NHL Heritage Classic - Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames

Flames winger Niklas Hagman clears waivers, is Calgary ready to make a move?

While it’s highly doubtful that this confirms some rather random Vincent Lecavalier trade talk, Bob McKenzie reports that Calgary Flames forward Niklas Hagman cleared waivers today.

Hagman’s full annual cap hit is $3 million, although the Flames’ savings will be prorated at this point. Again, it’s hard to believe that Calgary could manage a move on the Lecavalier level, but it certainly opens the door for a more reasonable swap.

Arik James of Matchsticks & Gasoline backs up the reflexive notion that Hagman was placed on waivers for salary cap flexibility, pointing out that the move would be pointless outside of that context since the team wouldn’t be likely to improve itself with a call-up.

As of right now the Calgary Flames can afford a $4.58M cap hit at the trade deadline (all salary numbers, of course, from Capgeek). That’s certainly not awful, and could lend itself to taking on salary or picking up a solid player. But say Jay Feaster wants to make a couple moves. Say he gets plenty of offers thrown at him and decides to take more than a couple (for better or worse)–we really don’t have the cap space for that. Or maybe he wants to target a super star–first, there’s the hope that Hagman’s salary is just gone straight up: someone claims him.

Here lies the problem however: if the Flames were to send Niklas Hagman down to the Heat immediately upon clearing waivers and the potential trade or trades fell through–they’d need him back, putting him on re-entry waivers.

This leaves the Flames with the very high risk of Hagman getting picked up at $1.5M per for the rest of this season and all of the next. And that’s rough–paying for a player who is no longer on your roster in any way, shape or form in both salary and cap space.

So what will the Flames do? The solution is actually quite elegant: place Niklas Hagman on waivers now, but don’t reassign him until the cap space is absolutely needed. The reassignment period lasts for a total of 30 days or 10 games, whichever comes first, enabling Jay Feaster to wait to reassign Hagman until the capspace is absolutely necessary.

With that, we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of moves Feaster makes with that extra cap space.

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.