2010 NHL Draft, free agency and trade news/rumor roundup

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There’s a lot of news flying around today as we get ready for the
draft tomorrow night in Los Angeles and with the latest blockbuster
trades and contract signings, things are starting to get really
interesting.

We won’t get into a whole lot of detail here, as
there really isn’t a lot available, but here is a roundup of what’s
floating out there right now. We’re probably missing some as well, but
these are the big points.

– With Patrick Marleau’s contract
extension, the free agent market for first-line centers has dried up.
This has made the market for centers via trade heat up, and it’s likely
we see some trades including big-name centers going down soon. Jason
Spezza is actively being shopped and word has it that Marc Savard is as
well (NTC notwithstanding). The price for these players has gone up
however, as the sellers certainly have the upper hand.

– A trade
involving Mike Ribeiro is looking more and more imminent. The Dallas
Stars aren’t going to just give him away, but there are some defensemen
out there available and more teams need centers than are being made
available.

– Rumors have been flying all day long regarding Tomas
Kaberle, as can be expected. Brian Burke is actively shopping the
defenseman here in LA, although the supposed trade with Edmonton doesn’t
look to be anything more than a loose rumor (perpetuated by the team,
no less).

– The other thing to keep an eye on is the goaltending
position, as Tim Thomas’ agent has been given permission to speak with
teams about a trade. Thomas has a no-movement clause, and the Bruins
need to free up some cap space. You also wonder what they might be able
to get in return, as there are going to be a number of goalies available
in free agency as well.

– It looked like Michael Leighton could
have been on his way out of Philadelpha, but Tim Panaccio is saying that Paul
Holmgren is meeting with Leighton’s agent today. The Flyers aren’t
completely out of the woods yet, salary wise, but certainly have a bit
of room to sign Leighton if they feel that’s a better option than free
agency.

– I’m still doubting we see many more trades involving
first round picks, as the price gets more expensive with each trade.
Still, there are persistent murmurs that the Leafs are looking to get
back into the first round and with Tomas Kaberle as a bargaining chip
it’s certainly possible.

Anything we missed? Let us know by
emailing us at prohockeytalk(at)gmail(dot)com.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.