Friday’s waiver madness: Smith and Bernier clear; Sturm, Boynton, Commodore go on

The other fun side of the trade deadline coming up is the effect it has on teams and what they do to either move guys in and out of their lineup or to help clear out salary space. Waivers plays a big part in that and today we saw yesterday’s waiver players Mike Smith and Steve Bernier both clear. Smith was called up by Tampa Bay and he’ll now join a different goaltending logjam of sorts with Dwayne Roloson and Curtis McElhinney who was acquired from Anaheim yesterday. Bernier could suit up for the Panthers again tonight.

Hitting the waiver wire today are a couple of big names going through on re-entry waivers. Sabres defenseman Craig Rivet and Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore are both coming through on the half-price discount waivers so their teams can try to get someone to take them off their hands for half the cap hit they’d be worth. For Commodore, he’s been through this already this season with no takers. He’s been playing for AHL Springfield since being demoted earlier this year.

Rivet, the Sabres captain, was just waived the other day and now that he’s being put through on re-entry waivers the Sabres are hoping to both be free of him and to give him the chance to play elsewhere this year. Rivet is in the final year of a deal that pays him $3.5 million against the cap. That amount pro-rated works out to be virtually nothing and he could provide a veteran presence on the blue line for a team in need.

Other guys hitting the wire in the regular way today are Kings forward Marco Sturm, Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton, Predators brawler Wade Belak, Rangers forward Kris Newbury, and Caps minor league goalie Todd Ford.

Sturm being waived comes as a surprise given that he was acquired from Boston earlier this year to give the Kings offense a lift. He hasn’t done that to GM Dean Lombardi’s liking and injuries have continued to make him ineffective. Boynton has been forced out of the mix in Chicago thanks to the play of youngster Nick Leddy.

Newbury is going through waivers so he can be sent back to the AHL while Belak is likely out of the mix in Nashville now that Jordin Tootoo is back. About all we can tell you about Todd Ford is that he’s got a really bad-ass goalie mask.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs

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Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher

The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.