Mike Halford

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Hamburglar helper? Sens reportedly testing market for Hammond

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Ottawa’s goaltending situation has been in a state of flux this year, and could now get… fluxier?

(It’s a perfectly cromulent word.)

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Sens are reportedly testing the market on Andrew Hammond, this after acquiring Mike Condon via trade in the wake of Craig Anderson‘s wife’s cancer diagnosis.

The report would suggest that Condon’s leapfrogged Hammond for the No. 2 gig. In two starts, Condon has stopped 58 of 59 shots and secured a pair of victories, including one shutout.

Hammond, 28, is best known for his magical run at the tail end of the ’14-15 campaign, during which he went 20-1-2 with a .941 save percentage to propel the Sens into the playoffs.

He finished seventh in Vezina voting that season, and even scored a handful of Hart Trophy votes.

Since then, Hammond has struggled to rediscover similar form. He went 7-11-4 last season with a .914 save percentage — making just 21 starts — and has really struggled in his two starts this year, sitting with a ghastly .793 save percentage and 4.50 GAA.

Hammond does have a history of success, though, and is on a reasonably cheap contract ($1.35M cap hit through 2018). And given the current goaltending landscape, he could be an option.

Dallas’ much-maligned duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen continues to struggle, and the Kings are back to the Peter BudajJack Campbell combo after Jeff Zatkoff got hurt on Friday night (playing against the Sens, curiously enough.)

After getting boarded by Clifford, Connor placed on IR

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The hit that temporarily forced Kyle Connor from Sunday’s game — and the one that earned Kyle Clifford a five-minute boarding major — has now forced Connor out of action indefinitely.

On Monday, the Jets announced their prized rookie had been placed on injured reserve, with Chase De Leo getting the recall from AHL Manitoba.

Connor, the former University of Michigan star taken 17th overall in 2015, had four points through 16 games this year while averaging 13:31 TOI per night.

He took the Clifford hit early in Sunday’s tilt against L.A., exited for a while, but returned in the second period to finish with just under six minutes of ice time.

Clifford, as mentioned, was given a major on the play but did stay in the contest. He later fought Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn.

Per an NHL spokesman, Clifford isn’t scheduled to face any disciplinary hearing for the Connor hit.

Ducks waive Wagner — again

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Just when Chris Wagner started to feel comfortable — he was assigned his preferred No. 21 to start the year, and appeared in 15 of Anaheim’s 16 games — it happened.

Again.

“It,” of course, is being subjected to waivers, and on Monday the Ducks did exactly that with the 25-year-old forward, putting Wagner on the wire for the second time in 12 months (per TVA).

The club’s fifth-round pick in 2010, Wagner had two goals this season while averaging 10:43 TOI per night.

The writing may have been on the wall, though, when he was scratched from Anaheim’s ugly 5-0 loss to Nashville on Saturday.

More on Wagner’s back story, from the O.C. Register:

It took four years for Wagner to truly call Anaheim home.

There has been a move from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego and last season’s detour through Denver between the call-ups to Anaheim and the demotions. The 25-year-old grinder landed on the waiver wire twice – and was claimed both times.

“I guess last year leaves a bad taste in your mouth just because of how many times I changed spots,” Wagner said. “Yeah, I’m enjoying it for sure. But I can’t really be complacent, especially the way the league is now.”

As the Register alludes to, Wagner was waived by Anaheim last November and claimed by Colorado. He appeared in 26 games for the Avs before they waived him — and watched the Ducks re-claim the former Colgate standout.

Wagner then finished the year with the Ducks, and appeared in two games during their opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

Anaheim’s bottom-six forward group has been in a state of flux this season. Wagner, Mason Raymond, Emerson Etem, Ondrej Kase, Nick Sorensen, Michael Sgarbossa and Joseph Cramarossa have all been used to varying degrees, while veteran enforcer Jared Boll has been a pretty consistent staple of the fourth line.

After blowout loss, Caps get wake-up call at practice

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Washington suffered its worst defeat of the season on Saturday, a 5-1 drubbing in Carolina that head coach Barry Trotz summed up rather succinctly.

“You’ve got to play smarter,” he said, per the Washington Post. “We didn’t do that.”

On Monday, Trotz set about smartening up his team.

There were radical line changes at Kettler this morning, with the most notable being Jay Beagle‘s ascension to No. 1 center duties alongside Alex Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom was between Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie, while Evgeny Kuznetsov skated in the middle on a line with Zach Sanford and Justin Williams.

That left Lars Eller to center the fourth line, between Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson.

To be fair, complacency was predicted to be an issue for the Caps this year.

After last year’s terrific run through the regular season, the club once again fell short of its ultimate goal and failed to get out of the second round — a signature of the Alex Ovechkin era in D.C.

As such, there’s a real “just get to the playoffs already” vibe in Washington. The club’s in no danger of missing them — despite the uneven play, the Caps are still 9-4-1 to start the year — so moments like today could be Trotz’s way of keeping his players on their toes.

Today’s moves could be more than a wake-up call, however. Trotz may be looking to coax more offense out of the team, as the Caps currently sit 16th in the NHL in goals per game (2.64).

Hamonic, slated to miss 4-6 weeks, will return after sitting just three games

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On Nov. 5, Isles d-man Travis Hamonic suffered a hand injury that was supposed to sideline him for a month, maybe a month-and-a-half.

Turns out the timetable was a lot smaller than that.

Tonight, Hamonic will suit up to face the Lightning, after missing just three games with a suspected broken right thumb (per Newsday).

The news comes with the Isles still struggling to find their way this season — they’re 5-7-3 heading into Monday’s game, just one point ahead of last-place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division.

They’re also the only team in the NHL not to win a road game (0-4-1) thus far.

Hamonic’s return will undoubtedly help. A quality defensive defenseman, he formed a good pairing with Nick Leddy prior to getting hurt and was used by head coach Jack Capuano in all situations.

“Travis was playing power play, first-unit penalty kill, 21-plus minutes a night, alternate captain,” Capuano said, per Newsday. “It’s the same as always when we lose someone. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

In other Isles news, veteran Dennis Seidenberg was placed on IR on Monday — he suffered a suspected broken jaw on Saturday, further depleting New York’s d-man core.

That injury could’ve played a role in Hamonic returning from injury as early as he has.