2010 NHL Free Agency: Devils sign Johan Hedberg to ease Martin Brodeur's burden

hedberg.jpgJohan Hedberg will (or at least should) always hold a special place in the hearts of Penguins fans as “The Moose” came out of nowhere to help the team make a deep playoff run during Mario Lemieux’s amazing comeback from retirement. Despite that Cinderella run, though, Hedberg has just been a borderline NHL goalie since then.

That being said, he developed a reputation for being a team-first guy who also happened to really step his game up once the Atlanta Thrashers gave him a No.1 starter-type workload late last season. He put together a career-best 91.5 save percentage and 2.62 GAA while playing 47 games, the most he’s played in since dressing in 66 during the 2001-02 campaign.

The New Jersey Devils signed Hedberg to a one-year, $1.5 million deal including bonuses according to agent Jay Grossman.

The Devils hope that Hedberg can spell Martin Brodeur without pulling the team out of contention in those games, much like the New York Rangers did by signing Martin Biron to give Henrik Lundqvist a breather.

While Hedberg had a nice run with the Atlanta Thrashers, I think you should look to his career numbers as the greatest indicator of his future production. He has a career 90 percent save percentage – practically the definition of “average” – although the Devils occasionally help a normal goalie put together unexpectedly productive seasons. (Just look at career minor leaguer-turned-overpaid-Panthers-backup Scott Clemmensen.)

The Devils are tied for the third most back-to-back games in 10-11 with 20, so having a decent backup like Hedberg could really improve their chances of remaining a fixture in the Atlantic division. If Hedberg’s good enough to allow Brodeur to drop down to a more reasonable 60 games played range, he might even (indirectly) help the Devils recover from their recent bout of playoff letdowns.

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    WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

    Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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    Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

    We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

    Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

    Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


    Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


    Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

    Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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    Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

    Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

    The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

    In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

    This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

    The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

    This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


    Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

    Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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    The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

    Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

    With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

    If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

    Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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    The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

    Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

    In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

    But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

    But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

    Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

    As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

    On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: