Anton Volchenkov's first choice wasn't New Jersey

volchenkovzajac.jpgThe twists and turns of NHL free agency are a wicked and creative soap opera on their own, but it’s interesting to hear from players what might’ve been had things shaken out differently. For instance, take the case of new Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Believe it or not, the Devils weren’t his first choice this offseason as Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger tells us.

The hard-hitting defenseman, signed as an unrestricted free agent July 1, would have preferred to stay with the Ottawa Senators.

“I would have liked to stay in Ottawa. My next choice was to find a good place for me,” Volchenkov said today as he visited the Prudential Center.

So why didn’t he re-sign with the Senators?

“They made me an offer, not good enough,” Volchenkov said. “That’s why I didn’t sign with Ottawa.”

Struggling just a bit with his English, he said he had offers from a couple of different teams.

It’s not terribly surprising that Volchenkov’s first choice was Ottawa, after all it’s where he’d spent his entire career up until now. Once former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar got an offer from the Senators he couldn’t refuse, there wasn’t really room for Volchenkov in Ottawa. Once the Penguins snagged former Devils defenseman Paul Martin, the vacancy in New Jersey made the Devils a relatively easy choice. What also made the Devils an easy choice for one the league’s best defensive defensemen is the brand of hockey played in New Jersey.

“This is a really good defensive team,” he said. “They always play in the playoffs. They always play hard. They’re a very exciting team.”

Some folks might still quip about that last line, but any team boasting Zach Parise can’t be all too dull. And if they got Ilya Kovalchuk back in the fold they’d be even more exciting. Say, didn’t Volchenkov play with Kovalchuk in international hockey? Any chance he’s tried to help pull strings there?

He said he hopes Ilya Kovalchuk signs with the Devils, but hasn’t tried to influence the left winger.

“It’s (been) interesting. I’d be happy if he signed here,” Volchenkov said. “He’s a good player. It’s not my decision. It’s a decision for him.”

So much for that possibility. Volchenkov’s fit in New Jersey really is ideal and given that they also added Henrik Tallinder to help them move the puck as well, losing Paul Martin won’t hurt the Devils quite so much and they added better depth on defense. All things work out for a reason and in this case, for the Devils, it works out perfect.

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    Start the Carr: Habs recall another player from the minors

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    There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.

    This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.

    Carr has no prior NHL experience.

    The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.

    In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.

    This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

    Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.

    Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


    Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

    With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

    It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

    Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

    The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

    Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

    They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

    This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

    With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

    Garett Sparks
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    You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

    With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

    Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

    Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

    In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

    Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

    Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

    Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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    So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

    The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

    No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

    He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.