (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Andy Miele (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); LW Tim Kennedy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); LW Paul Bissonnette (unrestricted free agent); C Jeff Halpern (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Morris (unrestricted free agent); RW Brandon Yip (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Christopher Breen (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW Jarome Iginla (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); D Andrej Meszaros (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); LW Shawn Thornton (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); G Chad Johnson (unrestricted free agent, signed NY Islanders); D Corey Potter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); RW Nick Johnson (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Brian Gionta (Montreal), LW Matt Moulson (Minnesota), D Andrej Meszaros (Boston) and C Cody McCormick (Minnesota).
July 1: Acquired D Josh Gorges from Montreal for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
July 3: Signed D Tyson Strachan (Washington).
July 13: Signed C Zac Dalpe (Vancouver).
July 23: Signed D Andre Benoit (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
D Christian Ehrhoff (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kevin Porter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); C Cory Conacher (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW John Scott (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); RW Matt D’Agostini (unrestricted free agent); C Zenon Konopka (unrestricted free agent); LW Ville Leino (unrestricted free agent); D Jamie McBain (unrestricted free agent); D Alexander Sulzer (unrestricted free agent); D Henrik Tallinder (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Brad Treliving general manager.
June 28: Acquired LW Brandon Bollig from Chicago for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed LW Mason Raymond (Toronto), D Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh) and G Jonas Hiller (Anaheim).
Aug. 23: Signed RW Devin Setoguchi (Winnipeg).
Sept. 5: Signed D Corey Potter (Boston).
Offseason Departures
LW Mike Cammalleri (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); C Ben Street (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Joey MacDonald (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); D Chris Butler (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Christopher Breen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Boston); LW T.J. Galiardi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Blair Jones (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Shane O’Brien (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Smith (unrestricted free agent); RW Kevin Westgarth (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Ron Francis general manager.
June 19: Named Bill Peters head coach.
July 1: Signed C Brad Malone (Colorado) and G Drew MacIntyre (Toronto).
July 2: Signed C Jay McClement.
July 3: Signed D Tim Gleason.
Offseason Departures
G Justin Peters (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Manny Malhotra (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); LW Brett Sutter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); LW Drayson Bowman (unrestricted free agent); RW Radek Dvorak (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Komisarek (unrestricted free agent); C Andrei Loktionov (unrestricted free agent); RW Aaron Palushaj (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Brad Richards (NY Rangers), C Cody Bass (Columbus) and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Tampa Bay).
July 2: Signed D Kyle Cumiskey (Modo, Sweden).
Aug. 18: Signed G Michael Leighton (HC Donbass, KHL).
Offseason Departures
LW Brandon Bollig (traded to Calgary); G Jason LaBarbera (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); G Nikolai Khabibulin (unrestricted free agent); D Sheldon Brookbank (unrestricted free agent); C Michal Handzus (unrestricted free agent); C Brad Mills (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired C Daniel Briere from Montreal for RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired D Brad Stuart from San Jose for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 6th-round pick in 2017.
July 1: Signed RW Jarome Iginla (Boston), D Zach Redmond (Winnipeg), D Bruno Gervais (Philadelphia), C Jesse Winchester (Florida) and C Ben Street (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW PA Parenteau (traded to Montreal); C Paul Stastny (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andre Benoit (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Brad Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); LW David Van der Gulik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); D Matt Hunwick (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (retired); D Cory Sarich (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 23: Acquired LW Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia for LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Toronto for RW Matt Frattin.
July 4: Signed C Brian Gibbons (Pittsburgh).
Offseason Departures
LW R.J. Umberger (traded to Philadelphia); D Nikita Nikitin (traded to Edmonton); RW Matt Frattin (traded to Toronto); C Derek MacKenzie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); RW Jack Skille (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Nick Schultz (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); LW Blake Comeau (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Cody Bass (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); G Mike McKenna (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson from Ottawa for RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Anders Lindback (Tampa Bay), RW Ales Hemsky (Ottawa) and RW Patrick Eaves (Nashville).
Offseason Departures
RW Alex Chiasson (traded to Ottawa); C Chris Mueller (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); C Dustin Jeffrey (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); D Maxime Fortunus (unrestricted free agent); LW Ray Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Aaron Rome (unrestricted free agent); G Tim Thomas (unrestricted free agent); G Cristopher Nilstorp (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Kevin Porter (Buffalo).
July 2: Signed C Andy Miele (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C David Legwand (unrestricted free agent, signed by Ottawa); RW Daniel Alfredsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Todd Bertuzzi (unrestricted free agent); C Cory Emmerton (unrestricted free agent); RW Mikael Samuelsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Jordin Tootoo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 25: Acquired D Nikita Nikitin from Columbus for a 5th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 29: Acquired RW Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay for C Sam Gagner.
July 1: Signed D Mark Fayne (New Jersey), LW Benoit Pouliot (NY Rangers) and D Keith Aulie (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
LW Ryan Smyth (retired); C Sam Gagner (traded to Tampa Bay); D Taylor Fedun (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); D Anton Belov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ben Eager (unrestricted free agent); D Mark Fraser (unrestricted free agent); D Denis Grebeshkov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Jones (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 21: Named Gerard Gallant head coach.
July 1: Signed C Dave Bolland (Toronto), LW Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh), LW Shawn Thornton (Boston), C Derek MacKenzie (Columbus), D Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles) and G Al Montoya (Winnipeg).
Offseason Departures
D Tom Gilbert (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); C Jesse Winchester (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Scott Clemmensen (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); RW Krys Barch (unrestricted free agent); D Matt Gilroy (unrestricted free agent); C Scott Gomez (unrestricted free agent); D Ed Jovanovski (unrestricted free agent); D Ryan Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Mottau (retired).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Adam Cracknell (St. Louis) and LW David Van der Gulik (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
RW Linden Vey (traded to Vancouver); D Willie Mitchell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); D Andrew Campbell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); C Colin Fraser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Thomas Vanek (Montreal), D Stu Bickel (NY Rangers) and LW Brett Sutter (Carolina).
July 11: Signed C Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver).
Aug. 1: Signed D Justin Falk (NY Rangers).
Offseason Departures
LW Matt Moulson (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Clayton Stoner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); LW Dany Heatley (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); D Nate Prosser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Cody McCormick (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Ilya Bryzgalov (unrestricted free agent); C Jake Dowell (unrestricted free agent); RW Carson McMillan (unrestricted free agent); LW Mike Rupp (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Colorado for C Daniel Briere.
July 1: Signed C Manny Malhotra (Carolina), D Tom Gilbert (Florida) and G Joey MacDonald (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
C Daniel Briere (traded to Colorado); D Josh Gorges (traded to Buffalo); C Louis Leblanc (traded to Anaheim); LW Thomas Vanek (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Brian Gionta (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Devan Dubnyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); RW Mike Blunden (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); C Ryan White (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Francis Bouillon (unrestricted free agent); D Douglas Murray (unrestricted free agent); RW George Parros (unrestricted free agent); C Martin St. Pierre (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 6: Named Peter Laviolette head coach.
June 27: Acquired LW James Neal from Pittsburgh for RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling.
July 2: Signed C Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg).
July 7: Signed D Anton Volchenkov (New Jersey).
July 15: Signed C Mike Ribeiro (Arizona) and C Derek Roy (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
RW Patric Hornqvist (traded to Pittsburgh); C Nick Spaling (traded to Pittsburgh); RW Patrick Eaves (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Michael Del Zotto (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Mike Cammalleri (Calgary), RW Martin Havlat (San Jose) and G Scott Clemmensen (Florida).
Offseason Departures
D Mark Fayne (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Anton Volchenkov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); G Martin Brodeur (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Carter (unrestricted free agent); LW Rostislav Olesz (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 1: Acquired G Jaroslav Halak from Washington for a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Chad Johnson (Boston), C Cory Conacher (Buffalo), RW Jack Skille (Columbus) and LW Harry Zolnierczyk (Pittsburgh).
July 2: Signed C Mikhail Grabovski (Washington) and LW Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto).
Offseason Departures
G Evgeni Nabokov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Radek Martinek (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Dan Boyle (NY Islanders), D Mike Kostka (Tampa Bay), D Matt Hunwick (Colorado), C Chris Mueller (Dallas), LW Tanner Glass (Pittsburgh) and G Cedrick Desjardins (Tampa Bay).
July 16: Signed C Matthew Lombardi (HC Geneve-Servette, Switzerland).
July 19: Signed RW Lee Stempniak (Pittsburgh).
Sept. 11: Signed LW Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
RW Derek Dorsett (traded to Vancouver); C Brad Richards (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Brian Boyle (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Anton Stralman (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); LW Benoit Pouliot (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Justin Falk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Arron Asham (unrestricted free agent); LW Daniel Carcillo (unrestricted free agent); D Raphael Diaz (unrestricted free agent); C Darroll Powe (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Dallas for C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson.
July 4: Signed C David Legwand (Detroit).
Offseason Departures
C Jason Spezza (traded to Dallas); RW Ales Hemsky (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Joe Corvo (unrestricted free agent); LW Matt Kassian (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 7: Named Ron Hextall general manager.
June 23: Acquired LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Columbus for LW Scott Hartnell.
July 1: Signed C Blair Jones (Calgary).
July 2: Signed D Nick Schultz (Columbus).
Aug. 5: Signed D Michael Del Zotto (Nashville).
Aug. 7: Signed C Ryan White (Montreal)
Offseason Departures
LW Scott Hartnell (traded to Columbus); LW Tye McGinn (traded to San Jose); RW Steve Downie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kris Newbury (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Hal Gill (unrestricted free agent); RW Adam Hall (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 6: Named Jim Rutherford general manager.
June 25: Named Mike Johnston head coach.
June 27: Acquired RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling from Nashville for LW James Neal.
July 1: Signed D Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo), G Thomas Greiss (Arizona) and LW Blake Comeau (Columbus).
July 2: Signed RW Steve Downie (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
LW James Neal (traded to Nashville); D Matt Niskanen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Brooks Orpik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Joe Vitale (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); D Deryk Engelland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Brian Gibbons (unrestricted free agent, signed by Columbus); LW Jussi Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Harry Zolnierczyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Lee Stempniak (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Chris Conner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); G Tomas Vokoun (unrestricted free agent); RW Chuck Kobasew (unrestricted free agent); LW Taylor Pyatt (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW John Scott (Buffalo) and D Taylor Fedun (Edmonton).
July 2: Acquired LW Tye McGinn from Philadelphia for a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Offseason Departures
D Brad Stuart (traded to Colorado); D Dan Boyle (traded to NY Islanders); RW Martin Havlat (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); LW John McCarthy (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); LW Bracken Kearns (unrestricted free agent); RW Matt Pelech (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft from Toronto for D Roman Polak.
July 1: Signed C Paul Stastny (Colorado) and C Jori Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL).
July 4: Signed LW John McCarthy (San Jose).
July 16: Signed D Chris Butler (Calgary) and RW Benn Ferriero (Vancouver).
July 21: Signed C Jeremy Welsh (Vancouver).
July 22: Signed D Nate Prosser (Minnesota).
July 29: Signed C Peter Mueller (Kloten, Switzerland).
Sept. 5: Signed C Colin Fraser (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
D Roman Polak (traded to Toronto); C Derek Roy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); LW Brenden Morrow (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); RW Adam Cracknell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); G Ryan Miller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); LW Vladimir Sobotka (restricted free agent, signed by KHL Avangard Omsk); C Keith Aucoin (unrestricted free agent); D Carlo Colaiacovo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 27: Acquired D Jason Garrison, LW Jeff Costello and a 7th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for a 2nd-round pick in 2014.
July 1: Signed D Anton Stralman (NY Rangers), C Brian Boyle (NY Rangers), G Evgeni Nabokov (NY Islanders) and RW Mike Blunden (Montreal).
July 11: Signed LW Brenden Morrow (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
C Nate Thompson (traded to Anaheim); RW B.J. Crombeen (traded to Arizona); RW Teddy Purcell (traded to Edmonton); G Anders Lindback (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Keith Aulie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Mike Kostka (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Cedrick Desjardins (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Ryan Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Tom Pyatt (unrestricted free agent); D Sami Salo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Roman Polak from St. Louis for D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Matt Frattin from Columbus for RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) and C Leo Komarov (Dynamo Moscow, KHL).
July 3: Signed C Mike Santorelli (Vancouver) and C Petri Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk, KHL).
July 22: Signed LW David Booth (Vancouver).
July 28: Signed C Daniel Winnik (Anaheim).
Offseason Departures
D Carl Gunnarsson (traded to St. Louis); RW Jerry D’Amigo (traded to Columbus); LW Mason Raymond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); G Drew MacIntyre (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Jay McClement (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); D Tim Gleason (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Dave Bolland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Nikolai Kulemin (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Paul Ranger (unrestricted free agent); C Jarred Smithson (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 21: Named Jim Benning general manager.
June 23: Named Willie Desjardins head coach.
June 27: Acquired C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft from Anaheim for C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in 2015.
June 27: Acquired RW Derek Dorsett from NY Rangers for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 28: Acquired RW Linden Vey from Los Angeles for a 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Ryan Miller (St. Louis).
July 2: Signed C Dustin Jeffrey (Dallas).
July 3: Signed RW Radim Vrbata (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C Ryan Kesler (traded to Anaheim); D Jason Garrison (traded to Tampa Bay); LW David Booth (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Mike Santorelli (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Zac Dalpe (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Jordan Schroeder (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Benn Ferriero (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Jeremy Welsh (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andrew Alberts (unrestricted free agent); LW Pascal Pelletier (unrestricted free agent); D Yann Sauve (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 26: Named Brian MacLellan general manager and Barry Trotz head coach.
July 1: Signed G Justin Peters (Carolina), D Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh), D Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) and RW Chris Conner (Pittsburgh).
July 3: Signed LW Tim Kennedy (Arizona).
July 4: Signed C Kris Newbury (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
G Jaroslav Halak (traded to NY Islanders); C Mikhail Grabovski (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Tyson Strachan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Julien Brouillette (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); RW Dustin Penner (unrestricted free agent); C Nicolas Deschamps (unrestricted free agent); C Peter LeBlanc (unrestricted free agent); C Ryan Stoa (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim).
Aug. 1: Signed LW T.J. Galiardi (Calgary).
Aug. 8: Signed D Julien Brouillette (Washington).
Offseason Departures
D Zach Redmond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Al Montoya (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); C Olli Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Devin Setoguchi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C James Wright (unrestricted free agent).

Sidney Crosby has something to prove

September, 8, 2014
NEW YORK -- In a season of unprecedented change in Pittsburgh, it would seem that nothing is a given. Not even the presence of Chris Kunitz skating along captain Sidney Crosby's left side as he has for the past three or four seasons.

Rookie head coach Mike Johnston, who takes over for longtime head coach Dan Bylsma -- who was fired in the offseason -- might well keep one of the most productive forward pairs in recent years skating together, but Crosby isn't taking anything for granted. The defending Hart Trophy winner, awarded to the league MVP, told Monday that he's looking forward to the challenge the team's changes will bring when training camp opens in less than two weeks.

"I think the thing that I take from the changes and all that stuff is coming into this camp -- probably for the first time in a long time -- everyone has something to prove, and whether Kunie and I play together," Crosby said. "[We] don't know that, and it’s up to us to go and kind of earn that right and basically prove ourselves individually and see kind of where they see us fitting in.

"But I think that can probably be a good thing for us.

"You kind of need that hunger and you need everyone to compete, and I think that gets the best out of everyone."

The Penguins were upended in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers, despite owning a 3-1 series lead.

It marked the fifth straight season in which the talented Penguins were knocked off by a lower seed in the playoffs. The loss cost GM Ray Shero and Bylsma their jobs, and high-scoring winger James Neal was dealt to Nashville at the draft for Nick Spaling and Patric Hornqvist.

Top defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen both signed with the Washington Capitals as free agents.

New GM Jim Rutherford brought in defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and forward Steve Downie to plug some of those holes as the Penguins set about trying to redefine their identity and become more difficult to play against.

But Crosby insisted the changes aren’t so much about altering the third and fourth lines, because no one knows for sure who will end up skating on those lines.

"So, talking about that bottom six, I don't think anyone can sit here and tell you exactly what the third and fourth lines are going to look like," Crosby said. "You might have some ideas but there are some open spots there, and it’ll be up to guys to kind of show and prove where they fit."

As for the wrist injury that secretly plagued the Penguins captain during the playoffs, he refused to offer that up as an excuse for delivering only one goal in 13 postseason games. The wrist did not require surgery and is now completely healed.

"I think that everyone deals with stuff in the playoffs, so to kind of sit here and blame that, like why I only had one goal, I’m not going to sit here and blame my wrist," Crosby said. "I think that as far as faceoffs and that kind of thing, there was some challenging things I had to try and kind of fix that way and get around having to do certain things.

"But that's something that everyone has to kind of deal with," he added. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I think everybody has to deal with certain things. It’s something that unfortunately I had to go through."

Penguins force Fleury to prove himself

September, 3, 2014
Recently, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated that the club’s starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would enter the 2014-15 season without a contract extension.

Rutherford said it was not an immediate priority to re-sign the 29-year-old netminder, who is heading into the last year of a seven-year, $35 million deal. His agent, Allan Walsh, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had no problem with that, saying the decision was “of no consequence at all.”

But that doesn’t mean that the lack of a new deal won’t be in the back of Fleury’s mind when he enters training camp next month. His friend and former Penguins teammate Brent Johnson can only imagine the impact that situation might have if he were in Fleury’s skates.

[+] EnlargeBrent Johnson, Marc-Andre Fleury
Gregory Shamus/NHLI/Getty ImagesBrent Johnson says Marc-Andre Fleury is a "lead-behind-the-scenes type of guy."
“I believe, if that were me, I’d probably take it worse than Marc [has],” Johnson told in a recent telephone conversation. “It could weigh on your mind. I’m not saying it will, but it could.”

The 37-year-old Johnson, who backed up Fleury for three years and knows him about as well as anyone, thinks Fleury will handle it like a true professional. A player Johnson describes as “outgoing” and “affable,” Fleury will likely keep any anxiety or unease he may have about the situation private, Johnson said. You won’t see him spouting off to the media or griping behind closed doors, he said. Fleury will want to make his statement in the crease, instead.

“His character is unbelievable,” said Johnson, who will be working for Comcast SportsNet as an analyst during Washington Capitals games this season. “He’s a guy that wants to do all his talking on the ice. Every team wants a guy like that. He’s a lead-behind-the-scenes type guy.”

Johnson was happy to see his buddy bounce back last season after a well-documented implosion in the spring of 2013, when Fleury gave up 17 goals in five games of the team’s first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders.

Fleury ranked second in the NHL with 39 wins and posted solid numbers, a 2.37 goals-against average and .915 save percentage during the 2013-14 regular season (2.40 GAA and .915 during the playoffs), despite backing a Penguins squad that was pretty banged up for much of the year.

“I think it was very important for him to have a great regular season and to follow up with a decent run in the playoffs, which I think he had,” Johnson said.

As Fleury’s friend and fellow goaltender, Johnson often encouraged his cohort to let the play come to him, and not lose sight of what got him there in the first place.

Johnson saw much more of that steadiness and consistency in Fleury’s game this past season, and he thinks at least a part of that was the addition of new goaltending coach Mike Bales.

Bales was the only holdover from Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff to be retained when Bylsma was fired this past spring.

“He helped him out and settled him down,” Johnson said of Bales. “Which I think he needed.”

Johnson was actually a candidate for Bales' job after retiring following the 2011-12 season. That’s something he would be open to pursuing in the future, and has enjoyed before -- Johnson has made time for coaching local youth hockey in both the D.C. and Pittsburgh areas in the past.

As for now, though, Johnson is excited about his gig with CSN, working in television despite the requisite nerves that are part and parcel of the job.

He’ll look forward to employing his NHL experience and insight as an analyst covering the Capitals. And he predicts his former Penguins squad will remain a tough team to beat in the Metropolitan Division.

And though he is relatively unfamiliar with new coach Mike Johnston and his staff, he knows the Penguins’ roster is enough to make them a top team every year.

“You have a team there that has the potential on paper every year to go far in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don’t think that’s going to change. It’s the small little details throughout the season. I think the big thing in the dressing room is to have character guys,” Johnson said, identifying Pascal Dupuis as one such leader in that category. “I think they missed [him] a ton last year. I don’t know what happened in [the] dressing room at all [last season], but if you’re on a 10-game winning streak and you’re not having fun winning or it’s just ho-hum at [the] office, you tend to lose the excitement.”