Martin Brodeur

Brodeur’s agent says he wouldn’t rule out signing a deal during the season

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With big-money contracts going to goalies on almost every NHL team and most backup spots covered as well, it’s easy to see why free agent netminders are struggling to find the right gig. Just imagine how challenging it must be for a the league’s all-time wins leader.

Almost two weeks after the free agent frenzy kicked off, Martin Brodeur finds himself without a contract for the 2014-15 season. His agent indicates that such a scenario isn’t causing any panic. In fact, it could be a very fluid situation that isn’t even resolved when next season kicks off, as the Bergen Record reports.

“On or around July 1, we explored a few possibilities for Marty that made somewhat sense. That didn’t come to fruition,” Pat Brisson said. “Marty has a lot to offer, but it will be the right fit and this may come later this summer or even early in the season. He is in no rush until the right fit appears.

“In the meantime he is getting ready the same way he has the past 20 seasons.”

As it stands, it’s tough to peg many/any contenders who would be able to give the 42-year-old the prominent sort of role he wants. Brodeur seems open-minded about a backup role, yet even then he’d aim for “20-30 games.” The lower-end of that window is fairly standard for No. 2 guys,* yet he might want more reps than many teams are comfortable with right now.

It’s pretty easy to see why an in-season trade would actually make more sense, though.

Injuries happen, and some franchises might prefer going with a big-name free agent addition instead of giving up assets in a trade. Pekka Rinne, Cam Ward and basically any goalie who put on a Minnesota Wild jersey last season provide evidence that one goalie’s bad luck could open the door for one last Brodeur run.

Sure, his numbers haven’t been impressive for some time, but it’s easy to imagine a GM being more comfortable going with a future Hall-of-Famer in net instead of calling up an AHL goalie or rolling the dice with another unsigned free agent.

Of course, there’s also the real possibility that Brodeur will run out of options and just retire. It’s difficult to say what might happen, but it could be an interesting situation to watch.

* – Sixty-one netminders played at least 20 games in 2013-14. Thirty-eight managed to appear in at least 30.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.