When the final papers for possible salary arbitration hearings were filed, it looked like the New York Rangers would be the NHL team with the biggest headaches. As it turns out, the team managed to lock up every player whose on-ice qualities would have been put on trial, as they reportedly came to terms with Ryan Callahan on a three-year contract extension today.
Much like fellow Rangers forward (and frequent linemate) Brandon Dubinsky, Callahan agreed to a deal a day before his hearing was scheduled. The terms of that three-year deal haven’t been made official yet, but Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that Callahan’s agent confirmed that it’s worth “just under” $13 million. Update: Kevin Allen reports that Callahan’s salary will be $4 million in 2011-12 and 12-13 and $4.85 million in 13-14. That would his overall contract $12.85 million and his cap hit a bit more than $4.28 million per year.
With their last restricted free agent out of the way, Rangers fans should rejoice. Callahan seems like a strong contender to become the Rangers’ next captain because of his mixture of grit and scoring ability.
Callahan notched career highs in goals (23), assists (25) and points (48) even though he only played in 60 games in 2010-11. It’s usually tough to gauge how well a player can live up to a contract year – especially one in which that player shows a higher offensive ceiling that he ever had before – but the good news is that Callahan is a productive player even when he’s not lighting up the scoreboard.
His career-high 2010-11 shooting percentage (12.8) probably won’t be sustainable during the next three years, but the biggest worry might be that his aggressive style might lead to more injuries. Perhaps he needs to allow less important Rangers forwards to block some shots, at least; he broke his hand and ankle last season doing just that. The ankle injury forced him to miss the end of the Rangers’ push toward a playoff spot as well as their first round series against the Washington Capitals.
That being said, Callahan’s willingness to put his body on the line could make him the hockey equivalent to a military commander who fights in the front lines. We’ll see if he gets the actual captain’s “C” on his jersey now or later, but my guess is that many players and fans already consider him the leader of that team.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.