2010 NHL Free Agency: Penguins sign Mike Comrie (Mr. Hillary Duff) to one-year, 500K deal

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hillaryduffclaps.jpgAfter all these years, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally added some real star power.

I mean, sure, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could occasionally light up a scoreboard and Marc-Andre Fleury provides the occasional highlight reel save. But when, exactly, were those guys going to pop up in US Weekly? Expect a few more tabloids to show up to Pens games next year, as the team signed Mr. Hillary Duff, aka Mike Comrie.

Check out the contract details and a few tidbits about Comrie straight from the team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Mike Comrie to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

The contract is for the 2010-11 season and is worth $500,000.

Comrie, 29, has played nine NHL seasons with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the NY Islanders. In 568 career games, he has posted 167 goals, 192 assists, 359 points and 48 power-play goals. Comrie has appeared in 32 postseason contests, totaling 10 points (4G-6A).

Comrie (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) has scored 20 or more goals five times in his career, and twice hit the 30-goal mark. The Edmonton, Alberta native, who broke into the NHL in 2000 with his hometown Oilers after the club drafted him in the third round (91st overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, set career highs with 33 goals and 60 points (tied) in 2001-02.

mikecomriegoal.jpgTo be honest, I didn’t realize Comrie hit the 30-goal mark twice in his career. Of course, his last two seasons haven’t been nearly as productive as he only scored 21 points in 43 games during the 09-10 season and 27 in 63 games played in 08-09. That being said, he’s a player with an underrated mean streak and a nice amount of versatility to his game. When you consider his minimum wage salary, this could be a solid pickup for the Penguins.

If you’re not satisfied making lazy celebrity jokes (I am), you can also enjoy the puns that come with the last name Comrie. Perhaps Penguins fans who take a liking to the forward could refer to themselves as “Comrie-nists?” Maybe the Pensblog will produce some Cold War inspired Photoshops that place Comrie’s face upon an image of Karl Marx?

Whether you’re looking at it from a humorous perspective or a hockey vantage point, adding Comrie is a low risk move with a decent amount of upside. It’s unclear if the team signed him in a post-Jordan Staal injury panic, but I like the move regardless of context.

Should Erik Gudbranson get suspended for boarding Frank Vatrano?

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The Boston Bruins power play made Erik Gudbranson and the Vancouver Canucks pay with three goals during the major for his hit on Frank Vatrano, but the NHL might decide to go further.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirmed that Gudbranson, 25, will receive a Friday hearing for the boarding check. The league tends to be vague about this, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s expected to being an interview over the phone, rather than the in-person variety that can bring about harsher punishments.

Vatrano returned to the Bruins’ eventual 6-3 win against the Canucks, yet there’s a chance that he might have a setback. (Knowing Boston’s recent luck, don’t count on good news until you see it.)

Watch the video and Gudbranson’s fight with Tim Schaller in the video above, via Hockey Fights.

Fans responded to that announcement by pointing out one of Thursday’s other questionable hits: Zack Kassian on Ryan Hartman, which only drew a minor penalty:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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McDavid dazzles again, Oilers break slump with OT win vs. Blackhawks

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Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)

McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.

Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.

Here’s the OT goal.

If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

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Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.

To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.

You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.

If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bergeron bombastic in return, but Bruins lose Krejci to injury

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The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.

With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.

Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.

Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:

Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.

Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:

The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.

MORE: Gudbranson faces hearing for hit

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So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.

Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.

Here’s hoping that it isn’t a big issue for a veteran center who’s dealt with nagging injuries in recent years.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Kucherov’s goal run ends, but he helped Sergachev make history, Bolts win

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Gosh, that Nikita Kucherov is such a slacker.

The underrated, rising star saw his historic, season-opening seven-game goal streak end with eight in seven games. This leaves him just one game short of tying Wayne Gretzky.

It’s fitting, though, that Kucherov made a little history even as his historic run ended. He earned two primary assists on the first two goals of Mikhail Sergachev‘s NHL career, factoring into the Tampa Bay Lightning’s surprisingly low-scoring 2-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

(C’mon, you pictured some fireworks there too, didn’t you?)

Here’s the first-ever goal for Sergachev, who matched trade mate Jonathan Drouin‘s two goals with tonight’s outburst.

And here’s the second:

Yeah, you can’t give Sergachev that kind of space and time; then again, maybe the Blue Jackets were a little preoccupied with stopping Kucherov and his red-hot partner-in-crime, Steven Stamkos?

The real star of tonight’s game/reason why it was so low-scoring was probably Andrei Vasilevskiy. Another key Russian for the Lightning, Vasilevskiy stopped all 43 shots for an impressive shutout. This marks his first of the season and only the fifth of what’s been a promising young career.

After falling just short against the New Jersey Devils via a shootout, the Bolts improve to 6-1-1 while winning another early temperature check against Columbus, who are still off to a strong start at 5-2-0.

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