More than a year after taking a team-friendly contract to help the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Labanc is finally cashing in.
Labanc signed an $18.9 million US, four-year deal Saturday that carries an annual salary cap hit of $4,725,000. That’s a significant raise from the $1 million he made last season after putting up a career-high 56 points.
“I just gambled on myself,” Labanc said. “It has nothing to do with ’18-19. I know I’m a top-six forward and I know that I can produce and be a good player and help this team out and help this team reach new heights this upcoming year.”
Labanc’s production went down to 33 points last season as he struggled along with the rest of the Sharks, who finished third-worst in the NHL. He was a playoff hero and had nine points in San Jose’s 2019 run to the Western Conference final, which is why his low-money contract that summer raised eyebrows.
Getting almost $5 million a year for the next four seasons makes more sense. The Sharks have more financial flexibility now after a down year and didn’t forget what Labanc and his camp did to try to keep them cap compliant last season.
Labanc has 149 points on 50 goals and 99 assists in 284 career regular-season NHL games. The Sharks aren’t worried about his numbers falling last season and think it could actually help in the next few years.
Burakovsky pens 2-year deal with Avs
After a breakout first season in Colorado, forward Andre Burakovsky earned a two-year deal from the Avalanche.
Burakovsky set career highs in goals (20), assists (25) and points (45) in 58 games during the 2019-20 regular season. He also had a team-best six game-winning goals and 19.4 percent shooting percentage, good for sixth in the league.
Burakovksy, 25, was even better in the playoffs, notching seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games.
‘Big part of our success’
Burakovsky spent his first five seasons with the Washington Capitals after they took him in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
He was traded to the Avalanche in June 2019.
In five seasons with Washington, Burakovsky appeared in 328 regular season games, scoring 62 goals and notching 83 assists. He had two goals and four assists in 13 playoff games during the Capitals’ title run after the 2017-18 season.
Avalanche get Saad
Later in the day, the Avanalanche also acquired rugged winger Brandon Saad in a multiplayer trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Colorado sent defencemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm to Chicago for Saad and defenceman Dennis Gilbert. The Blackhawks also will retain $1 million of Saad’s $6 million salary for next season.
Zadorov was a restricted free agent, but Chicago said he signed his qualifying offer of $3.2 million prior to the deal. Lindholm’s two-way contract has a salary-cap hit of $742,500, and it runs through the 2020-21 season.
The 27-year-old Saad has 169 goals and 178 assists in 588 games with the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets. He also has made 81 career post-season appearances, collecting 18 goals and 24 assists.
“In Brandon we are acquiring a two-time Stanley Cup champion who brings veteran leadership and experience to our team. He is a proven goal scorer and at age 27, is in the prime of his career,” general manager Joe Sakic said in a release. “We are also adding a sturdy, young defenceman in Dennis.
Devils sign Crawford to 2-year deal
With starting goalie Corey Crawford leaving for New Jersey in free agency, Chicago signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year, $1.7 million contract. The 35-year-old Crawford agreed to a two-year, $7.8 million deal with the Devils.
Chicago also agreed to sign rookie of the year finalist Dominik Kubalik to a two-year, $7.4 million contract extension.
Canes, Fast ink deal
The Carolina Hurricanes have agreed to a deal with right wing Jesper Fast on a three-year contract.
The team announced the agreement Saturday, saying it would the deal will have an average annual value of $2 million through the 2022-23 season. Carolina president and general manager Don Waddell called Fast “an intelligent, versatile player who fits the mould” of how the Hurricanes play under Rod Brind’Amour.
Welcome to the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canes?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Canes</a>, Jesper! <a href=”https://t.co/t4jj7qYqSq”>pic.twitter.com/t4jj7qYqSq</a>
The 28-year-old Fast had 12 goals and 17 assists in 69 games with the New York Rangers last season, his seventh in the NHL. He was an alternate captain for the second straight season in 2019-20 for the Rangers, who were swept by the Hurricanes in a best-of-5 Stanley Cup qualifier series in the league’s return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rangers picked Fast in the sixth round of the 2010 entry draft, with Fast totalling 55 goals and 92 assists in 422 career games.
Red Wings add Greiss, Stecher
The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Thomas Greiss to a two-year deal.
The club didn’t announce financial terms, but TSN reported the contract has an average annual value of $3.6 million.
Greiss, 34, spent the past five seasons with the New York Islanders. In 2019-20, he appeared in 31 games (29 starts) and posted a 16-9-4 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
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With the Red Wings, he’s expected to join Jonathan Bernier in the goaltender rotation. Detroit parted ways with veteran Jimmy Howard, who posted a 2-23-2 record last season with a 4.20 GAA and .882 save percentage. Bernier had a 15-22-3 mark.
Detroit also signed defenceman Troy Stecher to a two-year, $3.4M contract.
The 26-year-old became an unrestricted free agent after the Vancouver Canucks declined to present him with a qualifying offer. Stecher finished with five goals and 17 points in 69 games with the Canucks this past season.
Koivu signs with Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed veteran center Mikko Koivu to a one-year, $1.5 million contract on Saturday.
Koivu, 37, has spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Minnesota Wild, serving as their captain since 2009-10.
Koivu is Minnesota’s career leader in points (709), assists (504) and games (1,028) and ranks second in goals (205). He added 11 goals and 17 assists in 59 Stanley Cup playoff games.
“Mikko Koivu has been a very consistent, productive two-way player in the National Hockey League for many years,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a news release. “He is a great leader, has impeccable character and will be a valuable addition to our young team. We are very excited that he has chosen to continue his career as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.”
Minnesota selected Koivu with the sixth overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft.
Predators sign Cousins
The Nashville Predators signed forward Nick Cousins to a two-year, $3 million contract, the team announced Saturday.
Cousins, 27, was an unrestricted free agent after failing to receive a qualifying offer from Vegas.
“Nick is a versatile forward who can play up and down our lineup and will help add a physical element to our game every night,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “He’s a reliable player in his own zone and has shown improvement offensively every year. He fits the mold of the type of player we were targeting during free agency.”
Cousins collected 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 65 games with the Golden Knights and Canadiens last season. He had one goal and two assists in seven games with Vegas after he was acquired from Montreal on Feb. 24.
Bruins sign veteran forward Smith
The Boston Bruins signed veteran forward Craig Smith to a three-year deal, the team announced Saturday.
The deal carries an average annual value of $3.1 million.
Smith, 31, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Nashville Predators, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 entry draft. The club opted to not re-sign him in September.
In 661 games with the Predators, Smith scored 162 goals and added 168 assists. He finished last season with 18 goals and 13 assists in 69 games
Wild re-sign Greenway
The Minnesota Wild re-signed forward Jordan Greenway to a two-year, $4.2 million contract on Saturday.
Greenway, 23, tallied 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) and 54 penalty minutes in 67 games in 2019-20.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound New York native has 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) and 83 PIM in 154 games since his NHL debut in 2018.
The Wild selected Greenway, a Boston University product, in the second round of the 2015 draft.