- Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced he will undergo open-heart surgery
- The St. Louis Blues have signed goal-scoring winger Mike Hoffman to a professional tryout
- The Montreal Canadian have signed veteran winger and former MVP Corey Perry to a one-year deal
- Former Red Wing and Oiler winger Andreas Athanasiou has inked a one-year pact with the Los Angeles Kings
With the NHL season opener a little more than two weeks away, we are starting to see some more free-agent dominos fall, but we also got another dose of bad news in a year that cannot end soon enough.
Lundqvist to Undergo Open Heart Surgery
New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist recently announced that he would miss the 2020-21 NHL season due to a heart condition that he had played with for years. Further tests were required, and it was determined he could not play hockey this season.
However, the news got a little scarier on Monday as King Henrik announced that he will have open heart surgery due to the condition.
— Henrik Lundqvist (@hlundqvist35) December 28, 2020
“Last 3 weeks my focus has shifted from training camp and the upcoming season to my health and what I can and can’t do,” he tweeted. “Schedule for open heart surgery now – aortic valve replacement, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement to be exact.
“We all have our mountains to climb. Staying positive here and set on the road to recovery.”
The 38-year-old goaltender spent 15 seasons with the Rangers before the team bought him out following the 2019-20 season. He signed a one-year, $1.5M contract with the Washington Capitals this offseason, but will not be able to see that commitment through.
Although he did not announce his retirement in either his original season-ending announcement or this more recent one, it’s difficult to see Lundqvist back in the NHL after the seriousness of this situation.
If he is forced to retire, he’ll do so with a stout 2.43 GAA and .918 Sv% across 887 career regular-season games, adding another 130 postseason contests in which he worked to a 2.30 GAA and .921 Sv% with 10 shutouts to boot.
All the best to the King.
Blues Ink Hoffman to PTO
The top free agent on the board is no longer as Mike Hoffman has signed a professional tryout contract with the St. Louis Blues.
Hoffman will join the team to open its training camp on Jan. 3.
The 30-year-old Hoffman tallied 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games with the Florida Panthers last season and notched another three goals and five points as the team was ousted by the New York Islanders in the qualifying round in four games.
While it’s certainly eyebrow-raising to see the top free agent remaining to settle for a PTO, there are some salary cap Olympics likely going on behind the scenes, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger and Pierre Lebrun and it involves the use of Long-Term Injured reserve.
Putting players on LTI during the off-season is different then start of the season. This maximizes the Blues LTI space, but they still have to deal with Dunn. Gotta believe Hoffman agreement is done and this pure cap management.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 28, 2020
All things being equal, there’s a one-year contract coming for Hoffman closer to opening night once the Blues can use LTIR. https://t.co/JH1XKD4ayQ
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 28, 2020
The Blues still have to sign restricted free agent Vince Dunn, however both Dreger and LeBrun speculate that there is a one-year deal waiting for Hoffman closer to Opening Night as the team juggles its use of LTIR.
The Blues’ offense ranked 14th last season, but they also sported the league’s third-ranked power play at 24.3%. It appears they plan on keeping that power play going with a player in Hoffman who is tied for fifth with 28 power-play goals over the last two seasons and fourth with 49 over the last four seasons. Only Alex Ovechkin (65), David Pastrnak (60) and Patrik Laine (52) have more in that span.
With goal-scoring winger Vladimir Tarasenko out for the beginning of the season and set to be re-evaluated in February following another procedure to his troublesome shoulder, the Blues have added another pure goal-scoring winger to their forward mix that should one again finish as an above-average group next season.
Habs Add Perry on One-Year Deal
It’s been a busy offseason for Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. He acquired the likes of Josh Anderson, Jake Allen and Joel Edmundson via trade and also signed a goal-scoring winger in Tyler Toffoli on the free-agent market.
Now, he’s added another winger to the mix in former Anaheim Duck and Dallas Star Corey Perry who has signed a one-year deal with the club worth $750K, just $50K over the veteran minimum.
Perry notched five goals and 21 points across 57 regular-season games last season with the Stars, his first year outside of Anaheim who he played 14 seasons for, beginning in the 2005-06 campaign. He won both the Rocket Richard and Hart Trophies with the Ducks in the 2010-11 season when he scored 50 goals and 98 points while skating in all 82 contests.
While his best offensive days are behind him, Perry was a valued member of the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, notching matching his regular-season total of five goals with four helpers in 27 playoff games, but also scoring the double overtime winner in Game 5 of the Cup Final to keep the Stars alive.
Corey Perry is the double OT hero for the @DallasStars
There will be a game 6 on Monday!
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) September 27, 2020
Perry is also one of the winningest hockey players of all time across many stages. He won the 2005 Memorial Cup as a member of the OHL’s London Knights, the 2007 Stanley Cup with the Ducks, two Olympic gold medials with Team Canada in 2010 and 2014, a World Junior gold in 2005 and two gold medals in 2016, one at the World Championships and the other in the World Cup of Hockey.
Across 1,045 career NHL games, Perry has tallied 377 goals and 797 points.
Kings Sign Athanasiou
The Los Angeles Kings have signed speedy winger Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year contract, believed to be worth $1.2M according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
I think this is going to come in around $1.2M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 28, 2020
Athanasiou split the 2019-20 season between the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers, notching 11 goals and 26 points across 55 games.
The 2012 fourth-round pick of Detroit posted a career-best 54 points in 76 games in the 2018-19 season and has 84 goals and 156 points across 303 career regular-season contests.
He’ll get a chance to re-establish himself on a Kings team in transition, but one with arguably the best prospect pool in the league.