Cross Checks: New Jersey Devils

Metropolitan Division wrap

October, 13, 2014
10/13/14
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Trending up
  • Isles starting strong: New owners, a few high-profile trade acquisitions and contributions from a bright young prospect are making for a fun time on Long Island in the first week of play. Forward Brock Nelson, 22, leads the league with six points heading into Week 2, and veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, a recent addition to the lineup via trade, is tops with four assists. The New York Islanders won their first two games of the season, a home-and-home against the Carolina Hurricanes, the latter of which was a fitting victory for the team’s final season opener at Nassau Coliseum.
  • Offensive outburst in N.J.: Hard to believe that the New Jersey Devils' offensive woes are completely behind them, but the team has shown no difficulty putting the puck in the net so far. The team has tallied 11 goals in the first two games of the season. Offseason addition Mike Cammalleri already has three goals, and trusty veteran Jaromir Jagr moved into sixth place on the NHL all-time scoring list with a pair of assists in the team’s season-opening 6-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
  • Top line in Columbus: Raise your hand if you thought that Ryan Johansen would struggle after missing all of preseason. Well, the protracted contract negotiations don’t seem to be having an adverse effect on the young pivot, who is centering a line with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson. The trio has combined for nine points through the first two games.
Trending down
  • Cursed in Carolina? Man, things went from bad to worse for the Carolina Hurricanes in the first week of action. Already without Jordan Staal, who sustained a broken leg in the preseason, and Jeff Skinner, who is dealing with yet another concussion, team captain Eric Staal left the team’s second match against the Islanders this week with what is reportedly an upper-body injury. Not many people had high hopes for the Hurricanes to begin with, but predicting this grim of a start would have been difficult.
  • Cause for concern on Broadway: The Blueshirts had an atrocious start last season and they still managed to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, but this is a concerning trend for the New York Rangers and they don’t have a grueling road trip to blame it on this time. The defending Eastern Conference champs got outworked by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and saw their star netminder Henrik Lundqvist chased from the crease just one night later in their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Injury update
  • Boyle suffers broken hand: A pair of injuries is partly to blame for the Rangers’ early troubles. With Derek Stepan already sidelined by a broken leg, the team is now without veteran defenseman Dan Boyle for four to six weeks. Their high-profile free-agent signing of the summer sustained a broken hand in the team’s season-opening victory against the St. Louis Blues.
  • Banged-up Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets had to limp through their first week of the season without key players Boone Jenner (hand), Nathan Horton (back) and Brandon Dubinsky, who recently underwent abdominal surgery that is supposed to sideline him up to six weeks. Still, Columbus is 2-0-0 to start the season.
What to watch for
  • Isles at Rangers: The new-look Islanders squad that appears to be brimming with confidence enters Madison Square Garden Tuesday night to square off against the team’s hated rival. Another loss for the Rangers could bring on a sense of panic on Broadway.
  • Simmonds’ hot start: Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds seems keen on building on a career year last season (29 goals, 60 points). The 26-year-old winger already has four goals and five points in the first three games.


Offseason player movement of all 30 teams

September, 19, 2014
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Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny USA TODAY SportsRyan Kesler and Paul Stastny will be wearing different colors this season.
ANAHEIM DUCKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 14: Acquired C Louis Leblanc from Montreal for a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
June 27: Acquired C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in 2014.
June 30: Acquired C Nate Thompson from Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay’s 4th- and 7th-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Clayton Stoner (Minnesota) and G Jason LaBarbera (Chicago).
July 9: Signed LW Dany Heatley (Minnesota).
Offseason Departures
RW Teemu Selanne (retired); C Saku Koivu (retired); C Nick Bonino (traded to Vancouver); D Luca Sbisa (traded to Vancouver); D Stephane Robidas (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); G Jonas Hiller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C Mathieu Perreault (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Daniel Winnik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C David Steckel (unrestricted free agent); D Nolan Yonkman (unrestricted free agent).

ARIZONA COYOTES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 29: Acquired C Sam Gagner and RW B.J. Crombeen from Tampa Bay for a 6th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed C Joe Vitale (Pittsburgh), G Devan Dubnyk (Montreal), G Mike McKenna (Columbus) and D Andrew Campbell (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
C Mike Ribeiro (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Radim Vrbata (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); G Thomas Greiss (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Andy Miele (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); LW Tim Kennedy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); LW Paul Bissonnette (unrestricted free agent); C Jeff Halpern (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Morris (unrestricted free agent); RW Brandon Yip (unrestricted free agent).

BOSTON BRUINS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Christopher Breen (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW Jarome Iginla (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); D Andrej Meszaros (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); LW Shawn Thornton (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); G Chad Johnson (unrestricted free agent, signed NY Islanders); D Corey Potter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); RW Nick Johnson (unrestricted free agent).

BUFFALO SABRES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Brian Gionta (Montreal), LW Matt Moulson (Minnesota), D Andrej Meszaros (Boston) and C Cody McCormick (Minnesota).
July 1: Acquired D Josh Gorges from Montreal for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
July 3: Signed D Tyson Strachan (Washington).
July 13: Signed C Zac Dalpe (Vancouver).
July 23: Signed D Andre Benoit (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
D Christian Ehrhoff (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kevin Porter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); C Cory Conacher (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW John Scott (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); RW Matt D’Agostini (unrestricted free agent); C Zenon Konopka (unrestricted free agent); LW Ville Leino (unrestricted free agent); D Jamie McBain (unrestricted free agent); D Alexander Sulzer (unrestricted free agent); D Henrik Tallinder (unrestricted free agent).

CALGARY FLAMES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Brad Treliving general manager.
June 28: Acquired LW Brandon Bollig from Chicago for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed LW Mason Raymond (Toronto), D Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh) and G Jonas Hiller (Anaheim).
Aug. 23: Signed RW Devin Setoguchi (Winnipeg).
Sept. 5: Signed D Corey Potter (Boston).
Offseason Departures
LW Mike Cammalleri (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); C Ben Street (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Joey MacDonald (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); D Chris Butler (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Christopher Breen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Boston); LW T.J. Galiardi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Blair Jones (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Shane O’Brien (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Smith (unrestricted free agent); RW Kevin Westgarth (unrestricted free agent).

CAROLINA HURRICANES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Ron Francis general manager.
June 19: Named Bill Peters head coach.
July 1: Signed C Brad Malone (Colorado) and G Drew MacIntyre (Toronto).
July 2: Signed C Jay McClement.
July 3: Signed D Tim Gleason.
Offseason Departures
G Justin Peters (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Manny Malhotra (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); LW Brett Sutter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); LW Drayson Bowman (unrestricted free agent); RW Radek Dvorak (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Komisarek (unrestricted free agent); C Andrei Loktionov (unrestricted free agent); RW Aaron Palushaj (unrestricted free agent).

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Brad Richards (NY Rangers), C Cody Bass (Columbus) and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Tampa Bay).
July 2: Signed D Kyle Cumiskey (Modo, Sweden).
Aug. 18: Signed G Michael Leighton (HC Donbass, KHL).
Offseason Departures
LW Brandon Bollig (traded to Calgary); G Jason LaBarbera (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); G Nikolai Khabibulin (unrestricted free agent); D Sheldon Brookbank (unrestricted free agent); C Michal Handzus (unrestricted free agent); C Brad Mills (unrestricted free agent).

COLORADO AVALANCHE
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired C Daniel Briere from Montreal for RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired D Brad Stuart from San Jose for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 6th-round pick in 2017.
July 1: Signed RW Jarome Iginla (Boston), D Zach Redmond (Winnipeg), D Bruno Gervais (Philadelphia), C Jesse Winchester (Florida) and C Ben Street (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW PA Parenteau (traded to Montreal); C Paul Stastny (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andre Benoit (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Brad Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); LW David Van der Gulik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); D Matt Hunwick (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (retired); D Cory Sarich (unrestricted free agent).

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 23: Acquired LW Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia for LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Toronto for RW Matt Frattin.
July 4: Signed C Brian Gibbons (Pittsburgh).
Offseason Departures
LW R.J. Umberger (traded to Philadelphia); D Nikita Nikitin (traded to Edmonton); RW Matt Frattin (traded to Toronto); C Derek MacKenzie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); RW Jack Skille (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Nick Schultz (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); LW Blake Comeau (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Cody Bass (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); G Mike McKenna (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona).

DALLAS STARS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson from Ottawa for RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Anders Lindback (Tampa Bay), RW Ales Hemsky (Ottawa) and RW Patrick Eaves (Nashville).
Offseason Departures
RW Alex Chiasson (traded to Ottawa); C Chris Mueller (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); C Dustin Jeffrey (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); D Maxime Fortunus (unrestricted free agent); LW Ray Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Aaron Rome (unrestricted free agent); G Tim Thomas (unrestricted free agent); G Cristopher Nilstorp (unrestricted free agent).

DETROIT RED WINGS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Kevin Porter (Buffalo).
July 2: Signed C Andy Miele (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C David Legwand (unrestricted free agent, signed by Ottawa); RW Daniel Alfredsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Todd Bertuzzi (unrestricted free agent); C Cory Emmerton (unrestricted free agent); RW Mikael Samuelsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Jordin Tootoo (unrestricted free agent).

EDMONTON OILERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 25: Acquired D Nikita Nikitin from Columbus for a 5th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 29: Acquired RW Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay for C Sam Gagner.
July 1: Signed D Mark Fayne (New Jersey), LW Benoit Pouliot (NY Rangers) and D Keith Aulie (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
LW Ryan Smyth (retired); C Sam Gagner (traded to Tampa Bay); D Taylor Fedun (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); D Anton Belov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ben Eager (unrestricted free agent); D Mark Fraser (unrestricted free agent); D Denis Grebeshkov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Jones (unrestricted free agent).

FLORIDA PANTHERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 21: Named Gerard Gallant head coach.
July 1: Signed C Dave Bolland (Toronto), LW Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh), LW Shawn Thornton (Boston), C Derek MacKenzie (Columbus), D Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles) and G Al Montoya (Winnipeg).
Offseason Departures
D Tom Gilbert (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); C Jesse Winchester (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Scott Clemmensen (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); RW Krys Barch (unrestricted free agent); D Matt Gilroy (unrestricted free agent); C Scott Gomez (unrestricted free agent); D Ed Jovanovski (unrestricted free agent); D Ryan Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Mottau (retired).

LOS ANGELES KINGS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Adam Cracknell (St. Louis) and LW David Van der Gulik (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
RW Linden Vey (traded to Vancouver); D Willie Mitchell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); D Andrew Campbell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); C Colin Fraser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis).

MINNESOTA WILD
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Thomas Vanek (Montreal), D Stu Bickel (NY Rangers) and LW Brett Sutter (Carolina).
July 11: Signed C Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver).
Aug. 1: Signed D Justin Falk (NY Rangers).
Offseason Departures
LW Matt Moulson (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Clayton Stoner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); LW Dany Heatley (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); D Nate Prosser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Cody McCormick (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Ilya Bryzgalov (unrestricted free agent); C Jake Dowell (unrestricted free agent); RW Carson McMillan (unrestricted free agent); LW Mike Rupp (unrestricted free agent).

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Colorado for C Daniel Briere.
July 1: Signed C Manny Malhotra (Carolina), D Tom Gilbert (Florida) and G Joey MacDonald (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
C Daniel Briere (traded to Colorado); D Josh Gorges (traded to Buffalo); C Louis Leblanc (traded to Anaheim); LW Thomas Vanek (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Brian Gionta (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Devan Dubnyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); RW Mike Blunden (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); C Ryan White (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Francis Bouillon (unrestricted free agent); D Douglas Murray (unrestricted free agent); RW George Parros (unrestricted free agent); C Martin St. Pierre (unrestricted free agent).

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 6: Named Peter Laviolette head coach.
June 27: Acquired LW James Neal from Pittsburgh for RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling.
July 2: Signed C Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg).
July 7: Signed D Anton Volchenkov (New Jersey).
July 15: Signed C Mike Ribeiro (Arizona) and C Derek Roy (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
RW Patric Hornqvist (traded to Pittsburgh); C Nick Spaling (traded to Pittsburgh); RW Patrick Eaves (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Michael Del Zotto (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia).

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Mike Cammalleri (Calgary), RW Martin Havlat (San Jose) and G Scott Clemmensen (Florida).
Offseason Departures
D Mark Fayne (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Anton Volchenkov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); G Martin Brodeur (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Carter (unrestricted free agent); LW Rostislav Olesz (unrestricted free agent).

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 1: Acquired G Jaroslav Halak from Washington for a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Chad Johnson (Boston), C Cory Conacher (Buffalo), RW Jack Skille (Columbus) and LW Harry Zolnierczyk (Pittsburgh).
July 2: Signed C Mikhail Grabovski (Washington) and LW Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto).
Offseason Departures
G Evgeni Nabokov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Radek Martinek (unrestricted free agent).

NEW YORK RANGERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Dan Boyle (NY Islanders), D Mike Kostka (Tampa Bay), D Matt Hunwick (Colorado), C Chris Mueller (Dallas), LW Tanner Glass (Pittsburgh) and G Cedrick Desjardins (Tampa Bay).
July 16: Signed C Matthew Lombardi (HC Geneve-Servette, Switzerland).
July 19: Signed RW Lee Stempniak (Pittsburgh).
Sept. 11: Signed LW Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
RW Derek Dorsett (traded to Vancouver); C Brad Richards (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Brian Boyle (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Anton Stralman (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); LW Benoit Pouliot (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Justin Falk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Arron Asham (unrestricted free agent); LW Daniel Carcillo (unrestricted free agent); D Raphael Diaz (unrestricted free agent); C Darroll Powe (unrestricted free agent).

OTTAWA SENATORS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Dallas for C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson.
July 4: Signed C David Legwand (Detroit).
Offseason Departures
C Jason Spezza (traded to Dallas); RW Ales Hemsky (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Joe Corvo (unrestricted free agent); LW Matt Kassian (unrestricted free agent).

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 7: Named Ron Hextall general manager.
June 23: Acquired LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Columbus for LW Scott Hartnell.
July 1: Signed C Blair Jones (Calgary).
July 2: Signed D Nick Schultz (Columbus).
Aug. 5: Signed D Michael Del Zotto (Nashville).
Aug. 7: Signed C Ryan White (Montreal)
Offseason Departures
LW Scott Hartnell (traded to Columbus); LW Tye McGinn (traded to San Jose); RW Steve Downie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kris Newbury (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Hal Gill (unrestricted free agent); RW Adam Hall (unrestricted free agent).

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 6: Named Jim Rutherford general manager.
June 25: Named Mike Johnston head coach.
June 27: Acquired RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling from Nashville for LW James Neal.
July 1: Signed D Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo), G Thomas Greiss (Arizona) and LW Blake Comeau (Columbus).
July 2: Signed RW Steve Downie (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
LW James Neal (traded to Nashville); D Matt Niskanen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Brooks Orpik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Joe Vitale (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); D Deryk Engelland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Brian Gibbons (unrestricted free agent, signed by Columbus); LW Jussi Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Harry Zolnierczyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Lee Stempniak (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Chris Conner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); G Tomas Vokoun (unrestricted free agent); RW Chuck Kobasew (unrestricted free agent); LW Taylor Pyatt (unrestricted free agent).

SAN JOSE SHARKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW John Scott (Buffalo) and D Taylor Fedun (Edmonton).
July 2: Acquired LW Tye McGinn from Philadelphia for a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Offseason Departures
D Brad Stuart (traded to Colorado); D Dan Boyle (traded to NY Islanders); RW Martin Havlat (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); LW John McCarthy (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); LW Bracken Kearns (unrestricted free agent); RW Matt Pelech (unrestricted free agent).

ST. LOUIS BLUES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft from Toronto for D Roman Polak.
July 1: Signed C Paul Stastny (Colorado) and C Jori Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL).
July 4: Signed LW John McCarthy (San Jose).
July 16: Signed D Chris Butler (Calgary) and RW Benn Ferriero (Vancouver).
July 21: Signed C Jeremy Welsh (Vancouver).
July 22: Signed D Nate Prosser (Minnesota).
July 29: Signed C Peter Mueller (Kloten, Switzerland).
Sept. 5: Signed C Colin Fraser (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
D Roman Polak (traded to Toronto); C Derek Roy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); LW Brenden Morrow (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); RW Adam Cracknell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); G Ryan Miller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); LW Vladimir Sobotka (restricted free agent, signed by KHL Avangard Omsk); C Keith Aucoin (unrestricted free agent); D Carlo Colaiacovo (unrestricted free agent).

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 27: Acquired D Jason Garrison, LW Jeff Costello and a 7th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for a 2nd-round pick in 2014.
July 1: Signed D Anton Stralman (NY Rangers), C Brian Boyle (NY Rangers), G Evgeni Nabokov (NY Islanders) and RW Mike Blunden (Montreal).
July 11: Signed LW Brenden Morrow (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
C Nate Thompson (traded to Anaheim); RW B.J. Crombeen (traded to Arizona); RW Teddy Purcell (traded to Edmonton); G Anders Lindback (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Keith Aulie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Mike Kostka (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Cedrick Desjardins (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Ryan Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Tom Pyatt (unrestricted free agent); D Sami Salo (unrestricted free agent).

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Roman Polak from St. Louis for D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Matt Frattin from Columbus for RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) and C Leo Komarov (Dynamo Moscow, KHL).
July 3: Signed C Mike Santorelli (Vancouver) and C Petri Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk, KHL).
July 22: Signed LW David Booth (Vancouver).
July 28: Signed C Daniel Winnik (Anaheim).
Offseason Departures
D Carl Gunnarsson (traded to St. Louis); RW Jerry D’Amigo (traded to Columbus); LW Mason Raymond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); G Drew MacIntyre (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Jay McClement (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); D Tim Gleason (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Dave Bolland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Nikolai Kulemin (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Paul Ranger (unrestricted free agent); C Jarred Smithson (unrestricted free agent).

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 21: Named Jim Benning general manager.
June 23: Named Willie Desjardins head coach.
June 27: Acquired C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft from Anaheim for C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in 2015.
June 27: Acquired RW Derek Dorsett from NY Rangers for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 28: Acquired RW Linden Vey from Los Angeles for a 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Ryan Miller (St. Louis).
July 2: Signed C Dustin Jeffrey (Dallas).
July 3: Signed RW Radim Vrbata (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C Ryan Kesler (traded to Anaheim); D Jason Garrison (traded to Tampa Bay); LW David Booth (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Mike Santorelli (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Zac Dalpe (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Jordan Schroeder (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Benn Ferriero (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Jeremy Welsh (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andrew Alberts (unrestricted free agent); LW Pascal Pelletier (unrestricted free agent); D Yann Sauve (unrestricted free agent).

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 26: Named Brian MacLellan general manager and Barry Trotz head coach.
July 1: Signed G Justin Peters (Carolina), D Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh), D Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) and RW Chris Conner (Pittsburgh).
July 3: Signed LW Tim Kennedy (Arizona).
July 4: Signed C Kris Newbury (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
G Jaroslav Halak (traded to NY Islanders); C Mikhail Grabovski (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Tyson Strachan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Julien Brouillette (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); RW Dustin Penner (unrestricted free agent); C Nicolas Deschamps (unrestricted free agent); C Peter LeBlanc (unrestricted free agent); C Ryan Stoa (unrestricted free agent).

WINNIPEG JETS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim).
Aug. 1: Signed LW T.J. Galiardi (Calgary).
Aug. 8: Signed D Julien Brouillette (Washington).
Offseason Departures
D Zach Redmond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Al Montoya (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); C Olli Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Devin Setoguchi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C James Wright (unrestricted free agent).
Martin BrodeurEd Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsMartin Brodeur isn't feeling like he's got to rush into a bad gig.

As training camps get set to open at the end of next week, the NHL's all-time winningest goalie likely won't be part of one, a reality that Martin Brodeur knew might be a possibility when he decided to enter free agency.

"We knew all along we would have to be patient," Brodeur's agent, Pat Brisson of CAA Sports, told ESPN.com on Thursday. "Marty is prepared to wait this out, knowing that at some point a team may very well develop a need. Marty is in a good place. It's not like he's phoning me every 10 minutes. He's going to be patient."

Stories over the past week that the Montreal Canadiens might be a fit for the legendary goalie certainly stirred the pot -- after all, there would be some poetry there for sure for the Montreal native, especially given that his late father worked for the team as its official photographer for years.

But with Dustin Tokarski and Peter Budaj already in the picture behind star Carey Price, something would obviously need to change for that to become reality.

"There's nothing going on right now when it comes to Montreal," Brisson said.

I guess one can never say never, but at this point Brodeur needs to wait out his options. There just isn't room for him in Montreal. As it stands, the Habs are going to have to make a decision between Tokarski and Budaj as to who wins the backup job behind Price.

Tokarski requires waivers to be sent back to AHL Hamilton, so that's no small factor, especially when you consider how he opened eyes in the Eastern Conference finals while replacing an injured Price. And, of course, the veteran Budaj would also require waivers. It might very well be that during camp and/or preseason another NHL team has an injury that prompts it to phone Montreal GM Marc Bergevin inquiring about either Tokarski or Budaj.

As for Brodeur, who sits only 12 regular-season wins away from 700 in his career, he just needs to wait for a fit somewhere.

Case in point last season came when Ilya Bryzgalov was in the exact same position and a need was created in Edmonton after the Oilers' goaltending got off to a brutal start; or in Nashville, when Pekka Rinne was injured long-term and the Preds needed goaltending. Stuff happens and Brodeur is ready to wait for it.

"But it has to be right; Marty isn't going to jump at just anything," Brisson said.

"I believe that at one point in the near future a team will have the luxury to have Marty Brodeur," Brisson said. "While he is ready to exercise some patience, it will have to be the right fit and more importantly a chance to help a team win. His level of his competitive experience is extremely impressive. Someone will recognize it when the right time comes."

Meanwhile, the door in New Jersey is certainly shut tight.

"We've got Scott Clemmensen that we signed and certainly have two young goaltenders in [Keith] Kinkaid and [Scott] Wedgewood," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com on Thursday in terms of backup options behind starter Cory Schneider.

"There are no issues there at all with Marty. This was a mutual decision. Marty and I met postseason, everyone knows our relationship. But this is the direction we're going."

Once Brodeur retires, however, one can bet he'll find his way back to Lamoriello if he wants a job in the Devils organization.

Devils could be making moves


Trades aren’t easy to pull off at this time of year, when most teams want to see what they have at least for a month or two before they start to contemplate changes.

Not that the Devils are pressing, either, but they've got bodies up front that could move.

"We'll just wait and see, we certainly have some extra forwards," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com on Thursday. "We've made the decision to go with the young defensemen but we've got a couple of extra forwards. We'll just listen, there's nothing we have to do, we're in a good position cap-wise, we'll just wait and see what transpires."

Jaden Schwartz update


The Ryan Johansen contract impasse in Columbus is certainly the big one right now, but under the radar there's an interesting one in St. Louis, as well.

Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, 22, is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level deal and remains unsigned.

Because Schwartz has played only two NHL seasons (which includes the lockout-shortened year) and doesn't have arbitration rights, obviously there's only so much he can ask for.

While neither side in the negotiation wanted to comment on what's transpiring, I'm guessing given that Ondrej Palat got three years with an average cap hit of $3.33 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning, that's a comparable on some level, especially since Palat had only one NHL season under his belt.

Because it's believed both the Blues and agent Wade Arnott of Newport Sports are focusing on a two-year bridge deal for Schwartz, I'd shave off a bit of money on the shorter-term deal. Could $2.5 million or $2.75 million a year make it work? My guess is Newport would want as close to $3 million as possible and the Blues are likely in the low-$2 million range. Both sides need to bridge the gap here but I don't sense there's as much of an issue here compared to the Johansen-Blue Jackets situation.

Koivu's incredible journey


It was a treat to listen to Saku Koivu on Wednesday as he talked about his decision to retire and the incredible journey that his NHL career indeed was.

It's interesting that he talked about how when the Anaheim Ducks' season ended in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings, which we knew was Teemu Selanne's last game for sure, Koivu said he told Selanne after the game that he thought it might his, too.

I'm not surprised. I remember walking past the Ducks room after the game and Koivu was hugging his kids and it just felt like he was soaking it all in as a final moment. It would indeed turn out to be his last NHL game.

His comeback from cancer in 2002 and his contributions in a first-round upset of Boston will forever be etched in our memories. We throw around words like "courage" and "character" way too much in sports media, but in this particular case, they actually apply absolutely perfectly to Saku Koivu.

He'll be missed.
It will be a strange sight indeed should legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur, now an unrestricted free agent after more than two decades with the New Jersey Devils, sign elsewhere.

And while Brodeur reigned supreme as the face of the franchise for years, leading it to three Stanley Cup championships while establishing himself as perhaps the best goaltender of all time, the time has finally come for him to part ways with his long-time team.

That may be a good thing for the Devils.

With the departure of Brodeur, the Devils have since swung full support behind incumbent Cory Schneider, who recently inked a seven-year, $42 million extension.

"He was ready to take that mantle,” former Devils goatlender Kevin Weekes told ESPN.com in a telephone interview last week. “I like that the franchise was able to put that to bed and start that transition.”

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Andre Ringuette/NHLI/Getty ImagesFormer Devils goalie Kevin Weekes says New Jersey is set up well to move past the Martin Brodeur era.
For a good chunk of last season, Schneider outplayed Brodeur, leaving the Devils in a tight spot in how to handle the situation with an elite, accomplished player who will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Schneider, who was mired in long goaltending controversy in Vancouver before he was acquired by the Devils in a stunning trade in June 2013, was clearly the heir apparent in New Jersey, but Brodeur seemed reluctant to relinquish the throne.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Weekes, now an analyst for NHL Network. “Because he’s Marty Brodeur, he’s earned the right to his influence and impact. Sometimes, the problem with that is it’s not always what’s best for the Devils’ personnel.”

The Devils, who finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs by five points with a disappointing 35-29-18 record, may benefit from having a clear-cut starter moving forward. And Schneider, who posted a 1.97 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage last season, has proved himself more than capable of assuming the No. 1 job.

Weekes, who has known Schneider since he was an NHL rookie, said the 28-year-old Marblehead, Massachusetts, native is a gem.

“He’s a first-rate individual,” said Weekes, who finished his career as a Devil. “Classy, super-intelligent and he handles himself like a pro.”

Weekes was also thrilled to see veteran goal scorer Mike Cammalleri sign with New Jersey as a free agent this summer. He thinks he’ll be a great fit with the Devils and will provide the club with leadership and much-needed offense, especially after a strong 2013-14 season with the Calgary Flames.

“He’s obviously a goal scorer and it’s not just his shot, but also his legs. He kind of got back to doing things to get open space, finding holes, eluding defenders, setting himself up in position to shoot,” Weekes said. “I think he did an unbelievable job at that last year in Calgary. He really rediscovered his game.”

Add in a long-term contract for well-respected blueliner Andy Greene and a healthy captain in Bryce Salvador, and the Devils have a strong veteran presence on their blue line.

But what Weekes is most intrigued to see is how 21-year-old Adam Larsson fits into the plan moving forward. The Devils’ handling of the young Swede has been a puzzling case for many, particularly vexing to some Devils fans who’d like to see the talented prospect develop into the type of defenseman anticipated when he was selected fourth overall in the 2011 draft.

Instead, he has struggled to find a consistent spot among the Devils’ regular defensemen.

“I do know there is definitely a value to having a player earn it -- trust me, I know what that is like,” said the 39-year-old Weekes, who spent time in both the AHL and IHL before cracking an NHL roster. “It’s a curious case for me. He obviously has an exceptional ability, he’s built beyond his years, has a good shot, he’s very smart, a good kid, but for some reason the organization isn’t fully buying in on where his game is at.

“He is still young. But he’s good enough to be an everyday regular.”

That will be one of the many storylines to follow come training camp. Peter DeBoer, who signed a contract extension last season, enters his fourth season as head coach. He’ll have some challenges ahead, but with an Eastern Conference that is wide open -- especially compared to the uber-competitive West -- the Devils should have a good chance to make the playoffs this season.

“I think anything is possible in the NHL,” Weekes said, “but especially in the East.”
Over the years, the NHL has earned a reputation as the type of fraternity that fortifies its rank with men of a like-minded ilk -- old-school, battle-tested and often resistant to change.

This summer, however, we have seen that infused with new faces, diverse backgrounds and fresh ideas.

Nowhere is that more apparent than the league's movement toward embracing analytics.

Whereas champions of advanced stats have previously been the subject of scorn and derision from the mainstream hockey world -- labeled as nerds or contrarians and mocked for never having played the game at the professional level -- their insight is now being courted. Many of these bloggers and statisticians have made huge leaps in collecting and interpreting data, primarily possession statistics, as predictive for a team's success.

Teams are starting to recognize that as a valuable asset.

On Tuesday morning, TSN's Bob McKenzie broke the news that Tyler Dellow, one of the people at the forefront of the advanced stats movement and followed by many via his Twitter handle @mc79hockey, has been hired by the Edmonton Oilers.

Dellow's hiring, which a source confirmed to ESPN.com, is just the latest in this trend toward more innovative additions to a club's traditional front office or hockey operations staff.

Before Dellow, professional poker player Sunny Mehta was hired Friday by the New Jersey Devils to head the team's new analytics department (a move that was recommended by new owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer) and FiveThirtyEight analytics writer Eric Tulsky has worked for teams, including the Nashville Predators. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs, a consistent target of those in the advanced stats community for the club's atrocious possession numbers, seem to realize the need for a new perspective.

In November, months before the Leafs' epic collapse, GM Dave Nonis said he felt that many advanced stats being employed were "not accurate" or relevant. Apparently, others within the organization now feel differently. The Leafs hired youngster Kyle Dubas as an assistant general manager after the 28-year-old proved himself at the junior hockey level in large part because of his strength in employing analytics.

This is still new territory. These jobs signal a paradigmatic shift in the making, but by no means have traditional types been given the heave-ho.

What will be perhaps the most fascinating part of this phenomenon is how these two groups co-exist. How much of a club's resources will be devoted to analytics and how much will the findings dictate the club's hockey-making decisions? Will these new hires be given a sense of autonomy by the organizations, or will they have to fight against a healthy dose of skepticism from front-office vets who aren't yet on board with using Fenwick and Corsi stats as meaningful methods of evaluation?

The landscape is changing, and teams are keen on gaining any type of competitive advantage. If those forward-thinking clubs start to reap the benefits, you can imagine there will be many more teams scouring the bowels of the Internet for the type of statistical wunderkind who might give them a leg up too.

East: 30 cheesy songs for 30 teams

August, 1, 2014
8/01/14
9:30
AM ET

Hair bands and hockey hair: a marriage made in heaven. We're dropping the needle on 30 songs that say something about each of the 30 teams, using nothing but cheesy videos from the 1980s. The Eastern Conference list is below -- feel free to mullet over. (Western Conference is here.)



BOSTON BRUINS: "Don't You (Forget About Me)," Simple Minds

Everyone's all caught up in the West Coast domination thing, but you can't discount the Bruins, the hardest team in the East. They changed very little in the offseason, have been good for many seasons and have had their core together for many seasons. Replacing Jarome Iginla's 30 goals will not be easy, but somehow these guys always find a way to win, no matter how many goals leave. And if they can find a way to beat the Canadiens ...

Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, baby
Don't you forget about me
Don't don't don't don't
Don't you forget about me



BUFFALO SABRES: "Road To Nowhere," Talking Heads

This was as close as we could get to "We're On The Road To Finishing Last, So We Have a Better Chance of Getting Connor McDavid Or We'd Even Take Jack Eichel, As Far As That Goes."

They can tell you what to do
But they'll make a fool of you
And it's all right, baby, it's all right
We're on a road to nowhere



CAROLINA HURRICANES: "Mad World," Tears For Fears

No offense to Tim Gleason, but there's not much new happening here. Which, as you might expect, is how a team that finished so low in the Eastern Conference and failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season should operate. Sarcasm. No wonder Jim Rutherford left.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn-out places
Worn-out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere
Going nowhere



COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: "Here I Go Again," Whitesnake

So, you're Scott Hartnell, playing fairly well on one of the league's most desirable teams. Then, poof, you're suddenly dealt to Columbus, with little indication as to why. It's enough to make your hair stand on end. More, that is.

I don't know where I'm going
But I sure know where I've been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
And I've made up my mind,
I ain't wasting no more time
But here I go again
Here I go again



DETROIT RED WINGS: "Broken Wings," Mr. Mister

Who are we to stand in the way of obvious symbolism? Man, the Red Wings really miss Nicklas Lidstrom.

So take these broken wings
And learn to fly again, learn to live so free



FLORIDA PANTHERS: "Money For Nothing," Dire Straits

Dave Bolland is a good player, but five years at $5.5 million per? The Panthers must feel his intangibles are off the charts, because his tangibles -- which were never great, as he has never scored 20 goals in a season -- are declining to disappearing.

That ain't workin'
That's the way you do it



MONTREAL CANADIENS: "Under Pressure," Queen and David Bowie

Getting to the final four is a great selling point for every team in the league -- except if you're the Canadiens, whose fans consider anything short of a parade to be a failure. Can Carey Price rebound from his playoff injury? Can P.K. Subban continue to light it up without causing a brush fire in the dressing room? Will the Habs get back to the conference finals? And so on.

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets



NEW JERSEY DEVILS: "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Bobby McFerrin

If there was a state of denial, it's New Jersey. It's not enough that Martin Brodeur, the greatest goalie not named Patrick Roy, is unceremoniously being pushed out -- the team's scoring woes are to be addressed by a frequently injured Martin Havlat and a decent-but-declining Michael Cammalleri. Whether it's on the ice or off, this franchise is not what it used to be, but no one in Newark seems all that concerned.

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style
Ain't got no girl to make you smile
But don't worry, be happy
'Cause when you worry
Your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down



NEW YORK ISLANDERS: "Is There Something I Should Know?" Duran Duran

Even with a new building on the horizon, the Islanders are still considered a team to stay away from. Heck, it's so bad, they aren't even on national TV this season. And their offseason signings -- Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Cory Conacher and Jack Skille -- show only the downtrodden or desperate decide to head to the Isle. Somewhere, a frustrated Clark Gillies is throwing boulders at a Sasquatch.

Maybe next year, maybe no go
I know you're watching me every minute of the day yeah
I've seen the signs and the looks and the pictures that give your game away yeah
There's a dream that strings the road a broken glass for us to hold
And I cut so far before I had to say
Please, please tell me now, is there something I should know
Is there something I should say that'll make you come my way



NEW YORK RANGERS: "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)," Cinderella

The Rangers will always have King Henrik. But their chances of returning to the Cup finals are looking as arid as the setting in this video, after losing Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot and Brad Richards and replacing them with Dan Boyle, Lee Stempniak and ... Tanner Glass? Zoinks.

Don't know what you got till it's gone
Don't know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It's just this song
And it ain't easy to get back
Takes so long



OTTAWA SENATORS: "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)," Glass Tiger

Jason Spezza is now a Dallas Star. Weird, huh? First longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson moves on, then Spezza bails. Sounds like some woe is living in O-town.

Oh can this be true
If you could see what I have seen
Broken hearts and broken dreams
Then I wake up and you're not there
Pain finds me everywhere



PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: "I Don't Care Anymore," Phil Collins

Are they even trying to be good? Something just doesn't feel right about this team.

Well, you can tell everyone I'm a down disgrace
Drag my name all over the place
I don't care anymore
You can tell everybody about the state I'm in
You won't catch me crying 'cause I just can't win
I don't care anymore, I don't care anymore



PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: "Say You, Say Me," Lionel Richie

Sidney Crosby, you're good, you're special and, doggone it, people like you. You're great, you're really, really great. A shining star, truly. But, dude, you have one Stanley Cup. So, now you've got a new coach -- a new friend, of a sort -- who can show you how to win. And, if you somehow lead your team to the big prize, people will be dancing on the ceiling.

As we go down life's lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two
A helping hand, someone who understands
That when you feel you've lost your way
You've got some one there to say I'll show you



TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: "Sledgehammer," Peter Gabriel

Get ready, Bolts fans. This could be your year. GM Steve Yzerman has made some savvy moves in his relatively short tenure, stacking up on good defensemen in the offseason and re-signing Ryan Callahan. That, coupled with the return to health of super sniper Steven Stamkos and stonewall Ben Bishop mean these aren't your Chris Gratton-variety Lightning.

I've kicked the habit
Shed my skin
This is the new stuff
I go dancing in, we go dancing in
Oh won't you show for me
And I will show for you
Show for me, I will show for you



TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: "Land Of Confusion," Genesis

Dave Nonis decries the use of advanced stats in the NHL. Then, after new sheriff Brendan Shanahan rides into town, the Leafs hire a noted advanced-stats guru as the assistant GM. Who's in charge here again? How long will Nonis have a job? Is the captain staying or going? Is James Reimer the backup? So confusing.

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see
This is a land of confusion



WASHINGTON CAPITALS: "Turn Me Loose," Loverboy

Alex Ovechkin's summertime heartache aside, you know he wants to be turned loose by whomever his coach happens to be, and this season he's got Barry Trotz behind the bench. Will it happen? Will he be given the green light by yet another coach? And, if so, will he actually try while backchecking?

I was born to run
I was born to dream
The craziest boy you ever seen
I gotta do it my way
Or no way at all


The New Jersey Devils ranked 27th in the NHL in goals per game (2.4) last season, a key reason they missed the playoffs for the second straight year after a surprise run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.

And for years the Devils have had to steel themselves against a parade of top players fleeing the franchise, players like former captain Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk (who walked right into a completely different league in Russia), Paul Martin and Brian Gionta, all of whom exited New Jersey without the Devils getting any return for those assets.

[+] EnlargeMike Cammalleri
Gerry Thomas/NHLI/Getty ImagesBig names usually leave New Jersey, but Mike Cammaleri is coming aboard.
Tuesday, though, the Devils managed to land a good-sized fish in veteran goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri.

Now, the Devils had to overpay Cammalleri both in terms of money and contract length, giving the 32-year-old a five-year deal that will cost the them $5 million annually against the salary cap.

Still, it's a slight decrease from what Cammalleri was making in Calgary, and it’s a fact of life that until the Devils return to contender status it will cost them more to bring in outside free agents.

Cammalleri is an interesting guy and he’ll bring a little more pizzazz to a Devils’ room that also is home to another top character in Jaromir Jagr, who led the Devils with 24 goals and 67 points last season and is back for one more year.

The Devils also added Martin Havlat on Tuesday, signing the winger to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

Cammalleri had 26 goals in just 63 games last season for a rebuilding Flames, and there's nothing to suggest he can't replicate that production or even see those numbers jump with a Devils team that had the ninth-ranked power play in the NHL.

The Eastern Conference looks pretty fluid (read: mediocre) at this point, and if goalie Cory Schneider remains healthy there's no real reason New Jersey can't get back into the top eight and make the playoffs. If the Devils make the postseason, Cammalleri may truly earn his keep.

Although he hasn’t played in the postseason since 2011, in his last 26 playoff games with Montreal in 2010 and ’11, he collected an impressive 16 goals and 13 assists.

Welcome to Newark, Mr. Cammalleri.
The NHL’s all-time winningest netminder was intrigued on the eve of free agency, wondering exactly where he’ll end up.

"I’m excited and intrigued to see some of the options [that] will be laid out in front of me," Martin Brodeur told ESPN.com on Monday. "It’s something that’s new to me; it’s going to be fun."

Technically, Brodeur did in fact enter free agency two years ago, but that was really just because it took Devils GM Lou Lamoriello some time to come around on the idea of a two-year deal.

This time, it’s for real. Brodeur is almost surely changing teams, something Devils fans probably never thought they would see in their lifetime. But Brodeur is eager for a new challenge before he wraps up an incredible career. He’s got one of the sport's big-time agents in Pat Brisson of CAA Sports.

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsMartin Brodeur is ready to say goodbye to New Jersey and begin a new chapter in his career.
"We’ll see what noon [ET] tomorrow will bring," Brodeur said. "I’m just sitting back and letting Pat do his thing."

Brodeur is willing to look at different types of fits.

"It depends on the opportunity," Brodeur said. "I’m pretty open-minded about things. For me, this is a year that’s going to be a challenge for me regardless of where I land, first because it’ll be in a different organization, second because it’ll be a new [role]. It’s something where I think I’m just going to really enjoy the game and not worry about carrying a team. I’m just going to be a piece of the puzzle for a team, hopefully."

Whether that’s mentoring a young starting goalie or even helping a more established starter, Brodeur is ready to be that guy.

"It’ll be fun for me just to see what the opportunities are," he said. "But I’m open-minded, whether it’s a team with a good young goalie or being in a spot where I’ve got a chance to win a Stanley Cup again ... just look forward to seeing what’s out there."

Brodeur also knows it may not happen on Day 1 of free agency for him. He needs to patient as Brisson works out the market for him.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan publicly stated over the weekend Toronto had some interest, although I don’t think there’s much money to spend there. Not to mention James Reimer hasn’t been traded yet.

What about Tampa Bay? It needs a backup goalie. Just a thought.

What now for Tampa?
The Tampa Bay Lightning shed $5.65 million in cap space Sunday night with their three trades, fueling no end of speculation that the club was going to be quite active come Tuesday. Perhaps ... but this is about Tampa creating roster/payroll flexibility moving forward whether that’s for signing a player or two come Tuesday or for having that space to do something over the next few months.

"It gives us some options," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told ESPN.com on Monday. "Really, prior to yesterday, other than trying to sign a backup goaltender, we really weren’t in a position to do anything at all. And we may end up doing nothing [Tuesday] other than signing a backup goaltender, but we’d like to explore [the free-agent market]."

Yzerman pointed to possibilities both up front and on defense.

"We’d like to get potentially a center or maybe a winger," said Yzerman. "And then, we have seven defensemen signed and we’d like to carry eight. Depending on fit and contract, whether it’s a really expensive guy or a low-end one-way, we’ll try to add one more defenseman."

Yzerman said he'd prefer a right-handed defenseman. The Bolts GM would not discuss specific names, but sources have confirmed Tampa’s interest in UFA blueliner Matt Niskanen as well as veteran Dan Boyle, among others.

Tampa joins the likes of Detroit, Toronto, Montreal and the New York Rangers on the list of teams interested in Boyle, as well as places where he would be happy to sign, according to a source.

Niskanen, well, he’s wanted by nearly everyone. He could fetch north of $6 million a year on the open market Tuesday. I don’t believe Tampa will bid like crazy; the deal would have to make sense for them.

Around the market
  • Speaking of Niskanen, likely the most sought-after blueliner on the market Tuesday, his agent, Neil Sheehy, was busy Monday trying to pare down the long, long list of teams interested in signing his client.

    "We are narrowing the list to a workable number today. I can't say how many but rather a workable number," Sheehy said via email.
  • Brad Richards is set for free agency for the second time in his career. Bought out by the New York Rangers, the veteran center would be a valuable addition at the right price. His leadership was on full display during New York’s playoff run and his hands are still capable of helping any power play. Reached via text Monday, Richards didn't want to comment, saying he wanted to keep a low profile on the eve of the market opening.
  • Paul Stastny’s agent, Matt Keator, was working Monday to shorten the list of suitors. Some 15 teams showed interest since the speaking window opened. Keator said Monday morning it was time to work it down to a more workable list, planning to speak with Stastny to identify the top suitors, which another source suggested would include St. Louis. Colorado, of course, also would remain in the mix right to the end, either way.

    The Stastny situation continues to affect the Jason Spezza trade scenario to some degree, most notably with the Blues’ interest in both players. One source did suggest Monday that the Dallas Stars might renew their exploration of the Spezza situation. As I reported Saturday, the Stars have talked to San Jose about Joe Thornton, but either way would like to pick up another top-end center.
  • About eight to 10 teams have circled back to the Thomas Vanek camp with interest. Minnesota, of course, is one of those teams, although as we reported last week, the Wild have expressed to Vanek’s camp that they won't do a long-term deal. Despite that, Minnesota remains very much part of Vanek’s wish list, although where exactly he ends up Tuesday remains to be seen. Sounds like he’ll have to decide between a shorter-term deal in Minnesota (where he really wants to play) or a bigger offer elsewhere. Meanwhile, Vanek met with Wild coach Mike Yeo on Sunday, a source confirmed, to talk about his possible fit.
  • After Josh Gorges refused to accept a trade the Toronto, the Habs must either find a trading partner with one of the 15 teams on Gorges’ approved teams list or put him on waivers, my TSN colleague Bob McKenzie reported earlier today. Will the prospect of going on waivers convince Gorges to take the trade to the Leafs?
  • Jussi Jokinen hits the market Tuesday as it appears the Penguins won’t be re-signing him.

    A source told ESPN.com that Jokinen’s camp offered to re-sign for $4 million a year, a raise over the $3 million he made this past season, but the cap-challenged Penguins feel it’s too much money.

    Jokinen’s agent, Todd Diamond, wouldn't divulge those kinds of details, only to say he still hoped to hear back from Pittsburgh before the market opened Tuesday.

    "Our last conversation was that they would get back to us, but we haven’t heard back yet," Diamond said Monday morning.

    "We have three or four other teams that we’ve spoken to. But I think with these potential trades possibly happening [Jason Spezza, etc], that may also create more interest for Jussi and other players in his position. It’s a pretty fluid situation right now."

    Diamond also represents forward Leo Komarov, who wants to return to the NHL after a year in Russia. The former Maple Leafs forward played well in the Olympics for bronze-medal winner Finland, and there’s a lot of interest in him, according to Diamond.

    "I don’t have enough fingers to count how many teams have called," said Diamond. "He’s a very popular player right now. He’s 27 and brings lots to the table."
  • Speaking of interest, there's plenty as well apparently in Martin Havlat, who became an unrestricted free agent after the San Jose Sharks bought him out. A source told ESPN.com approximately 10 teams have called on him since he was bought out. The long list of injuries have minimized his impact over the past few years, but at the right price, there are teams that can’t help but wonder if getting him on the rebound would be a nice bargain and a solid gamble if he can stay healthy.
  • TSN's Darren Dreger reported Monday that the Maple Leafs would make one more push on pending UFA center David Bolland, but it wouldn’t be more than five years or above $5 million a year. Not sure that’s going to get it done.
  • Pending UFA winger Radim Vrbata has seven or eight teams on his trail, although the Coyotes remain in the mix. It was expected agent Rich Evans and the Coyotes would talk again Monday at some point.
From the official NHL release:

JAGR, MALHOTRA AND MOORE NAMED MASTERTON TROPHY FINALISTS


NEW YORK (April 30, 2014) -- Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils, Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes and Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” the National Hockey League announced today.

A $2,500 grant from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association
(PHWA) is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.

The local chapters of the PHWA submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, in alphabetical
order:

Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils

Jagr's unwavering dedication to the game has allowed him to continue playing at high level when most players his age are retired. The Devils named the 42-year-old right wing team MVP in 2013-14 after he led the club in assists (43), points (67), plus-minus (+16), game-winning goals (six) and shots (231). Admired throughout the League for his rigorous training regimen, Jagr credits working hard in practices to avoiding fatigue, allowing him to stay fresh and maintain an advantage over opponents late in games.

Manny Malhotra, Carolina Hurricanes

Malhotra, 33, was the Vancouver Canucks' Masterton nominee in 2011-12 after returning from a serious eye injury suffered the season before.
Refusing to believe his NHL career was over last fall, Malhotra signed a professional tryout agreement with the Charlotte Checkers, Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate, on Oct. 3 and signed as a free agent with the Hurricanes four weeks later. He appeared in 69 regular-season games, assumed a leadership role in serving as an alternate captain and ranked second among all NHL players in face-off percentage (59.4%).

Dominic Moore, New York Rangers

Moore, 33, returned to the NHL this season after taking a leave of absence from the League in the spring of 2012 in order to care for his wife, Katie, after she had been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.
Katie passed away at the age of 32 in January of 2013. Moore thereafter established the Katie Moore Foundation (katiemoore.org), dedicated to helping patients and families with rare cancers through research, advocacy and community. He resumed his career as an integral part of a Rangers team that earned 96 points and a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division.

History

The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers’ Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey and who died on January 15, 1968.

Could Ovechkin pull a Kovalchuk?

April, 11, 2014
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We speculated on our podcast Thursday about whether a KHL club might try to lure Alex Ovechkin away from the Washington Capitals, if not this summer, then perhaps over the next few years.

It's a similar idea to Ilya Kovalchuk bolting from the New Jersey Devils to the KHL last summer.

Ovechkin has not said anything that would suggest he's even thinking about it. But we asked KHL president Alexander Medvedev for his view on this possibility.

His response, relayed to ESPN.com via a KHL spokesman: "Per the terms of our memorandum of understanding with the NHL as it relates to respecting player contracts, Ovechkin would only be free to join a KHL club if he negotiates his way out of his existing contract with the Washington club. Should that situation come to pass, I have no doubt there are KHL clubs who would have interest in his services."

Ovechkin has seven more years and $70 million left on his NHL contract. Caps GM George McPhee declined comment when reached by ESPN.com.
Will Martin Brodeur get a final farewell in front of the New Jersey Devils fans?

With the Devils now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs -- rendering the remaining three games of the season essentially meaningless -- and another pair of matches at home in Newark’s Prudential Center, that would seem to set a stage for Brodeur’s last hurrah as a Devil.

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Andy Marlin/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur has surrendered the No. 1 goaltending slot to Cory Schneider.
But coach Pete DeBoer was mum about his plans beyond Thursday night.

When asked about the possibility, Brodeur said he hasn’t given it that much thought.

“I might have played my last game here. Who knows?” he told reporters on Thursday. “We’ll see. It’s something we’ll have to talk about.”

The 41-year-old veteran, who has been outspoken and somewhat critical about his long-time club recently, is expected by many to continue playing after the expiry of his current contract with the Devils.

Brodeur told local reporters on Thursday that he plans to explore the market as a free agent this summer. He also admitted that he won’t be surprised if the Devils are not among the list of suitors for his services.

“I don’t expect them to come running after me.” Broduer said.

The future Hall of Famer surrendered the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider with a lackluster performance this season. He was 18-14-5 with a .900 save percentage and 2.54 goals against average for the Devils, who narrowly missed the playoffs just two years after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

Had they won just half of their shootouts, they’d have had a fighting chance. But that, combined with their goal-starved offense (25th in the league with 2.42 goals per game), put them behind the eight-ball in the Eastern Conference.

Playing Brodeur as much as he did, despite heir apparent Cory Schneider’s seemingly-superior play may also have been a mistake.

Will he be around next year for a similar dilemma?

“Regardless of if I stay or leave," Brodeur said. "The Devils are in unbelievable hands with [Schneider].”
Canucks turning into a circus
Having stable ownership doesn't necessarily denote good ownership, a reality worth keeping in mind as the Vancouver Canucks find themselves in a state of chaos. Somehow, in less than three years, the Canucks have gone from being a perpetual Stanley Cup contender to a team in disarray. We're about to find out about the character of this team, and the search for the character (or identity) of this franchise starts at the very top, with owner Francesco Aquilini. On Tuesday, Aquilini fired GM Mike Gillis, ostensibly because Gillis all but came out with a sandwich board that said, "You know, I wasn't so hot on that Tortorella guy to begin with" during a recent radio show. Gillis' comments reinforced the commonly held belief that it was Aquilini, not Gillis, who was driving the bus when it came to hiring coach John Tortorella in the offseason. The comments were bold but ultimately self-destructive for Gillis. So the Canucks are out of the playoffs for the first time in six years and Gillis is gone, which isn't necessarily the wrong call, given how the team's personnel has been mismanaged the past three or four years. Ownership now has to find someone to un-bungle this mess. Whether that means promoting Laurence Gillman to GM or hiring from outside with a proven NHL manager -- which could fall to former captain Trevor Linden, who was named president of hockey operations Wednesday -- this is a defining moment for a franchise that has fallen precipitously from its run to the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. And what of Tortorella? Ownership must also decide if it believes in the combustible coach and, if so, must come out quickly to reinforce that he'll be back. If not, ownership will have to suffer the dual embarrassment of having to fire both a coach and GM less than a year after presenting both with four-year contracts. Sadly, embarrassment is something with which the Canucks are becoming intimately acquainted, and it will be up to ownership to prove it can turn the tide and not simply add fuel to the fires of discontent.

Jets aren't flying high
Speaking of ownership decisions, the Winnipeg Jets continue to flaunt the Atlanta Thrashers' DNA as the Jets will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season (the third straight since moving to Winnipeg). We've known Paul Maurice a long time. He is a smart, forward-thinking coach, and his impact on the Jets after taking over for Claude Noel was immediate and stunning. But it didn't last. After closing in on a playoff berth at the Olympic break, the Jets won their first two post-Olympic games but have not won two in a row since. They went winless in six games shortly after the break and have suffered from periods of listless team defense, mediocre to awful goaltending, and a lack of offensive production. In short, they are what they've been for most of their existence: an average to below-average team that shows flashes but never enough consistent quality play to be a legitimate playoff team. The question for ownership is whether that is a function of coaching or personnel. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made no significant moves at the trade deadline. That inactivity, coupled with the team's swoon out of contention, raises the question: personnel or coaching? Could the Jets be a playoff team under Maurice next season? Sure. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic, including the emergence of Jacob Trouba as a top-end young defender. The Jets have proved, in some ways, to be a resilient lot, with 15 wins after giving up the first goal, third-most in the NHL. And maybe status quo is the way to go for the Jets, although for a team with so little to show for its efforts over the past decade, "Hang on for another year" is a tough idea to sell to fans.

Not just the shootout for Devils
The New Jersey Devils are on a collision course with missing the playoffs for a second straight season after their surprise run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. Most will point to their shocking 0-11 record in shootouts and, yes, that's pretty unbelievable. Win just five of those, and the Devils are playoff-bound. But for us, it's not just the breakdown in the skills competition but the team's inability to overcome. As of Wednesday, the Devils were dead last in wins after falling behind in games. In games where they gave up the first goal, the Devils had come up with just five wins. The Anaheim Ducks have won 20 games when giving up the first goal, best in the league. The Detroit Red Wings, whom the Devils are chasing for a wild-card spot, have 15; the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team holding down the final wild-card spot, have nine. Nine is not a lot. But it's four more than five, and for the Devils, that difference represents the difference between being in and being left behind. Again.

Halak makes curious call
Not sure what to make of Jaroslav Halak's decision that he'd rather not play Tuesday against his old team, the St. Louis Blues, in what was a must-win situation for the Washington Capitals. As it turned out, Braden Holtby was excellent for the Caps, who came up with a crucial 4-1 win as they kept their slim (and growing slimmer by the day) playoff hopes alive. But "I'm not comfortable" as a reason for not being available to take the ice in a crucial moment leaves us more than a little cold. Kudos to Halak for being honest, and maybe there's a backstory but it's the kind of honesty that we're pretty sure is going to make a lot of GMs take notice as Halak heads for the open market as a free agent this summer. Allan Walsh, Halak’s agent, denied in a statement that his client asked out of the game. But it still remains another curious development for a team fighting for its playoff life.

Bishop-less Bolts' hopes are looking grim
What are the chances that the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens if top netminder Ben Bishop is lost to injury? Slim. Sub-slim. Bishop injured his wrist early in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and there's no word on when he might return. Anders Lindback came on to preserve the shutout and keep the Bolts within two points of Montreal in the hunt for home-ice advantage in what should be a terrific first-round matchup. But Lindback has played sparingly, with Bishop earning Vezina Trophy buzz for his work in keeping the Lightning afloat in spite of injury and turmoil that has enveloped the team at various points of the season. And when Lindback has played, he has been OK. Well, let's be honest, less than OK. The 6-foot-6 Swede has not won back-to-back games all season and boasts a pedestrian .884 save percentage. He has exactly 13 minutes of NHL playoff action to his credit. The upside? Well, not sure it means anything, but recently top NHL analysts suggested to us that the Minnesota Wild would have the worst goaltending in the Western Conference come playoff time and maybe the worst goaltending of all 16 teams. Since then, Ilya Bryzgalov has gone 5-0-1 and helped the Wild secure the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Maybe similar reports of doom and gloom will prompt a similar response from Lindback and the Lightning. Maybe.


The Tampa Bay Lightning made it clear to Ryan Callahan’s camp that they want the player past this season.

The pending UFA's agent, the veteran Steve Bartlett, told ESPN.com Tuesday that he chatted with Steve Yzerman in Buffalo over the past weekend, at which point the Bolts GM made it clear they'd like to talk extension after the season.

Yzerman, also reached Tuesday, said for now the focus is on hockey, on making the playoffs and on doing well in the playoffs. The GM will focus on Callahan’s future later.

"He’s just going to play hockey and we’ll talk when the season’s over," Yzerman told ESPN.com.

But it’s clear the Bolts hope the former Rangers captain is more than just a rental.

"Yeah, we’d love to sign him," said Yzerman. "He’s a good fit, a good person, a good player, has style of play that really complements our group well; he’s fit in really well. So we hope to sign him. But we won’t talk until after the year."

Tortorella could be out

Even though he still has four years and $8 million left on his deal, I think it is more than likely that John Tortorella will be fired as head coach after the season in Vancouver.

I like Torts, but he was never the right fit for that team.

The Canucks built a blue-line corps meant for a quick transition game, but the club has played more of a chip and chase, shot-blocking game this season. As one NHL scout told ESPN.com, "The wrong system for that set of players."

The real question in Vancouver is whether that’s going to be enough change. I suspect ownership continues to debate internally whether or not to fire GM Mike Gillis and that’s really going to be the biggest decision of all.

Personally, I would allow Gillis at least one more year to redirect the ship. I think he’s earned that.

Gillis, by the way, also has four more years on his contract.

Talks renewed between Markov, Habs

Things went quiet between the Montreal Canadiens and Andrei Markov's camp after both sides talked on the eve of the March 5 trade deadline.

Markov’s agent, Sergei Berezin, however, said the dialogue with Habs GM Marc Bergevin was renewed over this past weekend regarding the pending UFA blueliner.

"I met with Marc a couple of days ago when they were here [in Florida]," Berezin told ESPN.com Tuesday.

"I don’t think we’re in any rush to get anything done. I have an idea what they’re offering, they know what we want, and I don’t actually think we’re that far apart. I’m hopeful in the end it will work out."

Jagr, Devils to talk extension

There was also activity on the Jaromir Jagr front. The future Hall of Famer is a pending UFA but has really enjoyed his time in New Jersey.

A source told ESPN.com Tuesday that Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, met with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello a few days ago and both sides expressed a desire to get Jagr extended. However, those talks would wait to get going for real until after the season.

Wild win Folin derby

There was massive interest in college UFA blueliner Christian Folin, 23, and as colleague Craig Custance first reported Monday night, the Minnesota Wild won the derby.

One of the hot rumors that’s made the rounds around NHL circles is that Folin’s camp was demanding a guaranteed NHL roster spot for next season, which was a deal breaker apparently for some teams.

"We weren’t demanding, we were seeking, there’s a difference there, there are no guarantees," Folin’s agent, Dan Plante, told ESPN.com Tuesday.

Plante said it wasn’t a formal request, it was more about the process and wanting to know where the Swedish blueliner would fit in the organization’s plan. But yes, teams that communicated a real chance for Folin to play in the NHL season obviously got a leg up.

"The message to teams was, 'When Christian decided to leave school, he wanted to have a real shot to be on your team next year,'" Plante told ESPN.com Tuesday. "But there’s no guarantees, we know that. We said, 'Hey, do you see him fitting in on your team next year and challenging for a spot?' We got lots of 'yes' responses to that.

"We wanted to find the safest environment for the kid."

They feel they found it in Minnesota, where there’s a Wild blue-line corps that’s still a little thin overall and where Folin can definitely step in next season and be a contributor.

"He’s what we need," Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told ESPN.com Tuesday. "We love his combination of size and mobility plus he’s a right-handed shot. We’re just so happy and thrilled to have landed him."

The Wild had shown interest in Folin for more than a year, in fact.

Just what kind of player can the 6-foot-3 right-handed blueliner be?

"He has a chance to be a real good No. 4 [defenseman]," said one NHL team executive.

Said an NHL scout: "A very late bloomer. Big, skates well and has a hard shot; needs work defensively, average passer."

Bruins winning in notable ways

What pleases Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli the most about his team’s incredible run over the past two-plus months is the consistency in his team’s game, which is so important with the playoffs around the corner.

"We don’t always win in perfect ways, but when we have deficiencies, we tend to take care of them, which is nice to see at this point in the season," Chiarelli told ESPN.com Tuesday.

Most notable is the way in which the Bruins’ blue-line corps survived the injury loss of Dennis Seidenberg.

"It’s given a few of our young guys more opportunities to defend, which is important come playoff time. To really know how to defend in our system," said the Bruins GM.

Seidenberg was an especially impactful player on the penalty kill, but the Bruins entered Tuesday night’s NHL action eighth overall on the penalty kill, not to mention third overall on the power play.

It’s worth mentioning because the Bruins most often get lauded for their five-on-five play, which as always has been top-notch this season under head coach Claude Julien, but it’s not the only reason they’re winning.

"Sometimes overlooked in all this is that our special teams have been really good," said Chiarelli.

One of the major power-play contributors has been Jarome Iginla, who seems to have found the fountain of youth this season in Boston. He's slated to be a UFA July 1, and there has been expressed mutual interest on both sides to continue the relationship, although contract talks between the Bruins and veteran agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports would wait until after the season.

"Absolutely," Chiarelli responded when asked about having interest in bringing back Iginla.

"I’ve talked to Donnie and we’ll look at it, like we look at everything else, after the playoffs."

Carlyle's future

There are some people who have wondered over the past few days if the Toronto Maple Leafs might be contemplating a coaching change this late in the season to try to salvage their playoff chances, the reeling club having lost eight straight before hosting Calgary on Tuesday night.

I don’t think that’s going to happen in terms of right now. That’s just not the style of GM David Nonis, whose patient approach since taking over the club has been his best attribute -- even if Leafs fans are angry and disillusioned right now. I don’t think Nonis would see any benefit at all in a coaching change this late in the season.

Randy Carlyle’s future, however, will no doubt be on the table after the season if Toronto misses out. That’s not to say for sure he’d get canned, but I think Nonis will have no choice at that point but to evaluate whether Carlyle is the best choice in terms of bringing along the team’s young talent.

Regardless of whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not, I expect Nonis would continue with his patient approach going into next season, preaching the development of young players. Nonis has a long-term view for this club, which has been rare for a Toronto GM over the past 30-odd years.

I suppose what’s going to be interesting in that regard is just how patient Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke will be if the Leafs miss the playoffs.

One thing to keep in mind: The Leafs GM who hired Carlyle was Brian Burke. Yes, Nonis was Burke’s right-hand man at the time, but the fact is, as Leafs GM, he hasn’t yet hired his own coach.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Almost two years have passed since Zach Parise left New Jersey as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the Minnesota Wild, but the wounds were clearly still fresh for Devils fans when he faced his former club in New Jersey for the first time Thursday night.

The crowd of 14,772 at Prudential Center booed Parise when his name was announced in the Wild’s starting lineup. They preemptively booed him even when he was jabbing at the puck on the first shift of the game.

They booed him every time he touched the puck and did not relent once during the Devils’ 4-3 overtime victory.

[+] EnlargeParise
AP Photo/Bill KostrounZach Parise faced a bunch of booing as he made his return to Prudential Center.
The only time they cheered for him was when he was sent to the penalty box for hooking just 7:33 into play. He got the same treatment when he was stuffed by Devils netminder Cory Schneider on a short-handed breakaway attempt later in the period.

There were signs posted along the corner boards, some worse than others. It was clear Devils fans felt abandoned by the once-revered captain.

Parise was not surprised by the reception. In fact, he anticipated it.

"I was expecting that," he said after the Wild’s overtime loss. "I saw a couple signs that were nice. I was expecting the boos. Once you start playing, you drown them out. You don’t hear them."

Parise still felt like the homecoming was a memorable one. He didn’t deny that there was a different feel to this game. He sensed that upon arriving to his old stomping grounds, where he spent seven seasons, the last of which he served as the team’s captain.

"Some pretty weird feelings pulling up to the rink before the game and playing on this ice again, but it was fun. It was fun to be back," he said. "Unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t what we were planning on, what we had hoped for, but for us to claw back into the game and get a point -- that could be big for us late in the year."

Parise was instrumental in leading the Wild’s comeback, cutting a Devils lead in half with a tip of Ryan Suter’s shot while jostling with Bryce Salvador in front of the net just 21 seconds into the third period.

"The first period, he must have been thinking 'Man, this couldn’t be going any worse.' He takes a penalty, does a great job on the penalty kill and gets a breakaway and doesn’t score," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "To see him get rewarded there in the third, for us, it was great because we know what it meant to him."

The Wild tied the game at three later in the frame to take the game into overtime -- earning a much-needed point given their precarious playoff position in the Western Conference -- but ultimately fell after Devils defenseman Andy Greene’s game winner two minutes into OT.

It was a very Devils-esque win. They controlled much of the game and frustrated the Wild for the majority of play. Parise, who led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in the spring of 2012, knows that type of game well.

"That’s the style of hockey they play," he said. "They grind, they grind, they grind. They don’t put the puck in the middle of the ice. They play low-risk hockey."

That low-risk hockey isn’t quite the same without the dynamic firepower the Devils used to possess, however. The team lost Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in consecutive offseasons, leaving fans feeling rightly perturbed. Even franchise goaltender Martin Brodeur said before the game that the Devils should have never let Parise walk.

But he did, making the gut-wrenching decision to sign with his hometown Minnesota Wild and leaving money on the table elsewhere and inking a matching 13-year, $98 million deal with fellow unrestricted free agent, defenseman Ryan Suter. Maybe fans’ ire would best be directed at general manager Lou Lamoriello, as Brodeur not-so-subtly suggested, but they took it out on Parise instead.

"I don’t have any hard feelings towards them. I understand," Parise said. "I wasn’t expecting cheers, so it’s fine."

Parise’s teammate, Matt Moulson, said Parise showed no outward signs of anxiety before the game. Rather, he went about his normal routine and appeared unconcerned. But having just been through an emotional return himself earlier in the week -- facing the New York Islanders on Long Island for the first time since he was unceremoniously shipped out of town to Buffalo -- Moulson could empathize with the mental toll.

"It’s emotional. You spend so many years putting your heart and soul into a team and you have to come back and play against them," said Moulson, who tallied two goals against his old team Tuesday night but was instead cheered by Islanders fans. "Mine was a little different situation but same emotions I think. You pour everything into your team and that becomes your family. It’s a little weird [when you change teams]."

And those ties still appear strong for Parise, because, as much as fans might resent him, he is clearly still beloved by his former teammates. A group of his old New Jersey buddies made its way down to the visitor’s locker room to catch up after what they knew would be a difficult game for him.

Luckily for Parise, who has had this date circled on the calendar for quite some time, it’s finally over.

"You know, I know his time here means a lot. I know what people think of him here means a lot, too," Yeo said. "Obviously, it was a tough decision, a tough move for him. That said, maybe it’s an opportunity for him to -- I don’t want to say move on -- but that’s what we need him to do. Obviously, we’re happy to have him here."
Zach PariseBruce Kluckhohn/Getty ImagesParise admits he doesn't know what kind of reception to expect from fans at The Rock.
Zach Parise noticed one particular date when he first saw the Minnesota Wild’s 2013-14 schedule. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it wasn’t until March. Midway through the season, he was still able to put the game on the back burner. But now, Parise’s much-anticipated return to New Jersey is right in front of him, with his first game back at Prudential Center against his old New Jersey Devils club on Thursday.

Time to finally face the music.

“I’m excited,” Parise said. “It was a lot of really great memories there and I haven’t been back since. It will be a lot of emotions going through going back to that rink for the first time and everything.”

The 29-year-old Parise, a first-round draft pick (17th overall) by the Devils in 2003, spent the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, where he blossomed into one of the elite forwards in the National Hockey League. He even led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in 2012. But after the team’s surprising playoff run that spring, he decided to test free agency and signed with his hometown Minnesota Wild instead of re-signing with the Devils, as many New Jersey fans had hoped. Parise and stud free-agent defenseman Ryan Suter inked matching 13-year, $98 million deals with Minnesota.

Parise hasn’t been back to New Jersey since and doesn’t quite know what to expect from Devils fans in his return Thursday night.

“I’m guessing some mixed reviews,” said Parise, who has 23 goals and 45 points for the Wild this season. “I don’t know, though. I’ve said it before: What’s important to me is how good I was treated when I was there. I understand sports. Fans love their players and their teams and they don’t want to see players leave, but the part I’ll remember most is how good to me when I was there and that’s what matters.”

Parise still keeps in touch with his former teammates. He was planning to get together with a few of them for a low-key dinner Wednesday night. Those friendships won’t ever fizzle for Parise, no matter where he plays. The bond became particularly strong when the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in '12. Though they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in a six-game series, it was an experience Parise will never forget.

“You develop bonds that you just don’t get when you don’t make it that far,” Parise. “It’s something that, yeah, I’ll always remember.”

His relationship with general manager Lou Lamoriello remains intact, as well. Despite having to make that tough phone call on July 4, 2012, when Parise told Lamoriello of the decision to return home to Minnesota, the two maintain a good relationship. They trade texts occasionally and even an odd phone call here or there. Parise’s wife, Alisha, still keeps in touch with Lamoriello's longtime secretary, Marie.

There is no bad blood between Parise and the organization.

“We have a great relationship,” Parise said of Lamoriello. “I don’t think he holds a grudge or holds anything against me. He understands that’s the way hockey works. We had a good relationship beyond hockey where I would feel comfortable talking to him or calling him or something like that.”

At the time of Parise’s signing, Lamoriello acknowledged that he couldn’t compete with the tug of home. He understood. Parise now gets to see his father, former NHLer J.P. Parise, almost daily. His dad is able to attend morning skates and join Zach for pregame meals, not to mention the time devoted to being an on-site grandpa to Zach's 2-month-old twins (a boy, Jaxson, and a girl, Emelia).

Was coming home as good as he had hoped?

“It’s been better,” he said. “It’s been great.”

Maybe Devils fans will understand that, too. Parise didn’t just chase the dollar signs. In fact, he left significant money on the table to play for Minnesota (Philadelphia made an offer far more lucrative than the one he signed).

Maybe Devils fans won’t understand. But, according to Parise, that’s OK, too.

“People believe what they want to believe. I don’t know. Maybe it made more sense to them since I wanted to go back to Minnesota,” he said. “You never know.”

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