Listing the best remaining free agents as training camps begin

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With training camps kicking off and Ron Hainsey finally landing a gig, it seems like a good time to glance at the most appealing unrestricted free agents still on the market. Feel free to add others in the comments.

Tim Thomas – Yes, he has his warts – particularly missing a full season by choice – but the unorthodox goalie also has an impressive array of trophies on his resume. One would guess that the 39-year-old could come fairly cheap, too.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Speaking of a big-name netminder with some baggage, what about Breezy? Sure, things haven’t gone well lately, but Philadelphia has a reputation for eating goalies alive. He could be quite the reclamation project.

Vinny Prospal – Just two seasons ago, Prospal fell four points short of matching Rick Nash as the Columbus Blue Jackets’ scoring leader. The 38-year-old’s career .69 point-per-game average bests high-profile signings such as Dan Cleary (.43) and Mikhail Grabovski (.59) screams “bargain in the making.”

Brad Boyes – Quietly put up a statistically pleasant season for the New York Islanders in 2013, scoring 35 points in 48 games while logging more than 18 minutes per night. He’s scored 43, 33 and 26 goals in his best three seasons and shouldn’t be far past his prime at 31.

Damien Brunner – Yes, the 27-year-old only has one NHL season on his resume, but he showed flashes of brilliance, particularly when he scored nine points in 14 postseason games for the Detroit Red Wings.

Mason Raymond – Sure, he hasn’t produced the kind of numbers one might expect considering his outstanding speed, but he’s just 27 and showed a considerable peak with 25 goals in 2009-10.

Tom Gilbert – Things have been a little rocky lately, but it’s baffling that he doesn’t have an NHL job. Gilbert can log big minutes (22:33 minutes per game career average) and has one 45-point season and two more 30+ campaigns to his name. Plenty of gas in the tank at 30, too.

Brenden Morrow – Even though he’s lost a step or six from all that battling over the years, it’s strange to see the 34-year-old go from one of the most sought-after trade deadline commodities to a guy without an NHL contract. Maybe Mike Ribeiro will campaign for his former running mate to join him in Phoenix?

Ryan Whitney – Yes, his defensive play draws detractors (*raises hand*), yet it’s hard to imagine he can’t land at least a seventh defenseman role somewhere.  Not many active blueliners can claim a 59-point season, let alone unemployed ones.

(He is kind of a disaster in his own end, though.)

Honorable mentions/banged-up old guys: Kyle Wellwood, Simon Gagne, Wade Redden, Filip Kuba, Jose Theodore, Mike Knuble, Guillaume Latendresse and Milan Hejduk.

Video: Weise records Gordie Howe hat trick after spirited scrap with Hamonic

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Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.

Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.

Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.

There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.

The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.

 

 

The Islanders are off to a disastrous start in Philly, Flyers chase Greiss

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Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.

Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.

Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.

It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.

With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.

Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.

Karlsson’s ironman streak comes to an end as Sens visit Wild

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For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.

With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.

Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.

The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.

“If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”

WATCH LIVE: Stars at Bruins

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The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars

Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team