Having depth can be a blessing when you’re contending for a Stanley Cup. The kind of depth the Capitals are relying on tonight to back up starting goalie Michal Neuvirth is getting a bit silly though.
ECHL goalie Todd Ford, who you may have seen on waivers yesterday and cleared today, was signed to an NHL contract and will be backing up Neuvirth for the time being thanks to Semyon Varlamov being out day-to-day after leaving practice earlier than expected this morning.
If you’re wondering where usual AHL call-up Braden Holtby is, he too is injured and unable to get the call back to Washington, as is their other NHL-experienced veteran former Penguins and Bruins goalie Dany Sabourin. As long as Neuvirth stays healthy, the Caps don’t have a problem. If anything happens with him, though, look out.
If you’re not familiar with Todd Ford, we don’t fault you for that. What you may know him for is for being the guy who’s got a tremendous ode to Johnny Cash on his goalie mask. Should Ford be forced into any action we’ll be forced to keep the tune of “Ring Of Fire” running through our heads as a guy who is essentially Washington’s fifth option in goal being thrown to the wolves in the NHL can’t bode to well for the success of the Caps or for Ford’s own ego.
Ford’s numbers while briefly in the AHL this year aren’t too hot (11 games, 3.14 goals against average, .879 save percentage) so if he sees any game action in the NHL it’s an even more desperate or dire situation than imagined.
The other fun side of the trade deadline coming up is the effect it has on teams and what they do to either move guys in and out of their lineup or to help clear out salary space. Waivers plays a big part in that and today we saw yesterday’s waiver players Mike Smith and Steve Bernier both clear. Smith was called up by Tampa Bay and he’ll now join a different goaltending logjam of sorts with Dwayne Roloson and Curtis McElhinney who was acquired from Anaheim yesterday. Bernier could suit up for the Panthers again tonight.
Hitting the waiver wire today are a couple of big names going through on re-entry waivers. Sabres defenseman Craig Rivet and Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore are both coming through on the half-price discount waivers so their teams can try to get someone to take them off their hands for half the cap hit they’d be worth. For Commodore, he’s been through this already this season with no takers. He’s been playing for AHL Springfield since being demoted earlier this year.
Rivet, the Sabres captain, was just waived the other day and now that he’s being put through on re-entry waivers the Sabres are hoping to both be free of him and to give him the chance to play elsewhere this year. Rivet is in the final year of a deal that pays him $3.5 million against the cap. That amount pro-rated works out to be virtually nothing and he could provide a veteran presence on the blue line for a team in need.
Other guys hitting the wire in the regular way today are Kings forward Marco Sturm, Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton, Predators brawler Wade Belak, Rangers forward Kris Newbury, and Caps minor league goalie Todd Ford.
Sturm being waived comes as a surprise given that he was acquired from Boston earlier this year to give the Kings offense a lift. He hasn’t done that to GM Dean Lombardi’s liking and injuries have continued to make him ineffective. Boynton has been forced out of the mix in Chicago thanks to the play of youngster Nick Leddy.
Newbury is going through waivers so he can be sent back to the AHL while Belak is likely out of the mix in Nashville now that Jordin Tootoo is back. About all we can tell you about Todd Ford is that he’s got a really bad-ass goalie mask.