Happy Independence Day to our friends to the South!
Former DobberHockey writer Justin Goldman is coming for a visit to Toronto! To celebrate Dobber is hosting an event on Tuesday, July 29. More details can be found here.
As expected, things have really quieted down on the transaction front. The biggest moves of the day were made by Toronto signing Petri Kontiola and Mike Santorelli. You can find my take here but I'll talk about it in the ramblings as well.
These are mostly minor signings but they are good signings all the same. Good teams have quality depth and that's what this fills. The Leafs now run six or seven deep with NHL calibre centermen. Not everyone will play up the middle of course but they've got plenty of guys who are capable. These two also came cheap, which means (unlike last year's free agent pickups) they actually have a chance of outplaying their contracts.
So for Leaf fans, you should be happy your team was patient in free agency this year. They may have hit on some real bargains.
Another consequence of these signings is that it may bring up trade rumours around Nazem Kadri. It's already in the comments section of the fantasy take I posted yesterday as well as in the forum. Perhaps Kadri for Nail Yakupov?
I think that trade would be stupid but the speculation is out there and you don't have to go far to find it.
By the way, the Leafs also re-signed Troy Bodie, if you care about such things.
Forward prospect Brendan Ranford signed his first pro deal with the Dallas Stars. He spent last season with their AHL team after going unsigned by the Philadelphia Flyers. He probably won't amount to anything but he was an impressive scorer in the WHL. He had 33 points in 65 games as an AHL rookie.
My main reason for scepticism is how barren the Flyers prospect cupboard is and yet they couldn't find room for Ranford. The Stars have done a good job of developing prospects lately though so maybe he can be salvaged.
You can read more on Ranford over at DobberProspects though his profile does probably warrant updating.
The Flyers re-signed Jason Akeson to a one-year, two-way deal. Akeson showed some flashes in the playoffs but will still have to earn his spot. He's a diminutive depth scorer but it is looking like he has the fight to stick around the NHL. He has nothing left to prove in the minors having scored 172 points in 208 AHL games.
As of right now Akeson appears setup to be the 12th forward but fellow prospect Scott Laughton may have something to say about that – not to mention it's a long summer, the Flyers may be looking to add.
Check out Akeson's DobberProspects profile. Laughton's too, while you are at it.
The Flyers also signed Nick Schultz and Zach Stortini because apparently they hate their goalies.
Tim Gleason was brought back by Carolina after brief stint with the Leafs. Let the siege of Cam Ward continue!
Alex Kovalev has officially retired from pro hockey.
The Hockey News takes a trip down memory lane with five things we'll never forget about Kovalev. Definitely worth checking out.
Pierre Lebrun with some off-season rumblings, including a suggestion that the Red Wings should go after Mike Green.
I really like the notion. The Red Wings could certainly use a right-handed defenseman and Green fits the bill. He also has talent that could be salvaged. I like the fit.
NHL.com looks at 10 free agents whose new destinations alter their fantasy prospects:
What makes us worried about Boyle is that 50 percent of his points came on the man-advantage, and that was on a team ranked 20th in the League in power-play success (17.2). The Rangers had a slightly better power play last season (15th at 18.2 percent), but lost its best power-play producer, Brad Richards, and his team-leading 19 points. A full season of Martin St. Louis, and his 96 career power-play goals, and the continued maturation of defenseman Ryan McDonagh should help improve the power play, but it still makes us worried. Look even deeper and 281 of Boyle’s 561 career points have come on the man-advantage.
I'm genuinely concerned that Boyle doesn't have a whole lot left in the tank at this point. Maybe it was just injuries last season but Boyle looked like he'd lost a step. It helps that he'll be playing in the weaker Eastern Conference but that's about it. This Rangers team is nowhere near as prolific as the Sharks were.
Kovalev was one of the best:
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.