It’s reasonable to assume that the New York Rangers were comfortable trading Derek Stepan in part because they believed Mika Zibanejad could step into the No. 1 center role. That puts a lot of pressure on Zibanejad, who’s never been the top pivot on an NHL team before. If that wasn’t enough, now he’ll need to justify the first big contract of his career (seeing his cap hit rise from $2.625 million to $5.35 million). At least he isn’t oblivious to this challenge, and as the Rangers website notes, he’s actually super happy* to raise the stakes. “I think even before signing, seeing Derek being traded was a little bit of an alert to me that I might get a chance to play a bigger role,” Zibanejad said.
Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference. The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives. Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams. It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman. After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline
The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances. Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website: The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances. Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant. Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant. Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents. Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the