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.

The Ducks look pretty mighty right now after six consecutive wins

Anaheim Ducks v Los Angeles Kings
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In what should be a disturbing trend for every other team in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks have now won six consecutive games, and eight of their last 10.

After dominating the shot clock for pretty much all of Friday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Ducks completely took over on the scoreboard in the third period. It seemed like only a matter of time before a breakthrough would occur.

Just 24 hours after beating the L.A. Kings, the Ducks earned a 5-2 victory over the Coyotes.

Ryan Kesler has eight points in his last six games. Corey Perry has seven points in his last six games. Patrick Maroon, who had only eight points all season prior to Friday, had a three-point night versus Arizona.

Again. Bad news for every other team in the Pacific.

The Ducks now have a three-point lead over the Coyotes for third place in the division. They’re one point back of second-place San Jose and eight back of division-leading L.A.

As for everyone else, more specifically the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, well it might be time to start focusing more on the upcoming trade deadline and, beyond that, the draft.

The Ducks had a terrible start to this season, one that started with so much hype about a team seen as an immediate Stanley Cup contender for 2015-16.

Count Corey Perry as one who believes those early season struggles could pay off at playoff time.

And remember all of that talk in October about Bruce Boudreau perhaps at the end of his days as coach of the Ducks?

At the end of October, GM Bob Murray vowed to be patient despite such a poor start just a few months after being one win away from the Stanley Cup Final last June.

There is still plenty of hockey remaining in the regular season. The Ducks have 32 games remaining on their schedule. But it appears that patience Murray showed in October is paying off.

Jets can’t complete the comeback after miserable start against Hurricanes

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Phillip Di Giuseppe, Andrej Nestrasil, Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk scored in the first period, and the Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

The Hurricanes scored four times on their first nine shots, taking a 4-0 lead just 10:04 into the game. Nestrasil added another goal in the third period, and Cam Ward made 33 saves. Staal and Joakim Nordstrom each had a pair of assists.

Alexander Burmistrov, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg.

Jets rookie Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals while facing only six shots before being replaced by Michael Hutchinson after Staal’s power-play goal just 4:33 in. Hutchinson, who hadn’t played since a 4-1 loss in Anaheim on Jan. 3, finished with 21 saves.

The loss wrapped up Winnipeg’s season-high six-game homestand, which included just one victory.

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Carolina’s first goal came after the Jets turned over the puck and Di Giuseppe scored on a sharp-angled shot at 1:43.

Hellebuyck then kicked out a bad rebound and Nestrasil tallied his 16th goal of the season in his 100th NHL game from almost the same angle at 3:05.

With Byfuglien in the penalty box for delay of game, Staal’s shot beat Hellebuyck, ending the young goalie’s night.

Faulk made it 4-0 when his team’s third shot at Hutchinson went between his pads at 10:04.

The Jets came out at a faster, more aggressive pace to start the second period and it paid off with 1:25 remaining.

Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn were battling a pair of Hurricanes behind the net when Thorburn poked the puck out front as he was falling and Burmistrov got his sixth goal of the season.

Ladd, who hit the post late in the second period, banged home a rebound with Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner off for hooking at 9:07 of the third.

Byfuglien one-timed a pass from Nikolaj Ehlers that Wheeler deflected to make it 4-3 with 6:12 remaining.

Nestrasil sealed the win with his second goal at 18:40.

NOTES: Ehlers’ assist extended his point streak to six games, with four goals and four assists. … Winnipeg heads out for a two-game road trip starting in Colorado on Saturday. Carolina visits Montreal on Sunday.

Video: Zatkoff robs Condra with sprawling paddle save

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All Erik Condra had to do was lift the puck off the ice.

He didn’t, and as a result, he was robbed by sprawled out Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who made a spectacular desperation save with the paddle of his stick on the Lightning forward.

The save occurred just past the midway point of the third period. That kept the Penguins in the game, down by a goal at the time.

However, the Penguins couldn’t get the equalizer. The result was a 6-3 loss for Pittsburgh, as Tampa Bay scored twice later in the period.

Defending Eastern Conference champion Bolts continue hot streak

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Remember those distractions the Tampa Bay Lightning had to endure?

— The future of captain Steven Stamkos, who is a pending unrestricted free agent and whose contract situation has been an ongoing discussion point for months now.

Jonathan Drouin‘s camp publicly requesting a trade, then having the 20-year-old forward sent to the minors and then suspended by Tampa Bay, etc.

Well, through it all, the defending Eastern Conference champions have emerged and are now one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League . Since the start of January, the Bolts have lost twice. In 13 games.

They continued their hot streak Friday, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins — another of those teams on an impressive streak — by a final score of 6-3, with Tyler Johnson leading the way with three points. He was one of six Tampa Bay players to record a multi-point night.

Penguins’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

Tampa Bay is now five points behind the Florida Panthers for first in the Atlantic Division.

For the Penguins, the loss keeps them on the outside of the playoff bubble for now. They remain one point back of New Jersey for the final Wild Card spot in the East.

Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to nine games. He also has goals in five straight and is one point shy of 900 for his career.