As soon as Manny Legace accepted a professional tryout with the Canucks, the clock was ticking before his inevitable release. It’s nothing against Legace—he just went to a team that has one of the most solidified goaltending situations in the entire NHL. Roberto Luongo is under contract until the next time Haley’s Comet appears, back-up Cory Schneider could start for half the teams in the league, and Swedish prospect Eddie Lack already has the starting job in the AHL on lockdown. Was the team really going to waste a developmental spot on the Chicago Wolves roster for an aging goaltender trying to make a comeback? Probably not.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was an optimist when he spoke to the media about releasing Legace on Friday:
“There seemed to be some interest out there. Other teams are looking for some goaltenders.
“We gave him the opportunity to stay with us and practice or (for) him and his agent to look at something else. He decided look to see if there was something else out there.”
The good news is that Legace has proven in the past that he’s an adequate NHL netminder. While playing most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues (with shorts stints in LA and Carolina), Legace has put up decent statistics. He has 197 wins and only 99 regulation losses, a .912 career save percentage, and a 2.41 goals against average. Looking at the body of work, there could be an NHL team interested in kicking the tires before the season starts.
The bad news is he’s a 38-year-old goaltender coming off an average season in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. His 17-22-3 record last season with the Iserlohn Roosters isn’t going to get anyone’s attention and the 2.51 goals against average is pedestrian at best. But an average record and statistics while playing in Germany aren’t resume items that NHL teams want to see.
Take a look around the league. Legace’s best shot is to catch on with a team that has a solid #1 goaltender and wants a veteran presence as a back-up. Not only will a team need to have a back-up role available, they’ll need to be willing to give the job to the aging Legace and not a prospect that needs seasoning. As if that wasn’t enough, Legace isn’t the only goaltender on the market as teams are trimming their training camp rosters. Pascal Leclaire and Marty Turco are both still available for teams—and are both just as viable as Manny Legace. There’s also the netminders who are competing for jobs who may get cut or waived within the coming weeks (like Ray Emery or Alexander Salak in Chicago).
Unfortunately for Legace, this could be the end of the road for an NHL career that began when he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers way back in 1993. Anything could happen between now and the beginning of the season, but it doesn’t look good for the veteran.
Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.
However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.
Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”
Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.
Markov, Habs officially part ways.
Markov is headed to the KHL.
The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.
The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.
Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.
He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.
Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.
Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.
“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)
The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.
Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.
If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.
One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.
Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.
Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.
Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.
With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.
Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.