New Jersey Devils Introduce John MacLean As Head Coach

Devils GM Lamoriello says they won’t put a claim in for Evgeni Nabokov


With Detroit having to put Evgeni Nabokov on waivers at noon today in order to sign him to the one-year pro-rated $575,000 contract they agreed to last night, the talk today and up until noon tomorrow will be over who, if anyone, will claim Nabokov.

Some folks have been kicking around theories about whether Detroit could work out a trade with a team that claims him (they can’t) or if there’s got a team that GM Ken Holland might count on to do him a solid and claim Nabokov only to put him on waivers once again making Detroit first in line to grab him and acquire him for good.

One such team being theorized about that were the New Jersey Devils. After all, if you’re going to mess with the system who better to count on than “Loophole” Lou Lamoriello? Turns out that Lamoriello will not be taking part in these roster games and will keep the Devils out of the mix by not making a claim for the 36 year-old Russian goalie.

With the Devils out of the running, one of the next teams in line for Nabokov stands out with a glaring goaltending issue in the New York Islanders. The Isles have an often-injured Rick DiPietro as well as two rookie goalies in Nate Lawson and Kevin Poulin. If the Isles claimed Nabokov they could solve their problems quickly.

Of course, if Nabokov doesn’t like who claims him he can simply refuse to report but then he’d have to sit out for the remainder of the season. That’d be a drastic choice for him to make, especially considering he came back to North America for his family and wanted to play in the NHL. You’d hope that teams would do their due diligence and find out if that would be a possibility ahead of time but stranger things have happened.

The one thing we’ve learned so far from all the interest in this story is that Nabokov is a goalie whose name comes with some reputation to it and there is still interest in him despite closing out the playoffs last season on a down note against Chicago and the questionable numbers he put up in the KHL this year. How the rumors play out over the next day will make for some fun theory creating for the fans and media alike.

We suspect that Nabokov will be claimed by someone, be it a team that needs help or is just looking to block him from helping out Detroit. The low cost of the contract makes it feasible for most teams to take a flier on him if they want to. Nabokov did have some interest this summer in free agency but his asking price was too high for the teams that had goaltending needs. Those teams, like Chicago and Philadelphia, have solved their problems from within so they’d likely be out of the running. As the season’s rolled along other team’s needs have changed, but whether they’ve changed enough to make a claim on Nabokov remains to be seen tomorrow at noon.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.