The 10 worst free agent signings of 2014-15

Dave Bolland's five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Florida Panthers is one of the worst UFA deals handed out. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues’ signing of Martin Brodeur didn’t turn out the way many fans would have hoped, with the legendary netminder playing some of the worst hockey of his career and then retiring once there was no longer a spot for him in the lineup.

But the signing was a calculated risk. Brodeur came cheap, was a capable backup and a teacher and mentor for young goaltender Jake Allen. Because Brodeur retired before Feb. 1, it saved the Blues from paying a roster bonus to the veteran netminder. Those are all reasons you won’t find Brodeur on this list of the worst signings of this season.

What you will find is a few players who are overpaid, contracts that are far too long, and a few gambles that simply didn’t pay off. Read more

Panthers’ Spanish announcer goes wild over Barkov goal

Jared Clinton
Aleksander Barkov (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

At several points throughout the season, the Florida Panthers have broadcast their games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and, without fail, every game has provided an incredible goal call.

Thursday night’s Panthers game was no different. With the hometown Panthers in a scoreless tie with the visiting Los Angeles Kings, Florida blueliner Brian Campbell’s clearing attempt deflected off of Jonathan Huberdeau and bounced over the stick of Kings defenseman Matt Greene. The result of the play was a 2-on-1 break for Panthers Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov. Now, to ESPN Deportes’ Arley Londono for the call: Read more

Will infamous singer Gary Glitter’s latest sex crimes conviction finally convince NHL teams to stop playing his music?

Gary Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, leaves a London court  in November of 2014 after being charged with sex crimes. (Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Notorious British musician Gary Glitter was found guilty Thursday in London of multiple sex crimes with minors, and if you’re wondering how this awful man has a connection to hockey, rest assured, you’re not the only one. Here’s why: Glitter’s hit song, “Rock and Roll, Part 2″, continues to be played at NHL arenas. It’s astonishing that teams feel justified in using it despite Glitter’s numerous sex crime convictions prior to this latest one – and the use of his music needs to end. Today.

The 70-year-old Glitter was convicted of one count of attempted rape, one count of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, and four counts of indecent assault. The charges all are in relation to crimes he committed against three girls in the 1970s; he’ll be sentenced February 27th and could receive the maximum sentence for unlawful sex with a minor of life in prison. And the former “glam rock” star, whose heyday came in the 1970s, has been found guilty of sex offenses with minors in courts around the world: in 1999, he was convicted of possessing child pornography (an offense for which he served a four-month prison sentence); in 2003, he was deported from Cambodia to Vietnam after sexual abuse allegations; and in 2006, he was sentenced to three years in a Vietnamese prison for sexually abusing two girls.

And yet, even with that information in the public domain, NHL teams have continued to play “Rock and Roll, Part 2″. The Colorado Avalanche still use the original version as their goal song. The Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators used it in their goal song celebrations last season. The San Jose Sharks use a muzak version for their goal song.

This is all so unnecessarily stubborn and, quite simply, unacceptable.
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Canadiens desperately need to add to their bottom-six at deadline

Brandon Prust  (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Brandon Prust made a play (and what a play!) to score against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night, it represented just the second time in the calendar year and the first in 12 games that a bottom-six forward for the Canadiens had found the back of the net.

Much of the hockey world is skeptical about the Canadiens this season and it has good reason to be. The Canadiens are near the top of the notoriously flawed Eastern Conference this season, but they’re also a poor possession team that often starts games badly and has an unhealthy reliance on its goaltender. Not exactly a recipe for post-season success in today’s NHL. Read more

Rangers’ Lundqvist out of lineup with neck injury suffered Saturday; so why was he playing Monday?

Adam Proteau
Henrik Lundqvist (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers announced star goalie Henrik Lundqvist wouldn’t be in net versus Boston Wednesday due to a neck injury related to the throat injury he suffered Saturday against Carolina. Which makes the decision to play him Monday against Florida highly questionable, and another indictment of hockey’s glorification of players “pushing through” injuries.

Lundqvist insisted on staying in the game after his mask was pulled up and he was hit directly in the throat by a wrist shot from Hurricanes winger Brad Malone:

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Shield your eyes: Islanders’ infamous ‘fishsticks’ jersey is back (sort of)

Adam Proteau
Thomas Hickey (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just when you thought it was safe to watch Islanders games again, the franchise goes and brings back one of the great fashion crimes in NHL history: the infamous “fishsticks” jersey.

Prior to their game against the visiting Florida Panthers Tuesday, the Isles broke out the retro look – which the organization used from 1995-97, much to the chagrin of fans and players embarrassed by the cartoonish, “Captain Highliner” design – during warumps. Team captain and superstar John Tavares is rightfully envied by fans and opponents for his skills, but on a night like this, the envy toward him died down somewhat when he had to pull on this abomination: Read more

Prospect Hot List: Meet the D-man filling Aaron Ekblad’s skates in Barrie

Rasmus Andersson (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

After a one-day weather delay, Boston’s famed Beanpot tournament kicks off tonight with Northeastern vs. Boston College and Harvard vs. Boston U. I’ll be heading out to cover the final of the college classic next week, so in the meantime, here’s a look at a couple recruits for future Beanpots, plus more prospects making noise around the hockey world right now.

Rasmus Andersson, D – Barrie Colts (OHL)

When Andersson decided to leave his home in Sweden for North America, one of the reasons was that he would get more ice time than he had received last year with Malmo. But there was also some trepidation, as the Colts would need a lot of minutes filled due to the loss of another defenseman: Aaron Ekblad, who was headed to the NHL after Florida selected him first overall in the summer. Luckily, the pressure hasn’t been an issue.

“I thought it would be a lot of worse, but it’s been nothing at all,” Andersson said. “Guys have been taking care of me and no one has said anything about him.”

Andersson wasn’t content with his start in Barrie, but after an initial 15-game trial period, he has been producing at more than a point-per-game rate. Familiarity helps and it only makes sense that a kid raised on the European game would need time to adjust, even though his father Peter played a couple seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.

“I have really good billets and a really good coach who has taught me about the Canadian style of hockey,” Andersson said. “I’m comfortable in Barrie and they’ve taught me a lot.”

Scouts would like to see his conditioning and lateral movement improve, but they also like Andersson’s tools. A great offensive weapon on the back end, he uses his shot, playmaking ability and smarts on the point to make things happen. On the power play, he and Buffalo pick Brendan Lemieux have been lethal together, with Lemieux leading the OHL in power play goals and Andersson tied for third in assists.

“We work a lot on shot tips,” Andersson said. “We try to keep it positive between each other and not too fancy. Get a lot of shots, tips, criss-cross here and there. And we score a lot of goals.”

And while Barrie fans won’t forget Ekblad, that kind of production certainly serves as a nice consolation prize. Draft eligible in 2015.

Ryan Shea, D – B.C. High Eagles (Mass. HS)

A polished blueliner with an offensive bent, Shea is a converted forward, which explains why he’s pretty comfortable putting up points. The Northeastern commit has four points in his past two games for the Eagles and his skating is also a great asset. Draft eligible in 2015.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C – Omaha Lancers (USHL)

A smart pivot with a good worth ethic, ‘JFK’ has been hot for the Lancers, notching six points in his past three games. The Boston University commit is one of the highest scorers in the United States League and put in a good effort for the losing side at the USHL Top Prospects Game last month. Draft eligible in 2015.

Jeremy Bracco, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Team USA will play at a Five Nations tournament in Russia this week and the other teams better pay attention to Bracco, a scintillating offensive talent who has been hot lately. The Boston College commit has speed to burn and his 54 points in 38 games is best among 2015 prospects on the team. Draft eligible in 2015.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

He was incredible for Denmark at the world juniors and Bjorkstrand has continued his excellence back in Portland, where he has always been a big producer. Fast and blessed with sizzling hands, the right winger has nine points in his past two games and is up to 70 through 40 contests. Drafted 89th overall by Columbus in 2013.

Samuel Montembeault, G – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)

While guessing which goaltenders will become NHLers has become a grisly task for scouts, Montembeault is at the top of the list for this year’s crop. The lanky 6-foot-3 stopper won seven of his 10 starts in January and has become a lot more confident in the crease this season. Draft eligible in 2015.

Adam Tambellini, C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

One of the top snipers in the ‘Dub,’ Tambellini boasts great size and a sick shot release, which gives fits to defenders trying to thwart him in the offensive zone. He moves well for a big guy and is riding a seven-game point streak where he has put up four multi-point games. Drafted 65th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013.

Roope Hintz, LW – Ilves (Fin.)

Big and fast, Hintz looked pretty good for the underwhelming Finns at the world juniors, but he has really been solid on the local scene. Playing against men back home in Finland’s top league, the 6-foot-2 teenager has 15 points in 33 games, putting him second among all rookies. Draft eligible in 2015.

Dante Salituro, C – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Between Travis Konecny and Salituro, the 67’s are getting good things out of small packages. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Salituro just had a seven-game point streak snapped, but he had 15 points during that span. A lethal shooter with great quickness, Salituro leads Ottawa in scoring. Draft eligible in 2015.

Zach Hyman, RW – University of Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten)

The Wolverines have awoken from their early-season slumber and are wrecking the Big Ten now. Hyman, an alternate captain, has been a big part of that success. The two-way senior (who is also a children’s author) leads the conference in scoring with 36 points in 23 games. Drafted 123rd overall by Florida in 2010.

Separation between East’s have & have-not teams will make NHL trade deadline unique

Cody Franson (Abelimages/Getty Images)

If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.

But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more