Scott Hannan, Sean Bergenheim

With Capitals uninterested in bringing him back, Scott Hannan searches for new team

4 Comments

When the Washington Capitals nabbed rugged defenseman Scott Hannan last November, many wondered if he could be the missing piece. With his grit and lengthy resume of NHL experience, it seemed like Hannan possessed the kind of grit that critics found lacking in an oft-criticized Capitals blueline.

Regardless of how you feel about Hannan’s individual performance, the Capitals’ playoff run ended like the others: with disappointment. It’s lousy – and if you ask me, wrong – to lay much of the blame at Hannan’s feet, but he wasn’t a magical elixir for Washington’s woes, either.

For many who watch the team closely, the Roman Hamrlik signing is the team’s attempt to find a Hannan upgrade. Hannan probably has a slight edge on Hamrlik in the physicality department, but Hamrlik isn’t shy to use a little ruggedness either. Even if that edge is big, Hamrlik is more responsible in his own end, is even more experienced and can contribute far more offensively as well. (Hamrlik has 624 points in 1,311 career regular season games; Hannan has 185 in 830.)

That being said, Hamrlik’s age could make him more prone to injuries, so would the Capitals consider keeping Hannan around as a depth player/insurance? It doesn’t sound like a bad idea at the right price, but Stephen Whyno reports that Hannan must look elsewhere for employment next season.

Scott Hannan never received an offer from the Capitals before July 1 and remains unsigned. His agent, Don Meehan, told The Washington Times in an email that he’s still working to secure an NHL deal for the veteran.

As for the posssibility of Hannan playing next season for the Caps, Meehan said flatly, “That won’t happen.”

Let me first admit this much: I’m not blown away by Hannan as a defenseman, at least when considering his bloated former price tag. That being said, the former San Jose Sharks defenseman might actually make some sense in the price and role of newly added Sharks defenseman Colin White.

Like White, Hannan is “economical,” which is a nice way of saying that he doesn’t have a wide range of talents but keeps his game simple and rugged. Both won’t wow you but can serve as decent depth defensemen who soaks up tough minutes. Hannan averaged a team-leading 2:40 shorthanded minutes per game last season, which is more impressive than it sounds because the Capitals PK was quite sound.

Some teams who may want to consider Hannan (if he’s OK with Colin White-type money)

  • New Jersey – Why not make this comparison come full circle by adding Hannan? White was too much at $3 million but his size and experience might be missed. (Kevin Sellathamby also brought up this idea.)
  • Montreal – Hamrlik replaced Hannan, so maybe Hannan could replace Hamrlik’s physicality while a hopefully healthy Andrei Markov could more than make up for the loss in offense? (Stan Fischler thinks Hannan might work in Montreal.)
  • Pittsburgh – Not the first team that came into my head (Mike Colligan’s idea), but a depth boost might be handy for a Penguins team that might have a lot of grinding in its future if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have health issues again.
  • Islanders – They could pay Hannan more than other teams since they need to reach the cap floor. Hey, he could even keep Evgeni Nabokov company, too. (Whyno brought this one up, although I doubt Hannan would get $4 million.)
  • Anaheim – The Ducks’ defense can use every bit of help they can get and Hannan probably wouldn’t mind living in California again.
  • Vancouver – Sure, their ideal add would be a top-six forward, but a lack of blueline depth is what doomed them in the Stanley Cup finals. If you think Boston bullying was an even bigger issue in that series, then Hannan could help a bit there, too.

Really, there are plenty of teams who could benefit from signing Hannan if his asking price isn’t outrageous. Maybe he wants to be within whispering distance of his bloated former salary, but the market should correct itself rather harshly this summer. If he can swallow his pride and take a Colin White-like salary, Hannan shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a job.

Anisimov out six to eight weeks after undergoing ‘successful’ wrist surgery

Chicago Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov tries to handle a rebound from Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP Photo
1 Comment

Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.

“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.

The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.

Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.

He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.

Prior to his surgery, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.

Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016

With Letang suspended, Schultz out to ‘prove a lot of people wrong’ if he gets the call in Game 4

2 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins may hold a 2-1 series lead over the rival Washington Capitals, but they will be without defenseman Kris Letang for a pivotal Game 4 on Wednesday.

Perhaps for the Capitals, the absence of Letang — suspended one game for a high, late hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3 — on the Penguins blue line can provide an opportunity to help swing the series back in their favor heading to Washington and home ice in Game 5.

“He’s the backbone of their defense,” Capitals blue liner Karl Alzner told CSN Mid-Atlantic.

“He goes back for pucks and gets them out of his zone with a pass or a flip. He transitions the puck and logs key minutes on their PP.”

In addition to seven points in eight games this post-season, which puts him into a tie for third among defensemen in the playoffs, Letang is also among the leaders in ice time, averaging 29:13 per game.

So yes, that’s a significant loss at this juncture of the series, even if for one game.

The Penguins were already without Olli Maatta for Game 3. He was injured on that late, high hit from Brooks Orpik. That forced Derrick Pouliot into the lineup for Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old Justin Schultz, who the Penguins acquired from Edmonton earlier this season, figures to be next in line for Pittsburgh with Letang out.

Schultz entered the league with plenty of hype surrounding him, billed as a dynamic offensive defenseman. But nothing seemed to pan out for him in Edmonton, there were growing concerns about his play in his own end, and his time there ended with a trade prior to the deadline.

This could mean added minutes, too, for Trevor Daley, who played 22:20 in Game 3.

Between Pouliot and Schultz, they have a combined two games worth of Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Video: Letang suspended one game for late hit with ‘significant head contact’ on Johansson

38 Comments

The National Hockey League has suspended Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang one game for a high, late hit on Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson during Game 3.

The incident occurred late in the first period of Monday’s game, as Johansson had passed the puck off after entering the Pittsburgh zone. Letang was given a minor penalty for interference.

“After Johansson moves the puck, Letang delivers a high, forceful hit that makes significant head contact,” stated the league’s Department of Player Safety in a video.

“It is important to note that Johansson is not eligible to be checked on this play. Players who are not in possession of the puck are never eligible to be checked. However, the interference rule provides a brief window during which a player who initiates a hit while his opponent is in possession of the puck may legally finish a check. This is not such a case.”

The DoPS did state that Letang didn’t leave his feet making the hit, but that they leave the ice due to the “force of the hit.”

“This is also not an illegal check to the head,” it states in the video. “While there is significant head contact here, the head is not the main point of contact.”

Following the game, both Letang and Johansson broke down the hit for the media, but of course, both had totally different opinions of what occurred.

The Penguins lead the series 2-1 and have the opportunity to take a stranglehold with a win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Of course, without Letang, that task gets even more difficult.

Meanwhile, the bad blood between the rival Penguins and Capitals continues. This series has already run afoul of the DoPS, with the Orpik suspension and Tom Wilson receiving a fine for kneeing Conor Sheary.

Ruff ‘not telling’ who will start tonight for Stars

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP
Leave a comment

 

Some intrigue in St. Louis, where Antti Niemi was the first Stars netminder off the ice this morning, only for Lindy Ruff to tell the media that tonight’s starter would be Kari Lehtonen.

Then, just to muddy the waters further, Ruff told reporters, “I’m not telling you who’s starting, so don’t ask.”

Typically, whichever goalie leaves the morning skate first is the starter.

But then, typically, a team doesn’t have a two-goalie system in the playoffs, so perhaps we should’t assume anything at this point. 

All we know for sure is that Lehtonen started the first two games of this series. He played well in Game 1, a 2-1 Stars victory, but got pulled in Game 2 after surrendering three goals on just five shots.

Niemi, meanwhile, was solid in relief in Game 2, allowing just one goal — David Backeswinner in overtime — on 20 shots. For that reason, many figured Ruff would turn to Niemi for Game 3, just like he turned to Niemi for Games 4 and 5 in the first round against Minnesota.

 

But, apparently, we’ll have to wait and see for sure.