When I looked at the San Jose Sharks’ July 2010 a while ago, it seemed like it had Impending Doom written all over it. I mean, after all, the team had to answer questions about impact unrestricted (Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov) as well as restricted (Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi) free agents. Not to mention the retirement of Rob Blake.
Yet it seems like the team basically said “let’s keep everyone except that Russian guy who carried our goaltending for the last decade.” There’s no doubt that allowing Nabokov to flee to the KHL in lieu of relatively unproven goalie Antero Niittymaki is a big change, but the rest of their core seems to be in place.
Especially since all signs point to the team locking up some of the remaining stragglers.
Craig Custance reports that the team is close to signing a one-year deal with restricted free agent Setoguchi and also began talks with their leading point producer (and, occasionally, their go-to scapegoat) Joe Thornton. I’ll take a deeper look at Thornton’s situation later, but here’s what Custance had to say about a possible one-year deal for Setoguchi.
Both sides are optimistic it could happen in the next week. In just his second year in the NHL, Setoguchi scored 31 goals. Last season, he had 20 goals in 70 games, along with five goals in the playoffs.
“A kid like him doesn’t mind rolling the dice on a short-term deal,” agent Paul Krepelka told Sporting News. “I’m optimistic we’ll get something done.”
Without knowing much about the salary numbers, it sounds like a solid gamble for both sides. Setoguchi gets a chance to lock-in his value since his 2009-10 season wasn’t quite as explosive as his 31-goal 08-09 campaign. The Sharks are wise to be careful with term regarding Setoguchi, especially after they were burned so badly thanks to the latest beneficiary of the Joe Thornton Effect: Jonathan Cheechoo.
The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.
In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.
According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.
The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.
Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.
The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.
The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.
After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”
He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”
Well, help is on the way.
On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.
The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).
The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.
“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”
Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.
Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.
It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.
But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.
Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.
“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”
Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.