The Tampa Bay Lightning brought back a lot of the pieces from their 2010-11 season, but a few players needed to go. Along with goalie prospect Cedrick Desjardins and playoff anomaly Sean Bergenheim, it appears that puck moving defenseman Mike Lundin couldn’t make the cut. He became an expendable defenseman after the Lightning re-signed Marc-Andre Bergeron and added Bruno Gervais and Matt Gilroy.
Lundin didn’t take very long to find work elsewhere, though, as the rapidly changing Minnesota Wild snatched him up for one-year, $1 million. This could be a nice (if subtle) move for Minnesota. The Wild are attempting to their traditional weakness on offense by acquiring Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, but recent studies of their 2010-11 season numbers actually indicate that Minnesota’s biggest issues could be in their own end.
(The Wild allowed 32 shots per game, tying them with the New York Islanders for sixth worst in the NHL. That’s an especially bad number when you consider the fact that Minnesota only averaged 26.2 shots per game, the worst number in the NHL. Broad brushstrokes or not, those are the kinds of numbers that explain why your team probably won’t make the playoffs in a given season.)
Lundin isn’t the sort of defenseman who will cure all of the Wild’s ills, but he might be the puck-moving type who could help Minnesota spend a bit less time chasing pucks and retrieving rebounds. His greatest asset is in his efficiency; Lundin sports solid mobility and puck-moving ability in his better moments.
He averaged 20+ minutes per game in the last two seasons with Tampa Bay, but it seemed like his role diminished starkly in the playoffs (just 14:41 minutes per game in 18 postseason contests). Lundin will be the seventh defenseman under contract with Minnesota but should get a nice chance to make an impact with Brent Burns out of the picture and a shallow group of blueliners beyond Marek Zidlicky, Greg Zanon and Nick Schultz.
Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.
For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.
The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.
San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.
As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Here are the details:
McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.
The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.
One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.
Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.
The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.
It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.
Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.
(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)
Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.
“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.
“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”
The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.
You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch
On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott
The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko
Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday