Tag: Roberto Luongo

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

So far, contract talk is all about term for Panthers, Huberdeau


Despite missing the playoffs, the Florida Panthers made some nice strides in 2014-15, and Jonathan Huberdeau was a big part of that climb. Now the two sides need to determine how his next contract will go.

At 22, Huberdeau is a restricted free agent. The leverage is largely on Florida’s side, even considering the fact that the young forward led the team in scoring by ten points with a career-high 54.

As the third pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, the belief is that Huberdeau will only get better from here. So what kind of price is right?

It turns out that the biggest issue is actually term, or at least that contract talks won’t really kick off until the two sides agree on that direction. Panthers GM Dale Tallon told the Miami Herald that the team is pretty open-minded when it comes to the length of a deal.

“The biggest thing is agreeing on terms, and once we figure that out we’ll start talking numbers,” Tallon said. “We’re looking at a bridge [contract] or something a little longer or a long-term contract. We’re open to anything. We’ll get something done that’s best for both of us.”

His RFA status limits his leverage, yet at just 22, there are quite a few ways things can go. (A longer deal might not be so bad since he’s so far from unrestricted status.)

Aside from Brian Campbell’s notorious (and soon to expire) $7.14 million cap hit, the Panthers don’t boast a ton of big-money contracts (unless you count Roberto Luongo’s deal, which is more about term). That situation can change as Florida’s young players mature, so Huberdeau’s next contract could very well be the benchmark for other important pieces of the Panthers’ future.

Tire pump? Yzerman says Toews is ‘bigger, stronger, better’ than he was

Steve Yzerman

TAMPA — In 2011, Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas brought tire pumping to the forefront at the Stanley Cup Final.

Four years later, the practice may be back in vogue.

During Tuesday’s media availability, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was effusive in his praise for Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, claiming Toews is the superior player of the two.

“The reality is Jonathan’s bigger, stronger, better,” Yzerman said. “He just is. He’s just a tremendous all-around player, great person.

“Over the course of my career my play evolved and through Scotty Bowman. The way he wanted our team to play, we all became more defensive-minded players, more well-rounded players. Jonathan’s been that from day one.”

The Yzerman-Toews comparisons are nothing new (Chris Chelios noted it a while back): No. 19s, Canadians, centers, top-five draft picks (Yzerman fourth overall, Toews third) with each having won Stanley Cups, Olympic gold medals, Selke and Conn Smythe awards.

Yzerman’s point, however, is interesting. The knock on him prior winning the Cup in ’97 was that he didn’t have the complete game necessary to lead the Red Wings to a championship; Yzerman broke into the NHL as an offensive player, a scorer by trade, and his early point totals (155 points in 1988-89, remember) reflected as much.

Toews, meanwhile, isn’t the same offensive dynamo — he’s never broke the 80-point plateau — but attained playoff success far quicker than Stevie Y. Toews was a captain before he turned 21 and Stanley Cup winner before he was 23, whereas Yzerman didn’t hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug until he was 32.

That said… it’s Steve freaking Yzerman.

A first-ballot Hall of Famer and three-time Cup winner, Yzerman is now regarded as one of the greatest leaders in NHL history. He was the longest-serving captain of any team in North American major league sports upon retiring, and is an icon in Detroit. That reputation of winning has extended to his front office work, where he’s led Tampa Bay to an Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup Final in just five years on the job.

And this could be why he said what he did today.

Yzerman’s a shrewd guy, and knows how to work the media. The quiet, humble, aw-shucks-he’s-better-than-me routine fits into the narrative that many have written already, where the Bolts are the young, inexperienced, new kids on the block, underdogs against a Chicago team that’s been here before, done this before and is now looking to win a third Cup in the last five years.

To wit, I asked veteran Tampa forward Brenden Morrow — at 36, one of the few guys in this series to play against both Yzerman and Toews — what he thought of his GM’s remarks.

“They’re both competitors, but that’s just Steve being Steve,” Morrow said, smiling. “He’s a very modest and humble guy.

“He was a pretty special player.”

All eyes on Lundqvist


According to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, Henrik Lundqvist “would be the first to say that six goals against is very uncharacteristic.”

So how uncharacteristic would it be if that happened two games in a row?

That’s why all eyes will be on Lundqvist tonight in Tampa Bay, as the Rangers try to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece.

Vigneault was even asked if Lundqvist would, indeed, be his starter.

The coach laughed.

Of course The King would be the starter.

“Hank is very accountable and very demanding on himself,” said Vigneault. “He is going to do what any good goaltender does. He is going to put [Wednesday’s] game behind him.”

The thing about being one of the best goalies in the world is that you end up playing in a lot of big games, with everyone watching. Lundqvist leads all active goalies with 107 playoff appearances, most of which he’s played very well in.

But you play enough big games, you’re going to have some stinkers. Marc-Andre Fleury has appeared in the second-most playoff games among active netminders, followed by Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford and Roberto Luongo.

All five have been at least as far as the Stanley Cup Final, if not won it. But each has also had a few nightmares under the spotlight.

“Sometimes stuff happens,” Vigneault said after Game 3, when asked about the long-range shot that beat his franchise goalie in overtime.

Lundqvist still has a .926 save percentage in these playoffs. He could still end up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

But the Rangers know the size of tonight’s game.

“It’s absolutely a huge game, you know,” said captain Ryan McDonagh. “Being tied 2-2, going back to MSG or being down 3-1 is quite a hole.”

So they’ll need The King to play like one.

Will anyone pay a price for Markstrom?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks

Once again, the Vancouver Canucks are going to have to try and trade a goalie.

GM Jim Benning didn’t deny it yesterday, while also agreeing that the time to do it may be at this summer’s draft.

“We have depth in the goaltending position,” Benning said. “We’re going to decide who we’re going to go with going forward. That’s an area where we could probably recapture a draft pick if we decide to trade somebody.”

Chances are, the Canucks will have the same netminding tandem next season as they did this season: Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack. The former has two years left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent; the latter only has one year left, but given his age (27), ability and popularity with the fans, nobody would be surprised if he were to sign an extension.

That leaves Jacob Markstrom, the 25-year-old pending restricted free agent who has nothing left to prove at the AHL level but everything left to prove in the NHL.

Markstrom came to Vancouver from Florida in the Roberto Luongo trade. Drafted 31st overall in 2008, he was once the Panthers’ goalie of the future. Obviously, that plan was never realized.

In September, Markstrom was actually available for free on waivers. While there was reportedly interest, the Canucks gambled they could sneak him down to the minors. In the end, no team made a claim and he was sent to Utica, where he proceeded to go 22-7-2 with a .934 save percentage, good enough to be named to the AHL’s second all-star team.

Bottom line: Markstrom is a high-risk, high-reward proposition. Based on his AHL numbers and draft pedigree, there’s clear potential. On the other hand, in 50 career NHL games, he has a .896 save percentage.

In other words, if you’re the Edmonton Oilers (they jump to mind, right?), you’d be taking an enormous risk by acquiring Markstrom and slotting him in as your back-up. (Just ask the Dallas Stars about their experiences with a back-up that was once highly touted but came to them with a questionable NHL track record.)

The Canucks do have an asset in Markstrom, for now. Assuming he’s the goalie they decide to shop, it’s what they can turn that asset into, if anything, that will be interesting to see.

Big, bad blunder: Bruins fall against Panthers

Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins

The good news for the Boston Bruins is that their awful Thursday doesn’t knock them out of the playoffs altogether. The bad news is … just about everything else that happened tonight.

As you may already know, the Ottawa Senators held up their end of the bargain with a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers. That allowed Ottawa to bump Boston out of the East’s wild card ranks, but the Bruins could have made that a temporary thing. The B’s failed in that quest, however, falling to the 10th-ranked Florida Panthers 4-2.

(One can imagine that Roberto Luongo was quite happy to spite his pals from Boston, eh?)

The Panthers also did the New York Islanders a favor, as this Boston win punches their ticket to the playoffs.

The final stretch

Let’s look at what the wild card looks while ignoring the Detroit Red Wings’ tight contest against the Montreal Canadiens for now:

Wild card spot 1: Ottawa, 97 points, one game left, 36 regulation/OT wins
Wild card spot 2: Pittsburgh, 96 points, two games left, 38 ROW

Bubble: Boston, 95 points, one game left, 37 ROW

As you can probably see, the Bruins need some help after this more-or-less worst-case scenario night. The Penguins face the now-clinched Islanders on Friday and then the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday while the Senators close out their season against the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston faces a Tampa Bay Lightning team that may still be gunning for the Atlantic Division crown, so they can’t expect a casual opponent.

Ultimately, if Ottawa gets a mere point against Philly, it’s over for Boston. The Penguins only need two points in whatever fashion they may get them in their last two games.

It all looks very bleak for the Bruins, who saw former teammate Jaromir Jagr score his 1,800th career point in painful fashion tonight.

(That’s cold.)

(Seriously, ouch.)

The most positive thing is that many people were once counting out the Senators like they’re counting out the Bruins right now.