Checking up on the East's free agents to watch

Thumbnail image for backstromandtheo.jpgA couple weeks ago, I broke down the pending free agents (unrestricted and restricted alike) for each conference. (East hereWest here)

Let’s take a gander at how some of the most noteworthy free-agents-to-be fared so far. Obviously, for players on half the teams, they won’t get another chance to show off their skills. Now let’s move on to the East. This might not be a comprehensive list, so apologies if your favorite pending free agent is left out.


Nicklas Backstrom – Loss or not, Backstrom was very effective at times with 9 points – trailing only Alex Ovechkin.

Jose Theodore – Didn’t make it very far in the playoffs. His regular season helped his career, but this didn’t.


Have you heard of that Jaroslav Halak guy? He might make himself a bit of cash this summer.

Carey Price didn’t do much to improve his value, but Tomas Plekanec had some nice moments as a pending free agent forward.

New Jersey

Ilya Kovalchuk’s career 1-8 playoff record must give some teams at least a little doubt. Unlike Kovalchuk, the steady Paul Martin will likely return to the Devils … but I could be guessing wrong there.


Not much to talk about with the Flyers, free agent wise.


Raffi Torres struggled to the point of being a healthy scratch, so that didn’t go well for him.


Mark Recchi has had a fantastic playoff run for a guy from prehistoric times.


Sergei Gonchar – 6 points and big ice time make Gonchar about as appealing a free agent defenseman as there is this year.

Alexei Ponikarovsky and Bill Guerin are serviceable but unspectacular.


Anton Volchenkov might see a pretty nice payday. Will it be with Ottawa?

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    Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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    Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

    It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

    His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

    These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

    Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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    Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

    Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

    It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

    Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

    Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

    Peter Chiarelli

    It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

    Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

    You can see and hear his full comments below:

    If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

    Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

    Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

    Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

    Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


    It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

    The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

    It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

    Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

    Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

    Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

    The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

    The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

    Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

    The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

    The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.