Florida Panthers should keep Tomas Vokoun, at least for now

vokounstays.jpgIt might not stay this way for long, but at least at the moment, new Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he wants to hold onto Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun. The Florida Sun-Sentinel shares the story.

“He sounded like he wants to improve the team,” Vokoun said of Tallon. “And he thinks we’re going to be contending for a playoff spot. I came here with one goal and that was to make the playoffs here. And I haven’t reached it. I don’t like to leave with something you set to do and you didn’t do it. So I definitely would like to stay.”

Vokoun has consistently said he doesn’t want to leave, but noted before the deadline he would be willing to consider waiving his no-trade clause in the right scenario. He reiterated that after the season.

While he’s far from well-known with casual hockey fans, Vokoun is the darling of many stats bloggers – and for good reason. Although the goalie rarely puts up good win-loss numbers (he went 23-28-12 during the 2009-10 season), it’s hard to blame Vokoun. His lowest save percentage in Florida was 91.9 while he posted a 92.5 mark in 09-10 and 92.6 percentage in 08-09. That’s an absolutely impressive run, even though his work failed to get Florida into the playoffs.

I mean, you have to be pretty good to force this season’s unexpected breakout goalie Craig Anderson into a backup role, right?

Then again, does it really matter if the team still falls short of the postseason anyway? He’ll make $6.3 million in salary next season while leaving a $5.7 million dent on the Panthers salary cap. As James Mirtle points out, Florida surprisingly has the seventh-highest payroll in the NHL as of this moment. Naturally, that will change by the time October rolls around, but it’s still stunning that the team has so much invested in an unproductive club.

Overall, I agree with the decision to keep Vokoun – at least for now. If the Panthers struggle out of the date (a fall tradition, by the way), then I imagine the team could still receive a decent return for the talented goalie. Still, you never know, a goalie-desperate team might throw a lucrative trade package their way for him.

Tallon should recognize that Vokoun could be the key to improving the Panthers … whether he’s between the pipes or on the trading block.

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    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.

    Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

    Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

    If you don’t spend tomorrow eye-gouging someone to save 50 bucks on an iRobot, why not spend it watching hockey?

    In case you didn’t know, tomorrow’s a pretty big day. Not only is there an Original Six matchup between the Bruins and Rangers — essentially kicking off the NHL on NBC national broadcast campaign — but there’s also an additional evening game, and a good one at that:

    Anaheim hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Final.

    But before the Ducks and ‘Hawks do battle, the B’s and Rangers will get it on.

    This marks the second time in the last three years Boston and New York meet in the Thanksgiving Showdown. Back in ’13-14, the Bruins beat the Blueshirts 3-2, and this Farrelly Brothers commercial went to air:

    Tomorrow’s game promises to be a quality affair. The Bruins come in riding a four-game winning streak, which included Wednesday’s 3-2 OT win over Detroit. In that game, Jonas Gustavsson exacted a measure of revenge against his old Red Wings mates, stopping 32 of 34 shots for the win.

    The Rangers, meanwhile, come into Friday’s action looking for some redemption.

    Alain Vigneault’s club was waxed in Wednesday’s big test against top-seeded Montreal, dropping a 5-1 decision, at home, in front of the MSG faithful. The Rangers allowed five regulation goals for the first time this season, and saw All-Star netminder Henrik Lundqvist get yanked as a result.


    New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

    Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

    For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.