Nill thinks Niemi or Lehtonen could be ‘intriguing’ for some teams


Jim Nill isn’t worried that he’s suddenly got three goalies under contract for a combined cap hit north of $15 million.

The Dallas Stars’ general manager spoke to Yahoo Sports after locking up Ben Bishop for six years, and Nill doesn’t necessarily think he’ll have to buy out Antti Niemi ($4.5 million cap hit) or Kari Lehtonen ($5.9 million).

“I’ve got two goalies that only have one year left,” said Nill. “That’s intriguing for teams.”

And if no teams bite, will one be bought out?

“If necessary, yeah,” said Nill. “I’m not worried about that. We’re in a great cap position.”

It’s expected that Niemi will be the one to get bought out, if it gets to that. That would leave the Stars with over $12 million in cap space allocated to goalies next season.

Related: Is Niemi done in Dallas?

In Game 2, Penguins must escape the Senators’ trap


The Pittsburgh Penguins looked out of sync in losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday.

That’s what the Ottawa Senators and their 1-3-1 trap can do to teams — even teams as talented as the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Game 2 goes tonight at PPG Paints Arena, and to avoid a 2-0 series deficit, the Pens need to find a way to beat that trap.

“We’ve got strategies and ways that we’ve been talking about in the locker room,” said forward Bryan Rust. “Being able to recognize situations and when to do certain things, that’s key against this team.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t share any specific strategies either, but expect to see some adjustments.

“I think after Game 1s, both sides get a real indication of what the game plans are,” said Sullivan. “So I think it gives coaching staffs an opportunity to not only assess not only their own team but also to try to assess their respective opponents and make the necessary adjustments they need to be able to make in order to help the group have success.”

Games 3 and 4 are in Ottawa, so the Penguins should be desperate for a win tonight. The question is whether they’ll be able to use that desperation to their advantage, or if they’ll just keep falling into the Sens’ trap.

For Sullivan and his staff, it’s just the latest challenge in a postseason that’s already presented quite a few big ones.

“What I really like about our staff is that everybody speaks their mind, and we have some great discussions,” he said. “It’s one of the parts of the job I really love is the internal debate and discussions around various topics, whether it be system stuff or personnel or line combinations. We have some great discussions.”

Related: Senators stress ‘pack mentality’ defense is key to slowing down Penguins

Watch: Italy’s awful own goal at Worlds

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Italy lost, 2-0, to Denmark today at the World Championship in Germany, and the game did not end on a great note for the Italians.

See below for the awful own goal by defenseman Alex Egger.

The Italians finished the tournament winless in Group A, managing just one point from an overtime loss to Slovakia.

Egger is a 37-year-old who plays for Italian club Bolzano in the Austrian Hockey League.

The own goal was credited to Denmark’s Peter Regin.

Pyeongchang organizers believe NHL still considering Olympics


PARIS (AP) The president of the Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee is still hoping for an NHL U-turn.

“I don’t think they made the final decision so far,” committee president Lee Hee-beom said Monday at a news conference. “(There is) still room to discuss and negotiate.”

Last month, the NHL announced that it will not stop its season to allow players to compete at the Feb. 9-25 Olympics for the first time in 20 years. And Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated the NHL’s stance last week, despite International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel saying that his organization was still hopeful of working out a solution to bring the sport’s biggest stars to Pyeongchang.

Lee met with Fasel in Paris on Monday morning to discuss the issue. Paris is co-hosting the hockey world championship with the German city of Cologne, with the quarterfinals later this week.

“I had a very useful breakfast meeting with Rene Fasel this morning and I also met many ice hockey leaders in Europe,” Lee said. “We totally agreed between IIHF and Pyeongchang organizing committee that we are in the same boat. We will cooperate with the IIHF to further develop the Olympic (hockey) venues.”

He said he hopes further negotiation with the NHL will prove fruitful.

“I’m ready to meet with their (the NHL) delegations wherever it is they say to do so,” Lee said. “Very recently I met their delegation in Pyeongchang, not only the athletes’ side, but also the labor union side. Not only in Pyeongchang, but also in New York. Nothing is concluded until the final conclusion is made.”

IOC President Thomas Bach is also lending his support.

“I have discussed with him over the phone last week. We are widely open to discuss this matter,” Lee said. “We are discussing not only with IIHF but also with the IOC in many channels.”

Related: Alex Ovechkin thinks the NHL’s bluffing about Olympics

Isles prospect Barzal named MVP of WHL playoffs

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New York Islanders prospect Mathew Barzal was named MVP of the WHL playoffs after helping his Seattle Thunderbirds clinch a berth in the Memorial Cup last night in Regina.

Barzal, the 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft, finished the postseason with seven goals and 18 assists in 16 games.

Many expected the 19-year-old forward to be in the NHL this season, but he was returned to junior after just two games with the Isles.

“I’ve had a couple of ups and down this year, getting sent back, losing the World Juniors,” said Barzal. “It just feels so great, especially to win with this group of guys.”

It’s the first time the Thunderbirds have ever been WHL champs. Seattle joins the Erie Otters (OHL), Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), and host Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup, which begins Friday.