All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.
Adrian Aucoin (D)
2011-12 cap hit: $2 million
Aucoin’s numbers have been going downhill since 2007-08, but they really plummeted last season — chronologically, his point totals have gone from 35 to 34 to 28 to 22 to just nine in 2011-12.
Not exactly what you’d call an ideal “contract year,” though he deserves some leeway because of injuries.
While his box score numbers keep declining, he’s still averaging more than 20 minutes per game on one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. (I’m not a big fan of plus/minus, but his agent would be wise to point to his +32 rating between the past two seasons.)
As for Aucoin’s future, there’s talk of him possibly retiring. That’s one option, and to be honest there aren’t many others if Phoenix doesn’t want him back. Perhaps with all the upheaval — Keith Yandle, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan could all be gone after this summer — the Coyotes might want to keep the aging, veteran presence around for another year.
If not, he could get a modest offer from a team looking for blueline depth, though that will likely require a downgrade from his $2 million salary.
More UFA spotlights
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: