The list of restricted free agents preparing for salary arbitration hearings continues to dwindle as each day passes. The Colorado Avalanche eliminated both of their possible hearings by signing Kevin Porter and Ryan Wilson yesterday while the Chicago Blackhawks cut their headaches in half by locking up Viktor Stalberg to a two-year contract today.
Jay Gold reports that the two-year deal is worth $1.75 million overall, with an annual cap hit of $875K per season. Chris Campoli ranks as the only Chicago player still headed toward a possible arbitration hearing while Michael Frolik is a restricted free agent who isn’t eligible for arbitration.
Stalberg came to Chicago in a cap-conscious deal that sent Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stalberg scored 24 points in 77 regular season games and one goal in seven playoff contests in his second NHL campaign. He only played 10:42 minutes per game during the regular season and a little more than 12 minutes per playoff match against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Blackhawks made a lot of minor (often veteran) additions during the 2011 off-season, but most of those contracts were one-year deals. At 25 years old, Stalberg could find a home in Chicago if he plays well during the next two seasons or find himself fighting for a job at the NHL level. It all depends upon how well he develops in a depth position on this Blackhawks roster.
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer