The last few seasons represented a long, winding road for New York Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger.
Eminger was drafted by the Washington Capitals (12th overall in 2002), where he enjoyed solid stability playing parts of seasons from 2002-03 to 2007-08. Eminger bounced around the NHL like a pinball after he left DC, though. Eminger was traded three times in the following season as he played 12 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, 50 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and nine with the Florida Panthers in 08-09. He then played through the 09-10 season with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Rangers last off-season.
Considering that whirlwind of activity, it’s probably reasonable that the journeyman defenseman was willing to take a pay cut to stick with the Rangers for another season. The team re-signed the blueliner to a one-year, $800K contract today, which is a considerable downgrade from his recently expired two-year, $2.25 million pact.
Jesse Spector points out that Eminger is the only Rangers defenseman with at least 400 games of NHL experience and describes the other things that he brings to the table.
Eminger’s versatility, along with his physical style, knowledge of the Rangers’ coverage systems and familiarity in the locker room, made him the ideal candidate to bolster a defense group that includes Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer and Marc Staal in the top four. The Blueshirts’ hope is that Michael Del Zotto will rebound from a rough second season, and that Tim Erixon will be able to contribute as a rookie, meaning that Eminger could shuttle in and out of the lineup. Last season, he proved comfortable with that kind of role, enduring some significant stretches as a healthy scratch but hardly wavering in his form.
With Eminger back in the fold as a depth/lower-pairing defenseman, it becomes that much clearer that the Rangers’ last bit of business revolves around retaining spirited winger Ryan Callahan. Naturally, the negotiation process will be a lot stickier than it was with Eminger, who is probably just relieved that he can keep the same street address.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)