Minnesota Wild v Boston Bruins

Wild place Cam Barker on waivers, is a buyout on the way?

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One of the amusing trends of this week revolves around former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon’s old contracts being moved off Chicago’s books. That happened when the ‘Hawks moved Brian Campbell’s monstrous deal to Tallon’s Florida Panthers and it also occurred when Tallon acquired Tomas Kopecky’s negotiating rights from Chicago.

Even when Chicago and Florida aren’t directly involved, it still seems like there has been some fallout from Tallon’s decisions. The Minnesota Wild decided to put former Tallon signing Cam Barker on waivers today as part of process that some believe will end with a buyout.

Michael Russo explains that the Wild would be able to buyout Barker’s $3.25 million salary for 2011-12 for $1.08 million, which incur a $375K cap hit in 11-12 and about a $542K one in 12-13. Barker would need to clear waivers twice for Minnesota to complete the buyout.

How Barker, Minnesota got here in the first place

Tallon re-signed the likes of Barker and Kris Versteeg to somewhat bloated deals during the 2009 off-season after the Blackhawks dealt with the embarrassing fallout that came with failing to file qualifying orders properly. Chicago eventually handed Barker a three-year, $9.25 million deal that ended up being so unsavory that they traded him to Minnesota for Kim Johnsson’s expiring contract in the middle of the ensuing 09-10 season.

It ultimately proved to be a deft move by a Blackhawks front office that needed as much breathing room as possible going into the 2010 summer. They won the Stanley Cup without Barker and used that cap space to aid their efforts to keep some (but not all) of their pieces together.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, Barker struggled mightily with the Wild. After scoring a career-high 40 points with Chicago in 2008-09, Barker managed just 21 points with the Blackhawks and Wild in 09-10 and only five points in 52 games with Minnesota in 10-11. He’s known as a more effective scorer than defender relative to other blueliners, so seeing his scoring production dry up so starkly has been very unsettling.

If the Wild do indeed buy out Barker and make him an unrestricted free agent, there might be a moderate market for a still-young player who once scored 40 points and was the third overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. That being said, teams better beware of how much money they hand him after two lousy seasons. In other words, Barker’s agent might want to keep Mr. Tallon’s number around.

Streaking Blues get Stastny back tonight

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Paul Stastny #26 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. The Blues defeated the Islanders 6-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s loss to Buffalo notwithstanding, St. Louis has been on fire lately under new head coach Mike Yeo. The Blues are 7-2 in their last nine, and will get a big piece of the lineup back this evening when they host Florida at Scottrade.

Paul Statsny, who’s missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, will draw in for the first time since Feb. 9, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

What’s more, Stastny will be immediately reunited on the club’s top line between Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Stastny had been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games played (in which the Blues went 4-1-0).

The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And based on his form prior to getting hurt, it was clear things were clicking with Steen and Tarasenko — which should make for an exciting test tonight against the red-hot Panthers.

Sens recall pair of forwards in wake of multiple injuries

Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) lies injured on the ice after being hit hard by Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba (not shown) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators have called up some reinforcements from the AHL.

Forwards Casey Bailey and Max McCormick are on their way to the big club, in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Jets that saw Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels all leave with injuries.

The Sens also went into yesterday’s game without winger Bobby Ryan, who’s out indefinitely with a hand injury.

No word yet on the status of Hoffman, Stone, or Wingels, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn’t all that optimistic yesterday.

“It doesn’t look good,” Boucher told reporters. “We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise but right now we could be losing quite a few guys.”

The Sens kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in New Jersey. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, but not that far ahead of Boston, Toronto, and Florida.

Related: Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

Kings’ Robitaille named chairman of German League club (Updated)

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six
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Kings legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille has added a new role to his front office portfolio.

Robitaille, currently serving as L.A.’s president of business operations, has been named as the chairman of Eisbaren Berlin, one of the most storied clubs in Germany’s top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Berlin is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same outfit that owns the Kings. The two clubs have a fairly long history with each other, though this Robitaille appointment is part of what sounds like the biggest cooperative initiative to date.

UPDATE: The Kings have confirmed the development, with added information…

The Los Angeles Kings will now oversee all operations of Berlin Eisbaren Hockey, it was announced today at a news conference at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Eisbaren Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are owned and operated by AEG Sports, a division of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The LA Kings will now begin leading all hockey operations and administrative matters, directing the day-to-day leadership of Managing Director Peter John Lee.

“The results the last few years in Berlin have not been the championship standards that we all expect,” said Robitaille.  “It became clear that our relationship needs to go beyond collaboration and move to a complete connection to ensure the team and organization has what it needs to return this club to the type of team our fans expect and have demonstrated passionate support for.”

From the Eisbaren Berlin website (translated):

“This is an important day for the polar bears Berlin,” said Eisbären CEO Peter John Lee. We have been interacting with Luc Robitaille and LA Kings for a long time. In the new constellation we have the leadership of the LA Kings directly on board the polar bears, so we can work even more intensively to turn the polar bears Berlin into a championship team again.”

(At this time, probably worth noting the team’s nickname translates to polar bears.)

Former Kings farmhand Alex Roach currently plays for Berlin, and the team is coached by Robitaille’s former teammate in Detroit, Uwe Krupp.

Who has the best and worst special teams in the NHL?

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a power play goal against the New York Islanders during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs, special teams will be one of the big reasons why.

Three quarters of the way through the season, the Leafs boast the NHL’s top power play, and their ninth-ranked penalty killing isn’t too bad either.

When the PP and PK are combined, Toronto has the best special teams in the league, followed closely by the Bruins, Blues, and Capitals.

Here’s how all 30 teams rank (best and worst PP and PK in bold):

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As you can see, the bottom of the list is full of teams who will miss the playoffs. The Stars’ penalty killing has been particularly dreadful. In fact, Dallas is on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.