Pascal Leclaire: Ottawa's source of frustration

Thumbnail image for leclaireagain.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.

First, here is my guess for Ottawa.

Pascal Leclaire: He’s horrible and his looks make me laugh. So he’s a source of frustration and comedy.

For the Ottawa perspective, I tabbed my pal Ryan Classic. He has his own blog (irrationally titled The Classic Blog) and also is one of the great writers carrying the torch at my old blog, Cycle like the Sedins. Ryan is also quite the presence on Twitter. Oh yeah. there’s also his work at Silver Seven. Phew, that’s a lot of blogging.

Ryan Classic: As much as I want to say Alex Kovalev has been the most frustrating player, he’s come exactly as advertised. The book on Kovalev is that he’s streaky and often looks like he doesn’t care enough to put effort in, and that’s pretty much what we’ve gotten. At times he’s spectacular, scoring four goals in a game against Philadelphia in January. At other times he’s staggeringly ineffective, waiting until the last game in March to put up his first post-Olympics point. But that’s what we were told to set our expectations at, and he’s delivered.

Pascal Leclaire, meanwhile, has not.

More on the ever-frustrating Leclaire after the jump.

leclaire.jpgThe Ottawa Senators have had a long history of goaltending problems, and Pascal Leclaire was sold to us as the saviour, the best goalie the team had ever had. He’d battled injuries while in Columbus, but we were told he would be healthy and ready to go to start the season. His one good season with the Blue Jackets was 2007-08, a year where he played 54 games and had 9 shutouts. The rest of his career stats were actually pretty terrible, but the media bought into the hype that the one great season was the real Pascal Leciaire. In retrospect, it was more of a red herring.

Want a rundown of how bad Leclaire’s stats are this year? He has a losing record on a team with 13 more wins than regulation losses. His goals against average is above 3.00 and his save percentage below .900. He has been pulled seven times in 29 starts. He’s been pulled four times in his last nine starts. Before his recent win against Florida, he didn’t have a win in 2010 and had a 4.05 GAA and .868 save percentage. Only twice in 2010 has he started a game and put up a save percentage above .900.

He’s been supplanted by his backup Brian Elliott, a former 9th-round pick with half a season of NHL experience. He’s been injured twice: a broken cheek from a deflected puck and a concussion after taking a shot to the head in practice, both off the stick of Mike Fisher. The Senators set a franchise record with an 11-game win streak, of which Leclaire earned no victories. A couple months later they went on a 6-game win streak, with Leclaire not seeing a single minute of action. Worst of all, when the Senators went into the tank after the Olympic break, rather than give Leclaire another chance, the fans wanted to call up AHLer Mike Brodeur and give him the reigns instead.

When large portions of your fan base would rather see a goalie who has more ECHL games under his belt than AHL games, you’ve earned yourself the title of Most Frustrating Player.

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    PHT Morning Skate: General Managers around the league are happy for Bergevin

    Marc Bergevin
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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    The Montreal Canadiens gave Marc Bergevin a contract extension on Wednesday and fellow General Managers around the league are happy for their colleague. (TSN)

    Are the Washington Capitals the best team in the Eastern Conference? (ESPN)

    Here’s a funny cartoon depiction of the reported feud between Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby:

    Read an excerpt from Tie Domi’s book “shift work”. In this portion of the book, he talks about some crazy times at a New York City nightclub. (ESPN)

    “It’s a lot more complicated than the net and the goalie equipment, it’s the systems that teams play, the willingness of players to block shots every part of their body.” Steven Stamkos weighs in on the decreasing number of goals in the NHL. (Tampa Tribune)

    After the first quarter of the season, Henrik Lundqvist is’s favorite to land the Vezina Trophy. (

    Preds place Salomaki on IR, recall Sissons

    Jake Allen, Miikka Salomaki
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    Nashville made a minor roster transaction on Thursday, putting forward Miikka Salomaki on IR while recalling fellow forward Colton Sissons from AHL Milwaukee.

    Salomaki, 22, was a fairly regular lineup presence through the of November, appearing in eight games while averaging just under 12 minutes per night. Despite his relatively small frame (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), he racked up 28 hits over that time and emerged as a decent energy guy for the Preds.

    As for Sissons, he’s about to get yet another crack with the parent club.

    Having spent most of the last two seasons in Milwaukee, Sissons — the 50th overall pick in 2012 — has seen some action with the Preds this year. He has one goal in five games with Nashville, and eight points in 12 games with the Admirals.

    Oilers say McDavid ‘ahead of schedule’ in broken clavicle recovery

    Connor McDavid
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    There hasn’t been much good news for the Oilers lately — Connor McDavid‘s hurt, Nail Yakupov‘s hurt, they’ve lost seven of their last nine — so what GM Peter Chiarelli had to say on Thursday qualified as very welcome news.

    “He’s ahead of schedule,” Chiarelli said of Connor McDavid and his broken clavicle, per Sportsnet. “He’s been in the pool, been lifting weights… There are no soft tissue injuries, which is important.

    “When you get a break like that, oftentimes there is accompanying soft tissue injuries. That slows down the recovery.”

    McDavid, who suffered the injury on Nov. 3 against Philly, was originally supposed to be sidelined until early March. But per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, there’s cautious optimism the star rookie could be back in the Edmonton lineup by “mid-to-late January.”

    But even with that cautious optimism, there’s still a long way to go.

    McDavid has yet to resume skating and is still at his parents’ home in Newmarket, Ontario. That said, he’s expected to join Edmonton soon — when the Oilers take on the Leafs in Toronto on Monday — and, according to Chiarelli, will want to get back onto the ice way sooner than expected.

    “I can tell you that when it comes time,” he said, “[McDavid] is going to want to come back a lot earlier than what we forecast internally.”

    There’s another Radulov NHL comeback rumor making the rounds

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    It’s been roughly six months since the last one so yeah, time for an Alex Radulov update.

    Radulov, who’s spent the last four seasons playing for KHL outfit CSKA Moscow, has reportedly rejected the club’s contract extension offer and is ready to become a free agent, per Russian sports writer Slava Malamud.

    Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko also reported the Radulov news, tweeting the ex-Preds forward claimed “there’s nothing” regarding a new deal with CSKA, adding “I’m a free agent after this season.”

    Radulov, 29, is having another terrific offensive campaign in Russia, with 37 points in 32 games. This comes one year after he tore up the KHL in ’14-15, with 24 goals and 71 points in just 46 contests — one of the best offensive campaigns in league history.

    Rumors of Radulov returning to North America happen with the same frequency as Ilya Kovalchuk comeback rumblings, and always with the same outcome. But it’s hard to ignore them completely.


    Well, back in late May, Radulov’s agent told Championat Colorado had been in contact about an NHL return once Radulov’s deal with CSKA expired. Colorado, of course, is coached by Patrick Roy — the same guy that had great success coaching Radulov in the QMJHL.

    The two were, at one time, a dynamic force for the Quebec Remparts. During the 2005-06 campaign, Radulov scored a ridiculous 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 games, the nine more in four Memorial Cup contests, helping Roy capture his first and only championship as a head coach.

    Radulov, of course, hasn’t played in the NHL since an ill-fated reunion with Nashville in 2012, which included him getting suspended for a playoff game after breaking curfew.

    Malamud does note that, should Radulov try to return to the NHL, he’d do so as a unrestricted free agent — meaning he’s no longer Nashville property.