Signing Zherdev now could cost the Flyers a superior player later

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Thumbnail image for zherdev.jpgThe Philadelphia Daily News backs up suspicions that a deal between flighty Russian winger Nikolai Zherdev and the Philadelphia Flyers seems highly likely (and also that such a contract would probably push out Simon Gagne).

The signing of Zherdev would officially mark the end of the Simon Gagne era in Philadelphia after 10 seasons. Last week, Gagne agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Gagne is due $5.25 million next season, his last year under contract with the Flyers.

Zherdev’s signing would put the Flyers over the salary cap. They currently have $578,000 in space with Darroll Powe and Dan Carcillo remaining as restricted free agents. Teams are allowed to be a maximum of 10 percent over the $59.4 million hard cap until the first day of the regular season on Oct. 7.

It appears that Zherdev would like a multi-year contract worth what he would have received last summer had the New York Rangers accepted the terms of his salary arbitration ($4 million).

This is not an uncommon reaction to the Flyers’ off-season moves but … what? Really? Why are the Flyers doing this? It boggles my mind that the team would put their already shaky salary cap situation in peril for a player widely known as a locker room headache whose career high is only 61 points (and who has a -46 career plus/minus).

Yes, it’s true that NHL teams can go about $5.9 million over the cap for portions of the off-season, but let’s not forget that the Flyers will have to face some tough questions next summer. Three forwards who could very well be “core” players will see their contracts expire in July ’11 (Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux and Ville Leino) while potential goner Gagne could be an unrestricted free agent.

Handing the feast-or-famine Zherdev a $4 million per year deal would likely inhibit the Flyers from retaining one of Carter, Giroux and Leino. Would you honestly choose a player who generates adjectives such as “enigmatic” and “inconsistent” instead of more reliable scorers? Sure, that isn’t the direct decision because Philadelphia won’t be confronted with those choices until next year, but have NHL teams learned nothing from the barbaric gutting of the Chicago Blackhawks roster this summer?

Now, Zherdev and the Flyers haven’t officially reached a deal yet, so this could all be a matter of wrinkling some brows for nothing. That being said, if it goes through, an already tight salary cap situation could become a real problem. All that for a player who is only consistent when it comes to being frustrating? That’s pretty baffling, even for a team far off the beaten path like the Flyers.

Cold for Clutterbuck? Illness sidelines Isles’ heavy-hitter

New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) goes flying after tripping over Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson (88) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 8-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.

The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.

According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).

Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.

Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:

If Wild want Yeo out, they’ll probably need to fire him

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo argues a call in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.

“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.

The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.

https://twitter.com/ChadGraff/status/698629021232455680

Yikes.

Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.

(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)

Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.

Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?

A Wild losing streak: Minnesota’s skid hits eight games with 4-2 loss to Bruins

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, right, battle for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in St. Paul, Minn., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
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Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the Wild, they hit a new low.

Minnesota dropped an eighth straight decision in Saturday’s matinee against the Boston Bruins.

The Wild got behind the eight ball early.

Brad Marchand opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at the 6:18 mark of the first period.

Thomas Vanek ended a 10-game goal drought to tie the game at two in the second period.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the Bruins answered with goals by David Krejci, Loui Eriksson and Zdeno Chara.

Minnesota drops to 0-4 since GM Cliff Fletcher announced that coach Mike Yeo and his staff were safe.

Even the captain acknowledged that today’s effort wasn’t good enough:

The numbers aren’t pretty:

If they were to lose next Sunday’s Stadium Series game against Chicago, they would establish a new franchise record with their ninth straight loss on ice.

As bad as the Wild have been, they’re still in the thick of the playoff race.

Minnesota is three points behind Nashville for the final Wild Card spot in the West.

Goalie nods: With Talbot sick, Oilers give Laurent Brossoit second career start

San Jose Sharks Bryan Lerg (42) scores a goal on Edmonton Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit (1) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Edmonton, Alberta. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jason Franson)
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Laurent Brossoit will make his second career start in Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Brossoit will be between the pipes because starter Cam Talbot is ill and missed the morning skate.

The Oilers are hoping Brossoit isn’t as busy this time as he was in his first career start last year when he turned aside 49 shots in a 3-1 loss to San Jose.

“I’m a big believer in Brossoit,” said teammate Brandon Davidson, per the team’s website. “He’s done a great job. I played with him in the minors and he competes like no other. He’s tremendously athletic and he did a great job last year when he got the game too. He’s ready and I think he’ll show that tonight.”

The Jets will go with Ondrej Pavelec, who hasn’t played since Nov. 21 because of a knee injury.

Elsewhere…

–The Leafs have yet to announce their start. The Canucks haven’t named one either, but expect them to go with Ryan Miller.

Craig Anderson will be between the pipes for Ottawa. The Blue Jackets will counter with Joonas Korpisalo.

–Like the Leafs and Canucks, the Islanders and Hurricanes have yet to announce their starting goaltenders. It could be Jaroslav Halak against Eddie Lack.

–Expect Pekka Rinne to get the start against the Panthers. Roberto Luongo, who was pulled on Friday, will be between the pipes for Florida.

Braden Holtby will put his five-game winning streak on the line when Washington takes on Dallas. Kari Lehtonen will look to extend his winning streak to three games.

–The Ducks have yet to announce their start. The ‘Hawks will turn to Vezina Trophy candidate Corey Crawford.

Louis Domingue will look to win his second straight game. Martin Jones will get the start for San Jose.