Which teams (kind of, sort of) make sense for Marty Turco?

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turcosplit.jpgLet’s face it, things aren’t looking very rosy for Marty Turco at this point. There isn’t a slap-you-in-the-face obvious destination for the veteran puck-mover, so the goalie is playing the waiting game right now.

Still, as I discussed last night, he can bring something to the table. Does that mean he’s worthy of the contract he expects to receive? Probably not, but I feel confident in saying that he deserves a deal somewhere. (I’m also on record of saying that he might be wise to consider taking a chance with a one-year contract to prove his worth in the longer haul.)

With that taken into account, I thought it might be interesting to see who might consider giving Turco a shot. I want to emphasize that I have no insider information here; in fact, this is almost a brainstorming exercise more than anything else. Some of these teams would be long shots and maybe there are squads whose interest I incorrectly disregard. Still, here are a few teams who might make marginal sense.

As you’ll notice, none of them are anywhere close to perfect fits.

Edmonton – The Oilers are trying to bounce back from a horrible, horrible 2008-09 season. There’s an outside chance that they might be able to get out from under a problematic Nikolai Khabibulin contract, but either way, they’re far from settled in net. Two things would be imperative here: a) it would probably need to be a one-year deal and b) it also might have to be cheap, despite the Oilers’ substantial cap space.

PhiladelphiaThe Flyers are already over the cap, but they’re likely to move a piece or two after adding Nikolai Zherdev. They have Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher under contract, but considering the two goalies’ minuscule cap numbers, they could probably move one of them if they wanted to. He’d also be their best “fiery puck mover” since beloved goalie Ron Hextall hung up his skates.

San JoseESPN shot down Turco to San Jose rumors, but again, this is a highly hypothetical exercise. The bottom line is that a goalie duo of Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss is far from proven. Perhaps the Sharks will want a little insurance, especially since Greiss is (in my opinion) a fairly expendable goalie?

After the jump, I explore more long-shot possibilities for Turco.


masonpulled.jpgColumbus – So at this point we’re down to a lot of “Three’s Company” scenarios (without the foxy dames, sadly). Blue Jackets fans beat up on me a bit when I suggested that the Blue Jackets might consider Turco in March, but after Steve Mason’s Hindenburg-sque sophomore season, why not? Mason might rebound, but why tie your hopes to him and steady-but-mediocre Mathieu Garon? This one’s almost starting to make a little sense …

Chicago – With Antti Niemi set for salary arbitration and Cristobal Huet’s laughable cap hit primed for a possible relocation to the minors or the KHL, the Blackhawks and Turco could be an unlikely marriage. The guys at Hockeenight won’t be happy with this scenario, but if Turco came in a cheap, one-year deal he could be worth settling for. (And on Turco’s end, he could benefit from a still-strong team boosting his stats for a season.)

Washington – The Caps seem fine with counting on youngsters Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, a duo sure to depress spell-checkers around the D.C. area. I put them in the San Jose category; it seems like they’re set with putting an affordable combo in net, but I include them because it at least makes some sense for them to consider Turco.

Ottawa – The Senators lack much maneuverability when it comes to their goalies, particularly the stupidly expensive flop known as Pascal Leclaire. Still, the team is hurting in net and has enough expensive and/or veteran players (Sergei Gonchar, Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev, Daniel Alfredsson) that you can’t really make a “rebuild mode” excuse. Even for this list, they’re not highly likely, but I would argue they’d be more stable in net with Turco than Leclaire or Brian Elliott.

Montreal – This is the longest of the long-shots, I’d say, but what if the Habs decide they don’t want to pay Carey Price to be an average goalie with a considerable junior pedigree? Bonus points for the comedy of reuniting the not-so-dynamic duo of Turco and last year’s backup in Dallas, Alex Auld.

So, what have we learned from this little experiment? Well, there aren’t many good matches. Almost every single scenario would require an incumbent getting kicked out. That being said, there is some logic to these teams at least taking a glance at Turco.

What do you think? Should one of these teams roll the dice? Did I leave out a more logical suitor out in this process? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s your TV schedule for the Stanley Cup Final on NBC Sports

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01:  The Stanley Cup trophy sits on a table during a ceremony before the Chicago Blackhawks tsake on the Washington Capitals at the United Center on October 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Capitals 6-4.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) NBC Sports is switching up its broadcast schedule for the Stanley Cup Final.

In recent years, Games 1 and 2 had been on NBC, with Games 3 and 4 on cable partner NBCSN. If necessary, the final three games returned to NBC.

This season, Monday’s Game 1 will air on NBC, but Wednesday’s Game 2 will be on NBCSN. NBC Sports announced Friday that if the series between Pittsburgh and San Jose is tied 1-1, Game 3 will be on NBC, putting that pivotal matchup on the main network. Game 4 would be on NBCSN.

But if one team leads 2-0, Game 3 will air on NBCSN, with a possible championship-clinching Game 4 on NBC. The potential final three games will remain on NBC.

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The Canucks preached patience, then made a ‘right now’ trade for Gudbranson

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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A few months ago, when the Vancouver Canucks’ miserable season was drawing to a merciful close, club president Trevor Linden went on the radio and said, “When we look at getting ourselves out of this situation, it’s about drafting and developing, and that’s where our focus lies.”

Linden’s remarks were music to the ears of a large segment of the fan base that felt the Canucks had been too impatient, too focused on trying to make the playoffs with an aging roster that was in dire need of a rebuild.

“What we really need is patience,” Linden said at a season-ticket holders event. “It’s going to require some patience from our fan base and some patience from us.”

And so Canucks fans entered the offseason expecting the Canucks to be patient.

And then, on Wednesday, GM Jim Benning traded one of his top forward prospects in 20-year-old Jared McCannplus he threw in the 33rd overall draft pick this summer — for a 24-year-old, stay-at-home defenseman in Erik Gudbranson.

And how did Benning justify that move?

“I come from a scouting background, so to trade second-round picks away, it kills me,” he told Sportsnet’s Hockey Central (audio). “But where we’re at right now, I think we owe it to our fans to try to field the most competitive team that we can right now.”

You’ll note how Benning twice used the phrase “right now.”

And the Canucks wonder why their fans are confused.

To be fair, the Canucks are probably a better team with Gudbranson on it. They had a glaring hole on the right side of their defense, and Benning was determined to fill it. Also, it’s not like Gudbranson is old.

The worry, though, is that the Canucks are trying to serve two masters, the present and the future, and as a result, serving neither master particularly well.

A lot of people in Vancouver — not everyone, mind you, but a lot of people — see what they’re doing in Toronto, and they want the Canucks to do that. Trade veterans. Acquire picks. Lose now to win later, while accepting that there will be some “pain.”

What they don’t want is to travel down the same road the Maple Leafs had to travel — the years and years of mediocrity, or worse — before they finally tore everything down and started again.

In response to that line of thinking, the Canucks have used the Edmonton Oilers as the cautionary, tanking tale. Once a team accepts losing, it can be hard to get that winning culture back, or so the theory goes.

That’s why Benning acquired Brandon Sutter last offseason, and Gudbranson on Wednesday. To him — maybe not to others, but to him — those are “foundation” players, established enough to contribute in the present, while also young enough to be part of the future.

“Once we get the pieces in place from a team-building perspective, we’re going to hold on to those draft picks,” Benning promised.

We shall see.

Currently, Vancouver has just six selections in this summer’s draft, and only two of them are in the first four rounds.

Toronto, on the other hand, has 12 picks, including two in the first round, two in the second, two in the third, and two in the fourth.

Related: McCann’s frustrations illustrate ‘fine line’ Canucks are trying to walk

Need for speed: Sharks, Pens brace for ‘fast hockey’ in Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 29: Brenden Dillon #4 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on March 29, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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It will be speed vs. speed in the Stanley Cup final between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

San Jose got through the Western Conference the same way Pittsburgh got through the East: with plenty of depth and speed to kill. The final will feature the three top playoff scorers in the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns against Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“It’s going to be fast hockey,” Crosby said after the Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the East final Thursday night. “Two teams that want to play the exact same way, that want to get their D involved (and) their power play is really dangerous. … It’s going to be quite the series.”

The Sharks are in the Cup final for the first time in their 24-season franchise history and in Peter DeBoer’s first year as coach. The Penguins are back for the first time since winning it all in 2009 and made it after Mike Sullivan replaced Mike Johnston as coach in December.

In his first meeting with them, Sullivan challenged his players to be great and told them that’s how they win in the NHL. They’ve won in the playoffs on the strength of scoring from Crosby and speedy wingers Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin and Game 7 hero Bryan Rust, not to mention the goaltending of 22-year-old rookie Matt Murray.

Kessel is Pittsburgh’s leading scorer with 18 points on nine goals and nine assists after coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade last summer.

“I don’t think you could dream about that. You never could expect this,” Kessel said. “This is a huge moment in my career and my life.”

San Jose is also rolling along thanks to a summer pickup in goaltender Martin Jones, who was the Los Angeles Kings’ backup when they won the Cup in 2014. Couture, Pavelski and Burns are piling up the points, but this run is about aging veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau finally breaking through.

Thornton and Marleau, the top two picks in the 1997 draft, made the playoffs together with the Sharks in nine of 10 previous seasons but had yet to make the Cup final until now.

Crosby and Malkin made it twice, losing in 2008 to the Detroit Red Wings before winning the following season. At the time, it looked like the young core that also featured defenseman Kris Letang would challenge for the Cup every year.

Now they have a chance to add to their legacy, but it won’t be easy even with home-ice advantage in the series that starts Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Sharks are the Penguins’ deepest opponent yet.

“The Penguins should expect a team that’s deeper, quicker than Tampa, and a team that’s playing with a lot of confidence,” NBC Sports analyst Ed Olczyk said.

Confidence isn’t lacking for either team. The Sharks knocked off the Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues to get here, while the Penguins beat the New York Rangers, Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals and defending East-champion Lightning.

Devils sign star French d-man Auvitu

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 05:  Rapahel Herburger (R) of Austria and Yohann Auvitu (L) of France battle for the puck during the IIHF World Championship group A match between Austria and France at o2 Arena on May 5, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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New Jersey has won the Yohann Auvitu sweepstakes.

On Friday, the Devils announced they’ve signed Auvitu to a one-year, two-way, entry-level contract for the upcoming campaign. The 26-year-old Frenchman had previously garnered widespread NHL interest, largely due to a ’15-16 campaign in which he won the Pekka Rautakallio Trophy for the best defenseman in the SM-Liiga — an award that’s previously gone to the likes of Sami Vatanen and Brian Rafalski.

Auvitu had six goals and 15 assists in 48 games, then six goals and seven assists in 18 playoff games.

There were only three French-born players were in the NHL this season: Philadelphia’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Detroit’s Xavier Ouellet, and Dallas’ Antoine Roussel. It’ll be interesting to see if Auvitu can make it a quartet. He recently played alongside Bellemare for France at the Worlds, scoring three points in seven games.