2010 NHL Free Agency: Winners and losers after day one

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After one day of free agency, you start to get a sense for just who
the “winners” and “losers” will be free agency. And today, it looks like
there’s more losers than anything as teams grossly overpaid for
mediocre players. Our list:

Winners:

Pittsburgh
Penguins –
The Penguins lost Sergei Gonchar, but arguably upgraded
on defense anyways. It came with a price however. The Penguins landed
two of the top defensive free agents as they signed Paul Martin and
Zbynek Michalek for $9 million between the two players. Both signed
five-year contracts, with Martin’s ($25 million) worth more overall than
Michalek’s ($20 million). Neither will produce the same offense as
Gonchar, but the Penguins now have two relatively young defensemen
locked up as the cornerstone of their defense for the next few seasons.

Vancouver
Canucks –
Dan Hamhuis took a bit of a discount to head to
Vancouver, where he was promised top minutes and the chance to play with
a team that always has the opportunity to head deep into the
postseason. Hamhuis could have certainly signed elsewhere for more, but
settled for a six-year, $27 million contract with Vancouver. Hamhuis
might not have been the big free agent target in other years, but this
summer the deal that Vancouver got for him has to be a positive.

Atlanta
Thrashers:
Nothing earth shattering happening down in Atlanta
today, but two nifty moves by Rick Dudley definitely helped the team.
First, the Thrashers traded prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy to Chicago for RFA
Andrew Ladd, who they should have no problems signing. Dudley says that
Ladd is the scoring winger they’ve been needing, and consider him a big
piece of the team moving forward. They also acquired Chris Mason for a
steal, signing the goaltender for almost half of what he was about to
make in St. Louis.

Losers:

Calgary Flames: Don’t
ask me what Darryl Sutter was thinking today. I have no clue. But he
signed two players today that have been wholly disappointing the past
few years, and who have both spent time with Calgary in the past. Yes,
Ollie Jokinen and Alex Tanguay are back in Calgary, which has to be the
most head-scratching decisions I’ve seen in a long, long time. I don’t
even know how to opine on this. Ridiculous.

New York Rangers:
Good job in signing Martin Biron to be Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.
Horribly bad job in giving Derek Boogaard a four year contract worth
$1.65 million per season. Every year there is one contract handed out
that ruins it for the rest of the NHL, completely skewing the market and
opening the door for horrible contracts all over the league. For some
reason, it seems that it’s the Rangers that do this every year.

St.
Louis Blues:
It seemed the Blues were on the cusp of being big
spenders in free agency, and were poised to do so. They have nothing but
massive amounts of room under the salary cap, but other than extending
Alex Steen and signing Vladimir Sobotka to a one-year contract, were
very quiet and didn’t make any noise in the first day of free agency.
Perhaps they were spooked by the big contracts being handed out to
fringe players, but the Blues needed to make some moves — especially on
defense — in order to get the team back to the playoffs next season.
Still some time over the next few days, however.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.