Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images
Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images

Long time Italian national team goaltender Thomas Tragust has signed a new contract with Neumarkt/Egna of the second tier Austrian league.

Tragust has represented the Italian national team for ten years, his most recent tenure coming in 2013 when he played in three exhibition games while a member of HC Innsbruck in the top tier Austrian league. Tragust has won two gold medals at the men’s level, winning a gold in the 2009 D1B World Championships and 2011 D1A World’s, helping his team advance to the top division for 2012.

Tragust did take a shot back at North American hockey back in 2006 after the Buffalo Sabres gave him a training camp tryout contract. Although he was unable to crack a spot within the Sabres organization, Tragust played great that season, taking the Tornado to the playoffs. He returned to his native Italy to play for HC Fassa for two years before signing in Germany, and more recently, Austria.

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It was a very busy day for the Dallas Stars that just would not seem to be dormant. Their next move was signing depth winger Patrick Eaves to a 1-year, $650,000 deal.

Eaves, 30, was traded to the Nashville Predators during the season by the Detroit Red Wings. During his time in Nashville, Eaves played just 5 games without recording a point. In the previous 25 with the Red Wings, Eaves tallied 2 goals, 3 assists.

Dallas gives Eaves a fresh start in a new city alongside a great team.

Prior to July 1, the Buffalo Sabres decided to pass on qualifying RFA Corey Conacher, making him a UFA. It did not take long for the 24-year old to find a new team as the New York Islanders would sign him to a 1-year, $600,000 contract.

The 5’8, 179lbs left winger is entering his third season in the NHL. So far, Conacher has totaled 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 126 games. Conacher showed real promise in Tampa Bay before being traded in exchange for Ben Bishop before the trade deadline. Since then, he has moved from Ottawa to Buffalo and now onto new adventures on Long Island.

After acquiring Marcel Goc prior to the trade deadline last season, it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins want to keep him. Pittsburgh has re-signed Goc to a 1-year, $1.2 million contract.

Goc, 30, played in 21 games in Pittsburgh — regular season and playoffs — amassing just 3 assists. The depth center gives Pittsburgh a safety net when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not on the ice. Goc participated in the 2010 Olympics for Germany in Vancouver.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Detroit Red Wings’ defenseman Kyle Quincey has re-signed to a 2-year, $8.5 million contract. Quincey, 28, is entering his 11th season in the League and his 7th with the Red Wings.

The Kitchener, Ontario native played in all 82 games last season earning 4 goals, 9 assists and a -5 rating.

The Tampa Bay Lightning added size down the middle late Tuesday afternoon. Brian Boyle signed a 3-year deal with his AAV $2 million.

Boyle, 6’7, 244lbs, played in all 82 games last season tallying 6 goals and was second among forwards in face-off percentage with 52.9%. During the New York Rangers Stanley Cup run, Boyle played in all 25 games recording 3 goals to his name.

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed three AHLers to add to their organizational depth chart. Goaltender Scott Darling and forwards Cody Bass and Pierre-Cedric Labrie have agreed to one-year contracts.

Last season, Darling played with the Milwaukee Admirals earning a 13-6-2 record, 2.00 GAA and .933 save %. Bass, 27, tallied 8 goals, 10 assists in 58 games with the Springfield Falcons. Labrie, 27, scored 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 38 games with the Syracuse Crunch.

The Colorado Avalanche have been active on the opening day of free agency, but are not done. They have signed defenseman Zach Redmond to a 2-year, $1.5 million contract. Redmond has played 18 games with the Winnipeg Jets the past two seasons, totaling 2 goals, 5 assists.

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The Chicago Blackhawks have re-signed Peter Regin to a one-year, $650,000 contract. The 6’2, 195lbs center was traded to Chicago last season by the New York Islanders. The Denmark native played in 61 games last season amassing 4 goals, 7 assists.

Jarome Iginla will return to the Western Conference next season. Iginla, who turned 37 today, signed a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche with $5.5 million the first 2 years and $5 million the last year. This contract will likely take him all the way into retirement.

The 17-year NHL veteran has totaled 560 g0als, 607 assists in 1310 games with the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. However, Iginla has yet to win a Stanley Cup.

Bruno Gervais will rejoin best friend Max Talbot in Colorado. The Avalanche have signed Gervais to a 1-year, $650,000 2-way contract and will make $225,000 guaranteed. This will likely be one of Gervais’ last opportunities to prove himself in the NHL.

The 29-year old defender played 37 games with the Philadelphia Flyers last year scoring 1 goal and adding 5 assists with a -17 rating.

Defenseman Nick Holden has re-signed with the Colorado Avalanche through 2017-18. His contract breakdown is $1.5 million the 1st year; $1.65 million the 2nd; and $1.8 million the 3rd.

The undrafted 6’4″, 207lbs defender was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008 and played the majority of his career in the AHL. It was not until Colorado signed Holden last summer that he got a crack at being in the NHL. Holden played in 54 games with the Avalanche and posted 10 goals, 15 assists.

Thomas Vanek signs a 3 year deal with the Minnesota Wild. The break down of the contract will be $5.5 million the first year; $6.5 million the second; and $7.5 million the third. Minnesota will be Vanek’s 4th NHL team in 2 years. Last season, Vanek totaled 27 goals, 41 assists in 78 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens.

Minnesota lands one of the top free agents available this year. While they did overpay, it will benefit the team offensively. One thing that does come into question is Vanek’s laziness. In a up-tempo, competitive Central Division, laziness will see little ice time.

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Ales Hemsky is heading to Ottawa.There is going to be serious competition in the Central Division this year as the Dallas Stars are looking like a stronger team already. Not only did they acquire Jason Spezza earlier today through trade, they have signed Ales Hemsky as well. Hemsky will make $4 million the next 3 years in Dallas.

The 30-year old right winger played 75 games last season with the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators amassing 13 goals, 30 assists.

The St. Louis Blues signed Paul Stastny to a 4-year, $28 million contract, making it the biggest deal of the day, thus far. Entering July 1, Stastny was touted as the best free agent available and was expected to receive big money. St. Louis is a desperate team with open pockets attempting to become better from an underachieving year. Since Stastny is from St. Louis, it made since that’d he sign in his hometown.

The 28-year old had 25 goals, 35 assists in 71 games last season for the Colorado Avalanche.

Stastny is already familiar with Blues’ David Backes, TJ Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk having played together in Sochi for Team USA, making it a smooth transition in the locker room.

The Blues are looking to establish themselves as the best in the Central Division and adding Stastny helps.

 

Photo by MTV-Finland

For their first move of the day, the St. Louis Blues elected to sign someone already in their system. Center Jori Lehtera was signed to a two-year deal by the club and will receive $2.25 million per season. Lehtera was drafted by the Blues at 65th overall in 2008. The 26-year old spent the past three seasons in the KHL playing for Sibir Novosibirsk as a goal scorer. Last season, Lehtera posted 12 goals, 32 assists in 48 games.

Lehtera has yet to play a full season on North American ice, but does not seem to concern the Blues. The Helsinki native will add depth down the middle of the ice, needed to be a great team in the Central Division.

St. Louis expected Lehtera to come to North America last season in their all-out push for the Stanley Cup, but disappointingly did not follow through. This signing comes as a big surprise to the hockey world as it appeared Lehtera was going to be a full-time KHLer.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Calgary Flames will use a compliance buyout on 30 year old defenseman Shane O’Brien.

O’Brien’s contract had 1 year left with a cap hit of $2 million. The Flames placed O’Brien on waivers back in January and he passed through without getting claimed, with the extra year likely being the killer.

In 45 games with the Flames last year, O’Brien only had three assists to go along with zero goals. In the AHL, he had 8 points in 31 contests with the Abbotsford Heat in his first time in the AHL since 2006. O’Brien, standing at six-foot-three and 230 pounds, knew a while back that he didn’t fit in with the team’s system, despite fitting in size wise.

“It is what it is with Bob (Hartley),” said O’Brien, who averaged roughly around 11 minutes a night as a bottom pairing defenseman. “You could tell by the ice time where I stood in their minds. I don’t think it’s anything personal. I don’t think Bob thinks I’m a bad guy, but, obviously, he didn’t think I was a good player. Same with (associate coach) Jacques Cloutier. From Day 1, they didn’t think I could play on their team.

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The Los Angeles Kings rented Marian Gaborik, and they liked him so much they bought him.

Less than a week from the start of free agency, where Gaborik would have been one of the hottest names out there, the Kings have re-signed the winger to a seven-year contract worth $34.125 million, good for a cap hit of $4.875 million. The original reports had the Kings discussing a three-year deal with Gaborik for between $5.5 million and $6 million per season, but ultimately they decided to go longer term and bring the cap hit down. Gaborik, now 32, will be 39 years old when this contract expires, likely meaning he’s going to finish his career as a King.

This is certainly a risk. Gaborik had a terrific run after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets and seems like a great fit with the Kings, but this is a guy who’s getting older and already has 13 NHL seasons on his body, as well as a lot of injuries. He’s started to lose a bit of a step, and that’ll likely continue throughout the course of this deal, and he’s already been up and down throughout his career. His tenure with the New York Rangers was a good example of that, where he also made a great first impression, scoring 42 goals and 44 assists in 76 games in his first season with the team in 2009-2010. The next season? 22 goals and 26 assists, and just a goal and an assist in five playoff games. Disappointing numbers even if he did just play 62 games. But the next season? 41 goals and 35 assists while playing all 82 games… but then he had just five goals and six assists in 20 playoff games, and scored just nine goals and 10 assists in 35 games with the Rangers the next season before seeming to wear out his welcome with then Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella with his Jekyll and Hyde act and getting traded to Columbus at the trade deadline, where he also underwhelmed and dealt with injury issues, playing in just 34 games over almost a full calendar year before being traded to the Kings at this year’s deadline, scoring just nine goals and 13 assists. While Gaborik seemed to revive his career with the Kings, this is still a risky guy to tie a contract of this term to.

On the other hand, he’s an immensely talented player. Gaborik has never had a centre as good as Anze Kopitar to play with, and Kopitar’s never had a winger as good as Gaborik to play with, and the two worked absolute wonders together. When on the ice together at five-on-five in the regular season and playoffs, the Kings outscored opponents 30-14 (thanks to @RobertJFTC for that one). The Kings averaged just 2.39 goals per game in the regular season, but in the 19 games with Gaborik in the lineup, it was 2.68. Over that span, Kopitar scored 10 goals and eight assists, while Gaborik had five goals and 11 assists. They averaged 3.38 goals per game in the playoffs. Kopitar had five goals and 21 assists for a playoff-leading 26 points in 26 games, while Gaborik had a playoff-leading 14 goals and eight assists. It’s safe to say the Kings don’t win the Stanley Cup without Gaborik this year, and they may very well not have gotten out of the first round, so of course I’m happy they’re keeping him. The length of the contract does bring the cap hit down, and because Gaborik isn’t 35 or older when he’s signing this contract, he can retire before the end of it without it hurting the Kings’ salary cap.

So, we’ll have to see how this plays out over the course of the deal. But at least in the short term, the Kings should be a much better team with Gaborik sticking around.

In other news, the Kings have also re-signed defenseman Matt Greene to a four-year contract worth $10 million. The cap hit of $2.5 million represents a bit of a pay-cut from his $2.95 million cap hit of the previous six years. The big 31-year-old right-handed shot who stands at 6’3″, 234 lbs is a veteran of nine NHL seasons, six with the Kings (for all of which he’s served as an alternate captain), but seemed to be on his way out. Between injuries and healthy scratches he played in just 38 of 82 games in the regular season and 20 of 26 games in the playoffs. However, you figure they’re not bringing a guy back on a four-year deal with a $2.5 million cap hit to sit in the press box, and I also don’t think they plan to pay Robyn Regehr $3 million to sit in the press box next year. So with Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin also in the fold, that seems to leave pending unrestricted free agent Willie Mitchell on the outside looking in. After missing all of the 2012-2013 season with a knee injury, Mitchell returned last season and was fine, playing in 76 games while recording 12 points and a plus-14 rating, but at 37 years of age, perhaps the Kings just don’t feel he has much left to offer. After re-signing Greene, I’d be surprised if Mitchell is also brought back.

But anyways, as for Greene, I’m not thrilled about his return. He’s contributes next to nothing offensively with 69 points in 504 NHL regular season games (13 goals, 56 assists), he’s bad with the puck and skates like a snail, which leads to him taking lots of bad penalties. He has 582 penalty minutes in those 504 games. This past season was pretty par for the course, with two goals, four assists, and 47 penalty minutes in 38 games.

The Kings unfortunately may have to deal with both Regehr and Greene in the lineup on a consistent basis next season, but at least they only have one more year of Regehr to suffer through. I can’t even begin to imagine why Dean Lombardi gave Greene four more years. I tell you, every time I start to think this guy is really smart, he goes and does something like sign Regehr or Greene to a multi-year contract.

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Jonas Gustavsson has signed a one-year, $1.85 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Monster  posted a 16-5-4 record last season to go with a .907 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average in 27 games in 2013-14. Gustavsson showed flashes of prominence during the season when he jumped right into the line-up and won three straight games for the Detroit Red Wings back in October, but couldn’t put together the same string of success throughout the whole season. An injury prone goaltender himself, Gustavsson went 0-2 with a 2.71 GAA and .917 SV% in Games 4 and 5 against the Bruins when Jimmy Howard got hurt.

The short contract will likely work out in Detroit’s favor, as it will allow Petr Mrazek to get another year under his belt in Grand Rapids before making the jump full time to the NHL.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.