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.
Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.
At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.
The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.
You can see that hit below:
“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”
The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.
The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the draft lottery, but an argument can be made that the luckiest team last night was the Winnipeg Jets.
After all, Toronto had the best odds to get the top pick, but Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second in the draft order.
“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Sun. “I was doing my scrum at the end (of the show) with the media that was here, I said at one point, ‘Moving from six to two…’ and I had to catch myself and go through the mental notes in my head that it had just really happened.”
It’s likely, though not guaranteed, that the Maple Leafs will take Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Assuming that’s the case, moving up to the second overall pick means that Winnipeg will have the option of choosing one of the two promising Finnish forwards available: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi.
That’s potentially a big break for Winnipeg, especially after this campaign where the Jets went from making the playoffs for the first time since relocating to posting a 35-39-8 record. Through five campaigns in Winnipeg, the Jets have missed the playoffs four times.
The last time this franchise drafted this high was back when the then Atlanta Thrashers took Kari Lehtonen with the second overall pick in 2002. That was the final year in a string of four straight drafts where the Thrashers always had the first or second selection. The previous three years they took Patrik Stefan (1999), Dany Heatley (2000), and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001).
Related: Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’
After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:
St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)
If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)
The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.
Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:
With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2
Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?
Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1
Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues
The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.
Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.
The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.
Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.
But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”