More aimless Travis Zajac trade speculation

2 Comments

traviszajac2.jpgIf you’ve not made time to spend with your grain of salt lately, perhaps it’s time you got reacquainted. As we know, now that the Devils officially have Ilya Kovalchuk back in the fold, the Devils are under a bit of a salary cap crunch. The Devils have any number of moves they can make in order to help the team get back under the salary cap (they’re over by around $3 million at the moment) and while there’s a couple of players we mentioned the other day that could be on the move, one Ottawa columnist opines that one other player in particular could be the one to go. Grain of salt, go!

Sources say since Lamoriello is not happy with the idea of giving up picks, the Devils have been quietly dangling around 25-year-old centre Travis Zajac, who has a $3.9- million cap hit through 2012-13.

“He’s a good player,” said one NHL executive.

The Devils got their man by signing Kovalchuk, but it comes with a whole new set of headaches.

By the time training camp wraps up at the end of this month, there could be a few familiar faces missing.

Of the players the Devils have that have a high salary and could be moved (Salvador, Zubrus, Zajac, Brian Rolston), Zajac is the most attractive as he’s proven he’s got top skills and, more importantly, he’s much younger than the other three players by far. Zajac is just 24 years-old and would be a welcome addition to any team that wanted to bring him on. Of course, the Devils dealing him away would make them that much older and they’d be losing a guy who’s developed a ton of chemistry with Zach Parise, the Devils other major goal scorer.

It would, ideally, be easier to find suitors for Zajac, of course, even with a cap hit near $3.9 million for the next three years because he’s young and his career is still on the rise. Guys like Salvador, Zubrus and Rolston are already maxed out as far as their careers go. You’re probably not going to see much more improvement out of them and in the case of Brian Rolston, his game has fallen off so hard in the last year that his $5 million cap hit for the next two years looks especially painful.

Could Travis Zajac be traded? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? No. The only way it becomes at all feasible is if the Devils are really desperate to get under the cap and don’t want to pay Brian Rolston $5 million to play for Albany in the AHL, a possibility that hasn’t even been discussed at all publicly. (edit: Thanks to the comments for pointing out my brain fart. The only cap relief a 35+ contract gets if a player is sent to the AHL is $100,000. CapGeek has that info in their FAQ under “What’s a 35+ contract”.)

Thank goodness for the grain of salt.

Ducks light up Cam Talbot to defeat Oilers

2 Comments

Chris Wagner‘s first career playoff goal was the turning point in Game 3 for the Anaheim Ducks, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-3 to get their first win of this series.

Connor McDavid had just scored (another) spectacular goal, this one to get the Oilers back on even terms at three goals apiece after they fell behind 3-0 in the opening period. The orange crush at Rogers Place was, naturally, in a frenzy at the time.

The tide of this game had suddenly turned in favor of the home team, which had a 2-0 series lead.

As suddenly as the Oilers had come back to tie the game, the Ducks regained the lead. Wagner fired the puck from the side boards toward Cam Talbot, who misplayed the puck off his right arm and into the net.

That was only one part of a difficult night for Talbot, who allowed six goals on 28 shots. Anaheim had built up a three-goal lead less than 12 minutes in and needed only six shots to do so.

Talk about a quick turn of events. Talbot was sensational in Game 2, backstopping the Oilers to another road win with a 39-save performance.Edmonton’s troubles started early in Game 3. Rickard Rakell scored just 25 seconds in on a breakaway and the Ducks were rolling from there.

Wagner’s goal came just 48 seconds after McDavid tied the game. Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler increased the Anaheim lead in the third period.

This time, there was no inspired comeback from the Oilers.

While the Ducks found their scoring touch, they also received a 24-save performance from John Gibson. He was at his best in the second period, making a couple of key saves, including a great shoulder stop off a three-on-one rush.

Game 4 goes Wednesday in Edmonton.

Video: Connor McDavid puts on a show with this spectacular goal

1 Comment

Connor McDavid has his first goal of this series against the Anaheim Ducks — and it was a beauty.

(Another spectacular McDavid goal? Get out!)

With one assist so far in this series, McDavid brought the crowd in Edmonton to its feet with a quick stop and cut back to his left against Sami Vatanen, followed immediately with a perfect wrist shot top corner on John Gibson.

“McWow!” is right.

The Oilers fell behind 3-0 in the first period, but that goal from McDavid tied the game before the midway point of the second period.

The celebration didn’t last long.

Just 48 seconds later, Chris Wagner‘s shot from the side boards, a rather harmless looking attempt, was misplayed by Cam Talbot to put Anaheim back in front by a score of 4-3. That’s the score heading into the third period.

‘We weren’t even competitive’ — Blues coach hints at lineup changes for Game 4

3 Comments

Lineup adjustments can be a common occurrence in the playoffs. Based on his comments Sunday, St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo is seriously looking to make some changes for Game 4.

The Blues trail the Nashville Predators 2-1 in the series, following a disappointing 3-1 loss on Sunday.

Nashville dominated puck possession for long stretches, putting this one away on a goal from Roman Josi after just such a shift — caused by a Blues turnover in the defensive end — late in the third period.

Yeo praised the Predators for the way they checked the Blues, but was straight to the point with his assessment of his team’s performance.

“I mean, we scored one goal tonight. Fact of the matter is, for a large part of the game, we weren’t even competitive,” he told reporters.

“We obviously have to be way better. We have to make a couple of changes, personnel-wise, for the next game and look at the tape and see what we can do … a little bit better than tonight because it wasn’t good enough.”

Despite getting outplayed, the Blues were, for much of the second half of the game, one shot away from the tying goal. But hopes of a possible comeback were nullified after a shift of about 1:10 of furious Nashville possession in the offensive zone capped off by the Josi blast.

Blues defensemen Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko — who both had a miserable day in terms of puck possession — had been stuck on the ice for almost two minutes before Josi scored, per NHL.com.

That’s one glaring example.

“The way we played in our [defensive zone] matched the way that we executed, matched the way that we competed all over the ice,” said Yeo.

“We were waiting to see what they were going to do. We were reacting to that. So we’ve got to initiate much better.”

No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

6 Comments

There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

Here is O Canada: