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NHL Notebook: Carolina Hurricanes sign Caleb Jones to one-year deal, can the Tampa Bay Lightning be confident in the crease, and more

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
10 months ago
The Carolina Hurricanes have signed defenceman Caleb Jones to a one-year contract, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox reported Thursday.
The deal, according to salary cap resource site CapFriendly, will pay him $775,000.
Last season Jones took on more responsibility with the struggling Chicago team appearing in 73 games with four goals and 16 points. The blueliner averaged just over 19 minutes of ice time and finished third on the Blackhawks in blocks with 118. A restricted free agent heading into this offseason, the club chose not to qualify Jones allowing him to sign with any team as an unrestricted free agent.
Jones was originally the 117th overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 draft. He joined the club for 17 games in 2018-19 and took on a part-time role the following two seasons competing in 43 games with four goals and nine points in 2019-20, as well as 14 games with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. In the shortened 2020-21 season, he played in 33 of the Oilers’ 56 games with only four points. In the summer of 2021, he was traded to the Blackhawks alongside a third-round conditional pick, in exchange for Duncan Keith and Tim Soderlund.
Here’s more on the report from DailyFaceoff‘s Anthony Trudeau:
Jones will compete with Jalen Chatfield, Dylan Coghlan, and a returning Tony Deangelo for the sixth and seventh spots on coach Rod Brind’Amours’s blueline. Those are the only places not occupied by the Hurricanes’ set-in-stone top four (Slavin, Burns, Pesce, and Skjei) or big-ticket free-agent signing Dmitry Orlov.

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Can the Tampa Bay Lightning be confident in their goaltending behind Andrei Vasilevsky?

Andrei Vasilevsky is one of the league’s best goaltenders — there’s no question about that, even as his save percentage has dipped a few points in recent years. And with that, questions have begun to crop up around Tampa having a more stable plan in the crease behind him.
Vasilevsky has been one of the NHL’s biggest workhorses in net having played a combined 483 regular season and playoff games over his career, and after a first-round loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs this year, he requested some time off.
Last season, the netminder started in 60 games with a record of 34-22-4 and a .915 save percentage, the lowest number he’s boasted since the 2015-16 campaign. Tampa’s backup goaltender, Brian Elliott, only played in 22 games posting a 12-8-4 record despite a meagre .891 save percentage and 3.40 GAA.
Elliott is likely to head into retirement, which meant the Lightning needed a new number two. On the opening day of free agency on July 1st, the club signed Jonas Johansson to a two-year deal with an AAV of $775,000. The six-foot-five netminder appeared in three games with the Colorado Avalanche, spending most of his season with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, where he posted a record of 14-9-2 with a .920 save percentage.
Johansson has only played in 35 games since 2019, leading some to ask, can the Lightning can be confident in their number two netminder?
Here’s more on the debate with a sound breakdown and analysis from Daily Faceoff’s Mike McKenna:
Johansson is a reclamation project at this point. But he does have a ceiling that’s never been reached at the NHL level. And Lightning goaltending coach Frantz Jean is one of the league’s best. If he can help Johansson find another level, BriseBois will look like a genius. Two years at a $775k AAV is an undeniable value for a team like Tampa Bay that runs as tight to the salary cap.
The hard part for the Lightning, however, is that the team doesn’t have much in the pipeline at the pro level. Third-year pro Hugo Alnefelt is the defacto No.3, and he’s at least a year away from being ready for NHL duty. The 22-year-old Swede saw split duty with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch last season. But he couldn’t claim the crease as the team’s starting netminder during the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Longtime OHL commissioner David Branch to retire at the end of the 2023-24 season

The only commissioner to ever grace the Ontario Hockey League is set to retire.
This, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who reported Thursday that Branch, who has held his title since the league split from the QMJHL in 1979, will retire after the 2023-24 season.
Under his tutelage, the OHL has grown from 12 to 20 teams, producing some of the most talented players in the NHL. This upcoming season will be his 45th and final year with the title.
In 1996, Branch expanded his responsibilities and was named CHL President, where he oversaw the OHL, the QMJHL, and WHL until 2019 when he handed over the reins to Dan MacKenzie.
The OHL is to release the official statement on Thursday afternoon.
Here’s more on the news from Daily Faceoff‘s Colton Davies:
“Earlier this summer, I advised the OHL Board of Governors of my intent to retire at the end of the 2023-2024 season, my 45th year,” said OHL commissioner David Branch. “There are many people to thank, and I look forward to doing that in person over the coming year.
“It has been an honour to serve in this capacity, and I am very thankful for the great deal of support I have received and the tremendous, life-long friendships I have made along the way. I want to thank my family, the Board of Governors, league and team staff, fans, volunteers, on and off-ice officials, media, our partners and most importantly, the players for making the last 44 years so rewarding. I am grateful.”

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