With a week before puck drop, teams are looking to trim down their rosters and solidify their Opening Night line ups. Some teams such as Boston and Vancouver are scrambling to fill gaps left by injuries to key players, and other teams such as Colorado, Anaheim, and Chicago are locking up long-term deals for a few of their players. Finally, Edmonton and Montreal bid a couple of their seasoned veterans goodbye, as they have chosen retirement. All of this in this week’s league round-up.
We begin in Boston this week, where the Bruins announced that Dennis Seidenberg will be out 8 weeks due to back surgery. Seidenberg, who is in his 7th season with the Bruins, leaves the Bruins a bit thin on the blue line, as the Bruins also announced that captain Zedno Chara is day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury.
Another team who has been bitten by the injury bug, the Vancouver Canucks announced that left-winger Chris Higgins will be out indefinitely due to a broken foot. He will be revaluated to determine how long he will be out. Higgins had 36 points in 77 games last season for Vancouver.
Staying in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche announced they have re-signed Erik Johnson to a 7-year, $42 million contract extension. Johnson, who was limited to 47 games with the Avalanche last year, will solidify the Avalanche’s defense, which saw them tumble to 21st in goals against last season.
Speaking of a solid defense, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they have re-signed defenseman Brent Seabrook to an 8 year, $58.4 million contract extension. Seabrook, who has been a strong contributor to the Blackhawks (and having won 3 Stanley Cups with them further bolsters his position) in his 10-year career with them, was also made the team’s alternate captain this year.
The Anaheim Ducks are looking to challenge the Chicago Blackhawks in Western Conference superiority by re-signing goaltender John Gibson to a 3 year, $6.9 million contract extension. Last year, Anaheim had a platoon of Gibson and Frederik Andersen used by head coach Bruce Boudreau. This move is an indicator that the Ducks may be finally solidifying their situation between the pipes, and could give Gibson the confidence he needs to be the back-up, or even be the potential number one goalie.
In retirement news, the Edmonton Oilers announced the retirement of Ryan Whitney. Whitney, who played 11 seasons in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Florida, and Edmonton, cited bad ankles were the reason he chose to hang up the skates. Whitney’s grit and sense of humor will be missed in the NHL this year.
Lastly, the Montreal Canadiens also announced the retirement of Francis Bouillon. Bouillon spent 15 years between Nashville and Montreal. Bouillon was a diminutive, gritty defenseman who was beloved by many in Montreal for his style of play. Bouillon has accepted a position with the Canadiens as a member of the board of the team’s alumni association.
That has been this week’s league round-up, where we’re now a mere 7 days away from dropping the puck for real, and making it count.
By Andi Sobolik