Author: Mike Halford

Boston Bruins v Ottawa Senators

‘Five or six teams have called’ on Sens goalies, says Murray


In the wake of signing Andrew Hammond to a three-year deal — creating a three-headed goalie monster in the process — Ottawa GM Bryan Murray acknowledged on Monday that he’s already fielding calls for Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson.

“Five or six teams have called and there has been some discussion and there will continue to be,” Murray said, per the Ottawa Sun. “We’ll see what comes of it.”

Technically speaking, Ottawa has a four-headed goalie monster, having signed Boston University standout Matt O’Connor earlier this month, though O’Connor is expected to spend next season in AHL Binghamton. Regardless, Murray still needs to figure out what to do with Anderson, 33, who’s signed through 2018 at $4.2 million per and Lehner, 23, who has two more years left at $2.25M per.

It’s no surprise Murray’s already working the phones. This summer’s goalie market could have plenty of NHL-caliber netminders available with the likes of Antti Niemi, Karri Ramo, Michal Neuvirth and Thomas Greiss all possibly going unrestricted. The trade market could be flush as well; Vancouver has floated the idea of flipping Eddie Lack and there appears to be interest in Kings backup Martin Jones.

Oilers’ Pinizzotto signs in German League

Edmonton Oilers v Anaheim Ducks
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Well-traveled grinder Steve Pinizzotto has signed with ECH Red Bull Munchen of Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the club announced on Tuesday.

Pinizzotto, 31, posted career highs across the board in 2014-15, appearing in 18 games while scoring four points, including his first-ever NHL goal. The former RIT product had toiled in the minors for six years before making his big-league debut with Vancouver during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, and was acquired by Edmonton in a trade with Florida in January of 2014.

Known largely as a bottom-six forward with a tireless work ethic and willingness to drop the mitts, Pinizzotto racked up four scraps in his 18 NHL contests last year, and four more with AHL Oklahoma City.

With Red Bull, Pinizzotto will be coached by former NHL bench boss Pierre Page.

Mrazek knows ‘only one goalie can play’ as battle with Howard awaits

Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings

This could be a really big year of change for the Red Wings.

The club will have a new coach when training camp opens next fall and, in goal, there’ll be a fight for playing time that could see longtime starter Jimmy Howard pushed into a timeshare — or even a backup role.

The guy battling Howard in net, Petr Mrazek, knows the situation at hand.

“Only one goalie can play,” Mrazek said recently, per the Detroit News. “I’m going to do my best to play as much as I want to and do the best job.”

Mrazek overtaking Howard’s No. 1 gig was one of the biggest stories of the postseason; the 23-year-old Czech rookie, who’d never played in the playoffs before, got the nod from Mike Babcock and was stellar in a seven-game opening-round loss to the Lightning, posting a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage.

The demotion was frustrating for Howard but, during his end-of-year media availability, he tried to keep a level head. The 31-year-old said he wouldn’t demand a trade, noting that he looked forward to competing for the No. 1 gig next season.

The issue, of course, is that Howard carries a pretty hefty pricetag — a six-year, $31.8 million deal with a $5.3M average annual cap hit — and has four years left on the contract. He’s also eight years older than Mrazek, who’s widely considered to be the franchise’s goalie of the future… and based on what we saw in the playoffs, the future might be now.

What’s more, Wings GM Ken Holland all but guaranteed a goalie battle for next year, saying Mrazek would definitely be with the Red Wings next season — even though Mrazek could be sent down to AHL Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers.