Further reaction to Ilya Kovalchuk’s retirement, updates on Patrice Bergeron and Marian Hossa, speculation over offer sheets this summer, and more.
CANADIAN PRESS (VIA CBC.CA): Player agents J.P. Barry and Mark Gandler, who represent several Russian NHL players, believe Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to retire from the NHL and return to Russia to play in the KHL may be an isolated case, rather than a sign of things to come involving Russian players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell, of course. While the number of Russian players in the NHL is declining, notable stars like Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Bobrovsky remain. Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov (the 2012 first overall pick) wants to play in the NHL, while Dallas Stars prospect Valeri Nichuskin (selected 10th overall in this year’s draft) is very keen to play in the NHL.
One reason some Russian players leave the NHL is culture shock from playing in North America. Regarding Alexander Burmistrov and Nikita Filatov, they were rushed into NHL action before they were ready. The KHL is an expanding league which will always be a viable option for young Russian players, but for many, especially their very best players, the NHL remains their goal. That could change over time, but I believe as long as the NHL remains the top professional league in the world, it will continue to attract the world’s best players.
CSNNE.COM: Boston Bruins star Patrice Bergeron said his recovery from a myriad of injuries ( torn rib cartilage, a cracked rib, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung) suffered in this year’s playoffs is going well. Bergeron recently signed an eight-year, $52 million contract extension with the Bruins.
ESPN.COM/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, who was injured during this year’s Stanley Cup Final, will not require back surgery. The Blackhawks also re-signed forward Marcus Kruger to a two-year contract, and GM Stan Bowman hopes to have head coach Joel Quenneville under contract prior to the start of next season.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said he’ll get RFAs Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson re-signed and will match any offer sheet for those players.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun wonders if there will be any offer sheets this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, I believe it’s less likely this summer because of the declining salary cap.
YAHOO! SPORTS: The deteriorating condition of cancer-stricken MLB players union head Michael Weiner has sparked speculation NHLPA director Donald Fehr could return to his former job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fehr in the recent past denied rumors he could step down or return to his former job. We’ll see what happens if Weiner is forced to step down for health reasons.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: The LA Kings re-signed defenseman Jake Muzzin to a two-year, $2 million contract.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild have signed former Nashville Predators defenseman Jonathan Blum to a one-year, two-way contract.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Harry Zolnierczyk to a one-year, $550K contract.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: ESPN and the St. Louis Blues tried to have a bit of fun on Twitter at the expensive of the San Jose Sharks over the “Sharknado” TV-movie. They quickly learned the NHL’s Sharks’ bite is lethal.