2010 NHL free agency: Red Wings sign defenseman Ruslan Salei

ruslansalei1.jpgIt appears that the Detroit Red Wings are out of the hunt for free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell. The team announced today that they’ve reached a one-year deal with free agent defenseman Ruslan Salei. Much like Willie Mitchell, Ruslan Salei is a tough customer and a veteran player coming off an injury-laden season himself missing most of last season thanks to a back injury. When he is playing, however, he’s a shot-blocking defense-first defenseman playing about 20 minutes a game while adding snarl to the lineup. What’s different than Willie Mitchell is that the Wings are getting Salei at a good cost, $750,000 plus a possible $350,000 in bonuses.

Salei spent most of his career with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after being a first round pick (9th overall) for them in 1996. While you won’t see Ruslan Salei much on the score sheet picking up goals and assists (he’s got 194 career points in 842 games played) you will see him mix things up physically as he’s earned 1,017 penalty minutes throughout his NHL career. Salei has also been the stalwart member of Belarus’ national team playing in the Olympics three times (2010, 2002, 1998).

Salei figures to be Jonathan Ericsson’s defensive partner on the third pair to start the year in Detroit as Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart fill out the other two defensive pairs. Salei gives head coach Mike Babcock and experienced veteran to use in the spot as well as opposed to Derek Meech, Jakub Kindl or rookie Brendan Smith.

That first day of training camp might be interesting for Ruslan Salei if Mike Modano has a long memory about things. Salei crushed Modano with a ruthless hit from behind years ago as a member of the Mighty Ducks that lead to a huge brawl. Lets hope that bygones are bygones for these two cagey veterans.

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    NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

    Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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    Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

    Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

    “For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

    Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

    Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

    In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

    So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

    Your call, Marc Bergevin.

    Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL

    Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

    Joni Ortio
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    Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

    The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

    But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

    In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.

    Price placed on injured reserve; Yakupov to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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    Two injury updates in one post.

    First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.

    According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.

    “We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.

    Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.

    As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.

    Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

    Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf

    Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

    1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
    2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

    “It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

    Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

    The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.