NBC Game of the Week: Injuries and goaltenders update

vary.jpgBoth teams are entering today’s game fairly healthy. Milan Jurcina is
out for the Capitals after undergoing hernia surgery and Adam Burish
and Brent Sopel are most likely out as well.

Here’s where it gets
interesting: the goaltending matchups. Both teams are facing some
goaltending issues — the Blackhawks much more so than the Capitals —
and who they have in net today will be a great test of who they hope to
be riding once the playoffs begin.

Chicago, after Cristobal Huet’s
breakdown last week against Detroit, will start Antti Niemi in goal.
It’s really the only option they have left at this point, as they
certainly can’t turn back to Huet if Niemi fares no better can they? The
Blackhawks have maintained that both goaltenders will get a shot down
the stretch to earn the starter’s spot in the playoffs, but you just
know that we’re most likely going to see both at some point in the
postseason. Today’s game against the Capitals will certainly be the
ultimate challenge.

In net for the Capitals will be Semyon
Varlamov, who may not be under the same pressure as the Chicago
netminders but certainly has some doubters of his own to quiet. The
Washington defense is not at the same level as the Blackhawks’ and
Varlamov will be under fire for much of this game. Can he out-duel Niemi
on the other end of the ice?

[Update:] It’s Jose Theodore in net for the Caps. So ignore what I said above.

I will say this: if this game turns
into a goaltending battle with both netminders standing on their heads,
then I’ll turn to the sky and start looking for the Horsemen. If there
is one thing this game will not be, is low scoring.

Scroll Down For:

    Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

    Getty
    3 Comments

    Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

    Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

    The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

    From The Tennessean:

    Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

    Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

    Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

    Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

    Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

    Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

    Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

    He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

    Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

    The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.

    Columnist: Potential new Hurricanes owner concerned with ‘revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market’

    Getty
    4 Comments

    The Carolina Hurricanes may have a potential new owner in Chuck Greenberg, the former CEO of the MLB Texas Rangers who also had interest in the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

    A report Friday goes into further details about Greenberg’s motivation in purchasing the Hurricanes from Peter Karmanos, who has been exploring a sale of the team for quite some time now.

    Previous reports indicate the agreement between the Hurricanes and Greenberg would keep the club in Raleigh, amid ages of speculation it may be a candidate for possible relocation to markets like Seattle or Quebec City.

    From the Raleigh News and Observer:

    Interviews with people close to Greenberg and others who have knowledge of the proposed purchase but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks paint a picture of a front man who would be deeply concerned with the fan experience and revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market, but lacking the money to fund the purchase himself and reliant on a group of investors to get the deal done.

    If the deal goes through, at a reported price of $500 million that likely includes a large amount of assumed debt while valuing the actual franchise closer to $300 million, Greenberg would move to Raleigh with the intention of making the team work here. That’s what Hurricanes fans long afraid of a move to Quebec City or Seattle during these years of ownership uncertainty as Karmanos has had the team on the market have been hoping to hear.

    The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 but haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Despite their postseason drought, Carolina is building quite a depth of young talent, most notably on defense. They could take another positive step forward next season, perhaps contending for a playoff spot. In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Hurricanes also acquired and then signed former Chicago No. 2 netminder Scott Darling.

    Predators’ Watson asking for $1.4 million in arbitration

    Getty
    1 Comment

    It could be a busy couple of days for the Nashville Predators with two arbitration hearings scheduled through Monday.

    The first of those two was scheduled for Saturday with restricted free agent forward Viktor Arvidsson, while Austin Watson is scheduled to have his on Monday if no deal is struck before then. On Saturday Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Watson and the Predators have filed their numbers for that hearing with Watson looking to make $1.4 million, and the Predators countering with an offer of $700,000.

    Watson made $575,000 this past season for the Predators when he scored five goals with 12 assists in 77 games while mostly playing in a bottom-six role.

    The 25-year-old Watson was a first-round pick by the Predators in 2010 and has played his entire career to this point with the organization. In parts of three seasons with the big club he has scored just nine goals in 140 games.

    He played what was perhaps his best hockey with the team during the 2016-17 playoffs when he scored four goals (nearly matching his career regular season high) and added five assists during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. All four of those goals came in the Western Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks, including two in their series-clinching Game 6 win. He also recorded three assists in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Given the relatively small gap here this seems like a classic “meet in the middle” situation when it comes to reaching a deal for this upcoming season.