Jason Brough

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

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The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?

The Rangers pass the Leafs, become the NHL’s most valuable franchise: Forbes

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The New York Rangers have passed the Toronto Maple Leafs to become the most valuable franchise in the NHL, according to the most recent Forbes valuations.

The Rangers’ value climbed nine percent in the last year, all the way to $1.2 billion.

The Leafs, meanwhile, saw their value fall 12 percent, down to $1.15 billion.

The Montreal Canadiens climbed to second at $1.18 billion, thanks to a lucrative new local TV deal. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins rounded out the top five, at $930 million and $750 million, respectively.

Click here for the full list.

So, why the change at the top?

Forbes explains:

The Rangers generated the most revenue ($229 million) in the league during the 2014-15 season, cashing in on the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden and drives to the Stanley Cup finals in 2014 and Eastern Conference Finals in 2015. The Rangers took in more than $95 million from premium seating and advertising at MSG last season, tops in the NHL.

The Leafs had held the top spot since 2006 (Forbes did not compile valuations in 2005 due to the 2004-05 lockout) but have been undone by bad hockey and a weaker Canadian currency relative to the Greenback. Toronto has only been in the playoffs once since 2006 and the team’s 13-year sellout streak at the Air Canada Centre was broken last March.

As for the bottom of the table, well, it’s the usual suspects:

30th: Florida Panthers ($190 million)
29th: Arizona Coyotes ($220 million)
28th: Carolina Hurricanes ($230 million)

Also of note? The seven teams that saw their values decline the most were all in Canada, the common factor there being a significant drop in the value of the country’s currency.

Think that bodes well for Quebec City’s expansion bid?

The Rangers don’t need to ‘apologize for good goaltending,’ but let’s talk a bit about their PDO

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Alain Vigneault started his post-game press conference with a chuckle, then said this:

“We’re not going to apologize for good goaltending.”

And nor should they. The New York Rangers are paying Henrik Lundqvist a lot of money. Last night against Nashville, he played like his contract suggests he should play.

Lundqvist made 31 saves in the 3-0 shutout. His teammates, on the other hand, only managed 19 shots on Pekka Rinne.

Vigneault pointed to penalties as the reason his team was outshot 14-3 in the first period. The Rangers were shorthanded for a full eight minutes of the first 20 minutes. Tough to pile up many shots in that situation.

But having said that, Vigneault also reiterated the need for the players in front of Lundqvist to “play better.”

“We show them, we talk about it, we give them ways to improve, then move on to the next game,” he said.

At any rate, expect to hear a lot about the Rangers’ PDO in the next few days, or quite possibly all season. If you’re still not familiar with the stat, it combines shooting percentage with save percentage. Anything too high over 100 is thought to be unsustainable.

The Rangers’ PDO is an NHL-high 107.1, per war-on-ice.com.

The next highest belongs to Ottawa, at 102.7.

Now, granted, given the quality of their goaltending and the way some of their forwards can shoot the puck, nobody should be surprised if the Rangers continue to have a high PDO. They led the NHL last year, finishing at 101.7.

But when it comes to PDO, there’s high and there’s high. Right now, the Rangers are fully in italicized territory. The question isn’t whether they can sustain it; they can’t. It’s what happens when it comes back down to earth, or at least within orbit.

The Rangers host another high-PDO team on Wednesday when Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens pay a visit.

Rangers stats (5-on-5, score-adjusted)

Save percentage: 96.1 (1st)
Shooting percentage: 11.0 (1st)
Corsi-for percentage: 47.2 (27th)

Gerbe out 4-6 weeks with lower-body injury

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Nathan Gerbe will miss 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury, the Carolina Hurricanes announced today.

Gerbe suffered the injury Sunday against Los Angeles when Kings forward Kyle Clifford caught the diminutive winger with a big hit in the corner.

Clifford did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check.

Gerbe, 28, has one goal and two assists in 20 games.

Questions remain about this Blackhawks team

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The Chicago Blackhawks have been down this road before.

In 2010-11, after being forced to shed some key pieces of their Stanley Cup-winning roster, they got off to a tepid start and barely made the playoffs.

This year, it’s shaping up to be a similar story, though the ending has yet to be written. Maybe they miss the playoffs, a la the Kings last year. Maybe they make them and win the Cup again. At this point, both options remain very much on the table.

So far, though, the ‘Hawks have simply been a mediocre team. Far from terrible, but not great either. They’re 11-8-2 after 21 games. They’re 13th in goals for — and that’s with the NHL’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane — and they’re 15th in goals against.

“We can be better,” GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The issues?

Forwards: Kane’s line has been the only one that’s really scoring. He’s got 32 points; Artemi Panarin has 21; Artem Anisimov has 15. The next leading scorer after that is a defenseman, Brent Seabrook.

Which is to say, the Blackhawks could use more from Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Teuvo Teravainen, and they could use way more from everyone else up front.

Defense: Johnny Oduya‘s replacement still remains TBD. Trevor Daley hasn’t looked like the answer. And while Trevor van Riemsdyk has made a decent case, it’s more than fair to wonder if the 24-year-old is ready for a top-4 role in the playoffs.

It’s easy to yes, he’s ready, and assume all will be well. But that sort of diminishes how important Oduya was last spring. There’s a reason the Stars were so happy to get him.

The fact is, van Riemsdyk has never played a vital role on the game’s biggest stage. That’s the big unknown for him.

“I think he should be progressing as we go along here,” coach Joel Quenneville said of TVR, per the Sun-Times “But the fact that we’re comfortable with him against anybody in any situation is a big step and it’s a good accomplishment.”

Perhaps by the time the postseason rolls around, van Riemsdyk will have progressed to the point where he can provide what Oduya provided. But if not him, who? There just aren’t a ton of options in the organization.

As for the goaltending, well, let’s not waste too much time thinking about that. Has Corey Crawford had his struggles? Yup. He’s had a really tough November. But unless he gets injured, there’s very little chance Scott Darling will become the starter. So why bother thinking too much about it?

The ‘Hawks play in San Jose on Wednesday. The game can be seen on NBCSN.