Los Angeles Kings v Washington Capitals

Semyon Varlamov’s future with Capitals, NHL remains uncertain


While anything can happen in the NHL off-season – the last four days’ worth of trades should be evidence of that – the rumors of Semyon Varlamov’s likely departure from the Washington Capitals continue to build. Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov reported as much on Twitter today, saying that the young Russian netminder is “unlikely to re-sign” with the Capitals.

Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby give the Capitals a respectable duo of young goalies anyway, so perhaps they don’t feel the need to spend big on Varlamov. The latest rumors indicate that Varlamov could make as much as $4 million per season if he flees to the KHL, but there also is the possibility that another NHL team might try to snatch him up with an offer sheet the Capitals would rather not match once July 1 rolls around. (Varlamov is a restricted free agent, which might reduce his options but cannot stop him from leaving for Russia.)

While the Capitals must be happy to have Neuvirth and Holtby as options, they would probably prefer to keep Varlamov in an ideal world. Injuries limited Varlamov to just 27 games played in 2010-11, but he still put up strong numbers. (His 11-9-5 record wasn’t very good but his individual stats set new career-highs: .924 save percentage and a 2.23 GAA.)

Varlamov has shown flashes of brilliance in his short time with the big club – particularly when he saved the day after Jose Theodore floundered in the 2009 playoffs – but the sample size is small enough that such a significant raise just doesn’t make sense for Washington. He only played in 59 games in his NHL career, going 30-13-12 with a 2.39 GAA and .917 save percentage.

Neuvirth didn’t seem particularly fazed by postseason pressure – a great quality to have on a team that receives frequent knee-jerk reactions about “choking” – but my gut instinct is to say that Varlamov might be a bit more talented. That being said, Neuvirth will make just $1.15 million per year for the next two seasons with the potential to produce comparable (if not superior) results than Varlamov. Instead of taking a gamble on giving Varlamov a big raise, Washington could also opt for a more proven veteran if they elect to spend big money in net. (Tomas Vokoun, perhaps?)

It would be a shame to see Varlamov become something like the goaltending equivalent of former Nashville Predators forward Alex Radulov by jumping to the KHL for more short-term money, but it seems like that is a significant possibility. Stay tuned as this situation develops while the free agent frenzy approaches on Friday.

Goal-starved Flyers recall AHL Phantoms leading scorer Cousins

Nazem Kadri
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Desperate for offense, Philly made a fairly noteworthy move on Friday — Nick Cousins has been brought up from the minors.

Cousins, 22, has been a solid scorer at the AHL level in each of the last two seasons. He led Lehigh Valley with 56 points in 64 games in ’14-15 and, this year, has 18 through 15 — putting him in a tie for seventh in league scoring.

The former OHL Sault Ste. Marie standout does have some NHL experience, having played 11 games for the Flyers last season. He averaged just under nine minutes per game over that span, and failed to register a point.

Looking ahead, Cousins could make his season debut today, when Philly hosts the Preds. Right now it’s unclear where he’d fit in the lineup.

To make room for Cousins on the roster, the Flyers sent Taylor Leier down to the Phantoms.


NHL on NBC Doubleheader: Rangers vs. Bruins; ‘Hawks vs. Ducks

Rick Nash, Ryan Spooner
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After a break in the schedule on Thursday, the NHL is back with a full slate of games on Friday.

It all gets underway at 1:00 p.m. ET when the Rangers take on the Bruins on NBC.

Boston is coming off a 3-2 OT win over Detroit on Wednesday night to extend their winning streak to four games.

Although backup Jonas Gustavsson has been between the pipes for two of the four wins, there’s no denying that Tuukka Rask‘s improved play is a big reason for Boston’s turnaround.

The 28-year-old is 4-2-0 in his last six starts and he’s given up 13 goals (five came in one game against the Sharks) during that span.

The Bruins have won each of their last two home games, but are still just 4-6-1 at the TD Garden this season.

New York didn’t go into the Thanksgiving break the way they had hoped.

The Rangers are coming off a 5-1 loss, on home ice, to the Montreal Canadiens.

Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for the first time all season after he allowed five goals on 24 shots.

The 33-year-old’s rough outing was presumably just a blip on the radar, as he comes into this game with a 12-4-2 record, a 1.94 goals-against-average and a .939 save percentage.

New York currently sits atop the Metropolitan division with 34 points.

At 5:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN will broadcast the rematch of last year’s Western Conference final between the Ducks and ‘Hawks.

After a brutal month of October that saw them win just one of their 10 games, the Ducks have been slightly better in November.

Anaheim opened the month with a four-game winning streak only to drop their following three games. They’ve alternated wins and losses in their last eight contests.

Ryan Getzlaf has six points in his last two games (all assists), but it’s clear that the Ducks need more from him.

The 30-year-old has always been a pass-first player, but one goal in 19 games just isn’t cutting it.

A guy who’s having no trouble finding the back of the net is ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane.

The 27-year-old comes into this game with 13 goals and 34 points in 22 games in ’15-16.

He’s riding a 17-game point streak and has found his name on the scoresheet in all but two games this season.

Chicago currently sits in fourth place in the Central division.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.

PHT Morning Skate: General Managers around the league are happy for Bergevin

Marc Bergevin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Montreal Canadiens gave Marc Bergevin a contract extension on Wednesday and fellow General Managers around the league are happy for their colleague. (TSN)

Are the Washington Capitals the best team in the Eastern Conference? (ESPN)

Here’s a funny cartoon depiction of the reported feud between Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby:

Read an excerpt from Tie Domi’s book “shift work”. In this portion of the book, he talks about some crazy times at a New York City nightclub. (ESPN)

“It’s a lot more complicated than the net and the goalie equipment, it’s the systems that teams play, the willingness of players to block shots every part of their body.” Steven Stamkos weighs in on the decreasing number of goals in the NHL. (Tampa Tribune)

After the first quarter of the season, Henrik Lundqvist is NHL.com’s favorite to land the Vezina Trophy. (NHL.com)

Matt Beleskey donated 400 pies to various charitable organizations around Boston.

Preds place Salomaki on IR, recall Sissons

Jake Allen, Miikka Salomaki
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Nashville made a minor roster transaction on Thursday, putting forward Miikka Salomaki on IR while recalling fellow forward Colton Sissons from AHL Milwaukee.

Salomaki, 22, was a fairly regular lineup presence through the of November, appearing in eight games while averaging just under 12 minutes per night. Despite his relatively small frame (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), he racked up 28 hits over that time and emerged as a decent energy guy for the Preds.

As for Sissons, he’s about to get yet another crack with the parent club.

Having spent most of the last two seasons in Milwaukee, Sissons — the 50th overall pick in 2012 — has seen some action with the Preds this year. He has one goal in five games with Nashville, and eight points in 12 games with the Admirals.