In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Edmonton Oilers have signed depth defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a two-year extension. Why the second year? Meanwhile, Sam Reinhart has inked a three-year deal with the Florida Panthers, where does he fit into their offense? What did Elias Pettersson mean when he said the most important thing about a long-term deal with the Vancouver Canucks is playing for a winner? Finally, why is Jaromir Jagr’s current hockey story such a sad one?
Koekkoek Signs with Oilers for Two Years
As first announced by Mark Spector of Sportsnet and then confirmed by the Edmonton Oilers, Koekkoek has signed a two-year extension with the club for $975K per season. It’s a good depth add for Edmonton on a player that didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do after an injury (broken collarbone against the Calgary Flames) limited him to only 18 games last season.
The Oilers did like what they saw out of Koekkoek and there was speculation the team might be looking to bring him back into the fold this season. He can be moved to either the left or right side and will offer some depth in the six and seven position on the team. The way Koekkoek was called upon in his final game– even after his injury meant he might be a bit rusty — suggests that head coach Dave Tippett likes the player and probably had a significant say in the decision to bring him back.
Some fans will certainly be surprised by the second year on this deal, but GM Ken Holland seems to be making these kinds of signings a thing. He did the same with depth forward Devin Shore, despite the player not having much leverage to earn a second year. There was also rumored to be interest in Jordie Benn. It’s not clear if this signing removes Benn from the conversation.
Reinhart Talks Where He Fits With Panthers
Reinhart inked a new three-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. He’ll make $6.5 million per season and is now the highest-paid forward on the roster. As for where he fits in their offensive scheme he said, “Who knows at this point how it’s going to fit together but I feel I’m someone who can slot in anywhere.” He added, “You look at the possibilities and it’s nothing short of excitement.”
After a season in which he scored 25 goals and 40 points (25-15-40) in 54 games, he will be a big part of their game plan. General Manager Bill Zito said of the deal:
“Sam is a gifted and versatile talent that will play a key role for our team in the coming seasons. One of several players to commit to our organization with a multi-year contract this offseason, we are excited to see how these players come together and continue to build a foundation for success in South Florida.”
Pettersson Says He Just Wants to Have a Chance to Win
Pettersson is the latest rising superstar to say that winning is the most important factor in his decision to sign a long-term deal with his respective team. On Wednesday, during an Olympic team press held by Tre Kronor, Pettersson was asked about his negotiations with the Canucks. He said he wasn’t concerned about getting a deal done, but noted, “I want to stay there (Vancouver) now, but I also want to play for a team that’s winning and has the chance to go far in the playoffs every year.”
He believes the team has a chance to win with the additions of players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but he also noted, “If we have that chance when my contract expires… I don’t know.” He ended with, “I just wanna to play where there’s a chance of winning.”
Some have taken these comments as concerning, but there’s not really a reason to be worried. Pettersson did say he wants to stick around, the Canucks clearly would like to win as well and if they take the right steps, there’s no reason to think he won’t sign long-term. He was looking at a bridge deal on this upcoming contract anyways. That gives the Canucks two or three years to turn the ship around after a terrible and unfortunate 2020-21 campaign.
Jagr Only Playing Hockey Still Because He “Has to”
In a bit of unrelated NHL news, former superstar Jaromir Jagr spoke with The Hockey News about his career and why he’s still playing the game professionally at the age of 49. He noted that he wouldn’t be playing if he didn’t feel like he had to, but he’s got no choice based on commitments and sponsorship deals.
An excerpt from The Hockey News quotes Jagr who said it’s no longer an easy game for him and he struggles offensively. He said he has to practice more often and exercise for more frequently to keep up. He noted he does it because it’s expected of him. Per Jagr’s quote:
“At the same time, people still expect it from me, and that’s probably the worst feeling, when people think I can, but I know I can’t. Plus, I can’t even tell them. I just know that I will do my best to help the club. I don’t know if anyone can understand my role. I don’t even want to be in such a position, but I have no choice. As long as my father breathes, I take the club as my responsibility. He held it for 20 years. As a son, I would be embarrassed if I left.”
It’s a bit disheartening to hear that such a great player is no longer playing the game out of a passion for it. It’s now strictly business and after such a long and storied career, that has to sting a lot.