With the unrestricted free agent market drying up and the list of restricted free agents dwindling, the next way to add players is by exploiting another team’s need for a salary dump.
While the Anaheim Ducks are becoming known for penny-pinching ways, their threadbare blueline needs a little help. (I mean, Lubomir Visnovsky can bring some offense to the table, but do you really think he’s a No. 1 guy … on a good team, at least?) Ben Kuzma of the Vancover Province reports that the Ducks are taking a look at excess Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa
The Anaheim Ducks are doing more than kicking the tires on Kevin Bieksa. They’re checking the sticker price.
If the Ducks are willing to part with a draft pick and a prospect, that could send the Vancouver Canucks defenceman and the $3.75 million US remaining on his salary to a team in need of back-end help. It would also ease salary cap concerns for the Canucks, who added $825,000 to the mix Thursday in Jannik Hansen’s arbitration settlement that puts the the club more than $1 million over the $59.4 million ceiling.
After trading defenceman Steve Eminger to the New York Rangers – and losing Scott Niedermayer to retirement – the Ducks are down to Lumobir Visnovsky, Sheldon Brookbank, Tony Lydman and Danny Syvret as roster veterans and have yet to sign restricted free agent James Wisniewski.
It’s amazing how far the Ducks’ defense has fallen from just a few years ago when they had Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling their blueline (they also had a decent support guy or two leave, like Francois Beauchemin). Bieksa wouldn’t heal all wounds – especially when you consider his injury problems the last few years – but he’d be the top four defenseman the team badly needs.
Bieksa or not, I wonder if the Ducks will dress a playoff-caliber defense next year. In a brutal Pacific division and an ultra-competitive Western Conference, it might be a long shot.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.