Updates on Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Patrik Elias, the Avalanche re-sign Erik Johnson, and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
WGRZ.COM: Lawyers for Patrick Kane’s alleged rape victim will hold a press conference today at 1 pm ET to address recent leaks and rumors regarding the ongoing grand jury investigation. Meanwhile, Kane received considerable support from fans at the United Center as the Blackhawks edged the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in preseason play.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Phil Kessel scored twice in his first preseason game with the Penguins in a 7-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
ESPN.COM: The Anaheim Ducks’ search for a left wing to skate alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on a regular basis continues.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed defenseman Erik Johnson to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension effective 2016-17.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I predicted he’d get a seven-year deal, though I was off by $1 million on his annual salary. Still, at $6 million annually, I don’t think Johnson’s complaining.
The Avs had little choice but to re-sign their best all-around defenseman. They were wise to get him inked now before his performance this season and the UFA deadline of July 1 drove up his value. The deal takes him up to age 35, and if he continues his solid performance over that period, it’ll be a deal well worth it for the Avalanche.
The signing leaves Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie as their notable free agents still to be re-signed. Saving that $1 million annually on Johnson’s new deal can be put toward MacKinnon or Barrie.
NJ.COM: A right-knee issue could sideline Patrik Elias from all the New Jersey Devils remaining preseason games.
SPORTSNET: Team USA coach John Tortorella will buy into hockey analytics if he believes it works (such as scoring chances for and against), but overall believes they’re media driven.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting take on analytics by Tortorella. He’s not entirely rejecting them, but ultimately feels hockey has “way too many variables and it’s way too instinctive” to assess solely on numbers. I think he’s making a valid point. I feel there is a place in hockey for analytics, particularly in assessing team play, but they’re not the end-all and be-all in assessing a player’s skills and performance.
NBC SPORTS: Veteran goaltender Chris Mason has announced his retirement to become a color commentator for the Nashville Predators radio broadcasts. He spent 11 NHL seasons with the Predators, St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets, compiling a record of 137-111-32 in 317 games, with a career GAA of 2.66, a .909 SP and 23 shutouts.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Enforcers like Todd Ewen are dying, but the hockey worlds seems to be doing very little about it.