Ryan Kesler

Ducks to revisit trading for Kesler?

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Interesting tidbit here from the L.A. Times on Anaheim GM Bob Murray’s plans for the offseason:

Murray said he might revisit his trade-deadline attempt to acquire Vancouver center Ryan Kesler, or pursue other upgrades.

“I don’t think I’ll offer as much as I did at the trade deadline,” Murray said, without naming Kesler. “There’s [other] things I might like to do and I would spend — I’m deep enough in players — to do so.”

Following the deadline, Murray essentially confirmed the club’s interest in Kesler, saying he put both of his first-round selections at the draft in play — which would later turn into the No. 10 and 24 picks overall — and was “confused” as to why he came away empty-handed.

At the time, Anaheim was keen to add to the center group of Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perreault, Saku Koivu and Rickard Rakell. With Koivu now uncertain to return, the need to add centers remains — and what’s more, both Murray and Ducks players suggested roster shortcomings cost them this postseason.

“Obviously, we’re missing a little bit of something,” Andrew Cogliano told the Times.

“We’re not as close as everyone thought we were,” Murray added.

Which brings us back to Kesler.

There’s no denying the Ducks were angling for something at the deadline — Murray shipped out Dustin Penner and Viktor Fasth in what appeared to be cap-clearing moves — and, after failing to land the Vancouver center, players spoke openly about the opportunity missed.

“You think about it for sure because you hear the rumors and you hear people talking about it,” Cogliano said on Mar. 31, per the O.C. Register (paywall). “I think you envision a little bit of a scenario if he did come.”

“When you get those kinds of rumors and the opportunities that a guy like Kesler is available, you get pretty excited,” Teemu Selanne added.

The lingering issue here is the value of Murray’s offer. He thinks it’s high — evident by the fact he plans to offer less this summer — whereas the feeling around the league is that two first-round picks (both outside the top five) in a relatively weak draft isn’t enough to land Kesler, a former 40-goal scorer and Selke winner.

Murray will also contend that at the deadline, he was getting Kesler for at least three postseasons (he’s under contract ’til 2016) whereas now he’d only be guaranteed two.

It’s also worth noting that another talented center — Ottawa captain Jason Spezza — is believed to be available via trade, and that Anaheim is reportedly interested.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Fleury suits up (but won’t start) and other Caps – Pens Game 3 notes

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out of action with concussion symptoms, participates in a practice session for the NHL hockey playoffs against the New York Rangers, Monday, April 11, 2016, at their practice facility in Cranberry, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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The Brooks Orpik hit on Olli Maatta isn’t the only factor in lineup changes for Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Maybe the most interesting change starts on the Penguins’ bench … where they likely hope that tweak will stay for at least one night.

Marc-Andre Fleury is apparently healthy enough to suit up for the Penguins, although it appears as though Matt Murray will start:

That’s a clear sign that “The Flower” is healthy enough to play, as Murray would be an injury or a coach’s pull away from giving up the net to Fleury. (One would assume.)

Murray has been fantastic for the most part since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff during this postseason, yet you know how the playoffs can be; people may clamor for Fleury after a loss even if it’s not really Murray’s fault.

Circling back to that Orpik hit, the dominoes seem to fall this way:

Penguins: Derrick Pouliot replaces injured Maatta.

Capitals: Dmitry Orlov in for suspended Orpik.

PHT will make note if there are any swerves.

2016 Calder Trophy finalists: Gostisbehere, McDavid and Panarin

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid lines up for a faceoff against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Ever since the NHL kept obstruction in check and thus placed a greater emphasis on speed and skill, we’ve seen some fascinating Calder Trophy debates. This 2015-16 season may present the toughest call in recent memory.

The league named the three finalists on Monday, and even that couldn’t have been easy. They are Edmonton Oilers wunderkind Connor McDavid, breakout Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and high-scoring Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin.

(The NHL made it official here.)

All three make for fantastic debates.

Do you go with McDavid, easily the youngest of the bunch, who produced gaudy per-game numbers but missed almost half of the season?

Perhaps you lean toward Gostisbehere, who also scored at an impressive clip per-game for a defenseman while playing a huge role in the Flyers’ surprising run to a playoff spot?

Or, do you go with Panarin, the guy who easily leads rookies in total points (77, 21 more than Jack Eichel‘s second-place finish) and was so effective that his bonuses will really put the Blackhawks in a bad way? Or do you penalize Panarin for being a little older and for the undeniable benefits he received from riding shotgun with Patrick Kane?

Then again, plenty will merely spend their time griping about “snubs,” as the likes of Jack Eichel and John Gibson were not in the final three despite outstanding work.

Yep, this should be fun … just be nice during your debates.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 3

Washington Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky (65) fires a shot past Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) during the second period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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There’s only one game on the docket tonight, but it’s a marquee matchup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals split their games in DC and now switch to Pittsburgh for Game 3. We’ve seen great work from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom and maybe especially Braden Holtby so far … not to mention a considerable cast of supporting characters.

Which team will take a 2-1 lead in this captivating series?

We’ll find out on NBCSN. You can stream the game live via the link below as well:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE