Listing five noteworthy September UFAs

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Teemu Selanne has decided to stick around for one more season, Mikhail Grabovski has signed with the Washington Capitals, and it looks like Tomas Kaberle will play in the KHL. Even still, there are quite a few unrestricted free agents out there.

The reduced salary cap for the 2013-14 campaign has forced teams to make tough choices, but a lot of the players available now could potentially be had for bargain bin prices.

With that in mind, here are five noteworthy players that are still looking for work:

1) Ilya Bryzgalov — Obviously, his two season tenure with the Flyers left plenty to be desired, but he was also a dominant goaltender for years with the Phoenix Coyotes. At the age of 33, a comeback is certainly possible, especially if he can find work in a smaller market after struggling to adapt to life in Philadelphia. Finding a team looking for goaltending at this point is difficult, but if any netminder suffers a major injury during the preseason, Bryzgalov might get a phone call.

2) Brenden Morrow — Morrow isn’t an elite player offensively, but he is capable of playing a physical game and being a leader in the lockerroom. He’s 34 years old, so it’s reasonable to believe that he has some good hockey left in him. He’s the type of player that might have already gotten a job by now in a more free agent friendly market, but it would still be surprising if he ends up being unemployed when the regular season starts.

3) Damien Brunner — Even if the salary cap hadn’t decline significantly, teams would probably still be a bit unsure as to how to approach Brunner. He’s a 27 year old with just one shortened season of North American hockey under his belt. He was streaky during his time with the Detroit Red Wings, although when the dust settled he had an appealing 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games. Brunner reportedly was seeking a 2-3 year deal from Detroit worth $3 -3.5 million annually. That was too rich for the Red Wings, but he might find more suitors willing to take a chance on him if he’s willing to ink a one-year contract.

4) Ryan Whitney — In recent years, Whitney has suffered through more than his fair share of injuries. However, he had trouble getting playing time with the Edmonton Oilers last season when he was healthy and ended up spending some time in the press box. There was a time when Whitney was one of the better offensive defensemen in the game and at the age of 30, a comeback can’t be ruled out, but first he needs to find a team willing to give him an opportunity.

5) Vinny Prospal — Prospal will turn 39 before the 2013-14 campaign is over, but he’s shown that he’s still capable of producing at the NHL level. He led the offensively anemic Columbus Blue Jackets with 30 points in 48 games last season. He wanted to re-sign with the Blue Jackets, but it looks like the team had other plans. If he can’t find a suitor before the start of the season, then it could be the end of his 1,108 game NHL career.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the highlights and shouldn’t be regarded as a thorough list. For example, we didn’t even touch on Tim Thomas.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

Their struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.

Video: Friday night fights between Bolts and Red Wings

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Not much offense — actually, just one goal midway through the second period as of the writing of this post — between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

But there has definitely been some animosity between the two clubs.

Tempers flared late in the first period, with Adam Erne and Andreas Athanasiou getting involved in a spirited scrap — and Athanasiou unsuccessful in his attempt at the take-down.

The bad blood continued in the second period with Greg McKegg and Anthony Mantha getting involved in a fight, and Mantha — given the instigator — landing a couple of shots with McKegg on the ice.

 

NHL, MLB player unions support U.S. women hockey players’ boycott

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Unions representing NHL and Major League Baseball players are backing U.S. Women’s National Hockey team players’ decision to boycott next week’s world championships because of a wage dispute.

The NHL Players’ Association posted a note on its Twitter account on Friday saying it supports the U.S. players while panning USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements. The NHLPA says the decision to go with replacement players “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

Earlier in the day, the MLB Players Association encouraged all women hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Read more: USA Hockey says it will not offer living wage, as dispute with women’s national team continues

The Twitter messages were posted a day after USA Hockey announced it would begin gauging interest of replacement players to compete at the tournament, which opens next Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period.