St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six

Five options for Ryan Miller, now that St. Louis isn’t one

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Since we can cross the St. Louis Blues off Ryan Miller’s list, here are some other teams with which the 33-year-old goalie could sign as an unrestricted free agent this summer:

— Anaheim Ducks. Probably the favorite option. It’s been widely speculated that Miller wants to play in California in order to be closer to his actress wife, Noureen DeWulf. It’s also thought Miller is open to signing a shorter-term contract, which could allow John Gibson, 20, more time to develop before he becomes a full-time starter in the NHL. Anaheim could also fetch an asset by trading Frederik Andersen, if it does decide to bid adieu to Jonas Hiller and bring in another veteran stopper.

— San Jose Sharks. The next closest NHL market to Hollywood. And the way the playoffs went for Antti Niemi (.884 save percentage, didn’t even start Game 6 versus the Kings), nobody would be shocked if general manager Doug Wilson made a change in goal. Niemi, 30, is only signed through next season.

— Vancouver Canucks. The closest thing to Hollywood that Canada can offer. (We’re probably giving too much credence to this angle, but whatever, it still works.) At the moment, the Canucks have Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom penciled in as starter and back-up. But is the former really ready to take on that role? And couldn’t the latter use a season in the AHL to rediscover the form that once made him a blue-chip prospect? It all probably depends on which direction the new general manager, whoever that may be, takes with the Canucks. If it’s more of a rebuild, signing Miller doesn’t make much sense, and he probably wouldn’t have any interest anyhow.

— Minnesota Wild. It’s not Hollywood and Niklas Backstrom is signed for two more seasons. But Backstrom’s play underwhelmed this season, and he’s also 36 years old with a growing injury log. Meanwhile, Josh Harding’s health is a big question mark, and Darcy Kuemper is still somewhat in the unproven stage. The Wild showed a lot of promise in these playoffs. They can’t afford to take a step back next season.

— Pittsburgh Penguins. Have to include this option, what with a new GM coming aboard shortly and ownership’s frustration with the past five postseasons. Marc-Andre Fleury was good but not great in these playoffs. He wasn’t the reason they lost, but he could’ve been better. Put it this way: given all that’s happened the past few days, what are the chances Fleury signs an extension with the Pens past next season? Seems kinda low, no?

Honorary mention: Washington Capitals.

Video: Reimer, Allen shut down dangerous one-timers

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In an ideal world, goalie equipment wouldn’t be such an issue. Teams would be able to “get goalies moving” with great passing and chances just about no one could stop.

Then again, there are also those saves that a select handful of humans can pull off. A big reason why there’s only been one goal between the Panthers and Blues tonight is the lateral movement shown by both James Reimer and Jake Allen.

First, watch as Reimer robs Jori Lehtera on what’s likely the save of the night:

Allen really hasn’t been that far behind Reimer, right down to making a similar stop:

Considering the two nearly identical one-timer goals scored by Arizona against Anaheim in finding seams for big passes through opposing defenses, tonight’s goalies might want to do some extra stretching during intermissions.

Dvorak, Coyotes put Ducks in early hole with slick goals (Video)

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Connor Murphy #5 (second from left) of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Alexander Burmistrov #91, Shane Doan #19 and Christian Dvorak #18 after Murphy scored the game winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on February 11, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Coyotes’ happy thoughts are mostly centered on the future. Christian Dvorak possibly being more than a guy who put up nice junior numbers with Matthew Tkachuk and Mitch Marner could fuel some really nice thoughts.

He’s been red-hot in February, in particular, including a goal already tonight as the Coyotes raced off to an early 2-0 lead against the Anaheim Ducks.

Check out that smooth play for his 10th goal of 2016-17:

Again, he’s been on quite the roll lately.

February: nine points (and counting?) in nine games
Rest of the season: 13 points in 45 games

He only had one assist in 12 January contests, so this outburst is even more unexpected than the Coyotes racing off to this lead.

Interestingly, the Coyotes two goals looked awfully similar, at least in the finish:

Randy Carlyle’s mood? Probably not too chipper right now.

Brooks Laich wants another crack at NHL (with or without Leafs)

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29:  Brooks Laich #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for a puck drop against the Tampa Bay Lightning during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on February 29, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Brooks Laich wants another shot at playing in the NHL. As he told The Atlantic TO (sub required), if that means being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs, then so be it.

“You don’t win a Stanley Cup playing in the American Hockey League,” Laich said. “If the Leafs don’t have a plan for me with them, I would like to pursue a Stanley Cup somewhere else.”

Interesting.

Laich’s biased take: he has plenty more to give at the highest level.

Hmm, that … seems a little crazy. Few players see their best days at age 33 and beyond.

But what about his work with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies? Maybe he’s killing it there.

Well, if he is, his contributions aren’t showing in the simple counting stats. In 22 games this season, Laich has one goal and six points. He isn’t even firing a shot on goal per game (just 17 in those 22 contests).

Now, Laich wouldn’t sell you on his scoring skills. Face-offs might not be much of a calling card, either.

So … it’s easier to understand why he’s struggling to get a foothold in his career. Laich isn’t much of a scorer, isn’t dominant on the draw and isn’t someone who’s shown a history of dramatically tilting the ice in his team’s favor.

Does that mean he can’t be a fourth-line center, or failing that, at least a depth forward? Laich could conceivably be helpful to some team, even if it’s difficult to imagine anyone giving up anything but a minor asset for him.

And, yes, it’s crazy to imagine him exceeding anything he did with the Washington Capitals.

Avalanche say ankle injury ends Nikita Zadorov’s season

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14: Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Colorado Avalanche congratulates Matt Duchene #9 after his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Pepsi Center on December 14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As if the Colorado Avalanche needed another miserable element to 2016-17: Nikita Zadorov suffered a season-ending injury during the same practice that Erik Johnson returned.

Zadorov injured his ankle after being tangled up with Mikko Rantanen during a Monday practice, according to the Denver Post.

Update: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that it’s a fractured ankle. Yikes.

Zadorov, 21, is a big defenseman with the pedigree that would inspire teams to imagine better things in the future (16th pick in 2013 by Buffalo). So far, that potential hasn’t really manifested itself in production, whether you judge a player by points, plus/minus or possession numbers.

He may be able to put it together at some point – again, he’s young – so perhaps he’ll remember this as a low point before he turns things around.

At the moment, it’s just another grim part of a bleak time for the Avs.