Goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the Buffalo Sabres remains a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.
Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reported Miller’s performance has made him an asset for the Sabres, as well as a valuable trade chip. Interim coach Ted Nolan called the 33-year-old netminder the type of player around which to rebuild.
Late last week Miller had a brief “exploratory” meeting with Pat LaFontaine, the Sabres new president of hockey operations. Though Miller’s heard the Sabres could accelerate their rebuild, he said he won’t be swayed by talk, preferring to see actual results.
Re-signing Miller would be costly for the Sabres. He believes the new seven-year, $59.5-million contract Henrik Lundqvist recently signed with the New York Rangers “sets the standard” for NHL goaltenders. Given Miller’s age, the Sabres could balk if he seeks a comparable deal.
If the Sabres trade Miller, the move could happen close to the March 5 trade deadline. Thanks to the high number of teams (23) with limited cap space, there’s not much of a market right now. Read more
Five games this Sunday evening and here’s five things to get you set for the action.
Reminder of the meltdown
Toronto fans will get an up-close look at the team who broke their hearts in last year’s playoffs for the first time this season as the Bruins visit the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs clawed back in their first round series against the B’s to force an unlikely Game 7. They held a 4-1 lead in the third period, minutes away from closing out the series, before crumbling historically and falling in OT. HBO will be there to document the action in Toronto’s first Sunday home game since 2003. Last night, the Bruins pulled off another dramatic comeback when they tied with the goalie pulled and beat Pittsburgh with 13 seconds left in regulation. These teams last met Nov. 9 in Boston, the Bruins prevailing 3-1.
When the Hawks and Cats square off Sunday night, it will be Dale Tallon’s current team, not his former team, looking to extend a win streak. The Panthers have won two straight after beating their former Southeast Division mates in Winnipeg and following that with a road victory over Detroit. Trending the opposite direction, the Hawks are 0-2-1 in their past three games.
Staal stalled yet again
The Rangers have rounded into form after a rocky start, and they’ve done so with a healthy Marc Staal, who missed more than half of last season with a concussion. Unfortunately, the C-word may be an issue once again for Staal, who took a hit from New Jersey’s Reid Boucher and left the game last night. The prognosis for Staal should become clear by Sunday evening, but he likely won’t play Sunday against the Capitals. Bad news for the Blueshirts, potentially bad news for Team Canada.
Sruggling Sharks shuffle the deck
If they lose today, that’ll make three straight defeats for the Sharks, who lost 5-1 to Pittsburgh and 5-3 to Carolina this week. Allowing 10 goals in two games is a nasty blip in a season that has gone exceedingly well for San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan is shuffling his lines for this one, moving Joe Pavelski up to the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. His first line of Hertl-Thornton-Burns remains intact.
The battle for second place
The Rangers and Caps are separated by just a point in the Metropolitan Division and New York can leapfrog Washington into second with a regulation win this evening. This is the second of a nine-game homestand for the Rangers, who have the opportunity to capture some crucial points if they rebound from yesterday’s OT loss and capitalize on home ice advantage. These clubs are bitter rivals after matching up in the playoffs in recent years and they tend to produce tight, low-scoring games.
Sometimes men have a little trouble remembering things. Anniversaries and birthdays, for example, have a history of being bumped in the male brain for things such as which weekend the Super Bowl is being played on and how many paychecks have to be sacrificed in order to obtain that new set of golf clubs.
Mike Sillinger, who suited up for an NHL-record 12 teams, could be forgiven if some of the finer details of his family life have been lost in a haze of boxes and moving vans. But if Sillinger ever is asked to recall where each of his three sons was born, he’s got a visual reminder to rely on: the NHL jersey he was wearing at the time.
“One was born in Vancouver, so we have the Vancouver jersey in his room,” Sillinger said. “My other boy was born in Regina, but I played in Florida at the time, so he picked the Panthers along with my Team Canada (1991 world junior) jersey because he wears 16 (one of his dad’s old numbers) when he plays.
“And my other boy was born in Columbus, so he’s got the Columbus one in his room.”
Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is the hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. The news he was a healthy scratch from Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators prompted speculation a trade was close, though the Panthers claimed it was a product of recent poor play.
Despite a recent report from the sun-sentinel.com denying the Panthers were trying to move Kulikov, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the 23-year-old is being aggressively shopped.
McKenzie claimed GM Dale Tallon hopes to stoke a bidding war for Kulikov, though the blueliner’s slow development and the possibility of him heading to the Kontinental League as a restricted free agent could hurt his trade value.
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Toronto Maple Leafs could reignite trade talks with the Panthers about Kulikov. Friedman claimed the two clubs came close to a deal last season, but one of them backed out. The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox claimed the Leafs have had interest in Kulikov for some time, but are wary of his RFA status and the threat of the KHL.
The Nashville Predators are awaiting an update this week on the status of goaltender Pekka Rinne, who’s been sidelined for several weeks with a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip. His condition has fuelled speculation the Predators are shopping for help between the pipes.
Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch recently reported Predators GM David Poile could be interested in Anaheim Ducks starter Jonas Hiller and Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas. Both are unrestricted free agents at season’s end, making them good short-term option for the Predators. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson listed the Predators as a possible destination for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
A lower-body injury to Ducks backup Viktor Fasth means Hiller is unavailable until January, while the Panthers hope Thomas can revive their flagging playoff chances. Poile is unlikely to pursue an expensive rental player like Miller. Read more
A decline in the Montreal Canadiens offense prompted speculation GM Marc Bergevin will soon make a significant move.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently reported Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty was mentioned in trade talks. McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun said teams were enquiring about Pacioretty, but a Habs source “forcibly” denied he was being shopped.
Unless Bergevin’s in the market for a healthier power forward, moving Pacioretty makes no sense. And don’t expect him to trade youngsters like Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk or Brendan Gallagher. The trio are the Canadiens most productive forwards, combining for 46 points.
Winger Rene Bourque could be available, but his declining production and $3.3 million per season salary are a tough sell. Ditto center David Desharnais and his $3.5 million per. Captain Brian Gionta is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, but injuries and age have affected his performance and trade value. Read more
Since the Florida Panthers shipped winger Kris Versteeg earlier this month to the Chicago Blackhawks, speculation persists over which Panthers will be next on the trade block.
According to recent rumors, center Shawn Matthias is attracting the most interest from clubs seeking forward depth. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman recently linked Matthias to the Vancouver Canucks, SI.com’s Allan Muir reported the Montreal Canadiens could be a suitor and the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson claimed the Oilers were making enquiries.
Why so much interest in a 25-year-old center who’s never tallied more than 24 points in a season? Matthias’ size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), two-way abilities and affordable contract ($1.75 million per season) make him valuable for teams in need of depth forwards. His 14-goal, 21-point performance during last season’s shortened schedule suggests he could become a decent second-line player on a more talented club.
Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has also resurfaced in the rumor mill, with Muir claiming the Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings are interested, but he suggests the Anaheim Ducks could be a better fit. With Sheldon Souray sidelined until January and Luca Sbisa out six to eight weeks to a torn tendon in his right hand, Kulikov could be in the Ducks sights. Read more
The Philadelphia Flyers’ recent improvement (5-3-2 in their last 10 games) hasn’t brought an end to the trade rumors dogging the club.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday the Flyers aren’t trying to push out center Brayden Schenn, but they quietly told teams they would consider moving him for the right deal, though Dreger didn’t elaborate what that would be.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos noted Schenn was linked to the Edmonton Oilers earlier in the month in a supposed swap for Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky. He doubts the Flyers are shopping the 22-year-old, but claims the Toronto Maple Leafs have had interest in Schenn for some time, though Kypreos believes any Leafs offer must include defenseman Jake Gardiner.
Brayden isn’t the only Schenn whose name surfaced in the rumor mill this month, as older brother Luke was subject to speculation after being scratched from three early-November games.
Of the pair, Brayden has the most trade value. He currently leads the Flyers in scoring (13 points in 20 games) and is on pace for a career best in points. One would think the “right deal” would have to include a slightly older (late-20s) established scoring forward. Read more