As much as the hockey world has justifiably heaped praise upon Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman for a great first year of work, one could say that his “real” work begins this off-season. He faces the task of re-signing (or deciding not to re-sign) some free agents who were integral parts of the team’s cup run, from restricted free agents such as young star Steven Stamkos to unrestricted players including Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer.
While those aforementioned free agents were expected to be tough decisions for Yzerman, there were also two pending free agents who exploded onto the scene in the 2011 playoffs: Sean Bergenheim and Teddy Purcell.
Purcell quietly had a better overall playoff run in my opinion (Purcell had 17 points versus Bergenheim’s 11), but Bergenheim could be a tougher guy to keep because he’s primed to be an unrestricted free agent while Purcell will be restricted. It’s obvious that Bergenheim deserves a nice raise from the $700K he made in 2010-11, but figuring out a proper price might be difficult.
Diamond on Friday said the sides have “right now agreed to disagree” on a new contract.
Asked if he believed a deal could get done before July 1, when Bergenheim hits the open market, Diamond said, “It’s not going to be easy, but stranger things can happen.”
He only scored a career-high 29 points during the 2010-11 regular season, so it’s not as if he was clearly building toward a hot postseason. Did Bergenheim really have a breakthrough in the playoffs or did he simply engineer an out of left field run that won’t be duplicated? We won’t begin to find out until after he signs his next contract, which could make things very interesting. Yzerman made all the right moves so far, but it will be intriguing to see how he handles this and many other questions this summer.
* – Talk about a name that’s too good to be true for an agent, eh?
The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie
The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.
Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.
Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.
Highlight of the night:
Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.
–Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.
Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.
After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.
Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.
Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).
LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.
Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.
Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.
After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.
As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.
St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.
The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.
You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.