The Buffalo Sabres face a lot of free agent questions going into the 2011 off-season, but they opted to answer one of their biggest ones today. The team signed pending restricted free agent Drew Stafford to a four-year, $16 million contract extension according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.
That works out to an annual salary cap hit of $4 million, which is the same exact mark as fellow Sabres forwards Derek Roy and Brad Boyes. Stafford enjoyed an abbreviated breakout season in 2010-11, scoring 31 goals (and 52 points) in just 62 games played. He scored one goal and two assists for three points in the team’s seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Obviously, there are natural questions regarding whether or not this was an all-too-convenient “contract year” performance by Stafford. His 17.3 shooting percentage in 10-11 will be tough to duplicate, but he might be able to reach the 30-goal plateau again anyway if he can play in closer to 82 games per season going forward.
Contract year aberration worries aside, there are reasons the Sabres should feel pleased. It’s not a mammoth deal, especially if he can be a 30-goal guy with regularity. He reached the 20-goal mark in 08-09, is only 25-years-old and has the pedigree of a first round pick (13th overall in 2004), so it’s a reasonable gamble.
Using the common estimate of a $60.5-$63.5 million salary cap ceiling for the 2011-13 season, the Sabres will have about $15.6-$18.6 million with 7-10 roster spots to fill. We’ll take a deeper look at the Sabres’ salary cap situation on Saturday.
Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.
Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.
The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.
Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.
Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.
It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.