Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

Christian Ehrhoff: the next Dan Hamhuis? Islanders trade his rights to Buffalo for fourth rounder

1 Comment

Last summer, then-Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis was the belle of the ball among unrestricted free agent blueliners. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins traded for his negotiating rights before July 1 of that year, but they ultimately wasted those assets since Hamhuis elected for free agency (and ultimately signed with the Vancouver Canucks).

Christian Ehrhoff might be the 2011 version of his (soon-to-be-former?) teammate Hamhuis. The New York Islanders sent a 2012 fourth round pick to the Canucks for the chance to negotiate with Ehrhoff today, but the hard-shooting defenseman promptly shot down their contract offers. It seemed like the Islanders would be the laughing stock of the league once again after being rejected by Evgeni Nabokov during the 2010-11 season.

While Ehrhoff’s rejection might still sting, the Islanders saved face tonight by sending Ehrhoff’s rights to the Buffalo Sabres for their 2012 fourth round pick. I disagree with Katie Strang’s conclusion that the Islanders matched their losses from trying to acquire Ehrhoff (at least on the assumption that the Sabres’ fourth round pick is unlikely to be as valuable as the Islanders’ fourth rounder), but it still covers most of the cost.

As far as the likelihood of the Sabres actually landing Ehrhoff, one can only speculate. On one hand, Buffalo might not be an enticing market for Ehrhoff. On the other hand, the Sabres regularly make the playoffs and have a new owner who is willing to spend money to help them transition from “solid but not scary” to “legitimate contender.” It may be a small plus for outsiders, but Ehrhoff might also see some appeal in playing alongside fellow German Jochen Hecht.

Ehrhoff might not be perfect, but he could be a solid fit for the defense-needy Sabres. Buffalo lacks a strong offensive defenseman (no offense to up-and-comers Tyler Myers and Marc-Andre Gragnani) and Ehrhoff scored a career-high 50 points in 2010-11. Buffalo’s defense would probably still be a few strides short of elite even with the addition of Ehrhoff, but having Ehrhoff-Myers-Robyn Regehr as their top three would make life easier for all-world goalie Ryan Miller.

Then again, considering the shrinking market on unrestricted free agent defensemen, Ehrhoff could always play the field even if he likes what the Sabres are selling. Whatever happens, we’ll keep you up to date about all the latest happenings for Ehrhoff and other free agents as Friday’s frenzy approaches.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

1 Comment

The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

1 Comment

It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

12 Comments

You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

82 Comments

Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.