Boston Bruins v New York Rangers

Waiting until the last minute: Arbitration hearings still pending

Before we really start looking ahead to next year’s crop of restricted free agents, it would probably be best to finish dealing with this year’s class.  While some of the restricted free agent negotiations could go on until the beginning of the season like Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty, some will be settled much sooner by an independent third-party.

It’s important to note that no one wants to go through with the arbitration hearings.  The team no longer gets to determine the terms of the deal and the player loses the right to accept or decline an arbitrator’s award.  Factor in that the process is never a pleasant one from a personal point of view and both sides would prefer a settlement 99% of the time.  When the NHL announced the hearing schedule, there were twenty players who were slated to present their cases to an arbitrator.  As the hearings actually get underway, eleven have settled to avoid the hearing and the Blackhawks already knew they were going to walk away from Chris Campoli’s award on Wednesday.  Here’s the remaining schedule over the next couple weeks:

Brandon Dubinsky (7/21)

Josh Gorges (7/28)

Ryan Callahan (7/28)

Jannik Hansen (7/29)

Shea Weber (8/2)

Zach Parise (8/3)

Mark Fraser (8/4)

Blake Comeau (8/4)

It’s a near certainty that a few of these players will reach settlements with their teams before they ever step foot into a hearing.  Then again, there are some disputes that look like they’re destined for an arbitration hearing (see: Dubinsky, Brandon).  Many of the players remaining are vital to their teams’ chances next season.  Dubinsky, Josh Gorges, Ryan Callahan, Shea Weber, and Zach Parise are all players who could make or break the 2011-12 season—the only question is how much will they be paid for next season.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn a couple of things. Not only will we find out how much each of these players will make, but we’ll also find out who will be the one deciding on the terms of the contract. How many teams and players will be willing to roll the dice in front of an arbitrator? We’ll keep you posted.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.