If you’re an NHL GM and were hoping you might get to take an inexpensive flier out on Maxim Afinogenov this season, your luck just ran out. Russian newspaper SovSport is reporting this morning that Afinogenov has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL on a five-year contract (link is translated Russian). In there, there is video from a press conference introducing both Afinogenov and Denis Grebeshkov as the newest members of SKA St. Petersburg who represent two of the KHLs latest big steals from the NHL.
Losing Afinogenov from the NHL takes away one of the league’s pure offensive players. After Afinogenov had back-to-back poor seasons in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in Buffalo, he rebounded to have a solid 2009-2010 season in Atlanta for the Thrashers scoring 24 goals and netting 37 assists. Those 61 points were 13 more points than he had the previous two seasons combined. No wonder he was booed every time he touched the puck in Buffalo last year. That said, it appeared that Afinogenov had turned his game back around and it’s unfortunate he won’t be sticking around in the NHL to show if that was indeed the case.
In joining SKA St. Petersburg, Afinogenov joins a team that’s loaded with now former NHL talent. While former Nashville defenseman Denis Grebeshkov joined him at this press conference, Evgeni Nabokov signed with the team earlier this summer and they all will join up with former Sens and Isles centerman Alexei Yashin. If you’ll be needing a fix to see all these players, the Carolina Hurricanes will be playing an exhibition against SKA St. Petersburg during their European tour on October 4th.
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.
The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.
Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:
The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.
Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.
The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.
(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)
While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.
Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?
Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.
He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.
(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.
While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.
With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.
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