Chris Campoli

Markov worries? Montreal signs Chris Campoli to one-year, $1.75 million deal

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The worries about the health of Andrei Markov’s knee in Montreal might be a bit stronger than you’d think. The Canadiens have signed free agent defenseman Chris Campoli to a one year deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the deal is worth $1.75 million to help solidify the depth of the Habs.

Markov has been dealing with lingering issues with his surgically repaired knee during training camp and rather than head into the regular season having to rely upon prospects from the AHL for depth, the Habs have called upon Campoli to fit the bill. Markov’s knee issues have plagued his previous two seasons and heading into a new one with concerns again over how he’ll hold up clearly weren’t entertaining to GM Pierre Gauthier.

Campoli spent last season in Ottawa and Chicago and the conclusion to his season with the Blackhawks was an infamous one getting turned inside-out by Vancouver’s Alex Burrows leading to the series-winning goal in Game 7 of their first round battle. Overall last season, Campoli finished with four goals and 17 assists with both the Sens and Hawks.

Campoli is capable of being an offensive contributor along the blue line and is know better for being a good puck mover than for his defensive capabilities. Looking at the rest of the Canadiens’ blue line corps, without Markov the Habs needed a bit of help. With P.K. Subban, Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek, Josh Gorges, and Yannick Weber to hold things down. With the Habs’ farm team lacking in NHL-ready prospects outside of Weber, Campoli will provide the NHL-ready insurance they’ll need if Markov’s knee continues to be an issue.

Montreal opting to sign Campoli over fellow free agent defenseman Bryan McCabe is a bit of a curious move only because if Montreal’s worries over Markov’s health were long-term ones, McCabe would be a helpful player to have on the power play and certainly a better fit there than Campoli. Campoli, right now, we’d have to assume is being brought in as a competitor for the sixth defense spot with Weber or strictly as a fill-in seventh defenseman.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs

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Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

It’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher
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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.