With Carey Price out, Habs should look at trading for James Reimer

Carey Price  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens backup goalie Mike Condon will get the start Friday night when the Canadiens visit the New Jersey Devils, which apparently would have been the case had reigning MVP and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price not left Wednesday night’s win over the New York Rangers with a right leg injury.

Condon proved that in the short term that he could be almost as good as the No. 1 man, going 4-0-2 with a 1.81 goals-against average and registering a .932 save percentage in the first six games he played after taking over the net when Price went down with an upper body injury in October.

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Maple Leafs no longer NHL’s most valuable franchise. Who’s new No. 1?

Jared Clinton
The Rangers celebrate (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

After making the post-season only once in the past decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs have officially fallen out of the top spot on Forbes NHL team valuations.

The Maple Leafs, who have sat atop the list since 2006, didn’t just drop one spot, though. According to Forbes, Toronto has slipped to third when it comes to franchise valuation and have seen their worth slip 12 percent since last season. On this year’s list, the New York Rangers have taken over the top spot thanks to a nine percent increase in value change and the second-highest earnings in the league this past season.

Forbes stated the value of the Rangers is $1.2 billion, which makes them the highest standing of the league’s three billion-dollar franchises, with Montreal sitting in second place at a valuation of $1.18 billion. The Canadiens, Forbes wrote, out earned all clubs with $91.3 million coming in this past season. Read more

Cocaine testing could be coming to NHL by end of 2015-16

Jared Clinton
New York Rangers center Jarret Stoll (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL’s drug testing could be expanded to include tests for cocaine by the end of the season, according to a report.

TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reported Monday afternoon that the NHL drug tests for cocaine use could be in place as soon as the end of the 2015-16 season. Lavoie added that nothing is finalized yet, and the NHL and NHL Players’ Association hasn’t yet come to an agreement on the tests. Read more

Fischler’s One-Timers: Rangers destined for Stanley Cup, despite lack of superstars

Stan Fischler
Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)


*  There’s only one super team in the NHL right now and, ironically, barring the goaltender, that club doesn’t boast a single superstar. It happens to be the New York Rangers who are destined for the 2016 Stanley Cup. The reasons are simple: 1. New York features more good — not great — players at more positions than any other squad. 2. Henrik Lundqvist is at least as good as — I say better than — Vezina-winner Carey Price. 3. The Blueshirts collective defense beats those of any other NHL club. 4. Too-often-overlooked Alain Vigneault is at the top of his coaching game and certainly an Adams Award favorite.

These Rangers remind me of the 1946-47 Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs who failed to place a single player on either the First or Second All-Star Teams. A season later — when Toronto won its second of three straight titles — the only Leaf to place either on the First or Second All-Star Team was goalie Turk Broda. Leafs boss Conn Smythe called that club the best Toronto team he ever managed. Next June, I predict, we’ll be saying that this is the best Rangers team ever, and with only one All-Star, Lundqvist.

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Five slumping stars who are set to break out

Jakub Voracek. (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sometimes, no matter what a star does, the pucks just don’t go in and the assists aren’t piling up. It could be the fault of pucks off of posts, a few bad bounces or simply a string of bad luck.

For five star players, the 2015-16 campaign has been especially unkind. And while players such as Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin can seem to do no wrong, there are those who can’t seem to catch a break. Here are five star players stuck in a slump who look ready to break out: Read more

The Rangers finally lost and it could be a sign of a slide in New York

Jared Clinton
Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers went into Tampa Bay Thursday night sporting a nine-game winning streak, and left the game with a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat thanks to a late shorthanded goal by Lightning center Valtteri Filppula. Now that the streak is over, there might be cause for concern that a less friendly run could be on the horizon.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will be one of the first to admit that New York wasn’t perfect while they were piling up the victories. Even though they were getting the results, a third of the wins were one-goal games and one victory, Nov. 14 over the Senators, required a shootout for the Blueshirts to pick up the win.

“We still have areas that we are working on and need to improve,” Vigneault told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte after the winning streak was stretched to six. “We are very aware of that. We’re like any team in the NHL, you have to get better as the season moves forward and that’s what we’re going to continue to strive for.”

And the Rangers certainly have something to strive for. If they can’t turn around their puck possession game, and if their shooting and save percentages are any indication, Vigneault’s club could be due some unfavorable luck. Read more

The six most cost-effective players in the NHL this season

Tomas Fleischmann (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The salary cap era has made it incredibly important to find players who can contribute offensively while not breaking the bank. Usually, these players fill in bottom-six roles and eat up the minutes not reserved for the top-line players. Put it this way: it’s not often you find a winger making league minimum playing on the top power play unit.

But every so often, a team will find a steal of a deal. Be it a veteran coming into camp late or a player coming off their entry-level deal that is just hitting their stride, the cost-effective players are the ones that can help make or break a season. The cap flexibility doesn’t hurt, either.

Before we build the most cost-effective roster possible though, some guidelines. First, the players on this list have to have at least eclipsed the 10-point plateau. As nearly every team is closing in on the 20-game mark, the truest value players will be chipping in a point every other game while taking up a fraction of the cap. Second, in order to cut out the players on cheap deals by virtue of being on entry-level contracts, only players on standard player contracts have been included. So even though Nathan MacKinnon is tearing it up for Colorado, the Avalanche playmaker won’t be on this cost-effective list.

Here are the six players providing their clubs with the most bang for their buck: Read more

Power Rankings: Rangers looking to hang 10 (and 11) in Florida trip

Ken Campbell
New York Rangers  (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first time the New York Rangers won 10 games in a row, it was 1939-40 and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. The second time they accomplished the feat, it was 1972-73 and they lost in five games in the semifinal to the Chicago Black Hawks.

The Rangers will try for the third 10-game winning streak in franchise history Thursday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, when the Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Sunday night, it marked a full month since the last time they’ve been defeated in regulation time.

The Rangers have been dominant at times, at other times just good enough to win games. But the bottom line is they’re winning them and find themselves earning top spot in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. New York Rangers (2)
2. Dallas Stars (3)
3. New Jersey Devils (7)
4. Montreal Canadiens (1)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (13)
6. Los Angeles Kings (10)
7. Nashville Predators (9)
8. Minnesota Wild (8)
9. Washington Capitals (4)
10. St. Louis Blues (5)

Are there flaws in John Klingberg’s game? Of course there are. Does he legitimately deserve to be among the early favorites for the Norris Trophy? You bet he does…At the GM meetings last week, Devils GM Ray Shero acknowledged his greatest fear going into the season. “Your fear is that you’re going to be terrible,” he said. “And who wants to be terrible? Nobody.” Turns out those fears were unfounded, at least early in the season. You might have questioned the Devils credentials over the weekend, then they went out and beat Chicago on the road and Pittsburgh at home…Carey Price went out and took some shots before Montreal’s morning skate Monday, but there’s still no firm timetable on a return that has now hit the two-week mark…The Kings start a five game road trip through the Eastern Conference in Philadelphia Tuesday night that will take them to American Thanksgiving…Braden Holtby will have had five days between starts, which Mike Vogel of washingtoncaps.com points out is not a great thing, saying Holtby’s numbers are far superior when he’s more busy…Speaking of the GM meetings, David Poile said there he’d be in favor of seeing more scoring. Then his team went out and scored seven goals in two of three games.

11. Colorado Avalanche (30)
12. New York Islanders (21)
13. San Jose Sharks (19)
14. Ottawa Senators (15)
15. Boston Bruins (14)
16. Florida Panthers (26)
17. Toronto Maple Leafs (27)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (28)
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (17)
20. Arizona Coyotes (25)

A backup goalie and a player allegedly on the trade block are the two players fuelling Colorado’s recent hot streak. Reto Berra has the best save percentage and goals-against average in the NHL and Matt Duchene was named first star of the week after scoring four goals and eight points to lead the Avs to three straight road victories…There’s no reason to think Patrick Marleau will be moved anytime soon, or at least until he loosens up the number of teams to which he’d accept a trade, and as long as he continues being one of their better forwards and scores overtime winners the way he did in Buffalo on the weekend, the Sharks will see value in keeping him around…Kyle Turris, who has been the Senators best forward by a country mile this season, was knocked out Ottawa’s loss to the Rangers Saturday, did not practice Sunday and is questionable for tonight’s game. The Senators also lost backup goalie Andrew Hammond to a head injury in Sunday’s practice…Go ahead, NHL, just rub the salt into Jonathan Bernier’s wound by naming James Reimer the third star of the week…After missing 10 games with a broken bone in his hand, Aleksander Barkov is scheduled to return to the Panthers lineup tonight against Tampa Bay…Even though his team has won two straight, John Tortorella doesn’t want his Blue Jackets players looking at the standings. “It’s not pretty right now,” Tortorella told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, “and it’s not the way for us to think.”

21. Pitsburgh Penguins (11)
22. Buffalo Sabres (24)
23. Vancouver Canucks (16)
24. Anaheim Ducks (6)
25. Detroit Red Wings (18)
26. Philadelphia Flyers (22)
27. Carolina Hurricanes (23)
28. Edmonton Oilers (18)
29. Calgary Flames (20)
30. Winnipeg Jets (12)

It has sure taken the Lightning a while to get going this season. They have just nine first-period goals this season…Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has yet to play this season after a mysterious injury in training camp, is getting closer to returning to the lineup. The next step is for him to take part in a morning skate, which the Sabres will have Tuesday before facing the Dallas Stars at home…The Canucks were 4-0-1 on the road before embarking on their current road trip, on which they’ve gone 1-3-1 going into tonight’s game in Montreal…Hey, here’s one possible reason the Ducks have struggles do mightily this season. It might have something to do with the fact that Ryan Getzlaf has zero goals in 13 games this season and Jakob Silfverberg has the same number in 17 games…After scoring a career-high 15 goals last season for the Red Wings, Darren Helm has no goals in 13 games this season…We can only hope and pray that this injury isn’t as painful as it sounds: Over the weekend, the Flyers announced that Mark Streit, their all-round best defenseman, would miss six weeks to recover from surgery on a pubic plate detachment…One bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of Leon Draisaitl, who must really, really hate Oklahoma City. Since his call-up, he’s scored five goals and 13 points and is on pace to score 117 points in 72 games this season. He won’t, but it’s fun to dream…In a statement that ranks right up there with “Water is wet,” Jets coach had this to say after practice Sunday, hours after his team was skunked 7-0 by Nashville for it’s fourth straight loss: “We’re not a confident group right now.”