2010 NHL Free Agency: Thrashers sign frequent hitter Freddy Meyer to a two-way contract

freddymeyerhit.jpgThe Atlanta Thrashers signed defenseman Freddy Meyer to a one-year, two-way deal that will pay him $500K if he remains in the NHL and $105K if he stays in the minors, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here is a little bit of background information on the small-but-feisty defenseman via Ben Wright of the Thrashers’ official team blog Blueland Blog.

The 29-year-old Boston University product signed as a free agent with the Flyers in 2003-04 and spent some time in the AHL before putting up the best numbers of his career in Philly as a rookie in 2005-06 when he scored six goals and added 21 assists. In 266 NHL games Meyer has 19 goals and 71 points, with 11 goals and 39 of those points coming in his 178 games as an Islander.

In 64 games last season Meyer averaged 16:46 of ice time with 1:51 of it being on the penalty kill. At 5’10″ he isn’t huge but he’s a solid 192 lbs and likes to hit. Despite being limited to 64 games last season he led New York in hits with 178. That would put him second on last year’s Thrashers team behind Zach Bogosian and his 196 hits (next up was Schubert with 150).

USA Today’s Kevin Allen says that Meyer will fight for the team’s sixth defenseman spot while Wright points out that Meyer will have to compete for playing time against Boris Valabik, Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers and other depth players for the team’s lower defensive ranks.

Wright points out the fact that Meyer has missed a considerable amount of time thanks to abdominal, groin and back injuries; he missed 41 games in the 08-09 season because of groin injuries and played in 64 of 82 games in 09-10.

Meyer might not be a perfect player – his size keeps him from being a menacing presence despite his penchant for hits and he isn’t a world-beater offensively – but it seems like a decent depth move for the Thrashers. The jury’s out on whether or not new GM Rick Dudley’s muscle-oriented methods will work, but the madness is far more entertaining than the middling efforts of GM-turned-team-president Don Waddell.

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    Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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    Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

    (Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

    Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

    Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

    “He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

    Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

    Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

    Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

    It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

    Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

    Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

    Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

    Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

    Read more about Game 6 here.

    Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

    With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

    There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

    What if that offside goal counted?

    Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

    Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

    What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

    The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

    Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

    Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

    Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

    ***

    Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

    More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

    Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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    With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

    Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

    The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.