The bone-dry ranks of unrestricted free agent defensemen received an interesting boost once it became clear that Sheldon Souray’s flamethrower slap shot, Mike Commodore’s ruggedness/red afro and Cam Barker’s untapped potential will be added to the mix.
After possibly adding a big chunk of unrestricted free agents to the market on accident thanks to their Dale Tallon-esque qualifying offer issues, the Nashville Predators actually intentionally added one of their players to the unrestricted free agent ranks today. The Predators bought out forward J.P. Dumont, breaking down the $4 million salary from the last year of his contract into a $1.3 million cap hit in both 2011-12 and 12-13.
Dumont could be an interesting gamble for another NHL team (wait for it …) if the price is right. His hot-and-cold game went frigid in 2010-11 as he only scored 19 points in 70 games while averaging a bit more than 11 minutes per night. After peaking in Nashville in 06-07 (66 points), 07-08 (a career-high 72) and 08-09 (65 points), Dumont’s game kept dropping the last two seasons. He went from 45 points in 09-10 to that abysmal 19-point showing in 10-11.
Still, some teams might look at that not-too-long-ago run and wonder if he might be productive on a more offense-first squad. Much like Souray, Dumont doesn’t work at his inflated salary but he might be considered an interesting piece if he keeps his economic goals reasonable. He’s probably a more enticing buyout-turned-free-agent than banged up center Chris Drury, if nothing else.
It’s an understandable move by the Predators, but times could be really tough if the NHLPA’s grievance ends up giving them some serious free agent headaches. Stay tuned for the resolution to that and many other issues during this off-season.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.