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Could we see the NHL return of … Alexei Yashin?

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If you want to be technical about it, Alexei Yashin will receive an NHL salary whether he plays another second of hockey in 2011-12. In fact, he’ll receive a bit more than $2.2 million per year for the next four years thanks to the New York Islanders’ decision to buy out his massive contract way back in June 2007.

Of course, there’s a big difference between getting paid to play hockey at (or near) its highest level and being paid simply to stay away from the rink. Yashin’s future is now in serious – but perhaps intriguing? – doubt after it was revealed that SKA St. Petersburg opted against giving him another contract.

Yashin’s obvious red flags

Naturally, it’s not a great sign when the KHL sours on a player, especially a prominent Russian ex-star such as Yashin. That being said, it’s not as if we haven’t been through this drill before. Evgeni Nabokov’s KHL run was a spectacular failure, but he still received NHL interest when he expressed the desire to return.

Now, a direct comparison isn’t totally valid because of Yashin’s star-crossed reputation. The Ottawa Senators probably rank at the top of the list of teams who are probably uninterested in bringing him in after he set out the 1999-2000 season thanks to a contract tiff. There were plenty of questions about his character and locker room influence when he played his last NHL season at 33 years old, let alone at 37.

The case for giving Yashin a chance

That being said, a team desperate for offense might want to at least consider taking a low-risk, medium-reward gamble on Yashin. For all the criticisms he (justifiably) receives, Yashin was still fairly productive – at least on the offensive end. He scored 50 goals in 58 games in 2006-07, helping the Islanders make their last postseason run. His final season with SKA was underwhelming (33 points in 52 games), but he was a steady scorer in most other situations. Yashin scored 187 points in 220 regular season games in Russia and 40 points in 43 playoff games.

It’s reasonable to expect that Yashin’s bad reputation (and perhaps an unreasonable asking price) will derail almost any chance he has at an NHL comeback. That being said, a smart GM should at least take a look at his team and wonder if a cheap Yashin could actually fit in. If the Chicago Blackhawks can talk themselves into thinking that Daniel Carcillo might improve their locker room chemistry, then a team can rationalize just about anything these days.

Yashin’s NHL return is highly unlikely, but let us ask: would any team actually be wise in giving him a shot? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

(H/T to On the Forecheck.)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.