Mike Commodore

Mike Commodore, Cam Barker, and Sheldon Souray all waived today to be bought out

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With noontime having passed and the league’s buyout period coming to an end at 5 p.m. today, it was the final day to put players on waivers for the purpose of buying them out of their contracts. Once the clock struck 12 noon, the word came down, this time courtesy of TSN’s Bob McKenzie that three defensemen would hit the waiver wire to be eligible to be bought out.

McKenzie tweeted that Edmonton’s Sheldon Souray, Columbus’ Mike Commodore, and Minnesota’s Cam Barker were all unconditionally waived by their teams. They’ll be on waivers for the next 24 hours and if another team doesn’t pick them up, they’ll become unrestricted free agents.

For all three of them, last season proved to be a struggle. For Souray, he was buried in the AHL by the Oilers with the Capitals farm team in Hershey as they didn’t want him around any of their prospects. Their parting is long overdue and the fat contract they gave to Souray back in 2007 sits as one filled with injury and now bad feelings. With one year remaining on his deal, his buy out will be paid out over the next two seasons with a cap hit of $2.4 million this year and $1.5 million next year according to CapGeek.

Mike Commodore’s situation in Columbus was similarly difficult. Commodore didn’t see eye-to-eye with coach Scott Arniel and struggled to get ice time with the Blue Jackets who had defensive issues all season. With those kinds of problems and when you’re not getting a chance to help fix them, that means things are going rather poorly.

Commodore was sent to the Jackets’ AHL team in Springfield for most of the year and was put on waivers a couple of times to see if teams would snag him. No one ever bit and Commodore stayed in the AHL to languish.  Commodore’s contract has two years left which means his buy out will be paid out over the next four years with a cap hit against the Blue Jackets in the range of just over $1 million per year according to CapGeek.

  • 2011-12: $1,391,667
  • 2012-13: $1,541,667
  • 2013-14: $1,141,667
  • 2014-15: $1,141,667

Cam Barker’s tenure in Minnesota was a brutal one. After coming to the Wild in the deal that saw Nick Leddy and Kim Johnsson sent to Chicago, Barker was seen as the “sure thing” in that deal. After a year and a half in Minnesota, Barker’s struggles have made it so that he’s worn out his welcome in St. Paul and the Wild are moving on without him.

In 71 games with the Wild, Barker had two goals and ten assists and was a -12 defenseman. He was known more for his turnovers and poor coverage than he was anything else and now the Wild are eager to let him go. That trade involving Nick Leddy might go down in infamy in Minnesota when it’s all said and done. With just one year left on his deal, it’ll take two years to get the buyout hit off the Wild’s salary cap. With Barker being 25 when being bought out the buyout is for 1/3 of his cap hit meaning that the $1.083 million cost is spread out over two years. CapGeek breaks down the minimal pain felt by Minnesota for the buyout.

With these three guys likely hitting unrestricted free agency on Friday afternoon, things get a little bit more interesting as all three will likely see some interest from teams. With the defensive market getting thinned out leading up to Friday’s free agency frenzy, the buyouts could be a blessing in disguise for them as they’ll be free to pursue a deal with a team that wants them around now. They may not be the lucrative deals they’re coming off of, but at the least they should be able to get back to the NHL or find a comfortable place to fix their game.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.