NHL notes: Alex Kovalev announces retirement
Alex Kovalev, pictured here as a member of the Florida Panthers in January 2013, has officially retired from hockey. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL/QMI AGENCY)
Longtime NHL player Alex Kovalev officially announced his retirement Thursday.
Kovalev, 41, won the Stanley Cup in 1994 with the New York Rangers and most recently played in the NHL for the Florida Panthers during the 2012-13 season. He spent last season playing with Swiss second-tier team EHC Visp and organizing hockey camps in the region.
According to the International Ice Hockey Federation website, Kovalev cited injuries for his decision to retire.
"I'd have loved to play until I'm 50 but the injuries from the last few seasons don't let me continue my career," Kovalev told TV station Kanal9 at a hockey camp in Leukerbad, Switzerland. "It's a hard decision for me but it is what it is. It was my last season."
The Rangers made Kovalev the 15th pick in the 1991 draft and he debuted with the team in the 1992-93 season, scoring 20 goals. A year later Kovalev was instrumental to the Rangers ending a 54-year championship drought, scoring nine goals and 21 points in 23 Stanley Cup playoff games.
Kovalev's career took off after he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had career highs of 44 goals and 95 points in 2000-01 and averaged 77 points per season from 1998-2003.
Kovalev was traded back to the Rangers in 2003 and also played with the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.
In 19 NHL seasons, he had 430 goals and 1,029 points in 1,316 regular-season games.
In international play, Kovalev played for Russia/Unified Team three times at the Olympics, serving as captain for the team at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and won a gold medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympics and a bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
CANES SIGN JARED STAAL
The Carolina Hurricanes announced Thursday that they have come to terms on a one-year deal with right winger Jared Staal.
Staal will receive $550,000 at the NHL level, or $65,000 at the American Hockey League level during the 2014-15 season.
The 23-year-old appeared in 50 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL last season. He notched two goals and five assists.
The Thunder Bay, Ont., native has compiled 10 goals and 15 assists in 169 career AHL regular-season games with San Antonio, Providence and Charlotte.
Selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Staal was acquired by the Hurricanes on May 13, 2010, in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2010 Draft.
CANUCKS NAB VRBATA
Free-agent forward Radim Vrbata has signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
TSN reported the contract will be worth $10 million for an annual NHL salary-cap charge of $5 million.
Vrbata, a 33-year-old native of the Czech Republic, had 20 goals and 51 points for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013-14. He has spent the past five seasons with the Coyotes and had career-highs of 35 goals and 62 points in 2011-12.
Vrbata has played for the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning over his career, scoring at least 20 goals five times.
He has 215 goals and 464 points in 792 regular-season games, and six goals and 14 points in 36 playoff games. He is tied for fourth on the all-time list with 35 shootout goals.
CANES INK GLEASON
Unrestricted free agent defenceman Tim Gleason has agreed to terms with the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $1.2-million contract.
Gleason spent part of eight seasons with the Hurricanes before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1 for defenseman John-Michael Liles. The Maple Leafs bought out the final two years of Gleason's contract earlier this week.
Gleason had one goal and five points in 39 games for the Maple Leafs after having one assist in 17 games with the Hurricanes last season.
"We obviously know well what Tim brings to our team on and off the ice and how he fits in our organization," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. "We are happy that he is choosing to return to Raleigh."
Gleason was the 23rd pick of the 2001 draft by the Ottawa Senators and made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2003-04 season. He has 16 goals and 133 points in 655 regular-season games for the Kings, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed unrestricted free-agent forward Zach Sill to a one-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level. Sill, 26, made his NHL debut last season, and was scoreless with 14 shots on goal in 20 regular-season games ... The Buffalo Sabres have signed defenceman Tyson Strachan to a one-year contract. Strachan appeared in 18 games with the Washington Capitals in 2013-14, recording two assists and 28 penalty minutes ... The Carolina Hurricanes have signed defenceman Michal Jordan to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Jordan $550,000 on the NHL level. Jordan, 23, completed his fourth season in 2013-14 by leading all Charlotte Checkers defencemen with 21 assists ... The New York Rangers have signed free-agent forward Nick Tarnasky. Terms of the deal were not released. Tarnasky, 29, skated in 76 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League last season, registering 13 goals and nine assists, along with 144 penalty minutes.