Stars land another offensive weapon, sign Hudler to one-year, $2-million deal

Jared Clinton
Jiri Hudler (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Stars’ offense has been inarguably the best in the NHL over the past two seasons and since the start of the 2014-15 season Dallas has scored 37 more goals than any other team in the league. Suffice it to say that the Stars don’t really need more firepower in their arsenal.

However, just because the Stars don’t need more scoring ability doesn’t mean GM Jim Nill is going to pass up the opportunity to make an already outstanding offense even better.

Nill appears to have done exactly that with the signing of Jiri Hudler, 32, to a one-year, $2-million deal. Nill confirmed Dallas’ signing of Hudler to DallasStars.com’s Mark Stepneski. The plan, Nill said, is to have Hudler slot into the top-six and lend a hand on the power play, and after scoring 265 goals in 2015-16, the Stars could be set to ice one of the most productive offenses of the past several years. Read more

Monahan ‘positive’ Gaudreau will be signed by Flames’ opener

Jared Clinton
Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

The most important move of the Calgary Flames’ off-season was never going to be a trade, draft pick or unrestricted free agent signing. Rather, the Flames’ biggest transactions of the summer were always set to be the signings of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary’s two bright, young stars who were both restricted free agents this off-season.

The Flames have taken care of the former, inking Monahan to a seven-year, $44.625-million deal, and they’re working on getting Gaudreau’s deal done. According to Flames GM Brad Treliving, the Flames have “every confidence” that they can find common ground with Gaudreau, but Monahan took it one step further, making it clear that he believed Gaudreau would be signed without missing a minute of action.

“It takes time,” Monahan said, via NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers. “I’m positive he’s going to be here for Oct. 12 and be playing for the Calgary Flames. I’m not worried about it. Brad is doing his work on that part. I’m just looking forward to getting off to the World Cup and playing with him there, and continue that chemistry into the season.” Read more

Pittsburgh signs Thomas Di Pauli, still has a building advantage

Ryan Kennedy
Thomas Di Pauli (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed free agent center Thomas Di Pauli to a two-year entry-level contract, adding an asset to an organization that does not have a deep prospect pipeline right now. But here’s the thing: the Pens are staying in the NHL’s top echelon without a traditional building strategy and Di Pauli is part of that.

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Down Goes Brown: Five RFA signings that resulted in big trades as compensation

Sean McIndoe
Adam Graves. (Getty Images)

Last week, we looked back on the league’s long history of arbitrators having to sort out messy cases. One of the biggest was the 1991 case that saw Scott Stevens awarded to the Devils as compensation for the signing of Brendan Shanahan. It was part of the league’s old RFA system, under which some players who signed with a new team weren’t subject to a right to match or draft pick compensation, but rather to a forced trade in which each team submitted what they felt was a fair offer and an arbitrator picked one.

It was, to put it bluntly, a fantastic system. Oh, the players hated it, and so did most of the teams. But for fans, it was a great source of entertainment. It was all sorts of fun to debate the teams’ offers, come up with ones of your own, and speculate over which side the arbitrator would ultimately land on. The system lasted until 1995, when Gary Bettman’s first lockout ended with a new CBA that ushered in new RFA rules. This excellent blog post contains a detailed history of the old system; it’s fair to say we’re unlikely to ever see it return in the NHL.

So today, let’s look back on five more cases where RFA signings resulted in an arbitrator forcing a trade as compensation. None were quite as big as the Stevens-for-Shanahan blockbuster, but each had its own impact on hockey history.

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Rumor Roundup: The latest on several remaining UFAs

Lyle Richardson
Jiri Hudler (Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

The great guessing game over where unrestricted free agent prospect Jimmy Vesey will go is the prime topic in the NHL off-season rumor mill. However, there’s still some speculation kicking around over several current veteran free agents.

The remaining pool of UFAs grew shallower this week. Center Antoine Vermette signed a two-year, $3.5-million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, while right winger Radim Vrbata returned to the Arizona Coyotes on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.

2015 Lady Byng Trophy winner Jiri Hudler is the most notable player still available. The 32-year-old right winger spent last season split between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers, netting 46 points. Once the Vesey sweepstakes is over, Hudler could attract interest from clubs seeking scoring depth.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports defenseman Kris Russell is still waiting for a few teams to free up some salary-cap space. The 28-year-old shot-blocking specialist was considered among this summer’s top UFAs.

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What’s taking so long in Calgary with the Monahan and Gaudreau contracts?

Ryan Kennedy
Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s the middle of August and most of the NHL’s personnel decisions have been made. Sure, we’re waiting on Jimmy Vesey and Kris Russell, but the most irritating situation out there must be in Calgary, where the Flames are still in negotiations with their two best forwards, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. So what’s the hold up?

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Five intriguing college free agents not named Jimmy Vesey

Jared Clinton
Thomas Di Pauli (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

By the time Jimmy Vesey signs his first NHL contract, fans will have heard nearly enough about the 23-year-old Hobey Baker Award winner.

It’s not Vesey’s doing, but the interest in his signing destination has led to a long-talked about list of potential destinations — everywhere from his hometown to Boston Bruins to the perennial contender Chicago Blackhawks — and he’ll enter the league next season with some expectations to perform. But all the talk about Vesey may have overshadowed the fact that he isn’t the only NCAA player who officially became a free agent Tuesday morning. In fact, he’s only one of more than a dozen players who are up for grabs now that mid-August is upon us.

While Vesey may be the most sought after NCAA free agent due to his size and scoring ways, here are five other players exiting the college ranks who could be snatched up by a team other than the one that drafted them: Read more

Sabres’ Bylsma says talks with Girgensons, Ristolainen are ‘progressing’

Jared Clinton
Rasmus Ristolainen (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Sabres have been active this off-season, signing Kyle Okposo and bringing Dmitry Kulikov aboard to solidify their defense, but there are still two familiar faces yet to be locked up to new contracts to start next season in Buffalo.

With roughly a month until the start of training camp, Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Ristolainen are still without contracts for the 2016-17 campaign. Both remain restricted free agents as the summer winds on, but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he believes contract talks are heading in the right direction for Girgensons and Ristolainen.

“I think it’s a normal talk right now between the two groups — between both Rasmus and Zemgus,” Bylsma said on WGR 550’s Hockey Hotline. “Those are things that I don’t get too much involved in, but I know they’re progressing. I know we’re talking. They do take time.” Read more