Former Pens find new arenas to call home
EAST MEADOW, N.Y.
The New York Islanders have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent forward Tom Kuhnhackl.
The 26-year-old right wing had four goals and 12 assists in 57 games for Pittsburgh last season. He has 11 goals and 28 assists in 168 career games over three seasons — all with the Penguins.
Kuhnhackl, who was on Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017, also has three goals and four assists in 47 career playoff games.
Another former Penguins, James Neal, has a new home.
Calgary signed Neal to a five-year, $28.75 million contract on Monday, giving Johnny Gaudreau and the rest of the Flames a much-needed scoring boost.
Neal has topped 20 goals in each of his 10 NHL seasons, and was considered the top player left on the free-agent market a day after the NHL’s signing period opened.
Calgary becomes Neal’s third team in as many seasons. He was selected by Vegas in the NHL expansion draft a year ago, and scored 25 goals and 44 points in 71 games for the Golden Knights.
The 30-year-old Neal also played for Pittsburgh and Nashville, and has 263 goals and 495 points in 703 career games. He played in the Stanley Cup Final the past two seasons.
The Flames also signed forward Derek Ryan to a three-year, $9.375 million contract. Ryan scored 15 goals and 38 points in his second full season with Carolina last year. Calgary also added center Austin Czarnik, who spent the previous two seasons with Boston.
The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year contract.
The team announced the deal on Thornton’s 39th birthday Monday. Thornton tested the free agent market last summer before returning to San Jose on a one-year, $8 million deal but was intent the whole time this year on staying with the Sharks.
He had 13 goals and 23 assists in 47 games last season.
The thrill is back for Ryan O’Reilly.
A trade to the St. Louis Blues has O’Reilly excited about hockey and the future after three consecutive losing seasons with the Buffalo Sabres had him talking about losing his love for the game. Now the 27-year-old center is itching to get back on the ice and help the Blues reach the playoffs.
“I feel like I have a spark in me now,” O’Reilly said on a conference call. “There’s something different. It’s interesting how it happened, but I’m happy, I’m excited and I don’t regret anything that’s happened.”
As the son of a journeyman hockey player and eventual coach, Sabres newly acquired forward Tage Thompson became accustomed to never staying put.
“I’m not sure the amount of states I’ve lived in,” Thompson said Monday, in recalling how he attended nine schools by the time he began his junior year at a high school in Michigan.
His father is Brent Thompson, who is the coach of Bridgeport in the American Hockey League. His career included numerous stops from playing for the AHL’s Hershey Bears in Pennsylvania to coaching the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.