Buffalo Sabres

‘It’s not my cup of tea, this rental world,’ says Ducks GM

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Bob Murray sounds like a guy that was pleased to see Blockbuster go under.

Following Tuesday’s “hockey deal” — the Ducks sent Devante Smith-Pelly to Montreal in exchange for Jiri Sekac — the Anaheim GM voiced his displeasure with the current state of the trade market.

“There’s a lot of talking going on, but it’s all about rentals, for Pete’s sake,” Murray said, per the Los Angeles Times. “It’s gone from a third-round pick for a rental, someone you might have for three months; now it’s a second- or first-rounder and a prospect.”

While Murray’s candor is enjoyable (more so if you envision him shaking his fist at the trade deadline), there’s definitely some posturing at play. For starters, the rental market hasn’t proven to be that expensive yet — on Tuesday, Minnesota acquired a pretty useful forward in Sean Bergenheim from Florida for a third-round pick — and, less than two weeks ago, Winnipeg and Buffalo combined to orchestrate one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory where most of the principles (Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Tyler Myers) were building blocks, not rentals.

(You can also circle back to the Smith-Pelly-for-Sekac trade that Murray completed, which was a true “hockey deal.”)

Of course, we’ve seen comments like these from Murray and GMs before, and they do occasionally prove to be somewhat effective. By bemoaning not just the quality of rental players, but also the asking price, the GM gives himself an out in the event he can’t make anything significant happen at the deadline (which is usually followed by something along the lines of “we weren’t going to mortgage the future.”)

It’s also worth remembering that Murray has history of posturing. After failing to land a big ticket at last year’s deadline (while picking up a cheap rental in Stephane Robidas, it should be mentioned), he expressed confusion and dismay about not getting a deal done despite having a pair of high draft picks in play — the old “I was ready to make a deal, they weren’t” narrative.

Anyway, back to the present. In light of this rentals-only market, Murray could end up having to wait ’til the offseason to make a big move, much like last year with the Ryan Kesler acquisition at the draft. The Ducks are clamoring for defensive help but it sure doesn’t look like there’s a ton available heading into Monday’s deadline — and, posturing or not, Murray sure doesn’t sound enamored with the idea of paying big for a rental.

“I’m not doing that here,” he explained. “It’s not my cup of tea, this rental world.”

Goalie nods: Ramo shrugs off trade talk, will start versus Rangers

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News and notes from around the crease…

Ramo goes at MSG

Karri Ramo will get the start in goal tonight when Calgary takes on the Rangers in New York, and knows this opportunity — getting the nod ahead of Jonas Hiller, that is — could be viewed as a potential showcase for a trade.

Not that the pending UFA is letting it distract him.

“It’s not up to me,” Ramo said, per the Calgary Herald. “Maybe some players are affected by this, when they are going to decide where they want to go.

“All I can do is to play my best, work hard, and if it happens, it happens.”

There are rumblings around Ramo, and with good reason. He’s unrestricted come July 1, and it stands to reason he’s not in Calgary’s future plans — Hiller is under contract for one more year at $4.5M and the club is very high on 23-year-old Joni Ortio, an AHL All-Star this season who went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage in a five-game NHL cameo earlier this year.

Calgary also has a history of flipping goalie depth at the deadline — last year, the Flames sent Reto Berra to Colorado in exchange for a second-round pick.

It remains to be seen if Ramo would garner similar interest on the open market. The 28-year-old’s numbers on the year aren’t great — 9-5-1, .904 save percentage, 2.69 GAA — but he could be seen as an upgrade at the backup position for certain teams.

That said, he would be an expensive option with his $2.75M cap hit.

(Also, no word yet on who’ll start for the Rangers.)

Elsewhere…

Canucks at Bruins: Eddie Lack for Vancouver, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Coyotes at Isles: Mike Smith vs. Chad Johnson

Flyers at ‘Canes: Rob Zepp vs. Cam Ward

Sabres at Jackets: Michal Neuvirth vs. Anton Forsberg

Stars at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, Jhonas Enroth likely for Dallas

Oilers at Wild: Devan Dubnyk for Minnesota, no word yet on an Edmonton starter.

Avs at Preds: Nothing yet from either team.

Habs at Blues: Carey Price vs. Jake Allen

Panthers at ‘Hawks: Scott Darling for Chicago, no word yet on a Florida starter.

Wings at Kings: Jonas Gustavsson for Detroit, no word yet on a L.A. starter.

Sabres angry that Zadorov keeps showing up late for stuff

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Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov was held out of Sunday’s shootout loss to Nashville — the second time he’s been parked due to disciplinary issues this season — and on Monday, the reason for his latest suspension was revealed:

Habitual tardiness.

This latest transgression comes just weeks after Zadorov was punished for returning late to the Sabres following All-Star weekend. The 19-year-old, who has 13 points in 42 games this year, was reportedly bumped off an oversold return flight form the Dominican Republic — where he was vacationing with his girlfriend — and while the club said his actions weren’t intentional, Zadorov still needed to be reprimanded.

“The kid did not do this purposefully, but there’s still a lesson to be learned,” Murray said at the time, per WGR Radio.

Murray delivered a harsher message to Zadorov today.

“I had a talk with Nikita this morning where I did all the talking, he didn’t talk and hopefully the problem is rectified,” he explained. “It was 10 minutes of me talking and not very politely, I told him he’s a good prospect, but he’s not getting the keys to the kingdom here and he has to be a better teammate.”

Cowen suspended three games for Jokinen headshot

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Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen has been suspended three games for a high hit on Florida’s Jussi Jokinen, Sens head coach Dave Cameron confirmed.

Here’s the hit in question, which occurred during Ottawa’s 4-1 win on Saturday:

The incident happened early in the second period, with Cowen receiving an interference minor. Jokinen appeared to be shook up initially but didn’t miss any time, finishing the game with 16:21 TOI.

Cowen, 24, did have a history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety as a repeat offender. Back in December of 2013, he was suspended two games for an illegal check to the heat of Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons:

As a result of today’s suspension, Cowen will miss Ottawa’s next three games: Wednesday in Anaheim, Thursday in Los Angeles and Saturday in San Jose.

Nashville wins, but Neuvirth is making Buffalo pesky

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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been that much better as a team lately – at least as far as any reasonable stat goes – but Michal Neuvirth is on such a hot run that it’s not as safe to write them off as an easy win.

Yes, the Nashville Predators won 2-1 via a shootout on Sunday, but they had to sweat this one thanks almost entirely to Neuvirth’s efforts. They trailed for most of the third period until Mike Ribeiro was the only Predator who could thwart Neuvirth in regulation (and on the power play, to boot).

Overall, Neuvirth stopped 37 out of 38 shots. While he’s still not really winning, just look at what the 26-year-old goalie’s done in February:

1-3-2 record, .944 save percentage, 1.93 GAA.

One almost wonders if Neuvirth might just play himself out of Buffalo, as his strong work may just be a threat to what many believe is a tank job.

In other words, there’s at least some room for concern that the Sabres’ bid for a guaranteed top-two pick could even hit a wall: