Could fallen stars Cheechoo, Kariya and Tanguay be worth a look?

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tanguayshoots.jpgWhile tomorrow’s “free agent frenzy” should provide plenty of splashy moves and interesting deals, there is a slight sense that most NHL teams made it to the buffet table after Overeaters Anonymous already ran wild on the good stuff. Aside from the soon-to-be-rich(er) Ilya Kovalchuk, most of the restricted and unrestricted free agents are far from marquee talent.

So teams in need of offense might have to go to the bargain bin (I mean, unless they wildly overpay one of these guys). It can be awfully risky to hope that a player discovers the Hockey Fountain of Youth, but if a fallen star is willing to take less years and salary to attempt a career re-boot, everyone can win. It usually doesn’t work out that way, but every once in a while you see a situation like Teemu Selanne returning to Anaheim to light up the league.

Let’s take a look at three stars-turned-fringe-NHL’ers and see who might make sense.

Paul Kariya – While people rattle of names like Wade Redden and Cristobal Huet, I noted that Kariya flew under the radar as someone who practically stole money from his team. Kariya didn’t justify his $6 million cap hit during a single season in St. Louis, suffering from injuries and his own indifference in three mediocre campaigns. The small winger doesn’t have any jam to his game and won’t help you on defense, so you basically have to hope that he could score a lot at a low price. He’s also set to turn 36 in the 10-11 season, so a team better not give him more than two years.Thumbnail image for Kariya.jpg

I’m not a Kariya fan, but I guess it’s not impossible for him to flourish if someone talented was “baby birding” him points.

Jonathan Cheechoo – Cheechoo is a member of the “Joe Thornton Millionaire’s Club”, standing alongside such luminaries as Sergei Samsonov. There are two things that explain the winger’s plunge from a 56-goal Maurice Richard season: 1) no longer playing with Thornton and 2) injury troubles. It’s difficult to argue with Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen, who says that his career in the NHL is likely over.

Alex Tanguay – When the Tampa Bay Lightning landed Tanguay for what seemed like a frugal $2.5 million, I thought it would be one of the best bargains of last summer. Instead, he languished with a career-worst 37 point campaign. He’s now three seasons removed from being a point-per-game player and, like Kariya, doesn’t bring much to the table when he isn’t producing points. Still, I think if he takes a direction that Kariya should look into (going for a one-year, dirt-cheap retribution deal), he might just rejuvenate his flailing career.

While Cheechoo looks done, Tanguay and Kariya should be able to find at least a couple semi-interested suitors. Should your team go after one of these low-rent former stars? Tell us in the comments.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.