Anton Stralman

UFA of the Day: Anton Stralman

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Check PHT each weekday for the first four weeks of June for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Anton Stralman

It wasn’t that long ago that it looked like Stralman might not be able to have a long and fruitful career in the NHL. By the time he was 25, he had already been traded twice and went into the summer of 2011 as an unrestricted free agent because the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t feel he was even worth a qualifying offer.

The defenseman wasn’t able to secure a contract over the summer, so he accepted an invitation to attend the New Jersey Devils’ training camp. When they released him from camp, he continued to practice with the team in the hopes that they might eventually sign him. In mid-October, he returned to his home country Sweden because he wasn’t allowed to travel with the Devils on their trip to Nashville.

His intention was to talk to his family and decide how long he should wait for the Devils to make him an offer before moving on, per the Bergen Record.

“I had a confidence that I could make it back, but I didn’t really have the confidence that I was going to get the chance to come back,” Stralman told reporters Thursday in Los Angeles. “It kind of worked itself out.”

Indeed it did because on Nov. 4, 2011, the New York Rangers finally gave him the chance he was looking for and he ran with it. He’s not an all-star defenseman, but he’s solid defensively and has been trusted with big minutes in New York’s playoff run.

He’s not a big factor offensively so he usually doesn’t end up on highlight reels, but Game 4 was an exception as he denied the Kings a goal that might have changed the outcome of that contest:

His future with the Rangers is likely dependent on Brad Richards’ situation as the team will be in a difficult cap spot unless they buy out the forward’s contract, but regardless of what happens there, Stralman shouldn’t have to wait until November to get a contract this time around.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.