New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game One

Thomas Vanek did not get good reviews last night


A handful of tweets about Montreal forward Thomas Vanek, both during and after his performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final:

So…not overly positive. Vanek finished the game with one shot, and in addition to getting ripped on social media, was called out by Don Cherry (video) for his defensive coverage on the Rangers’ first goal — “you talk about a guy in a fog” — as well as the “stupid” slashing penalty he took in the first period that negated a Montreal power play.

Now, to be fair, Vanek does have five goals in the playoffs, tied with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque for the most on the Canadiens. It wasn’t long ago that Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin was being celebrated for getting Vanek from the Islanders for cheap.

But if you ask Grapes about Vanek, “This guy’s mind is in Minnesota,” where it’s been widely speculated the ex-Gopher will sign this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Bonus tweet!

Question for discussion — if you’re Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, how much would you be willing to give the 30-year-old winger? Because the Islanders were reportedly willing to give him a lot, and the Sabres were reportedly willing to give him a lot. Which is to say, he’s going to be demanding a lot.

Also consider that Minnesota already has experience with a highly paid winger who scored a lot of goals before he was 30, only to stop scoring so much after he got on the wrong side of that age. Via Hockey Reference, here’s how the numbers look for that guy:



After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”