There have been no discussions for a new contract between Buffalo and pending UFA goalie Michal Neuvirth, player agent Patrick Stefan told PHT on Friday.
Neuvirth, 26, assumed the Sabres’ No. 1 gig following Jhonas Enroth’s trade to Dallas and has been the goalie of record ever since. Over that stretch, the Czech netminder — who’s in the last of a two-year, $5 million deal — has played very well, allowing just five goals on 103 shots (.951 save percentage) while earning high praise from onlookers:
Full marks for Neuvirth. First win since Nov. 15. #Sabres 7-2 in shootouts. Just a brutal loss for #Flyers.
Neuvirth’s numbers on the year remain unimpressive — 4-15-2, .310 GAA, .913 save percentage — though his playing opportunities were limited earlier in the year with Enroth in the fold.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Sabres GM Tim Murray opts to begin negotiations, as the current state of Buffalo’s goaltending behind Neuvirth and Anders Lindback (another pending UFA) is murky. Matt Hackett, 24, and Nathan Lieuwen, 23, could still turn into NHL-caliber netminders, but they’re not there yet; the club’s three most recent draftees (Linus Ullmark, Cal Petersen, Jonas Johansson) don’t project to be ready anytime soon.
As for heading to free agency… Neuvirth would be one of the youngest and most intriguing UFAs on the market, and could probably garner more interest than, say, Antti Niemi or Viktor Fasth. Problem is, this projects to be a buyer’s market for goalies and there aren’t many starting opportunities available.
Video: Garbutt’s undisciplined play has him in hot water — again
The latest from the “Reckless Ryan Garbutt” files — during last night’s 5-2 loss to San Jose, Garbutt was benched by Stars head coach Lindy Ruff after taking an elbowing penalty in the second period with Dallas trailing by two.
“That can’t happen, it just can’t happen this time of the year, it can’t,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “He didn’t hurt himself, he hurt 19 teammates.”
The penalty in question:
After exiting the box, Garbutt played a grand total of nine seconds and didn’t touch the ice at all in the third period.
The 29-year-old may well be the NHL’s most reckless player. He’s been suspended twice this year — one for kneeing Tyalor Hall, once for slew-footing Dustin Byfuglien — and, all told, has been suspended 10 games over the last two seasons; he was also fined during last year’s playoffs for spearing Corey Perry in the groin.
Here, now, is a sampling of the PHT headlines Garbutt’s behavior has produced:
One has to wonder what the Stars will do with Garbutt moving forward. He’s on the books for one more year at $1.8 million, and has been a good producer — 17 goals and 35 points in 75 games last season, seven goals and 18 points through 50 games this year — but, at the same time, repeat warnings from both the league and Stars organization don’t appear to have altered his approach or playing style.
With Kings surging, Sharks get much-needed win over Stars
Last year the Los Angeles Kings came back to eliminate the San Jose Sharks from the first round of the playoffs. Will this latest Kings surge cause the Sharks to start their offseason even earlier in 2015? That’s a real possibility, although the Sharks took the first step towards preventing that with their 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars tonight.
Even if we ignored the fact that the Kings won their last six games and claimed the second Wild Card spot from San Jose on Wednesday in the process, this would still be a critical win for the Sharks. The Dallas Stars are another threat in the battle for a postseason berth and San Jose has struggled lately with just two wins in its last nine contests coming into tonight’s game.
Under that backdrop, San Jose came out strong tonight. Marc-Edouard Vlasic established the Sharks’ lead just 3:24 minutes into the contest and from there they maintained their edge all game. Although the Dallas Stars did make things interesting when Erik Cole found the back of the net with 2:16 remaining in regulation time:
Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels each capitalized on the Stars’ empty net within 11 seconds of each other to squash Dallas’ hopes.
San Jose has regained possession of the second Wild Card spot with a two-point cushion, but the Sharks’ position is still far from ideal as they’ve played in three more games than Los Angeles.
They’ll have a chance to build upon that tenuous edge on Saturday though when the Sharks host Los Angeles in an outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium.
A couple of Olympic gold-medal winners will be between the pipes tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens’ Carey Price will be staring down the Bell Centre ice at the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.
Both Canadian netminders are enjoying excellent seasons. Price is a serious Hart Trophy candidate, while Luongo has helped keep Florida in the playoff race with a .920 save percentage in 46 appearances.
With a win, the Panthers would move to within one point of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the East.
So let’s hear those “Go Habs Go” chants, Boston sports fans!
Jaroslav Halak will look to rebound from a shaky performance versus the Rangers when the Islanders host the Predators, who are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.
Cam Talbot for the Rangers versus Ryan Miller for the Canucks.
Curtis McElhinney for the Blue Jackets versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Ondrej Pavelec will see his first action in a week when the Jets visit Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.
Michal Neuvirth for the Sabres versus Ray Emery for the Flyers.
Antti Niemi for the Sharks versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for the Stars.
Video: Jamie Benn records his first career NHL hat trick
Jamie Benn experienced another first in his National Hockey League career.
The Dallas Stars captain recorded his first career hat trick at this level, helping his team to a 4-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues in the second period of Tuesday’s game. With three goals against the Blues, Benn is now up to 22 on the season. His career high is 34 from last season.