Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
Getty

Goalie nods: After replacing Luongo last game, Reimer starts for Panthers

1 Comment

James Reimer‘s last appearance wasn’t long, but it was significant.

Reimer came on in relief of a cramped-up Roberto Luongo in Wednesday’s OT win over San Jose, and stopped both shots faced to earn the W. Now, he gets a shot at a second straight victory, as he’ll go for Florida when it takes on the Ducks in Anaheim.

As we wrote about earlier, Reimer has really turned his season around. After signing a fairly lucrative five-year, $17 million deal with the Panthers last summer, Reimer had a tough start. He posted a .907 save percentage in October and a .890 in November, and had just one regulation win in his first nine appearances.

Since then he’s been rock solid, especially lately. Reimer has three wins in his last four appearances, posting a .930 save percentage over that span (allowing just five total goals).

For the Ducks, John Gibson gets the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

— In Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky looks to right the ship as the Penguins come to town. Bobrovsky has played well in spurts lately, but has lost six of his last eight starts. For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray‘s in goal.

Cam Ward gets the start for Carolina as the ‘Canes come out of their bye week with a home date against the Avs. Calvin Pickard will start again for Colorado, though head coach Jared Bednar said AHL recall Jeremy Smith will make his second-ever NHL appearance soon.

Devils waive Kalinin

Getty
1 Comment

New Jersey forward Sergey Kalinin, in his second season with the club since coming over from Russia, has been placed on waivers, the club announced on Friday.

Kalinin, 25, played in 43 games this year, scoring two goals and four points while averaging just under 13 minutes per night. That included 12:03 in the Devils’ last game, a 3-0 home loss to Ottawa on Thursday.

It’s fair to suggest New Jersey brass was looking for more from Kalinin in his second NHL season, considering he had reasonable success in is first. He appeared in 78 games last year — scoring eight goals and 15 points — and was rewarded with a one-year, $800,000 extension in July.

Per NJ.com, today’s move could open up a spot at center for either Joseph Blandisi or Blake Coleman. Coleman, New Jersey’s third-round pick in 2011, has enjoyed a good year in AHL Albany with 17 goals and 32 points through 44 games.

 

Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions

Getty
1 Comment

Two of San Jose’s most important and longest-tenured players, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Given the Sharks are in the midst of their Stanley Cup window — with Thornton and Marleau playing significant roles — it seems odd neither has put pen to paper on an extension yet.

But the Mercury News has a theory on why:

Here’s where it gets interesting. Next season, the NHL is adding a new team, the Vegas Golden Knights. That franchise will participate in an expansion draft. It will happen in June, a few days before the annual entry draft.  Each existing NHL team can protect either seven or eight forwards from being selected by the Golden Knights. However, pending unrestricted free agents will not be eligible for the expansion draft.

In other words, it behooves Wilson and the Sharks not to sign Marleau and Thornton until after the expansion draft. That way, the two players would not count toward the seven or eight forwards on the Sharks’ protected list (the exact number depends on choices the Sharks make at other positions.)

San Jose’s in a fairly unique position for the expansion draft. It is one of four teams not required to protect anybody — Calgary, St. Louis and Washington are the others — and, with the addition of the aforementioned Thornton-Marleau scenario, GM Doug Wilson would have serious flexibility when it comes to exposing players.

Not that he’s willing to divulge any information.

“My position is that I have no comment on that,” Wilson told the Mercury News. “People can anticipate and speculate about what our approach might be.”

ESPN touched on this potential scenario last month, noting that Wilson has some big decisions to make regardless if he chooses the seven forwards-three-defensemen-one goalie protected list, or the eight-skaters-and-a-goalie setup:

If you go 7-3-1, it means you protect just three defensemen — Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and probably Justin Braun — which then leaves Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon, Mirco Mueller and David Schlemko among those exposed.

What if the Sharks decide to go the 8-1 protection format route in order to protect four defensemen? That means only four forwards could be protected: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and then take your pick from either Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Melker Karlsson or Chris Tierney. (Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are exempt.)

The risk in letting Thornton and Marleau get to free agency, of course, is that someone makes an offer neither can refuse. But it could be a risk worth taking. It’s fair to assume any potential offer would have to be massive in scope, given Thorton’s and Marleau’s ties to the Bay Area — the latter has spent his entire 20-year career with the Sharks, while the former has been there for over a decade.

Right now, there’s not much information about what type of extensions San Jose is offering. ESPN reported Thornton is eyeing another three-year deal — his last was a three-year, $20.25 million contract — and things are almost entirely silent on the Marleau front.

No hearing scheduled for Niederreiter after Sharp hit

Getty
14 Comments

Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Dallas’ Patrick Sharp on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Niederreiter was given a five-minute interference and game misconduct in the late stages of the Wild’s 3-1 win.

The hit sent Sharp cartwheeling to the ice, though, upon replay, Niederreiter got his skates tangled with Radek Faksa prior to the collision. That appeared to send the Wild forward into Sharp’s path inadvertently.

As such, it’s not a big surprise the 24-year-old escaped supplementary discipline.

There was some concern about Sharp, who’s missed significant time with concussion issues this season and appeared to be shaken up on the play. Thankfully for him and the Stars, he appeared no worse for wear.

That said, Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t like the hit. At all.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp, that’s all I saw,” Ruff said following the game. “Cutting a guy’s knees out, that’s pretty tough.”

No hearing scheduled for Malkin after Wheeler hit

14 Comments

Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

The incident occurred midway through the third period of Pittsburgh’s 4-3 OT win. Malkin was given an interference minor on the play — in addition to a roughing minor for the post-whistle scrum — and later rubbed salt into the wound by setting up Sidney Crosby for the OT winner.

Wheeler, meanwhile, left temporarily to undergo concussion protocol, but did return to the game.

The Penguins are back in action tonight, when they take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus.