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.

Canucks’ Brock Boeser suffers foot injury after blocking shot (Video)

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As the Vancouver Canucks transition their roster and let the kids take over, Brock Boeser has been a real bright spot this season. Well, right now fans are holding their collective breaths hoping that the Calder Trophy candidate isn’t too seriously hurt after blocking a Mark Giordano shot early in the second period Sunday night.

Did you catch that Jim Benning reaction?

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Yup, us too, Jim.

Boeser, who leads the Canucks and all NHL rookies in scoring with 17 goals and 30 points, was ruled out for the rest of the night a short while later with a foot injury.

If you’re keeping track at home, that’s all three members of the Canucks’ BBB line that are currently injured. Bo Horvat is out until January with a foot injury and Sven Baertschi has a similar timeline after fracturing his jaw.

Depending on the severity of the injury could also impact some of Boeser’s potential bonuses in his rookie season. Ryan Biech of The Athletic had a great breakdown on Friday about how much the Vancouver stands to earn this season should he hit certain totals in specific categories. Hopefully this doesn’t keep him out long. The Calder race is better with him a part of it.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Erik Johnson to sit two games for Avalanche after suspension

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It was pretty clear that after receving a slashing minor, boarding major and game misconduct all in the span of about three seconds, Erik Johnson of the Colorado Avalanche still had some punishment coming to him.

And so on Sunday night the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a two-game ban for the veteran defenseman after he boarded Vladislav Namestnikov Saturday night in Colorado.

As detailed in the video, Johnson knows that Namestnikov has already fired his shot on goal and the Tampa Bay Lightning forward isn’t expecting to be shoved like that after his scoring attempt. That, and how far he was from the boards make it all especially dangerous. Fortunately, Namestnikov was able to remain in the game.

“Dangerous play. You just hold your breath on those. Got a little fortunate with Vladdy, obviously didn’t get as fortunate with Callahan,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, referring to Ryan Callahan‘s injury after an awkward collision with Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week.

Johnson will lose out on $64,516.12, which goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Is Alex Ovechkin clutch?

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If you get into a bar argument with a sports fan about Alex Ovechkin, there’s a strong chance that at least one person will argue that the Washington Capitals superstar is “not clutch.”

It’s easy to compile such an argument, whether it’s fair or not. The Capitals won three Presidents’ Trophies in the Ovechkin era, yet they’ve never gotten to a third round with him on their roster. His Olympic struggles are both dramatic and well-documented.

That said, if you extract team successes and failures from the picture – which is difficult for many to do, that’s true – it gets tougher to deny that there’s some “clutchness” there, unless you just start to wrestle with whether “clutch” is even a real thing or not.

(Allow me to not open that pandora’s box.)

Last night, Alex Ovechkin scored his 21st overtime goal, adding to an NHL record he already owned. In the process, he came that much closer to 100 career game-winners in the regular season.

Here’s the goal itself:

As you can see, Ovechkin is one GWG away from joining a club of players who’ve scored at least 100; he’d be the eighth person to do so. It might not take him long to pass Jarome Iginla, and depending upon how his twilight years go, Patrick Marleau.

It’s plausible that Ovechkin may finish his career on the top of that list, though he might fall short of passing kindred spirit/guy he once clobbered in initial play Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr is a kindred spirit because, while he’s currently in the Teemu Selanne phase of his career as an ageless wonder loved by just about any fan interested in the game, number 68 was once a frequent scapegoat in his own right. Plenty of people questioned his character and work ethic, at times to the point of things getting cartoonish. Sometimes stars like these need to go through that period before people embrace them like they always should have.

And the more you look into things, it’s clear that a lot of fans should drop the disdain and enjoy just how special Ovechkin is.

Consider this: Ovechkin is just 32, yet Hockey Reference’s listings show that he’s been in the top-10 in game-winning goals in 10 seasons. Ovechkin led the league in that category three times and was in the top five on seven occasions.

For a guy who takes a beating for not lifting the Stanley Cup (yet?), Ovechkin shows up in the playoffs, too.

During his career, Ovechkin has scored 46 goals and 90 points in 97 career postseason games, close to a point-per-contest. Just about every player sees a dip in regular season versus playoff numbers – it’s the nature of the beast with checking tighter and every goal mattering much more – so being able to generate offense that often sure indicates some “clutchness” to me.

At some point, you just have to tip your cap to a great player, and maybe stop frowning and enjoy his boisterous celebrations and once-in-a-lifetime scoring skills. You might get a chance to do that again soon, as Ovechkin sits at 581 goals. He might just hit the 600 mark in 2017-18, joining 19 other NHL players to cross that barrier.

This post isn’t meant to imply that Ovechkin is totally flawless and it’s unlikely that a mountain of milestones will move his harshest critics.

Then again, if listing some of these resounding accomplishments helps even a few extra hockey fans enjoy a rare talent, it’s well worth it. At 32, Ovechkin could really rack up numbers for a long time, but his window could close as a true goal-scoring phenom.

It wouldn’t be very clutch to come around to Ovechkin once his best days are all behind him, now would it?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Panthers face ghosts of past mistakes in Golden Knights

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The Vegas Golden Knights are one of the great success stories of the 2017-18 season in the NHL so far. The Florida Panthers are not.

Such notions would already make Sunday’s game feel a touch awkward, but in seeing the Golden Knights tonight, many Panthers fans might feel like they’re opening the door to an alternate reality in which the team didn’t revert back to the Dale Tallon era.

As TSN’s John Shannon notes, the Golden Knights feature eight former Panthers employees in some form, including head coach Gerard Gallant plus key scorers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault.

Now, if you’re expecting the players or coach to stir the pot when it comes to revenge, you’re out of luck. All three gave boilerplate answers about just wanting to get two standings points tonight. No bulletin board material there, folks.

Instead, Panthers executives are providing some drama for us.

In seeing one of the Golden Knights’ many cheeky tweets, in this case trumpeting Smith’s presence on the team, Panthers executive Doug Cifu provided an interesting reply that was eventually deleted. Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt was among those who got a screen grab of it, and it’s a chin-scratcher:

Again, Cifu deleted the physical tweet, and he explained that he was attempting to be nice and that his tweet was “totally misconstrued.”

Even in Twitter form, the Panthers seem like they’re operating under the motto of “One step forward, two steps backward,” and today serves as a cruel example of how things don’t need to work this way.

Now, look, the Golden Knights enjoyed an expansion process that the NHL engineered to generate a more respectable early product than anything we saw in Florida’s era. Beyond that, even Gallant would probably acknowledge that there have been some positive bounces (although you could easily counter with a mention of Vegas’ many goalie injuries).

Still, it’s tough for this not to shine a light on the Golden Knights’ stellar start and the Panthers cellar dwelling.

[Golden Knights get to 20 wins faster than any other expansion team.]

The Panthers chose to fire Gallant during their short-lived “analytics-friendly” period. Then, in reaction to that time, Tallon almost seemed to recklessly expel elements of that regime by handing the Golden Knights two useful forwards in Marchessault and Smith when only one really needed to go (and Florida could have tried to sway Vegas into taking someone less valuable, too).

It all echoes back to Tallon’s much-mocked comment about being back in control, especially since the Panthers’ situation hasn’t dramatically improved since then:

Now, it’s likely that Tallon is merely glad to be running things again, yet it’s tough to avoid a snicker or two considering context.

Ultimately, the Golden Knights have profited off of Florida’s frenzied ways. Win or lose, Vegas is gaining from unforced errors on the Panthers’ part.

No doubt about it, these narratives will only sting more if the Golden Knights add another L to the Panthers’ largely miserable season, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.