One-year deal indicates Justin Schultz has a lot of learning to do

Ken Campbell
Justin Schultz  (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Suffice to say this was not exactly what Justin Schultz had in mind when he touched off a bidding war for his services after leaving the University of Wisconsin two years ago. He most certainly couldn’t have been expecting this after tearing up the American League during the lockout. No, a one-year bridge deal for a lower salary cap number was definitely not in the cards.

But this is the situation in which Schultz finds himself two years into his up-and-down NHL career. The Edmonton Oilers signed the restricted free agent to a one-year deal worth $3.675 million instead of succumbing to the temptation to ink him to a long-term deal for $5 million-plus per season. The Oilers may end up paying for their short-term thinking, but it’s a risk they were willing to take. Read more

The NHL’s 10 worst contracts

Matt Larkin
(David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

It’s not the pre-season, but it’s the pre-pre-season. That means assessing each team’s chances for 2014-15 and beyond, looking their rosters up and down and even checking out their salary cap situation.

When we peruse the contracts on capgeek.com, our eyes bug out of our head from time to time. “They paid how much for how long for that guy? I forgot about that.” Some deals have cumbersome cap hits, others absurdly long terms for players past their primes, and many have no-trade clauses. The perfect storm of bad contracts contains all three, and some of my picks for the league’s 10 worst deals fit that description.

We’ll start with No. 10.

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Will any GM ever have a summer like Lou Lamoriello did in 1991?

The cover of the Sept. 20, 1991 edition of The Hockey News questions the landmark ruling that made Scott Stevens a Devil.

If Scott Gomez and/or Tomas Kaberle make the New Jersey Devils this season and contribute in a meaningful way, GM Lou Lamoriello will be able to claim another feather for a cap that is already bursting with plumage. The veterans are reclamation projects, looking to revive careers that are ever-so-gently flickering.

Barring the spectacularly unforeseen, however, those potential additions won’t be able to match the magic Lamoriello performed 23 years ago.

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember the incredible summer of 1991, when the Devils acquired Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer via a series of head-scratching events.

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Rumor Roundup: Where will Brodeur, Alfredsson & other UFAs end up?

Martin Brodeur (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the start of NHL training camp only three weeks away, several notable unrestricted free agents remain available.

Topping the list is goaltender Martin Brodeur. Earlier this month THN associate editor Matt Larkin suggested the Winnipeg Jets could make the most of Brodeur’s services. Larkin expects the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer could await an injury to open up a spot with an NHL club.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff seems content with his team’s tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and the inexperienced Michael Hutchinson. If the pair struggles in pre-season, however, the Jets could contact Brodeur. But they might not be the right fit for him, as it’s believed he prefers signing with a playoff contender.

Earlier this month the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe proposed left winger Dustin Penner as a potential replacement for the departed Devin Setoguchi, who recently signed with the Calgary Flames. Wiebe also reported the Jets offered gritty Jordin Tootoo a one-year, two-way deal, but the winger rejected the deal.
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Senators extending Craig Anderson all about security and stability

Ken Campbell
Craig Anderson (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there’s one NHL team that could use some good karma these days, it’s the Ottawa Senators. The GM is battling cancer, they’ve lost their captain for the second straight year, ownership has a case of the shorts, they’re the only Canadian team that has trouble filling its building and the on-ice prospects don’t look particularly good at the moment.

There could have been worse things than the news that they had signed a 33-year-old goaltender coming off a bad year to a three-year contract worth $12.6 million. This means the Senators go into this season with a goaltending tandem consisting of the aforementioned Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, which isn’t exactly Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott – two elite NHL starters the Senators traded away – but it’s not bad.

Still, it’s a little perplexing why the Senators would choose to extend Anderson’s contract when they don’t really know which Anderson will actually perform for them and he was still a full year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. With the off-season market for goaltenders being what it is, they could not been afraid of losing him as a UFA in a year, could they?

From this corner, it looks as though the Senators made this move for a couple of reasons. The first is they clearly think Lehner, who recently signed for three years at $6.675 million himself, is the Senators goaltender of the future. They’re just not sure about the present. If Lehner proves to be capable, Anderson becomes a pretty expensive backup.

The second is this is a franchise trying to sell some security and stability at a time when neither has been terribly omnipresent of late. With Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza both bolting, this is an organization that needs to prove to its fans that it is serious about retaining its core players. Why else would they sign Clarke MacArthur and Mark Borowiecki to extensions a year before their contracts expired? And it appears as though the Senators are intent on doing the same with Marc Methot and Bobby Ryan.

Which is all well and good when the team is winning. But the Senators are selling security and stability of a roster that missed the playoffs last season and, barring an overachieving 2014-15, appears to be subject to the same fate this season. But if the Senators do bounce back and make the playoffs this season, there’s a good chance Anderson will have something to do with it.

And there’s the conundrum the Senators face with their goaltending. In fact, almost every team in the NHL faces a similar one. When it comes to goaltending, a lot of teams are stumbling around in the dark looking for a tandem that works. Last season’s Vezina Trophy contender could be this season’s flop. Nobody realizes that more than Anderson, who was superhuman in leading the Senators to the playoffs during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, only to be plagued by inconsistency last season.

It didn’t help that Senators coach Paul MacLean seemed to botch his handling of both Anderson and Lehner last season. There was a stretch in November when Lehner put together a 3-0-2 record in five starts and was named the NHL’s first star of the week while Anderson was injured. Despite the streak, as soon as Anderson came back, MacLean gave him the net and the Senators went into a tailspin from which they never recovered.

There’s not a lot of risk, though, to signing Anderson for three more years, particularly when they were able to do so without attaching any kind of no-trade clause to the contract. At a $4.2 million cap hit for the three seasons after 2014-15, Anderson’s money and term are not untradeable. The New York Islanders signed Jaroslav Halak for four years at $4.5 million a season and Anderson at his best is better than Halak. And the third year of the deal the salary goes down to $3.1 million, which might appeal to a small market team struggling in goal that needs a higher cap hit and less salary.

If Anderson proves to be the goaltender he was two years ago, the Senators will look brilliant by getting him under contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. If it’s more of the same from last season, they can hand the ball to Lehner and Anderson can make a lot of money for wearing a ball cap and opening the door at the players’ bench.

So how good is Kevin Hayes really? He signs today with the New York Rangers

Brian Costello
Kevin Hayes (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Right winger Kevin Hayes has bid adieu to one of the league’s strongest franchise and signed instead with the New York Rangers. The deal is a two-way contract, as per CBA guidelines for entry-level contracts, and is expected to be worth the rookie maximum salary if he makes the NHL.

The Modus operandi was all about getting to the NHL sooner for the Boston-area native. The Hayes watch has been on high alert since the NCAA graduate rebuffed the Chicago Blackhawks and became a free agent Aug. 15. Social media has been abuzz this week speculating where Hayes may sign. At one point today, the Kevin Hayes Wikipedia page showed him a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The next minute he was a Ranger. Then he was a free agent again as rational heads prevailed leading up to his announcement.

Some wondered, tongue in cheek, if his Hall of Fame announcement would precede his NHL destination of choice.

So how good is this Kevin Hayes?

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Why Mike Cammalleri and the Devils chose each other

Matt Larkin
MikeCammalleri

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Mike Cammalleri’s deal with the Devils was all about faith. He chose the team that believed in him most and the team he believed in most.

Calgary fans were disappointed but not surprised when he left in free agency after a resurgent 26-goal campaign. After all, team president Brian Burke retained Cammalleri’s expiring contract at the trade deadline. Burke tried to deal his veteran, but he felt the offers weren’t good enough. He decided to risk losing Cammalleri for nothing and stated his desire to keep him.

Burke and new GM Brad Treliving made offers this summer to Cammalleri for a long-term pact, but they couldn’t compete with what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils tabled: five years and $25 million for a 32-year-old who’s missed 15 or more games in four of his past five seasons and is six years removed from his best numbers.

That didn’t matter to Lamoriello, who says he followed and admired Cammalleri’s game all the way back to the University of Michigan.

“He played with an edge and had results,” Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

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Bruin killer Simon Gagne will be at Boston’s training camp

Rory Boylen
Simon Gagne

There’s no denying NHL teams are, and have been, changing the way they build their rosters. Young and cheap players have become valuable under a cap system. The increasing awareness and use of advanced possession stats have been putting a priority on skilled players. The game has sped up, so quickness is valued. One-dimensional fighters, who could play fewer than five minutes in a game, are going the way of the dodo. Depth and fresh, fast legs are key.

The Boston Bruins let go of fighter and fan favorite Shawn Thornton this summer, which was a big statement for a team that prides itself on toughness. But, really, the 37-year-old wasn’t needed anymore because these days you need speed and scoring capability even on your fourth line. So who will the Bruins replace him with?

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Simon Gagne has accepted a training camp tryout with the Bruins. Read more