While Dan Hamhuis, Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin got the big bucks this summer, the tide-changing unrestricted free agent defenseman is still – in my opinion – Willie Mitchell. Before you assume I’m going to call NHL GMs nuts for passing him up, there’s a perfectly simple explanation why he’s still on the market: concussion issues and increasing age make him a bigger risk than those younger players.
Still, with reports surfacing that his health is improving and he’s showing signs that he could be the shutdown blueliner he once was, the Mitchell Market is heating up considerably. Yesterday, Joe went over the teams who should consider going after the positionally sound D-man, but now we’re finding a little fire to accompany some of that smoke.
Corey Masisak reports that Mitchell visited the Washington Capitals’ “Iceplex” today while Sportsnet reinforces a Tweet Joe passed along yesterday.
Sources tell Sportsnet that after working out with the Los Angeles Kings last week, Mitchell has apparently showcased his health to the San Jose Sharks and his club for the last four seasons, the Vancouver Canucks.
A (reasonably) healthy Mitchell would be a considerable upgrade for all of those teams, particularly the Capitals. I think people beat up on the team’s defense a little too much – after all, you’re going to give up a bit more if you play a devil may care style anyway – but there’s no doubt that Washington could use the type of “glue guy” who can take time and space away from opponents in crunch time. The Sharks could use a big defenseman after losing Rob Blake while the Kings would have two great defensive-first guys (Michell and Rob Scuderi) to accompany the precocious youth in their own end (Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson).
Last year, I couldn’t understand why Manny Malhotra (and another Manny [Fernandez]) lingered on the free agent market. This time around, Mitchell is that guy. I’m not sure I’d hand him anything more than a two-year contract, but he could be a subtle but pivotal different maker for all of those teams mentioned above.
Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.
Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.
The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.
Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.
Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.
It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.