If there’s one obvious flaw within the Buffalo Sabres’ roster, it’s on the blueline. Ryan Miller provides world-class goaltending and Lindy Ruff can choose from a versatile fleet of forwards, but their defensemen often leave Miller on an island.
Former Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter left his team in a wretched state. If the 2011-12 season began today, the Flames would have the highest payroll of all 30 teams with $57.25 million committed to 19 players. That might be an acceptable situation for a perennial contender, but the Flames haven’t made the playoffs since 08-09.
New Flames GM Jay Feaster wants to make some changes, most notably by shedding salary. Many believe that new Sabres owner Terry Pegula yearns to drop some dough on his new team to make it a truer contender. With a weak free agent market for defensemen on the way, it seems like the Flames and Sabres might be in an ideal situation for a trade.
Now they just need to convince rugged Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr to waive his no-movement clause to make something happen. The Buffalo News reports that Regehr is still weighing his options, which might give a different NHL club the chance to swoop in and snatch Regehr from Buffalo’s clutches. The precise details of the possible deal aren’t clear right now, but it is believed that the Sabres would trade picks and prospects for Regehr.
Adding Regehr might be a strong step in the right direction for Buffalo. While some believe Regehr lost a few steps in the last couple seasons, he’s been a top shutdown defenseman in Calgary for years (particularly during their run to the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning) and he managed to play 75 games or more for the last five seasons. If he waives his no-movement clause, Regehr would open up salary cap space for the Flames ($4.02 million cap hit in 11-12 and 12-13) while giving the Sabres a dependable defensive presence.
On paper, it seems like a deal that could work for both sides (without knowing what the Sabres would send to Calgary, of course), but Regehr wanted that clause in his contract to control his situation. It might be awkward in the clubhouse if he denies the Flames’ urge to send him to Buffalo, but that’s his choice. We’ll keep an eye on this situation during what could be a busy Friday of draft day trades.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.
Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.
The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.
Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.
But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.
Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.
Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.
It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.
For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.
Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.
Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.
Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.
Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:
In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.
Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.
Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.