Often the odd goalie out in Washington over the last few years, Michal Neuvirth has a fresh start waiting for him in Buffalo following yesterday’s last-second deadline deal.
To hear Sabres GM Tim Murray explain it, all Neuvrith needs to succeed is a little love.
“For whatever reason, he’s a backup [in Washington] and he’s just not as important as he wants to be,” Murray said, per the Buffalo News. “I think when he gets to feel some love again or whatever you want to call it and has an opportunity, then he can get his game back.”
At 25, Neuvirth has a curious resume. He’s played in nearly 150 NHL games but has been used sparingly over the last two seasons, making just 13 appearances last year and another 13 this year as well. It’s a far cry from his breakout 2010-11 campaign when, at the age of 22, he went 27-12-4 with a 2.45 GAA and .914 save percentage, posting four shutouts.
Neuvirth has one year left on his deal (with a reasonable $2.5 million cap hit), so it stands to reason he’ll be given plenty of chances to revive his career in Buffalo. With Ryan Miller gone and Jaroslav Halak heading to Washington, the Sabres are now in the midst of a young goalie battle featuring Neuvirth, Jhonas Enroth and AHL netminders Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen.
(This isn’t ruling out the possibility of drafting another goalie, as the Sabres have a boatload of picks in ’14 and ’15.)
For now, though, the goal is to throw Neuvirth into the mix in the hope that all the goalies will get better by fighting for the No. 1 job.
“We have to create inter-competition,” Murray explained. “This is the start of it.”
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?