Preseason quick recaps: September 29th

While the hockey world wasn’t treated to a Panthers-Hurricanes game thanks to a tropical storm, there were eight other games that only mattered a little bit tonight. Let’s take a look at them.

Nashville 4, Atlanta 3

Plus: It was a great night for the two teams’ power plays, as all but one connected for a goal (the Predators went 2 for 3 while the Thrashers went 1 for 1). Martin Erat stood out with two goals and one assist while Ryan Suter put together a nice one goal, one assist game. Johnny Oduya provided two assists for the Thrashers.

Minus: A fantastic night for a team’s PP comes at the expense of the PK unit, so Nashville stopped 0 percent and Atlanta shut down 33 percent of the man advantages (it’s fun to play with tiny samples, right?).

NY Rangers 5, Detroit 1

Plus: Henrik Lundqvist had a great game, turning away 34 of 35 shots. Ruslan Fedtenko continues his preseason hot streak with two assists in this one. Marian Gaborik scoring a goal and assist is one thing, but Derek Stepan’s one goal, one assist performance might help him make the team.

Minus: The Red Wings were pretty flat in this one, probably because they’re aware that this is the preseason. Still, losing a game 5-1 when you never allow more than 10 SOG in one period is a little troubling.

Philadelphia 3, NY Islanders 1

Plus: Jeff Carter put up two goals while the humorously named Sergei Bobrovsky put together another nice performance, stopping 32 out of 33 shots.

Minus: Of course, the Flyers did it against the Islanders B-team, which is a lot like player a normal NHL squad’s C-team.

Washington 4, Boston 1

Plus: The Capitals rested Alex Ovechkin, so Nicklas Backstrom took it upon himself to score two goals. Jason Chimera produced two assists in this one.

Minus: The Capitals only had 10 shots going into the third period (6 in the first, 4 in the second) while the Bruins only had 15. Not exactly the height of competition, right there.

Toronto 4, Ottawa 3

Plus: Whipping boy of the moment Nazem Kadri scored two goals and added one assist, including Toronto’s only even strength goal. The Leafs power play produced three goals and nine opportunities. This game produced this hysterical fight.

Minus: Senators fans hoping for the best from Pascal Leclaire this season probably want to ignore this one, as the buck-toothed goalie allowed four goals on only 19 shots.

Edmonton 4, Phoenix 3 (SO)

Plus: Ilya Bryzgalov earned the game’s star presumably by not being totally awful. Petr Prucha produced two assists while Scottie Upshall had a goal and an assist. Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky scored shootout goals to help the Oilers win the game.

Minus: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was pulled at the half-way mark in the game, leading many to wonder if he might get waived soon.

Calgary 3, NY Islanders 2

Plus: Rick DiPietro played in this game without his knee exploding, which makes his tepid 12-for-15 performance easier to stomach. Meanwhile Miikka Kiprusoff was solid in 40 minutes of duty (15 of 16 shots stopped).

Minus: Sure, the Flames won, but they beat half of the Islanders team. I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

San Jose 6, Vancouver 2

Plus: The Sharks dominated this game, particularly on the man advantage with four power-play goals. Dany Heatley, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each scored one goal and one assist while Joe Thornton provided two assists. Raffi Torres scored two goals and Dan Hamhuis produced two assists for Vancouver.

Minus: Christian Ehrhoff attempted to start a fight, apparently inspired by Alex Kovalev.

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    Shattenkirk on Blues trading him: ‘That’s out of my hands’

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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    In a vacuum, it’s confounding to imagine the St. Louis Blues trading Kevin Shattenkirk.

    He’s a highly productive defenseman in the meat of his prime at 27, and his cap hit is a super-bargain at $4.25 million.

    Of course, as is the case with many of the NHL’s biggest steals, the Blues will eventually need to pay up. In Shattenkirk’s case, his bargain deal ends after the 2016-17 season.

    That’s a tough enough conundrum on its own, but consider the deals on the Blues’ cap that also expire after next season.

    Now, there are also some areas of relief; some will be happy to see the Blues part ways with Patrik Berglund‘s $3.7 million cap hit (unless he plays out of his mind, naturally).

    There are also some other things to consider.

    A) What if the salary cap rises more than one might expect for 2017-18?

    B) Would expansion help the Blues cut a little fat by losing a less-than-ideal contract?

    C) Who are the Blues bringing back from this off-season?

    Item C) dovetails with Shattenkirk. Will the Blues try to bring back David Backes and/or Troy Brouwer, possibly squeezing out Shattenirk?

    There have been rumors about Shattenkirk being shopped around in the past, yet the summer is a great time to make deals. Teams get salary cap leeway, owners may want reboots and new coaches could really value Shattenkirk’s in-demand skills.

    For what it’s worth, Shattenkirk would prefer to stay:

    There’s a strong chance that Blues GM Doug Armstrong may bide his time, whether he’s inclined to trade Shattenkirk during the season or re-sign him.

    Still, the talented defenseman’s situation shows that the Blues have big decisions to make even regarding situations that do not technically demand immediate choices.

    One thing seems certain: it won’t be any easy call.

    Related

    Blues face tough questions

    David Backes wants to stay

    So does Troy Brouwer

    It sounds like Troy Brouwer would love to return to the Blues

    DALLAS, TX - MAY 07:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues after scoring a goal against Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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    How much is Troy Brouwer‘s magical postseason run worth to the St. Louis Blues or some other team in free agency? How important is comfort and familiarity to Troy Brouwer?

    Those seem to be the most important bigger-picture questions, although from the sound of Brouwer’s comments, nuts-and-bolts issues may decide his future in or outside of St. Louis.

    Brouwer raved about his time with the Blues as the team spoke with the media to close out the 2015-16 season. The power forward seemed very happy about his living conditions and the way his style fits with this blue collar team.

    Even so, Brouwer also admits that “it’s a business.”

    That’s typical talk, yet it was more interesting when he went a little deeper, acknowledging that he understands that GM Doug Armstrong must ask questions about more than just the 2016-17 season.

    His playoff production was fantastic, but a smart GM will realize that it probably wasn’t sustainable. Case in point, facts like these:

    Even so, Brouwer brings considerable value if you keep expectations in check.

    While he fell a little bit short this season with 18, he generally falls in the 20-goal range each year. He’s one of those players who can bring some grit to the table without totally taking away from your team in other ways.

    Brouwer was one of the Blues’ top penalty-killing forwards to boot.

    It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for Brouwer to enjoy a healthy raise from his expired $3.67 million cap hit, yet you must wonder how much. Maybe most importantly, what kind of term is he looking for?

    That last question might just be pivotal regarding a possible return to the Blues. Would he sacrifice some stability to try to make another run with St. Louis?

    Even if he isn’t that old at 30, his rugged style might mean that this is one of his last opportunities for a big payday.

    Both sides face a tough call, yet it sounds like a reunion is at least plausible.

    Related

    Tough questions await the Blues

    David Backes would prefer to return, too

    Trio of Pens forwards take maintenance day on Saturday

    TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.

    On Saturday, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in practice. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that each player had taken a maintenance day.

    The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

    Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

    Related:

    Pens enter Stanley Cup Final as favorites: online bookmaker

    Need for speed: Sharks, Pens brace for ‘fast hockey’ in Stanley Cup Final

    Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

    ‘No question,’ David Backes wants to stay in St. Louis

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    We don’t always get what we want…but we try.

    In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.

    Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

    Re-signing their captain will likely interest the Blues, but can they make it work under the salary cap? St. Louis also has to re-sign RFA Jaden Schwartz and fellow UFA Troy Brouwer this off-season.

    The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.

    Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.

    If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).

    It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.