Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Around the NHL: Hurricanes sign Caleb Jones; Kylington speaks out; Leafs ink Cowan
By Mike Gould6 months ago
Thursday wasn’t quite as busy around the National Hockey League as Wednesday was, but we still saw a couple signings and heard some encouraging news about a player set to make his return to the league.
We’ll begin our Thursday news roundup in Raleigh, N.C. and work our way west from there.
Hurricanes add Caleb Jones to stacked D group
The Carolina Hurricanes made another addition to their expansive defensive group on Thursday afternoon, signing former Chicago Blackhawks rearguard Caleb Jones to a one-year contract.
Jones, 26, performed pretty well for the Blackhawks in a mid-rotation role last season, collecting 16 points and averaging more than 19 minutes per night in 73 games. He’ll earn $775,000 with the Hurricanes this year.
But the bigger question related to this signing is: Carolina has to move a defenceman now, right? They have nine guys with considerable NHL experience under contract for next season, with prospect Alex Nikishin looking like a potential star waiting in the wings. Something’s gotta give.
We talked yesterday about the Hurricanes “completing” their deal with the Philadelphia Flyers to bring in Tony DeAngelo. He’s one of five pending UFA defencemen on this Hurricanes squad, alongside Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, Jalen Chatfield, and Jones. Dylan Coghlan will become an RFA in 2024; Dmitry Orlov, Brent Burns, and Jaccob Slavin can become UFAs in 2025.
That’s the dictionary definition of a logjam. The Hurricanes have a tiny little bit of cap space, but not nearly enough to make a meaningful addition — likely to their forward group — without a corresponding subtraction. If they were to trade Pesce, what kind of forward might they be able to target?
Leafs sign surprise pick Easton Cowan
The Toronto Maple Leafs sent ripples through the crowd at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville when they selected forward Easton Cowan with their first-round pick (No. 28 overall) at the 2023 NHL Draft this past June.
A lot of draft analysts had Cowan pegged as a third-round pick, although a couple expected him to go in the second. Seemingly only TSN’s Craig Button had him as a fringe first-rounder, slotting him in at No. 34 on his final rankings.
Brad Treliving and Co. clearly believe in Cowan, a five-foot-eleven winger who scored 53 points in 68 games with the London Knights during the 2022–23 OHL regular season, and they signed him to his standard entry-level contract on Thursday.
Cowan hails from Strathroy, Ontario and is all but a lock to return to the OHL next year (and likely the year after that, too). We could see him suit up for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2024.
The Leafs made just three 2023 draft picks after finally advancing past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs earlier this year. After nabbing Cowan with the 28th pick, they had to wait all the way until the fifth round to take Hudson Malinoski from the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. They rounded out their draft class with Lethbridge Hurricanes defenceman Noah Chadwick in the sixth round.
Oliver Kylington speaks out on mental illness
We’ll wrap up today with a Calgary Flames story. Promising young defenceman Oliver Kylington broke out with the Flames in the 2021–22 season, putting up 34 points while playing on a superb pairing with Chris Tanev.
But, despite signing a two-year extension in the summer, Kylington didn’t return to the Flames in 2022–23. The team kept the details of his situation private, only insisting that it had nothing to do with substance abuse. The Flames struggled to make up for Kylington’s absence in 2022–23 and ultimately missed the playoffs.
On Thursday, Kylington spoke publicly for the first time on his experience with mental illness. In an interview with Swedish writer Henrik Sjöberg, Kylington detailed his experiences recovering from mental and psychological problems connected with family-related trauma.
“It was a very challenging year for me personally,” Kylington said (translated from Swedish). “These are things that have been going on in the family for many years but which escalated to get worse and there were mental and psychological problems I suffered from.
“I think I deal with the problem like maybe everyone else does, by just sweeping it under the rug and putting the lid on but for me it led to mental illness and I felt very bad about how I dealt with my problems and almost went into the wall and felt that now it’s enough,” Kylington continued. “I needed to face these problems we had as a family and today I am incredibly grateful for this journey I started and then had to finish.”
Kylington also revealed that he underwent cognitive behavioural therapy and other forms of treatment during his year-long absence from hockey, and he shared his excitement to return to the Flames in the 2023–24. Regardless of your affiliation as a fan, Kylington should be at or near the top of your list of players to root for next season.
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