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Around The Rink | BERLET SPOTLIGHT: MOVES LIKE JAGR

July 5, 2012
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Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

BERLET SPOTLIGHT: MOVES LIKE JAGR

BY: Bruce Berlet, Special to Howlings

Former New York Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr pulled the first major surprise of free agency on Tuesday when he signed a one-year, $4.55 million contract with the Dallas Stars.

“I want to thank Dallas Stars for giving me the opportunity,” Jagr said via his Twitter account. “Say hallo to my new teammates and fans. Hopefully we can make together big things.”

Jagr was expected to re-sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he joined a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in four years after a 45-minute chat with Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk.

“We just sat and talked hockey,” Nieuwendyk told Kevin Allen of USA Today. “He seemed relaxed and at peace with himself. You could tell he still loves the game, and he was excited about the possibility of playing here.”

The 40-year-old Jagr was the Flyers’ third-leading scorer last season with 19 goals and 35 assists in 73 games. Nieuwendyk has Jagr penciled in to play with center Jamie Benn and wing Louie Eriksson.

“How nice does that sound?” Niewwendyk told Allen.

Hall of Famer Bob Gainey, back as an adviser in Dallas, also was part of the conversation that enabled the Stars to pull off the upset victory of the Russian standout that many thought would be an alternative in the sweepstakes for New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise, the most sought-after forward in free agency.

“He has never played in the Western Conference before, and I think he liked that challenge as well,” Nieuwendyk said.

Jagr got a raise from the $3.3 million he received from the Flyers after returning from three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“I think he’s still an elite player,” Nieuwendyk said.

In Philadelphia, Jagr was a mentor to younger players, a role that Nieuwendyk said Jagr mentioned he wanted to do the same in Dallas. His 1,653 points make him the NHL’s all-time points leader among European-born players and eighth overall, and his 665 goals are tops among active NHL players. He has played in 1,346 career games with the Flyers, Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

“One of the things he asked me is if he can have a key to the practice facility,” Nieuwendyk said. “He said he sometimes like to go in there at night and work on some things.”

Nieuwendyk has essentially signed a new line since free agent started Sunday. He also signed 40-year-old wing Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9 million contract and then acquired skilled center Derek Roy from the Buffalo Sabres for forward Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy on Monday. He also signed defenseman Aaron Rome and picked up center Cody Eakins from the Washington Capitals for Mike Ribeiro on June 22.

“I think I’m going to the lake next week and turn my phone off. I’m pretty much done,” a laughing Nieuwendyk told John Kreiser of nhl.com. “The moves we’ve been able to make the last few days are an indication that we are back as a real, relevant franchise, and we’re very pleased at what has transpired.”

RANGERS ADD A DIFFERENT PYATT

The Rangers signed veteran wing Taylor Pyatt to a two-year, $3.1 million contract after he had nine goals and 10 assists in 73 games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season. Pyatt is the younger brother of Tommy Pyatt, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 2005 who had 19 goals and 29 assists in 115 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens on June 30, 2009 with Scott Gomez and Michael Busto for Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, former Yale center Chris Higgins and former Springfield Pic Doug Janik. Tommy is now with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Taylor Pyatt was the New York Islanders’ first-round pick (eighth) overall in 1999 and 130 goals and 134 assists in 755 NHL games with the Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, and Phoenix Coyotes. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Pyatt also has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 57 playoff games with Buffalo, Vancouver and Phoenix.

It’s a good depth signing for the Rangers, who are now less likely to re-sign wing Ruslan Fedotenko.

Here’s the official release from the Rangers:

NEW YORK, July 3, 2012 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent forward Taylor Pyatt.

Pyatt, 30, skated in 73 games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season, registering nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, along with 23 penalty minutes.  He ranked fourth on the Coyotes with 137 hits.  Pyatt skated in his 700th career regular season contest on November 19 at Buffalo.  He also recorded four goals and two assists in 16 playoff games.  He tied for third on the team in goals (four), which was also a career-high, ranked fifth in shots on goal (27), and tied for eighth in points (six) during the postseason.

He was originally selected by the New York Islanders as a first round choice, eighth overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.  The 11-year NHL veteran has posted two career hat tricks, on March 28, 2003, against Montreal and November 17, 2005, against Washington.  Pyatt has also advanced to the conference finals twice in his career, with the Buffalo Sabres in the 2006 playoffs and the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2012 playoffs.

The 6-4, 230-pounder has skated in 755 career regular season games with the NY Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, and Phoenix Coyotes, registering 130 goals and 134 assists for 264 points, along with 404 penalty minutes.  Pyatt achieved career milestones in 2009-10 with Phoenix, recording his 200th career point with a goal on December 23 against Anaheim and his 100th career goal on March 10 against Vancouver.  In 2008-09, he tallied his 100th career assist on April 2 against Anaheim as a member of the Canucks.  Pyatt established several career-highs in his first two seasons with Vancouver, including goals (23), points (37) and power play goals (nine) in 2006-07, and assists (21) in 2007-08.  In addition, he has recorded eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 57 career playoff contests with Buffalo, Vancouver and Phoenix.

In 2010-11, Pyatt registered 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points in 76 games with Phoenix.  He tied for the team lead with a career-high, six game-winning goals.  Pyatt also tied for third on the team in goals, ranked third in hits (143) and second among team forwards in plus/minus rating (plus-11).

Pyatt made his NHL debut on October 6, 2000, at Tampa Bay as a 19-year old with the NY Islanders.  He registered four goals and 14 assists for 18 points in 78 games that season.  He recorded his first career point with an assist on October 27 against Montreal, and notched his first NHL goal with the game-winner on November 27 against Tampa Bay.

The Thunder Bay, Ontario native is the older brother of former Rangers’ draft pick, Tom Pyatt, who was selected as a fourth round choice, 107th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

But the Rangers did officially announce the re-signing of veteran center Kris Newbury to a two-year, two-way contract, as I reported on Sunday. The deal is worth $600,000 at the NHL level for Newbury, who had a team-high 25 goals and had 39 assists to tie rookie AHL All-Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault for the Connecticut Whale scoring lead. Audy-Marchessault signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the parent team of the Springfield Falcons. … The Devils signed Bryce Salvador, the highest-scoring defenseman in the playoffs, to a three-year, $9.5 million to stay in New Jersey. After sitting out the 2010-11 season with an inner-ear concussion, the 36-year-old Salvador was only one of two defensemen in the Devils’ lineup to play all 82 regular-season games this past season. He also played a major role in the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup finals with four goals, 10 assists and a plus-9 rating in 24 games. His stay-at-home style complemented defense partner Marek Zidlicky, who enjoyed the offensive end. Salvador’s 14 points ranked second in the playoffs among NHL defensemen. In the regular season, he had no goals, nine assists and was plus-18.

JESSIMAN’S A SENATOR; MCDONALD’S AN ISLANDER

Connecticut natives Hugh Jessiman and Colin McDonald have signed one-year, two-way contracts with the Ottawa Senators and Islanders.

Jessiman, a Darien native and former Wolf Pack wing, will always be linked to Parise as he was the 12th overall pick in 2003, five before the Devils captain. Other first-round picks after Jessiman included Dustin Brown (13, Los Angeles), Brent Seabrook (14, Chicago), Ryan Getzlaf (19, Anaheim), Ryan Kesler (23, Vancouver), Mike Richards (24, Philadelphia), Brian Boyle (26, Los Angeles) and Corey Perry (28, Anaheim).

Jessiman, 28, split last season between the Lake Erie Monsters and Abbotsford Heat, getting a career-high 27 goals and 17 assists in 67 games. He has 107 goals and 93 assists in 432 AHL games with the Wolf Pack, Milwaukee Admirals, Rockford IceHogs, Rochester Americans, Lake Erie and Abbotsford. He was the last first-round pick in 2003 to play in the NHL, going scoreless in two games with the Florida Panthers in the 2010-11 season.

McDonald, 27, and fellow forward Brandon DeFazio joined the Islanders organization. McDonald, a Wethersfield native, had 14 goals and 35 assists in 68 games last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He also had six goals and seven assists in 12 playoffs and appeared in five NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound McDonald has 90 goals and 85 assists in 374 AHL games with Wilkes-Barre, Oklahoma City and Springfield. He won the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal-scorer in 2010-11 with 42 and played in the AHL All-Star Classic in 2011 and 2012. He was Edmonton’s second-round pick in 2003.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Howlings.

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