Boston Bruins could benefit from keeping Tim Thomas

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rasknthomas.jpgWhen asked about waiving his no-trade clause, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said it was “too early” to make such a decision. While I think that the Boston Bruins would be wise to move the former Vezina Trophy winner at some point in the next couple years, it might actually be too early for them to move him anyway.

Look, there’s no doubt that Thomas didn’t play as well as he did in his star-making 08-09 campaign but he wasn’t necessarily awful. Really, it was more about Tuukka Rask being amazing than anything else. Were there moments in which the unorthodox Thomas seemed to be “exposed”? Maybe so, but a 91.5 percent save percentage is still a bit above the league average. It’s not like he had a disastrous season.

One important thing to remember is that continued success isn’t guaranteed for Rask, either. Even beyond the struggles Thomas had following up a great year, don’t forget that rookie goalies can hit a wall in their sophomore season. Just look at the struggles of Steve Mason; he went from Calder Trophy sensation to a goalie who struggled on an epic level.

More reasons why the Bruins should be cautious about trading Thomas after the jump.

Overall, this scenario reminds me a lot of what Anaheim went through with Jonas Hiller and J.S. Giguere. The older Giguere had his past glories but was eventually usurped by the Swiss goalie Hiller during the 08-09 playoffs. After leading the Ducks to a scrappy second round 7-game defeat against Detroit, Hiller never looked back and claimed the No. 1 spot during this season. Eventually, the Ducks were able to move Giguere to Toronto and locked up the pending free agent Hiller to a franchise goalie contract.

With Rask in the final year of his first contract with Boston, the Bruins might be wise to allow Thomas and Rask to duke it out for the top spot. When you consider the fact that Michael Leighton, Antti Niemi and Jaroslav Halak were backups going into this season, it’s clear that having a good goalie duo is crucial to success in this league.

So, yes, if the Bruins can unload Thomas for a young sniper or salary cap relief, then maybe they should bite the bullet. Still, that’s a dubious assumption to make when the whole league knows that they want to get rid of him. Instead, why not keep Thomas around for at least part of next season in case Rask falters? If nothing else, he could increase his trade value if he regains his elite form.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.