Kyle Wellwood, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ian White

West playoff update: Sharks lock up second seed, Ducks clinch fourth place

Western Conference playoff race

pzs-1. Vancouver – 117 pts (0 GR)
ys-2. San Jose – 105 pts (0 GR)
ys-3. Detroit – 102 pts (1 GR)
xs-4. Anaheim – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-5. Nashville – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-6. Phoenix – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-7. Los Angeles – 98 pts (0 GR)
8. Chicago – 97 pts (1 GR)
9. Dallas – 95 pts (1 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
s – locked in at current seed
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

OK, before we get into the results themselves, here’s a look at where each team could land:

5th place: Nashville or Chicago
6th place: Nashville or Phoenix
7th place: Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago
8th place: Los Angeles, Chicago or Dallas

As you can see, the Blackhawks could land anywhere from fifth place to ninth place while the Stars can only take eighth. For a deeper look at the rather convoluted scenarios depending on how Chicago fares, read the upcoming post on their chances.

Now, let’s take a quick tour of Saturday’s biggest games.

San Jose 3, Phoenix 1

The Sharks clinched the second spot in the West with this win, despite Ilya Bryzgalov’s best, stick-flinging efforts. Bryzgalov made a save of the night/week/year worthy stop in the third period, only to allow a Logan Couture power-play goal moments later. The animated Russian netminder was none-too-pleased, revealing his displeasure by throwing his goalie stick behind him. Antti Niemi did his part to frustrate Coyotes shooters, making 35 out of 36 saves.

Anaheim 3, Los Angeles 1

Corey Perry is obviously the biggest reason why the Ducks somehow found their way from a playoff endangered species to the fourth seed with at least one round of home ice advantage. That being said, this team also had a revolving door of heroes this season; to see evidence of that, look no further than their goalies. Ray Emery saved the day when Jonas Hiller went down and now Dan Ellis is saving the day in Emery’s wake, especially tonight. The backup known mostly for the ridicule he received on Twitter took over for Emery when he suffered an injury on Friday, even if that win was preordained. His real work came Saturday, when he stopped 43 out of 44 saves to help his new team earn two huge points in regulation.

St. Louis 2, Nashville 0

The Predators had a chance to earn themselves the fourth seed with just one point, but couldn’t manage a single goal against Jaroslav Halak. As pointless as this win might seem (pun somewhat intended), the Blues were determined to keep this year’s first round pick away from the Colorado Avalanche.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.