Trent Hunter and Colin White clear waivers; How the inevitable buyouts will affect all sides

The New Jersey Devils made a brilliant move when they sent Brian Rolston’s $5.06 million salary cap hit (and a conditional draft pick) in exchange for injured New York Islanders forward Trent Hunter. At the time, the savings seemed simple: the Devils received +3.06 million in space in 2011-12 and then would take on Hunter’s $2 million in 12-13. Either way, it seemed like a great way to clear up space for Zach Parise.

While the Devils did indeed find a way to get Parise to come back for at least one more year (at $6 million), GM Lou Lamoriello decided to tidy his team’s salary structure up a bit more. As Joe speculated when the Devils placed Hunter and Colin White on waivers, the duo of players did indeed clear waivers and thus seem primed for a buyout in the near future. Lamoriello himself admitted that would be the case on Monday. (We’ll update this post once it becomes official.)

Here’s a quick review of what each buyout will cost the Devils and how much they’ll receive in savings.

White, 33, has one year left on his contract at $3 million. The buyout cap hit for White will be $1 million for each of the next two seasons.

Hunter, 31, has two years at $2 million per season remaining. The buyout cap hit for Hunter will be $666,667 for each of the next four seasons.

Robust cap space for the Devils

So White and Hunter will cost the Devils $1.67 million for the next two seasons and then Hunter’s penalty will be $667K for two more. On the other hand, New Jersey sees significant cap relief this season; they’ll save approximately $3.33 million by essentially paying White and Hunter to go away.

If that buyout takes place, the Devils would have $5.87 million in excess cap space, according to Cap Geek. With the free agent market as slim as it is right now, I imagine that cap flexibility will be more beneficial around the trade deadline than anything else.

What’s next for Hunter, White

As far as the two players being bought out, both White and Hunter told Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger that they want to find an NHL job.

White might be the saddest of the two, considering the fact that he’s been with the Devils organization since they drafted him in 1996. White was a useful member of the 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup winning teams and while he has his flaws and limitations, his crease-clearing ways might convince a team to add him as a depth defenseman. There might be some questions about injuries here and there, but it wouldn’t be shocking if someone decided to give the sizable 33-year-old blueliner a chance.

Trent Hunter might have a tougher go of it, although he’s only 31 years old. Injuries have been the biggest problem for Hunter, who only played in 133 out of 246 regular season games during the last three seasons, scoring 37 points in that span. Those are the numbers of a player who barely belongs at the NHL level, but Hunter does have 25 and 20 goal seasons to his name, so maybe he can convince a team to give him one last chance. (Or at least a training camp tryout?)

With those buyout amounts already going their way, Hunter and White could be willing to take bargain deals to stay in the NHL. We’ll see how that it goes, but it could be far more interesting to follow what the devious Devils have planned with their suddenly robust cap space.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.