In less than one week, NHL players and their respective teams will begin salary arbitration hearings. While those cases are often a necessary evil for restricted free agents who cannot agree to a new deal with their current franchises, those processes can often be brutal. Some hockey players have even been left in tears after their teams made a case against them getting a big raise.
One of this year’s most interesting potential cases could occur between Teddy Purcell and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Purcell is far from a household name, but while Sean Bergenheim received a lot of attention for an unexpectedly productive 2011 playoff run, Purcell was better. He scored more points in the postseason (17 to Bergenheim’s 11) and seems like less of a one-hit wonder when you compare his 51-point regular season to Bergenheim’s 29 points in 2010-11. One other heartening thing about Purcell is that he didn’t seem to get too much crazy “puck luck” either; his regular season shooting percentage was a pedestrian 8.7 percent. (Not that he’s a big-time goal scorer anyway, but the point is that he might have a better chance to sustain his productivity than a guy whose shots managed to find the net at an unusual rate.)
That being said, the bottom line is that Purcell’s resume is still very limited. Purcell scored just 34 points in 110 games during the his three other seasons spread between the Lightning and Los Angeles Kings.
Purcell represents the medium-sized issue of two important remaining questions for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who must also tend to the prickly process of re-signing young restricted star Steven Stamkos. With the July 20 salary arbitration hearing looming, Yzerman admitted that he’s not certain that he could re-sign Purcell before that deadline. Yzerman still seemed confident that the two sides can work something out eventually, though. Here’s what he told Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question,” Yzerman said of getting something done before the July 20 arbitration hearing in Toronto.
Yzerman still would not say “with 100 percent certainty” he would live with whatever might come out of a hearing because “we don’t know what an arbitrator will rule. We think we do.” But he did sound a positive tone overall.
“I fully expect to see Teddy in the lineup in September and have a contract done,” Yzerman said. “Whether it’s through the arbitration process or before that, we’ll have a contract in place next week.”
It’ll be intriguing to see what kind of deal Purcell would get if he makes it to arbitration. It doesn’t seem crazy to anticipate a reward in the $2.5-$3.5 million range, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.
It was a real nightmare for those guys.
Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.
Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.
Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.
Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:
Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.
In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.
On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.
John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.
Now, he wants to get back to work.
Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.
“It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”
Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.
Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.
The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?
Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’
Journeyman Peter Budaj looks as though he’ll make his first regular-season NHL appearance since April of 2014, when the Kings take on the Rangers at MSG.
Recalled from AHL Ontario due to an injury to Jonathan Quick, Budaj gets the nod tonight after Quick’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, was beat for four goals on 29 shots in last night’s loss to the Islanders.
Budaj, 33, has certainly earned another crack at the big leagues. After catching on with the Kings through a PTO in training camp, he’s been terrific in Ontario, going 26-9-3 with a 1.58 GAA and .935 save percentage. The Slovakian netminder also has eight shutouts this year.
For the Rangers, Antti Raanta gets the start in goal, giving Henrik Lundqvist a night off.
— Ben Scrivens, who appears to be the new No. 1 in Montreal, will go for his fourth straight win when the Habs visit Buffalo. Chad Johnson is in goal for the Sabres, who’ve really struggled of late.
— Marc-Andre Fleury goes for the Penguins, while it looks like Cam Ward is in for Carolina.
— Really good matchup in Detroit as Semyon Varlamov goes up against Petr Mrazek who, according to Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, has “crashed Braden Holtby’s Vezina party.”
— Battle of All-Star netminders in Tampa Bay, as Ben Bishop goes for the Bolts while Pekka Rinne starts for Nashville.
— The red-hot Brian Elliott will continue to roll as St. Louis’ No. 1 in Florida. The Panthers will go with their old reliable, Roberto Luongo.
— Now that Karri Ramo’s on IR, it’s Jonas Hiller time for the Flames. He’ll start tonight in Arizona, against Louis Domingue.
Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.
“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”
That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.
The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.
Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity