Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Hockey's Headwaters

Hockey’s Headwaters: New contracts for Bartkowski, Miller

Matt Bartkowski skates for the Calgary Flames against Los Angeles Kings on April 6, 2017. -- Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire

Pittsburgh native and former Mt. Lebanon defenseman Matt Bartkowski made a move as NHL free agency opened on Sunday by signing a one-year, $650,000 contract with the Minnesota Wild.

Bartkowski, 30, spent the least season and a half with the Calgary Flames, where he had one goal and four assists over 42 games dating back to February of 2017. Before his stint in Calgary, Bartkowski spent one season with the Vancouver Canucks and five seasons split between the Boston Bruins and Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League.

Drafted by the Florida Panthers in the seventh round in 2008, Bartkowski was traded to the Bruins and turned pro in 2010, after he’d finished two years at Ohio State. He was part of the Boston team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Barkowski’s contract is a two-way deal that will pay him $350,000 if he plays in the AHL. Minnesota’s AHL affiliate is the (Des Moines) Iowa Wild.

SUCCESS IN THE SUN

Former Pittsburgh Hornets forward JT Miller signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week, agreeing to stay with the club that acquired him at the 2018 trade deadline.

Miller, 25, is an East Palestine, Ohio native, but spent the first six and half seasons of his NHL career with the team that drafted him: the New York Rangers.

But with the Rangers in a rebuilding mode and Miller on the verge of being a restricted free agent, he was shipped to Tampa along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh for three draft picks in late February.

It’s safe to say Miller fit in to his new home just fine. He scored 18 points over the final 19 games of the 2017-18 season and then added eight more points over 17 playoff games as the Lightning made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the eventual champions, the Washington Capitals.

Miller’s new contract carries an average annual value of $5.25 million per season through 2022-23. The final four years of the deal will have a modified no-trade clause. He could have become a restricted free-agent on July 1, but decided not to test the market.

“They are one of the best hockey teams in the league,” Miller said to NHL.com. “The situation there and the atmosphere there is one of the best that there is in the sport. With the city and my family it was a really good fit. … I think a little stability is really going to help me and I think I will be more relaxed and play consistent hockey without worrying about another contract year.”

BACK WITH THE CHAMPS


The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent forward and Pittsburgh native Riley Barber, assured that the Caps will retain his NHL right-of-first refusal until Barber agrees to a contract for the 2018-19 season.

Barber spent all of the 2017-18 season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL, where he had 20 goals and 18 assists in 60 games. He got his first taste of the NHL in 2016-17, when he played three games with Washington in addition to 39 with Hershey.

A sixth-round selection by the Capitals in 2012, Barber spent three season at Miami (Ohio) before turning pro.

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