Clarkson, Weiss among NHL’s biggest free-agent flops

David Clarkson (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

The NHL’s unrestricted free agency period is a crapshoot and sometimes the emphasis is on the crap. For every savvy signing – say, Tampa Bay’s five-year contract with Valtteri Filppula, or Boston’s one-year deal with Jarome Iginla – there is at least one free agent deal that sends fans screaming for the weeping tissues. Here are the worst free agent deals signed last summer:

10. Damian Brunner, Devils, two years, $5 million. Some devout Red Wings fans were sad to see Brunner depart the organization after a rookie NHL campaign that included 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games last season. They were less sad after watching him score just 11 times in 60 games this year while averaging only 13:32 of ice time.

9. Derek Roy, Blues, one year, $4 million. Yes, Roy only signed a one-year contract with St. Louis, but it hardly could’ve gone worse for him. The onetime 32-goal-scorer had only nine goals in 75 games as a Blue and was a regular-season and playoff healthy scratch. There’s no chance the 30-year-old returns to the team or makes nearly as much money next season.

8. Daniel Briere, Canadiens, two years, $8 million. Briere is renowned as one of the league’s good guys and seeing the Montreal native head home to play for the Canadiens made for a nice off-season story. It didn’t translate on the ice, though: he had only 13 goals and 25 points in 69 games – nearly one-third of the totals he posted for Philadelphia in 2010-11 (34 goals and 68 points in 77 games). Read more

Top 10 clutch performers in the playoffs

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Sport)

Come crunch time, these are guys who find that extra gear when the pressure gets ramped up in the 
post-season. Here are the top 10 skaters you can count on to come through in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Rumor Roundup: Martin Broduer, Brad Richards and Mikhail Grabovski buzz

(Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Long-time New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is leaning toward returning next season, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be with the Devils. Brodeur wouldn’t rule out another season with the Devils, but acknowledged their priority is re-signing Cory Schneider, who supplanted him as Devils starter. Schneider is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2015.

If the Devils cannot re-sign Schneider to a contract extension this summer, NJ.com’s Randy Miller believes they should trade him and re-sign Brodeur. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins as a destination for Brodeur, in order to mentor Marc-Andre Fleury. Garrioch also notes the New York Islanders need a goalie.

If Fleury suffers another playoff meltdown, the Penguins could be in the market for a new starting goalie, not a mentor. As for the Islanders, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports they’ll be in talks with current starter Evgeni Nabokov. He could return in a backup role if they land a younger, experienced starting goalie via trade or free agency this summer.

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The Phoenix Coyotes win the 2014 Stanley Cup…of Hope

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport)

Here’s an easy way for the NHL to make even more money: hold a post-season tournament for all non-playoff teams to determine the Stanley Cup of Hope.

The inspiration for the idea comes from the Kontinental League, which started the Nadezhda Cup (a.k.a. Cup of Hope) last season for teams that missed the playoffs. The, er, “winner” takes home around $600,000 and gets a top pick in the KHL draft.

It’s an out-there idea, for sure, and I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but let’s indulge it for a moment.

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Ryan Kennedy’s Lottery Mock Draft

Aaron-Ekblad

Florida won the draft lottery last night, meaning the Panthers get the first crack at an interesting field with a lot of variation in it. A lot goes into a draft list and the final results are always thrown into chaos by trades and reaches. As the draft gets closer and teams decide who they like the most, I’ll get a more accurate picture of how things might shake down. But for now, here’s a quick-and-dirty look at what could happen come draft day in Philadelphia, based on the teams’ current situation.

1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts, D

Yeah, yeah, defensemen never go first overall anymore (Erik Johnson was the last in 2006), but the Cats are loaded up front with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Their best ‘D’ prospects are still in college, whereas Ekblad can step in right away and play a top-four role.

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Florida Panthers win lottery. Will they keep top pick or deal it?

2013 NHL Draft

Turnabout is fair play for the Florida Panthers. At last year’s draft lottery, the second-to-last Colorado Avalanche leap-frogged the Panthers to win first overall pick. This year, it was the Panthers who did the leap-frogging.

Florida moved up one spot in the draft and won the right to select first overall in the 2014 NHL draft June 27 in Philadelphia. The Panthers had an 18.8 percent chance of winning the lottery, held Tuesday night in Toronto. The last-place Buffalo Sabres had the best chance of winning – 25 percent – but will slip to the second overall spot.

The remainder of the top 13 picks follow in reverse order of NHL standings. Edmonton picks third followed by Calgary fourth and the New York Islanders fifth. Vancouver is sixth, Carolina seventh, Toronto eighth, Winnipeg ninth, Anaheim (from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade) 10th, Nashville 11th, Phoenix 12th and Washington 13th. The New Jersey Devils slip to the 30th spot as league penalty for trying to circumvent the NHL salary cap.

Winning the lottery is nice for the Panthers, but it doesn’t mean as much in a draft that is considered very equal among the top three, four, even five prospects according to most scouts. Florida is weakest on the blueline and will surely be tempted to select Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad first overall.

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Draft lottery odds: See the most likely outcome for your team

Nathan MacKinnon

Canadian teams will be well-represented in Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery.

Hey, we have to find something nice to say as the Montreal Canadiens are the only team north of the border to make the playoffs. The other six Canadian cities are among the top 10 teams vying to win the lottery and earn the right to select first overall.

Below you’ll see a listing for the 14 non-playoff teams and their chances to select first overall in the June 27-28 draft in Philadelphia. Most interesting is the likely outcome column which shows the varying percentage chances your favorite team will place.

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With little on the line, final NHL weekend full of sentimentality

Josh Elliott
Ryan Smyth's tearful goodbye

In an odd quirk of the schedule, this weekend’s games didn’t mean much for the playoff race. Every post-season team was already determined by the end of Friday, meaning all that remained this weekend was to figure out matchups and the President’s Trophy winner.

So with the battle for the Stanley Cup on pause, many teams chose to make it a weekend full of career firsts – and career lasts.
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