Andrew Ladd re-signs with Winnipeg, Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges files for arbitration, Ryan Smyth is thrilled to return to Edmonton, the Senators get tougher, Canucks winger Jannik Hansen files for arbitration, a look at some long shots to make the Maple Leafs, and Flames prospect Sven Baertschi hopes hard work pays off in a roster spot.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Jets captain Andrew Ladd is happy to put down roots in Winnipeg with his new five-year, $22 million contract, is looking forward to helping the club become a winner, and debunked some myths about Winnipeg, suggesting it gets a bad rep because of its location but believes players will love it there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting Ladd under contract was crucial, and if he can play as well or better than he did last season (59 points), he’ll be a key factor in turning the Jets into a playoff contender. It also helps that he’s positive about the city and it sounds as though he’ll be the clubhouse spokesman in selling the city to his teammates or to incoming players.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports Canadiens fans shouldn’t lose sleep over defenseman Josh Gorges decision to file for salary arbitration. Hickey feels this could hasten Gorges’ re-signing, as now the two sides will be working under a deadline to get a deal in place. Gorges agent, Kevin Epp, sound confident a deal could be in place before his client’s arbitration hearing. It’s believed term, not dollars, is the sticking point in negotiations at the present time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most players who file for arbitration end up re-signing before their case goes before an arbiter. Hickey is right, Habs fans, don’t lose any sleep over this.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports 36-year-old Ryan Smyth is thrilled to be back with the Edmonton Oilers after being dealt to the club by the Los Angeles Kings (at Smyth’s request) two weeks ago. He has one year remaining on his current contract and would love to get a new contract but that’ll be determined by his play this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers fans should temper their expectations of Smyth, who’s no longer the two-way force he was during his last go-around with the Oilers, but if he can chip in 20 goals and 40-45 points, he’ll likely earn himself a new contract.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan reports the Senators recent signing of tough guy center Zenon Kenopka could make the club one of the league’s toughest teams, as he joins Chris Neil, Matt Carkner and Zack Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators unquestionably got tougher, which should give more space for their skill players, like Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, more room to operate, though their enforcers will have to employ their skills with discipline, otherwise the Senators will spend too many wasted minutes killing dumb penalties.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jim Jamieson reports Canucks forward Jannik Hansen as expected filed for salary arbitration yesterday. Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman said contract negotiations with Hansen are continuing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Gorges with Montreal, Hansen will probably be re-signed before his case goes before an arbiter.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle reports on the difficulty the current group of players participating in the Maple Leafs prospects camp will have in cracking the big club’s roster next season. The club’s most NHL-ready prospects – defensemen Jake Gardiner and Jesse Blacker – could find it difficult landing a spot given the club’s recent blueline additions of veterans John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson. The Leafs also have 13 forwards under contract for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s always possible one kid could surprise and crack the lineup out of training camp, but I’d say we can expect a predominantly veteran-laden Leafs roster starting next season.
CALGARY HERALD: Scott Cruickshank reports on the work ethic of Flames 2011 first round pick Sven Baertschi, whom the club recently inked to an entry level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take hard work on the young left winger’s part to crack the Flames roster, but it can only help him if he’s willing to work harder than the other prospects.