Anaheim Ducks defenceman Alex Grant (51) battles Minnesota Wild right wing Nino Niederreiter (22) for the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 in Anaheim, Calif. The Ottawa Senators have re-signed defenceman Grant to a one-year, two-way contract. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Alex Gallardo
Author: The Hockey News
Senators sign defenceman Alex Grant to one-year, two-way contract
OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators have re-signed defenceman Alex Grant to a one-year, two-way contract.
Grant, 25, was acquired by Ottawa from the Ducks in exchange for forward Andre Petersson on March 5. Following the trade, he was assigned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League, where he recorded 10 points (two goals, eight assists) and six penalty minutes over 19 games. He was held scoreless and recorded 10 penalty minutes while appearing in each of the club's four post-season games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
A native of Antigonish, N.S., Grant appeared in 52 games with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals, registering 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) and 46 penalty minutes prior to being traded. His 27 points led Admirals defencemen in scoring and was fifth highest overall on the team.
Grant played two games with Anaheim last season, recording two goals and two penalty minutes.
Originally selected in the fourth round, 118th overall, in the 2007 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Grant has recorded 99 points (26 goals, 73 assists) and 226 penalty minutes over 196 career AHL contests.
Steve Mason respects Alex Ovechkin’s one-timer enough that the assumption the blast was coming drew the Flyers goaltender all the way out of his crease, leaving an empty-net for Matt Niskanen to tap home a simple tally.
Lack was on to something, too, because later in the same game Ovechkin scored his 1,000th point, he blasted home a shot from the newly minted OviZoid. But don’t go thinking Ovechkin isn’t aware that he’s often firing from the same position on the ice, and don’t assume that the ‘Great 8’ isn’t a cerebral enough player to use that against opposition netminders.
Early in the third period of Sunday’s meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals were breaking up ice on a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin as the apparent triggerman for a pass from Nicklas Backstrom. As Ovechkin opened up his body and a pass came across, he wound up like he was going to lay another blast on goal from the OviZoid, but instead of releasing the one-timer, Ovechkin tapped a one-timed pass into the middle of the ice for the easiest non-empty net goal Washington blueliner Matt Niskanen will ever score:
There’s committing to a save, there’s overcommitting to a sniper’s shot and then there’s whatever Ovechkin made Flyers netminder Steve Mason do on that play. The assumption that Ovechkin wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to rifle a one-timer on goal was enough to literally yank Mason all the way out of his crease. That’s a special kind of respect given to a player’s shooting ability.
The marker was Niskanen’s third of the year, which would be followed only minutes later by his fourth of the campaign, but neither tally would really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Niskanen’s goals, the third and fourth of the night for Washington, were simply the icing on the cake in a 5-0 victory over Philadelphia.
The Breakaway Challenge is no more, but the often ridiculous event at the skills competition offered up some fantastic moments and great laughs. Take a look back at the five best attempts.
The highlight of the NBA’s all-star weekend, almost without fail, is the Slam Dunk Contest. The event has delivered moments like Michael Jordan’s foul line dunk, Vince Carter’s forearm in the rim jam and last season’s phenomenal showdown between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine.
It would only make sense then that the NHL would try its hand at imitating the event, creating the Breakaway Challenge as its version of the dunk competition. The goal was simple: wow the crowd with incredible displays of puckhandling or win them over with props and creativity. Most players went for the latter, and it’s been one of the more ridiculous and comical events at the all-star weekend over the past six skills competitions.
However, after its six-season run as one of the weekend’s events, the NHL has decided to do away with the Breakaway Challenge, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. The news only a couple of weeks before the league is set to head to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game and is at least a slight indication that some new competitions could be part of the format.
With the Breakaway Challenge no more, though, let’s take a look back at five of the very best and most memorable moments from the contest:
5. Johansen gets some help, but Voracek one-ups him
Ryan Johansen had the Columbus crowd in the palm of his hands by using an Ohio State jersey as a prop, and he really got the crowd on its feet by getting a youngster to help bury a shot. It was a great moment, for sure, but Jakub Voracek really got the crowd laughing by stealing Johansen’s idea with the help of another kid on hand: diminutive Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.
4. Ovechkin is the new Captain Canada
If this is the end of the Breakaway Challenge for good, then Alex Ovechkin will go down as the greatest participant the competition has ever had. He won the first ever event in 2008 and with the chance to defend his crown in 2009, he pulled out all the stops, getting a hand from fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin and endearing himself to the Montreal crowd with an interesting choice of headwear.
3. The transformation of Burns
It almost doesn’t matter which team you support when it comes to Brent Burns. He’s an absolute stud on the blueline for the Sharks, he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, he’s got a unique love of animals and he has a Harry Potter tattoo. That last one will only please a certain generation of fan, but it’s indicative of the personality he brings. Burns also isn’t afraid to make light of his grizzled appearance, and he pulled off the perfect gag at the 2016 All-Star Game.
2. SuperKane takes center stage in Ottawa
Ovechkin was the king of the Breakaway Challenge for three straight All-Star Games, and it took a superhuman performance by Patrick Kane for someone to finally take the crown from the ‘Great 8.’ Kane went prop heavy with his attempts, but the clever use of an “exploding” puck was really the topper.
1. Subban pays tribute to greatness
As he continues his career well into his 40s, Jaromir Jagr’s status as one of the game’s most beloved players grows, and that seemingly goes for both players and fans alike. So, how do you win over an entire crowd and one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in one breakaway attempt? Well, you throw on a mullet, a Jagr jersey, some Cooperalls and cap it off with a salute.
Andreas Athanasiou’s combination of speed and skill was on full display Saturday night against the Penguins when he pulled off a stunning end-to-end rush.
Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault wowed with an impressive solo rush for one of the prettiest goals of the season earlier this week against the Winnipeg Jets, and one has to hope he enjoyed his time as the owner of the greatest end-to-end rush of the campaign because he has to pass the crown to Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou.
During Saturday’s meeting between the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, Athanasiou, who is one of the fastest players in the game today, showed off his incredible wheels with a jaw-dropping rush up the ice. Picking the puck up behind the Detroit goal, Athanasiou saw open ice and took it.
Athanasiou darted through the neutral zone, leaving Evgeni Malkin in his wake, then headed straight at the Penguins’ defense. Looking at a potential one-on-three situation, Athanasiou moved to his right to single out Justin Schultz, deked around the defender and rifled the puck over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury. Check it out:
For all that skill and speed, it’s comical how subdued Athanasiou was in celebrating the tally. That kind of play would have warranted a near shoulder separating fist pump, but, instead, Athanasiou went about celebrating the goal like he had potted a tap-in.
Though Athanasiou doesn’t get a ton of ice time in Detroit — he’s averaging less than 13 minutes per game — he’s having a pretty solid sophomore season. He’s played nine games fewer than he did in his rookie season, but Athanasiou has matched his nine-goal, 14-point performance and is on pace for a 20-goal campaign in his second season in the league.
Shane Doan has spent his entire career with the same organization, but he would reportedly consider a trade if the right opportunity presented itself. Even if he does leave, though, don’t rule out a Doan return to Arizona by next season.
The best years of Shane Doan’s career are behind him, there’s no doubt about that, but the veteran winger can still chip in as a bottom-six player, and that could make him enticing come the trade deadline. And according to a report, Doan might actually be willing to accept a trade if the Coyotes can find a good fit.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday evening that Doan, 40, could very well acquiesce to Arizona’s request for him to waive his no-trade clause if the team approaches him with a deal that would be a fit for both the Coyotes going forward and give the franchise’s longtime captain a shot at chasing a championship at the tail end of his career.
Said Friedman: “(The Coyotes are) looking at it like, ‘He’s not going to be here forever, we have to see who else can be the leaders of the team, maybe we might have to move on, but we want to put Shane Doan in a situation where he’d be happy.’ ”
The difficult thing for the Coyotes is that moving Doan isn’t likely to fetch the team all that much in return, so dealing him may be more as a service to Doan than anything.
Through 42 games this season, Doan has just four goals and 12 points and his ice time has diminished by more than two minutes per game. That’s part and parcel with being the veteran leader on a team that’s getting younger — Doan is simply fading into the background while the young players take over the bigger minutes — but it means that any team acquiring Doan will be likely to look at him as a bottom-six piece and nothing more. His name value might be enough to upgrade the return, but it shouldn’t be by any significant measure.
That’s not the only difficulty for Arizona GM John Chayka when it comes to dealing Doan, either. There’s also the matter of finding a team that would offer a suitable situation for Doan and has the cap space to acquire him. Despite the fact he’s no longer a key contributor, Doan’s cap hit is close to $4 million. The deadline offers teams a bit more wiggle room given they’re acquiring only part of the contract, but even still, there aren’t many top contenders who will have the want, need or space to bring in Doan without Arizona potentially retaining some salary. On the plus side, retained salary could mean a bigger return for the Coyotes.
If Doan does move on at or before the trade deadline, it will be intriguing to see if the change of scenery or chance at a title gives him a boost in the back half of the year. However, it is somewhat disappointing that one of the few times it has really seemed like Doan could move on comes at a point in his career where he’s not the same player he was even three or four seasons earlier.
Doan has for years been in a position where he could have possibly moved on from the Coyotes, and while there’s no knowing exactly how close some trade talks may have come at past deadlines and what have you, Doan had a real opportunity to head elsewhere back during the off-season ahead of the 2012-13 campaign. Doan, then 35, remained a free agent through the entire summer and into September ahead of the lockout-shortened campaign, but eventually inked a four-year, $21.2-million deal to remain in Arizona.
And no matter what happens with Doan at or before the trade deadline, don’t rule out the possibility of him suiting up for the Coyotes come the start of the 2017-18 season. Chayka said the Coyotes and Doan are taking a year-to-year approach and the door would remain open for Doan to return if he decided he wanted to. So even if Doan does wave goodbye to Arizona, his absence might only be temporary.