The Flames were in need of adding a little bit more quality depth to their blue line this summer if they were going to get in shape to contend for a playoff spot this season. With the free agent choices available being as slim as ever, Flames GM Jay Feaster made a solid move in landing former Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan.
Hannan signed with Calgary for one year at $1 million and with the Flames being close to the salary cap, it’s a frugal deal. According to CapGeek.com the Flames will be at $63.9 million, just $400,000 from the cap. Feaster had nothing but glowing words for Hannan in explaining why the Flames signed him.
“Throughout the summer we have consistently said that we were not yet finished adding to our hockey club, and while we have great confidence that one of our second-year prospects or quality depth defensemen we added this off-season will step-up and make our hockey team in training camp, we have also recognized the need for some veteran leadership at that position,” said Flames General Manager Jay Feaster.
“Scott not only brings a wealth of experience to our blue line, but he also brings a great deal of knowledge about the Western Conference in general and our Division in particular. Just as importantly, he has demonstrated his commitment to our organization and his desire to be a part of our team by agreeing to a contract that enables us to fit him under the salary cap. We are very pleased to add him to the Flames family, and we look forward to his contributions to our success both on and off the ice.”
Hannan takes a massive pay cut to sign with Calgary. His last contract paid him $4.5 million a year against the cap in a deal he signed with Colorado in 2007. He’ll join a Flames team where he’ll plug in as a top four guy alongside Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, and Anton Babchuk. With other guys like Cory Sarich and Chris Butler in the mix, Hannan provides quality defensive skills and a solid veteran presence to the back line.
The Flames were close to making the playoffs last year and while they didn’t go wild in free agency, Hannan is a quality signing. With this being Feaster’s first offseason with Calgary, he’s trying to piece things together to get Calgary back in the postseason. Guys like Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen, and Alex Tanguay aren’t getting any younger and with the dearth of prospects in their system, building through smart free agent signings is how they need to do things for the time being. Getting Hannan is a good move towards that goal.
Bryan Rust is really having himself a series.
After opening the scoring in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, Rust took matters into his own hands after Jonathan Drouin evened the score for Tampa Bay, notching his second goal of the game — just 30 seconds after Drouin scored — to put Pittsburgh back out in front, 2-1.
Before digging into the Rust goal (posted above), let’s take a moment to appreciate Drouin’s snipe, one that whizzed by Pittsburgh netminder Matt Murray:
Now, back to Rust.
With that second goal he’s now racked up eight points for the playoffs, just three back of the 11 he put up over the course of the entire regular season. The former Notre Dame standout has become a major storyline, and now sits tied with Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in even-strength playoff goals.
Not bad for a guy that spent a fair chunk of the year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, eh?
What an Eastern Conference Final for Bryan Rust.
Rust scored his second goal of the series — and third point in as many games — to open the scoring on Friday night, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead over the Lighting at Consol.
After scoring just 11 points during the regular season, Rust — in just his second season at the NHL level — now has seven points in 16 playoff games, and has emerged as a vital bottom-six contributor in the process.
Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin notched assists on Rust’s goal, which came early in the second period. The Pens out-shot the Bolts 8-5 in the first period, but were unable to get one past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Oh, and speaking of Kunitz, he’s also produced extremely well in this series — he now has six points in his last five games.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.