The top 10 goalies most likely to have a down year

Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec (Photo by Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

No one has ever understood goaltenders. From Hall of Fame puker Glenn Hall to wall-kicking Josh Harding, they’re a breed apart and considering the dangerous occupation they chose, perhaps they can be forgiven for their eccentricities. Recently, it’s been very difficult to figure out who will dominate the Vezina Trophy race. But with some help from Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract, here’s a look at 10 goalies who might have down years. Quality Starts percentage refers to games in which a goalie had a .917 save percentage when facing more than 20 shots (.885 when facing 20 shots or less). Vollman averaged out the past three seasons to get his results.

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Pittsburgh Penguins unveil excellent throwback third jersey – what do you think?

Rory Boylen
Pittsburgh's third jersey.

The Pittsburgh Penguins unveiled a third jersey they’ll use during the 2014-15 season today – and we’re big fans of the throwback look.

The “Pittsburgh Gold,” a color scheme used way back in the Mario Lemieux Stanley Cup days, returns for 12 games this season. When the Penguins moved away from these jerseys in the early 1990s, they were a league powerhouse with back-to-back Stanley Cups. And although we ranked the current Penguins logo – with its dulled gold color – eighth-best in the NHL, we would rank the Pittsburgh Gold penguin even higher. It’s a sharp look.

Check it out. Here are the third jerseys the Penguins will use. Excellent stuff, right? Read more

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin to miss start of training camp

Rory Boylen
Crosby & Malkin (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Try not to be alarmed Pittsburgh Penguins fans – but Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will miss the start of training camp.

From the team’s website:

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be held out of the start of training camp, it was announced today by Pittsburgh Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Jim Rutherford.

Rutherford said the decision was made as a precaution after both players suffered injuries while preparing for camp. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is this Marc-Andre Fleury’s last season in Pittsburgh?

Marc-Andre Fleury needs a stellar performance in his walk year if he wants to remain a Pittsburgh Penguin.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enters this season facing an uncertain future. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July, and new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford didn’t believe this summer was the right time to discuss a contract extension.

Fleury told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe he pondered what life would be like playing elsewhere, but that he prefers staying with the Penguins. Since signing a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Penguins in July 2008, Fleury backstopped them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009. In recent years he struggled in the playoffs, but he rebounded last season with a solid effort under goalie coach Mike Bales.

It’s apparent, however, Rutherford intends to take a wait-and-see approach with Fleury, who turns 30 in November. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM has no contract history with Fleury and seems reluctant to offer another lengthy, expensive contract to an inconsistent netminder. It’s up to Fleury to prove his worth this season as a reliable starting goaltender.

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The man who predicted the Rangers would go from last to the Stanley Cup

Jason Kay
Rangers Cup

The New York Rangers finished dead last in the Patrick Division in 1992-93, out of the playoffs and searching for answers.

Yet, remarkably, entering the subsequent season, THN senior writer Mike Brophy predicted they’d win the Stanley Cup when most figured Pittsburgh was a shoo-in for their third in four years. He explains why in the Oct. 15, 1993 issue of The Hockey News, and this edition of Throwback Thursday.

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Rumor Roundup: Sharks & Coyotes trade buzz

Patrick Marleau (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As the San Jose Sharks prepare for the start of training camp next week, questions hang over the future of several players.

Though Sharks GM Doug Wilson backtracked somewhat from talk of making significant changes to his roster, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz still believes Wilson is open to moving Patrick Marleau for a deal agreeable to all sides.

Marleau and Joe Thornton are both starting three-year contracts containing full no-movement clauses. So far neither player has shown any indication they want out of San Jose, but the Sharks recently stripped Marleau of his alternate captaincy and Thornton of the captaincy, which generated speculation it was done to force the pair out of San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan, however, insisted it was done merely to start this season with a clean slate.

Kurz also believes Antti Niemi’s stint as the Sharks’ undisputed starting goaltender is over. Kurz expects the 31-year-old netminder will be challenged by backup Alex Stalock. With Niemi eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Kurz feels it’s time for the Sharks to “start phasing out” Niemi by shopping him once Stalock proves capable of handling the starter’s job.
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Five NHL starters who could lose their jobs this season

Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

You’ve got to be some kind of crazy to be a goalie. Not only do you have to regularly deal with frozen chunks of rubber flying towards you at rifling speeds, but you’re also the last line of defense and, therefore, the first one to blame when things go wrong.

The landscape has been changing at the position, too. In the Dead Puck Era, you needed a proven high-end goalie to compete and spending a lot of money on the position seemed a smart thing to do. But in the cap era, priorities have changed. The game is faster and becoming more based on possession, so you need to spend money on those types of players to keep up.

Paying big money to one goalie today is a dangerous game to play. You can count on one hand the number of consistently excellent goalies in the NHL who are worth large, long-term investments. The market is flooded with all sorts of good, cheaper options to fill the position, which has made the goalie trade market by far the weakest of any position. If you’re not afraid of the unknown, it may be a smarter move to let a goalie walk if he asks for too much money or term, in favor of a younger goalie in the system, or a cheaper one available via free agency or trade. Aside from the top four or five goalies in the NHL, you’re better off spending less money and term on the position.

Which brings us to this list of goalies who may lose their starting jobs this season. Some are up for contract renewal, while others have a cheaper player behind them waiting to break in. There are some Stanley Cup winners here, but unfortunately for them, goaltender is the most “what have you done for me lately” position. They may not be worth the pay day anymore.

Here are five goalies who could lose their No. 1 jobs this season.

1. Cam Ward
Ward actually did lose the starting job to Anton Khudobin last season, but the team still believes in his ability as a No. 1. Read more

Penguins’ signing of Daniel Carcillo, Steve Downie makes Mario Lemieux a hypocrite

Adam Proteau
Daniel Carcillo (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

In the winter of 2011, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux sent a strong and public message to the NHL in regard to a “sideshow” brawl between his franchise’s players and those of the New York Islanders. Calling the incident a “travesty”, the retired Hall of Famer went on to talk about the type of league and game he wanted to be associated with:

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players,” Lemieux said. “We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated.”

Three years later – with Matt Cooke’s infamous legacy in Pittsburgh still relatively fresh in the collective memory of hockey fans – Lemieux’s team has made moves that suggest the integrity of the game and player safety isn’t as much of a priority as he’s suggested it ought to be: In July, the Pens signed expert agitator Steve Downie to a one-year contract; and Thursday, they agreed to terms on a professional tryout deal with journeyman and fellow super-pest Daniel Carcillo.

When you hear Carcillo’s and Downie’s names, the words “integrity of the game” and “safety” do not leap to mind. In fact, they run screaming away from mind. Read more