Down Goes Brown: Five teams that have had a quiet offseason, and what it means for 2016-17

Flyers GM Ron Hextall. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

An NHL offseason can be a funny thing. For some teams, it represents an opportunity to blow everything up real good, hitting the reset button entirely or at the very least radically changing direction. For others, it’s a chance to double down on what’s already working by loading up on the final pieces of a true contender. In either case, blockbuster trades can be made, big-name free agents can be lured, and coaches and GMs can be replaced. Things are happening.

And then there are the teams that decide to skip all of that, and largely sit out the offseason. They tinker a bit, re-signing a guy here and making a minor move there, but for the most part they decide to pass on doing anything especially newsworthy.

And let’s be honest: While that approach may not be all that exciting, sometimes it absolutely turns out to be the right one. Sometimes, it really is better to leave the bat on your shoulder. But only sometimes.

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Injury knocks Kronwall out of World Cup, Sweden names Lindholm as replacement

Jared Clinton
Hampus Lindholm (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Swedish World Cup team is getting an upgrade on the blueline, though it will come at the cost of one of their veteran leaders being forced out of the tournament due to injury.

It was announced Wednesday that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, 35, will be unable to compete at the tournament and 22-year-old Anaheim Ducks rearguard Hampus Lindholm has been named to the team in Kronwall’s place. The announcement is somewhat surprising after Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Kronwall was feeling better heading into the season.

“He’s had much better training sessions this summer than he had last summer,” Holland told NHL.com. “He feels his leg is stronger and he’s done some things to be more prepared physically for the upcoming season.”

There was no indication from Sweden what exactly is ailing Kronwall, though there’s reason to believe he could still be dealing with the after effects of a knee injury that required surgery this past season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings will go into season with current D-corps, look at trades later

Red Wings GM Ken Holland. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings pursuit of a top-three defenseman remains a hot topic among the club’s fans. In late-June, rumors linked the Wings to St. Louis Blues blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler.

With the start of NHL training camps fast approaching, Wings GM Ken Holland still hasn’t found a suitable defenseman. MLive.com’s Ansar Khan responded to questions from Wings fans on this topic. He notes the lack of depth in the free-agent market and intense competition for the few quality players who hit the trade block makes it difficult for Holland to address this need.

Khan points out the asking price for “non-elite talent” such as Shattenkirk and Fowler could cost the Wings some combination of “a top prospect, first-round pick or a good, young roster player.” He said the Wings contacted the Blues about Shattenkirk and the Ducks about Fowler earlier this summer, and probaby spoke to other clubs, but were unwilling to meet their asking prices.

Earlier this summer, rumors claimed Blues GM Doug Armstrong sought rising young star Dylan Larkin in exchange for Shattenkirk. It’s understandable Holland would pass on that. Larkin has the potential to become the Wings’ franchise player and future captain.

Much of the Shattenkirk conjecture is tied to his eligilibity next summer for unrestricted free agency. However, Armstrong now appears willing to retain the 27-year-old for the upcoming season.

As for Fowler, the Ducks aren’t likely to move him until they’ve re-signed restricted free agent blueliner Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks have an excess of defensemen and a need for depth at left wing. Fowler would make an attractive trade chip, but they could consider moving someone else.

Should Fowler be shopped, the Wings won’t be the only club interested in his services. The Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils could also come calling.

Since a deal hasn’t been made by now, Khan feels the Wings will go into 2016-17 with their current D-corps and evaluate their situation, and the trade market, later in the season.

KANE TRADE TALK ON HOLD

Earlier this summer, there was talk the Buffalo Sabres could attempt to trade troubled left winger Evander Kane.

The 25-year-old is facing misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in a Buffalo bar in late June. His first season with the Sabres was an injury-shortened disappointment, limited to 20 goals and 35 points in 65 games in 2015-16.

With the Buffalo Sabres losing Jimmy Vesey to free agency, Kane could be off the market. The Buffalo News’ Mark Harrington speculates Vesey’s signing with the New York Rangers spells the end of talk the Sabres could shop Kane to the Vancouver Canucks. Harrington notes the Canucks seemed to be the only team with interest in the winger.

Considering Kane’s legal issues and the fact he’s signed through 2017-18 at $5.25-million annually, Harrington believes the Sabres’ best bet is to hope Kane rebounds this coming season and improves his trade value.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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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

KHL team releases one of the most amazing hype videos you’ll ever see

Jared Clinton
(via SKA St. Petersburg/YouTube)

When veteran Pavel Datsyuk left the Detroit Red Wings this past season, there were rumors of a few times looking to bring the Russian star aboard but Datsyuk ended up signing on with SKA St. Petersburg.

There were no doubt a number of things that went into Datsyuk’s decision to sign in St. Petersburg, including the details of his contract, being close to his family and probably the fact that SKA told him if he signed with the team they’d produce an absolutely bonkers commercial that includes everything from a flame-shooting guitar to a fan eating a chunk of raw meat.

Datsyuk, the newly minted captain of SKA, features heavily in the 55-second commercial spot, but there’s no shortage of mind-blowing moments in the commercial. Check it out: Read more

Senators and Ceci land on two-year, $5.6-million bridge deal

Jared Clinton
Cody Ceci (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Cody Ceci was hoping to land a long-term contract extension the likes of which blueliners such as Danny DeKeyser, Seth Jones, Morgan Rielly or Connor Murphy signed this past off-season, the Ottawa Senators rearguard is going to have to prove his worth over the next two campaigns.

Ceci, 22, finally came to terms on a new contract with the Senators on Tuesday, and the Ottawa native inked a two-year bridge deal that will pay him $2.8 million per season — $2.25 million in the first season and a raise to $3.35 million in 2017-18.

Roughly a week and a half before the deal was signed, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported that the Senators and Ceci were considering both two-year and six-year pacts to keep the restricted free agent in town. The signing of the short-term deal over the long-term contract shows there’s still work to be done for Ceci to convince the Senators that he’s worth the long-term commitment. Read more

The pressure is on Dylan Strome – because of Dylan Strome

Matt Larkin
Dylan Strome. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Connor McDavid, fast on his way to becoming the face of the NHL, understandably attracted a lot of attention at BioSteel’s 2016 Pro Hockey Camp this week in Toronto. Excited kids followed him everywhere he went. So did reporters and photographers. It was hard to tell them apart from the kids.

But as he fiddled around working on his skills Tuesday, he had a worthy playmate. His old Erie Otters teammate, Dylan Strome, was out there, too, stride for stride. They worked together on some passing drills. They chatted. They competed in a raucous target shooting contest, much to the tykes’ delight from the rafters of St. Michael’s College School Arena. What stood out: Strome looked like he belonged out there, even with McDavid. We know No. 97’s raw tools are among the very best in the NHL already, but Strome flashed a lot of skill, too.
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Canadiens’ Radulov out to prove he can play in NHL, chase Stanley Cup

Jared Clinton
Alexander Radulov (via Montreal Canadiens/NHL)

Alexander Radulov has spent the better part of the past decade as one of the KHL’s top stars and he’s heading back to the NHL this coming season having conquered the Russia-based league in just about every way possible. With that in mind, he has his sights set on one of the few major trophies he hasn’t won: the Stanley Cup.

Radulov, 30, met with media Monday for the first time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, and the now-veteran winger said that the chance to chase the Stanley Cup is one of the major things that drew him to the Habs.

“It’s always a hockey town and they always want to go for a run and for a Cup,” Radulov said, via the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan. “That’s the reason I chose Montreal because I want to play and I want to compete for a Cup. That’s the main thing.” Read more