— Up top, Bob McKenzie discusses Paul Maurice’s status in Winnipeg. Is the Jets’ head coach on the hot seat?
— Did you know that Donald Trump once considered buying the Florida Panthers? He never did buy them, of course, but the Miami Herald’s George Richards recalls the time, “around 2000,” when Trump kicked the tires on the hockey club. The Panthers, oddly enough, are now owned by Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, Vinnie Viola. (Miami Herald)
— From The Journal Star newspaper in Peoria, Illinois: “A charter bus carrying the Columbus Cottonmouths team was in a rollover crash on Interstate 74 on Thursday afternoon as the Southern Professional Hockey League team was on its way into Peoria for a weekend series against the Peoria Rivermen.” Fortunately, there don’t appear to be any serious injuries — just some “bumps and bruises,” according to the team’s co-owner, Bart Rogers. However, two people were reportedly taken to the hospital in an ambulance. (Journal Star)
— The Washington Post spoke to Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer about the new streamlined pants that all NHL goalies must start wearing by Feb. 4. While Holtby isn’t too concerned about the changes, Grubauer had this to say: “I understand you want to get the game more exciting for the fans, but there’s a fine line between making the gear smaller and also keeping the goalies protected. If too many guys get hurt with those, it’s not a good thing. … What do you want to take away next? Goalies without sticks? Without skates?” PHT prediction: They’ll let goalies keep their skates on. (Washington Post)
— An encouraging update from Bryan Bickell, who was diagnosed with MS in November. The Hurricanes forward has been taking a drug called Tysabri, and the results have been good. “I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve been on the ice a couple times. … Different people react differently to different drugs and I’ve been reacting good and we’ll see how it goes.” (NHL.com)
— The Nashville Predators picked up “another teammate” on Friday, but they’re still not sure if “Mario” will last the season as their good-luck charm. (The Tennessean)
Enjoy the games!
The goaltending situation in Philadelphia has become a lot more clear today, as they’ve signed Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million ($2.5 million cap hit).
Neuvirth was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The 28-year-old has been between the pipes for nine of his team’s last 11 games, but he’s dropped four of his last five decisions. He has a 10-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 24 games.
The duo of Neuvirth and Steve Mason hasn’t worked out too well in Philadelphia. Both players have struggled to find consistency in their game, which has been problematic for the Flyers.
Even though Neuvirth will be back, they can still shake things up by moving on from Mason, who is also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st.
The Flyers also re-signed forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare earlier today.
Philadelphia has re-upped with checking forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on a two-year extension, per Sportsnet.
It’s believed to be a $2.9 million pact, one that carries a $1.45M average annual cap hit. That’s a nice raise for the 31-year-old, who’s in the last of a two-year pact at $712,500 per.
Bellemare joined the Flyers for the ’14-15 campaign, following a lengthy career in Europe that included stops in his native France, and a lengthy spell in Sweden. He’s emerged as a good energy guy in the bottom-six forward group, one that can kill penalties and chip in with a bit of offense.
Today’s news might come as a bit of a surprise for Flyers fans, however. Bellemare was a pending UFA and, given he’s on the wrong side of 30, there was speculation he’d be sold at the deadline in the hopes of recouping some assets.
Some tough news if you’re a fan of the New York Rangers.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Jesper Fast will miss some time with what’s believed to be a separated shoulder.
Fast suffered the injury after being flattened by Alex Ovechkin in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
The 25-year-old has been a key contributor for New York this season. He’s up to five goals and 15 assists in 59 games. He’s also second in shorthanded ice time and in hits among all Rangers forwards.
The Rangers went into last night’s game without Mika Zibanejad and they also lost Chris Kreider momentarily yesterday, but he was able to return.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to provide an update on Fast’s status after today’s practice, but don’t expect the news to be good.
The Montreal Canadiens are keeping busy.
Just one day after acquiring Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings and Brendan Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers in separate deals, general manager Marc Bergevin completed another trade before the deadline when he acquired forward Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
It will become a third-round pick if he re-signs with the Canadiens this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In 63 games this season King has eight goals and seven assists.
He also adds to the Canadiens’ apparent season-long attempt to become a grittier and tougher team, now joining a roster that now has seen Ott, Shea Weber, and Andrew Shaw join it over the past eight months.
For the Kings, it is a move that clears out a bit of salary cap space, perhaps opening the door for them to complete a deal with Colorado for Jarome Iginla, something that seems to be a work in progress on Wednesday.
Canadiens corner market on pests, add Steve Ott
Canadiens get Davidson for Desharnais