Pascal Leclaire

Pascal Leclaire calls it a career


Former Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire has announced his retirement at the age of 30.

Leclaire, taken eighth overall by Columbus at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, cited a recurring hip injury as the reason for hanging up his skates.

That an injury ended his career isn’t all that surprising — Leclaire dealt with health issues throughout his seven years in the NHL…

— 2006-07: Missed over 40 games with a knee injury.
— 2008-09: Missed over 40 games with an ankle injury.
–2009-10: Missed over 20 games with a concussion and broken jaw.
— 2010-11: Missed over 40 games with the aforementioned hip injury.

Leclaire also had three surgeries performed last season — which he sat out entirely — to try and correct the hip issue, but to no avail.

It’s a sad ending to a once promising career. Leclaire appeared destined for good things when, in 2007-08, he finished second in the NHL with nine shutouts, seventh in GAA (2.25) and 11th in save percentage (.919).

That season also marked the first time Columbus eclipsed the 80-point plateau in franchise history.

Leclaire was traded to Ottawa at the 2009 trade deadline and briefly held the Sens starting gig. The highlight of his time in the Canadian capital came during an opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh in 2010 — Leclaire was brilliant in Ottawa’s triple-OT Game 5 win, stopping 56 of 59 shots, finishing as the game’s first star.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.