Brenden Morrow

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.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.