NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2017
Blue Jackets sign Alexander Wennberg, Canucks sign Vanek. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets yesterday re-signed center Alexander Wennberg to a six-year, $29.4 million contract. The 22-year-old’s annual average salary is $4.9 million. The deal pays $3.5 million in actual salary in 2017-18, $4.5 million in 2018-19, and $5.35 million per season over the remaining tenure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A quite reasonable cap hit for a young center who’s steadily improved during his first three NHL seasons. He netted 20 points in his rookie season, reached 40 points in 69 games in 2015-16 and tallied 59 points last season.
He’ll likely center the Jackets’ first line in the upcoming season with recently-acquired Artemi Panarin on his wing. If that duo develops a strong offensive chemistry, Wennberg’s stats could soar to 70-plus points per season over the term of his new contract, making this deal a significant bargain for the Jackets.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek, 33, is the fifth UFA signed by the Canucks, joining goaltender Anders Nilsson, defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch and forward Sam Gagner. Critics of Canucks GM Jim Benning will likely question this signing, but I think it’s a decent, affordable move. The Canucks continue to transition toward a younger roster. Signing those veterans to cost-effective short-term deals buys time for those youngsters to develop and adjust to the NHL game.
Vanek should provide a bit of a boost to an offense and power play that was the league’s second-worst in 2016-17. He also lacks trade protection. If he has a decent season and the Canucks are out of playoff contention come February, they can put him on the trade block before the deadline.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: After years as the Carolina Hurricanes’ starting goaltender, Cam Ward is prepared to pass the torch to Scott Darling this season.
NBC SPORTS: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad recently voiced his support of LGBT athletes.
NJ.COM: Tennis star Roger Federer offered up some advice for countryman and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier, the first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He considers Hischier a “good guy” and “unbelievably talent” but believes he must work as hard as he can if he’s to fulfill expectations.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kelly Talbot, wife of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, is leading the local relief effort for victims of Hurricane Harvey.