Scott Hannan, Sean Bergenheim

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

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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.

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine

Murray: Ristolainen’s good-faith gesture unlikely to sway talks with Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a pass during the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray tells The Associated Press he doesn’t believe defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen‘s decision to join the team for practice without a contract will have any effect on thawing negotiations.

With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.

Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.

Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.

Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.

Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.

In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).