Mike Halford

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators tends net against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 18, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  The Senators defeated the Islanders 6-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sens begin preliminary extension talks with Condon

Mike Condon has all but saved Ottawa’s season, so there’s little surprise to learn the two sides have started discussing a new deal.

From the Ottawa Sun:

[Condon] told Postmedia before he returned to the club’s net Thursday night against the Dallas Stars that despite being an unrestricted free agent on July 1 he’d be happy to stay with Ottawa.

Though the Senators have had very preliminary contract discussions with his Buffalo-based agent Michael Wulkan, Condon isn’t going to spend any time worrying about what the future might hold.

The duo had dinner when the Senators were in Buffalo last Friday and Condon made it clear he doesn’t want a play-by-play of discussions. He trusts if there are serious talks between Wulkan and Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion that Condon will get involved when there’s something he needs to accept or reject if the opportunity presents itself.

As mentioned above, Condon has been a real find. After losing the services of No. 1 Craig Anderson — he hasn’t played since Dec. 5, taking a leave to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment — the Sens proceeded to give Condon a lion’s share of the No. 1 duties.

He’s responded by going 16-9-5 with a .912 save percentage and 2.56 GAA. The numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but they’re fairly impressive given the circumstances (and in light of the fatigue factor, as Condon at one point appeared in 27 straight games.)

Looking ahead, the Sens have Anderson and Andrew Hammond under contract through 2018, at $4.2 million and $1.35 million respectively. But Hammond has clearly fallen out of favor. The club put him on waivers back in November and, as evident by Condon’s workload, they don’t have a ton of faith in the Hamburglar.

Hammond is 0-2-0 this season, with a 4.08 GAA and .837 save percentage. On Tuesday, in one of his rare starts, he allowed six goals on 30 shots in a blowout loss to St. Louis.

Condon’s in the last of a two-year, $1.15 million deal with a $575,000 cap hit. One would assume he’s in line for a raise, but it sounds like he enjoys playing in Ottawa and might opt to stick around, rather than test free agency.

“I love everybody,” he told the Sun. “The management and the coaches are very transparent here. They communicate very well which as a player is very valuable.”

Vegas has talked to Gallant; Capuano next?

Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant asks the referee to review the game winning goal in overtime by Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. The goal was allowed, and the Penguins won in overtime 3-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Golden Knights have said they’re looking for a veteran, NHL-experienced head coach, and could have one hired by the end of this season.

So no surprise to learn the club recently reached out to candidates possessing said qualities.

Per the Review-Journal, Vegas has already spoken with former Florida bench boss Gerard Gallant, adding it “had talked with or were preparing to talk with [former Isles head coach Jack] Capuano.”

Newsday initially reported that Capuano was in talks to meet with Vegas brass.

Owner Bill Foley wouldn’t confirm the report, but did acknowledge he’s familiar with Cappy.

“I like him,” Foley said. “I think he’s a real quality family guy. He’s a quality coach who the players like to play for and a quality person.

“Gerard Gallant is the same way.”

Though it’s unclear if the organization has reached out to another recently-unemployed coach — longtime Boston bench boss Claude Julien — GM George McPhee did say Julien’s availability might play into what direction Vegas takes with the search.

“It could certainly change the timing, sure,” McPhee told Sirius XM Radio. “These are real quality people and real quality coaches. So yeah, things could change, of course.”

Ken Hitchcock’s name will also likely be tied to the Vegas job, but no reports have connected the two sides yet.



Stastny injury not believed to be long-term

New York Rangers v St. Louis Blues

There was some concern among the Blues when Paul Stastny left Thursday’s win over Toronto with a lower-body injury.

On Friday, that concern was alleviated.

Head coach Mike Yeo said Statsny, who exited in the second period and didn’t return, is doubtful for Saturday’s game in Montreal but the ailment isn’t believed to be long-term.

Yeo likely breathed a sign of relief upon learning of the diagnosis. Stastny has been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games (in which the Blues have gone 4-1-0).

The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And given the Blues have already lost Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, they certainly didn’t want to be down the services another productive forward.

Per the Post-Dispatch, there are no immediate plans for a recall from AHL Chicago. Nail Yakupov and Dmitrij Jaskin were the scratches against Toronto, so one of them could draw in Saturday if Stastny can’t go.


Canucks send Baertschi home from trip with concussion

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 23: Sven Baertschi #47 of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 23, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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After sticking with the club following his concussion on Tuesday night in Nashville, Sven Baertschi is now on his way back to Vancouver.

Per the Province, Baertschi didn’t travel with the club for its Saturday matinee in Boston, and was instead returned to Vancouver for further testing. The 24-year-old was concussed on a hit from Preds forward Cody McLeod early in Tuesday’s game, didn’t return, then proceeded to sit out last night’s 3-0 win in Columbus.

Losing Baertschi will hurt — he had 27 points through 50 games, and sits third on the team with 13 goals — but head coach Willie Desjardins did adjust the lineup for last night’s game at Nationwide, and things worked out.

Mikael Granlund moved up to play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, while Loui Eriksson played with Brandon Sutter and Jayson Megna.

Jannik Hansen filled Baertschi’s role on a line with Bo Horvat and Alex Burrows.

Looking ahead, Vancouver’s all-important road trip continues at TD Garden this weekend, Buffalo on Sunday, Pittsburgh on Tuesday and St. Louis on Thursday. The Canucks will need more results like the one in Columbus if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Report: Carter to make comeback attempt with Wild

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 21: Ryan Carter #18 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates a first period goal by Matt Dumba #24 against the Chicago Blackhawks at the TCF Bank Stadium during the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game on February 21, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Ryan Carter, the gritty depth forward that’s spent the last two years in Minnesota, will try to come back from major shoulder surgery in the hopes of joining the Wild this season.

Per Star-Tribune sources, Carter will re-join his former teammates at practice on Friday, four months after going under the knife to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Carter, 33, scored seven goals and 12 points in 60 games for Minnesota last year, and appeared in a pair of playoff contests as well.

Playoff experience could be why the Wild are interested in bringing him aboard. Carter captured a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, went to the Final with New Jersey five years later and, all told, has nearly 50 games of postseason experience on his resume.

A Minnesota native, Carter didn’t try to test free agency last summer, insisting he only wanted to sign for his hometown team.

More, from the Star-Tribune:

Carter, who spent the past two seasons with the Wild, only wanted to sign with the Wild last summer. The Wild wasn’t able to commit a contract to him, so the team brought him to camp on a professional tryout.

Ultimately, he was released from the tryout because his shoulder wasn’t healthy enough to perform. He underwent surgery, but GM Chuck Fletcher didn’t close the door on a potential signing before this season’s trade deadline.

“He was really good and fair,” Carter said of Fletcher last September. “He just told me to get surgery, get healthy and depending where we both stand when I get healthy enough to play, we can go from there. He just said it’s not fair to me to play hurt and it’s not fair to the coach and team to not know if I can play through it.

The Wild would need to sign Carter by Mar. 1 in order for him to be playoff eligible.