The NHL's most significant salary arbitration rejections since the lockout

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for finiemi.jpgIt must be a very uncomfortable feeling for a player when a team walks away from an arbitration decision. My guess is that it would be a lot like the feeling someone would get if their date scrambled from a restaurant after seeing the bill for dinner.

This last summer, we saw the Chicago Blackhawks walk away from a one-year, $2.75 million award for Antti Niemi (for cap-related reasons) and the Atlanta Thrashers deny Clarke MacArthur a $2.4 million award (because they didn’t think he was worth the cash, and rightfully so, I’d say). These moments happen from time to time, so NHL.com listed the biggest salary arbitration rejections since the lockout ended. Here are the players who made the list aside from Niemi and MacArthur.

J.P. Dumont, 2006 — Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier made the difficult decision to walk away from Dumont despite the winger’s solid production in 2005-06. Dumont, then 28 years old, had 20 goals and 20 assists for the Sabres, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals that year. Dumont went 7-7-14 in 18 playoff games, but his $2.9 million award was simply too much for Buffalo, which was also up against the cap.

Dumont ended up with the Nashville Predators, where he’s had a fairly impressive career ever since then. The Sabres can be a cheap team in some ways, but it seems as if Regier makes the right choice more often than not. (So I guess Buffalo is the polar opposite of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for nikolaizherdev.jpgNikolai Zherdev, 2009 — One would have thought the Russian winger would have been safe after appearing in all 82 games and tallying 23 goals and 35 assists for the New York Rangers in 2008-09, but GM Glen Sather declined to accept Zherdev’s $3.9 million award.

Considering the fact that he came back to the NHL – but for nearly half the price at $2 million – Sather’s assessment was probably correct. It’s weird to write “Sather” and “correct” without also adding “wildly in” between those two words … (at least while discussing anything that happened after 1990).

David Tanabe, 2006 — A first-round selection (No. 16) by the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, Tanabe was awarded a $1.275 million salary after going 4-12-16 in 54 games for the Boston Bruins in 2005-06. But the Bruins felt the price was too steep for the 6-foot-1, 212-pound defenseman, and Tanabe became an unrestricted free agent.

Less than a month later, Tanabe signed on for a second stint with the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, a concussion suffered against Toronto in December 2007 ended his career at the age of 27.

So according to NHL.com, the biggest salary arbitration rejections involved Niemi, MacArthur, Zherdev, Tanabe and Dumont. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the Niemi decision was the biggest arbitration rejection of the post-lockout years. It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks made the correct decisions this summer, but at least they know they won’t be alone in taking their chances … by not taking their chances with arbitration awards.

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?