It didn’t take the Predators too long to move on from the Brett Lebda era. After Lebda cleared waivers this afternoon, the Predators moved on quickly to find a more trustworthy defenseman to help try and fill out their depth ranks in Nashville.
The Predators signed away former Islanders defenseman Jack Hillen to a one-year, two-way deal that helps give the Predators flexibility as they’ll be testing the waters in training camp to see who can lock down their fifth and sixth defenseman spots to start the season. Hillen’s deal will come with a $650,000 cap hit should he make the team and stick around Music City, USA.
Last season in New York, Hillen had four goals and 18 assists in 64 games for the Islanders proving to be a useful offensive defenseman. With the Predators having given away Cody Franson to Toronto in the Lebda trade earlier this summer, if Hillen can fit into Barry Trotz’s system, he can try to provide similar production as a fifth or sixth defenseman.
Hillen’s competition there in training camp will be stiff though. Youngsters like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm will all compete for one of the open spots on the blue line. Tyler Sloan will also be in the veteran mix with Hillen to try and get a starting job. With Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, and Jonathon Blum locking down four spots already and Francis Bouillon still dealing with concussion problems, the competition should be fierce.
For guys like Hillen and Sloan it’ll be their chance to prove they’re full-time NHL guys. For the likes of Josi, Ellis, and Ekholm it’s a chance for them to show they’re ready for the rigors of everyday life in the big leagues. One thing is for sure, Trotz will be looking for guys that fit the system the best and won’t stand for a lack of effort. Hillen’s usefulness offensively could help give him an edge in the competition especially when he won’t have big minutes demanded of him.
The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.
“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.
“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”
More on the statue from the Devils:
The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.
The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.
Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.
The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.
Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.
“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”
“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.
“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”
The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.
In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.
After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.
The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.
— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.
— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.
— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.
He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.
Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.
The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.
The Islanders also have a game in hand.
The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.
Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.
In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.