One of the few players to win a Conn Smythe despite losing the Cup Final is ready to hang up the skates.
On Monday, reports of J.S. Giguere’s looming retirement surfaced — per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie — suggesting the 37-year-old goalie was set to end his 18-year career, pending conversations with both his agent and the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
A former first-round pick of Hartford (13th overall, 1995), Giguere played for the Whalers, Flames, Ducks, Leafs and Avalanche, with most of his success coming during a 10-year stint with in Anaheim. His finest season came during the 2002-03 campaign, when he went 34-22-6 with a .920 save percentage, 2.30 GAA and eight shutouts during the regular season…then went on a playoff run to remember, posting an eye-popping .945 save percentage and 1.62 GAA in 21 games as the Ducks eventually lost to the Devils in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
In winning the Conn Smythe that year, Giguere became one of just 16 goalies to win the award and, as mentioned above, one of just five players to capture playoff MVP despite playing for the losing team in the Cup Final.
Four years after that famous postseason run, Giguere would win a Cup win Anaheim, backstopping the team to the ’07 championship over Ottawa. After leaving Anaheim, he reinvented himself as a quality veteran backup, which included a stellar ’11-12 campaign in Colorado when he made 32 appearances while posting a .919 save percentage and 2.27 GAA.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.