Cross Checks: Anton Khudobin

Jan. 3 stars: Khodobin, Kessel, Pavelski

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
From the official NHL release:


NEW YORK (February 3, 2014) – Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin, Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel and San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the month of January.


Khudobin appeared in each of Carolina's 14 games in January, posting a 10-4-0 record, 2.19 goals-against average and .927 save percentage, as the Hurricanes (25-20-9) climbed to third place in the Metropolitan Division by month's end. Khudobin allowed two goals or fewer in eight of 13 starts, did not surrender more than three goals in any appearance and posted a pair of four-game win streaks (Jan. 2-9 and Jan. 22-27). He improved to 6-0-0 on the season in a 6-1 win over Toronto on Jan. 9, setting franchise records for most winning decisions to start a season and a career with Hartford/Carolina (six). Signed as a free agent by the Hurricanes in July, Khudobin improved his season record to 12-4-0 with a
2.16 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 17 appearances.


Kessel tied for the League scoring lead in January, recording 20 points (7-13--20) in 15 games, as the Maple Leafs (30-21-6) posted a 9-5-1 record and jumped to third place in the Atlantic Division. Kessel's efforts during a seven-game point streak from Jan. 10-21, during which he collected 6-8--14, helped the Maple Leafs post a six-game winning streak (Jan.
12-21), the club's longest since the 2005-06 season. Kessel, who will represent the United States at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games later this month, leads the Maple Leafs in scoring and is fourth in the League overall with 61 points (30-31--61) in 57 games. His 30 goals rank second to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (39). Kessel tops the Maple Leafs in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (tie-4) and shots (217).


Pavelski scored a League-leading 12 goals in 15 games last month and added four assists as the Sharks (35-15-6) went 9-6-0 and strengthened their hold on second place in the Pacific Division. Pavelski recorded goals in eight contests, including the game-winning goal in each of three consecutive games. He notched his first NHL hat trick in a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay Jan. 18, tallying a 'natural' hat trick with three scores in a
6:12 span late in the second period; scored twice in a 3-2 win over Calgary Jan. 20; and recorded the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Winnipeg on Jan. 23.
Pavelski, who will represent the United States at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games later this month, is tied for third place among NHL goal-scorers with 29, just two shy of his single-season career high set in 2011-12. He ranks second on the Sharks in points with 29-25--54 in 56 games.

We often describe the first day of free agency as a frenzy.

Guess what?

Friday, they finally got the frenzy part right.

From the moment the marketplace officially opened at noon ET, there was a non-stop acquisition of horseflesh from virtually every corner of the NHL map.

And in the wake of a five-year deal for Valtteri Filppula worth $25 million in Tampa and the five-year deal Stephen Weiss signed in Detroit for essentially the same amount and the $36.75 million the Toronto Maple Leafs committed to David Clarkson over the next seven years -- and a total of 63 deals worth a record $411.9 million -- remind us again why we had a lockout?

If that doesn’t confound your puzzler, well, more than a few things did on this most active of free-agency days.

Herein a look around the league at the events that made sense, made little sense and made no sense after the dust had cleared.

Ottawa Senators
The Senators said goodbye to their venerable captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. But within a couple of hours, GM Bryan Murray had landed an elite top-six forward in Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. Ryan will be a great fit on and off the ice in this Canadian market. It cost Murray big-time in the form of Jakob Silfverberg, a first-round draft pick, and former first-round pick Stefan Noesen. But the Sens, who also signed Clarke MacArthur to a two-year deal, are well-armed for a playoff battle in what looks now to be the toughest division in the newly realigned NHL.

Detroit Red Wings
It was a curious day for the Wings as they signed an aging Alfredsson to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million, evoking memories of the disastrous turn in Detroit by an aging Mike Modano, and then signed Weiss to a big five-year deal at $4.9 million a season, even though Weiss has toiled in relative obscurity in Florida his entire career. He’s played in just seven playoff games, all in 2012. The Wings also failed to immediately re-sign veteran Daniel Cleary or bring back impressive first-year player Damien Brunner or center Valtteri Filppula, who signed in Tampa. In other words, a few steps in a circle.

Tampa Bay Lightning
And since we’re on a Red Wings kick, let’s look at the Filppula signing. Five years at $5 million a year is a lot for a guy who had 17 points in 41 games this season (he did register 66 points in 2011-12). As a second-line center in Tampa who will ostensibly replace Vincent Lecavalier, is Filppula up to the task, or were those 66 points a mirage and will he settle back to his career norm of 40 or less? Let’s put it this way, for GM Steve Yzerman’s sake, Filppula better be on the ascending arc of his career or this is going to look pretty ugly in the wake of the Lecavalier buyout.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Still don’t quite get why Nathan Horton was in such a hurry to get out of Boston but guess all those trips to the finals must have been annoying somehow. Horton signed a whopper seven-year deal worth $37.1 million with the Blue Jackets, who are trying to build off last season’s dramatic if ultimately unsuccessful run to a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Still, is Horton really ready to be the guy in Columbus after being able to exist in the shadows for the most part in Boston? Streaky doesn’t really describe Horton’s history offensively and that won’t cut it for a team that has made the playoffs just once in its existence and has never won a postseason game.

Nashville Predators
Good bounce-back day for GM David Poile after just missing out on Daniel Briere as he added versatile veteran center Matt Cullen and hardworking Matt Hendricks along with Viktor Stalberg to bolster the Preds’ anemic offense. The Preds will, seemingly, always be about success by committee and these three additions should make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Cullen shortly after he signed his two-year deal worth $7 million told us it was difficult to leave his home state of Minnesota, but that the Preds’ hardworking style was attractive to him. Although injuries slowed Cullen at the end of this season, he can do it all, including taking important draws, working the power play and killing penalties.

Phoenix Coyotes
How rich is this? Two days after nearly having to relocate, with new ownership assured for at least the next five years, the Phoenix Coyotes were major players, snagging the top-producing free-agent forward, center Mike Ribeiro. The skilled Ribeiro signed a four-year deal worth $22 million and will rejoin head coach Dave Tippett, for whom he played in Dallas. The Coyotes have long been lacking depth down the middle. No more. Phoenix also signed Thomas Greiss to back up Mike Smith.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Just when you think GM Ray Shero is all out of cards up his sleeve, he pulled out "The Piece" -- or rather repatriated "The Piece," defenseman Rob Scuderi, who was a key part of the Pens’ runs to the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup finals. Scuderi, who also won a Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, signed a four-year deal with the Pens for a total of $13.5 million and will help solidify the blue line of a team that once again looks Stanley Cup-ready with Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis all re-signing deals in recent days.

Carolina Hurricanes
On a day when lots of bigger names were signing a lot bigger contracts, we liked the additions in Carolina of defenseman Mike Komisarek, who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs and who has a ton to prove as he tries to get his NHL edge back. And then there was the signing of backup netminder Anton Khudobin, formerly of the Boston Bruins. Lots of folks believe Khudobin, the former ECHL goaltender of the year, has NHL starter stuff. Pending Cam Ward’s durability, Khudobin might be among the steals of the free-agent market.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Few players were pursued as vigorously as former New Jersey Devil winger David Clarkson. Edmonton, Ottawa and Boston were among the teams interested in the rugged winger with the scorer’s touch. But the Toronto native ended up coming home and signing a whopper seven-year deal with the Leafs worth $36.75 million. With the addition of Jonathan Bernier and Dave Bolland, the Leafs look to have better depth than a year ago (they also re-signed Tyler Bozak to a five-year deal on Friday worth $21 million). They are still thin down the middle but Clarkson will give Randy Carlyle the tools to ice three potentially potent scoring lines, which will be crucial to the Leafs' efforts to return to the playoffs for a second straight year.

New Jersey Devils
Speaking of the Devils, their big signing of the day, Ryane Clowe for five years for a total of $24.25 million, seemed to illustrate the difficulty the franchise continues to have in attracting top-end talent. Clowe, like Clarkson, is a rugged forward with a nose for the puck, but he is also coming off a series of concussions, so his durability -- especially given his brand of game -- has to be suspect. Bottom line is the Devils needed someone to help fill the void created by Clarkson’s departure, and they had to overpay a player with health issues to get that done. Not sure how that strategy sustains itself long-term. The Devils did add another proven scorer in Michael Ryder, who signed a two-year deal worth $7 million late Friday afternoon, joining fellow Newfoundlander Clowe in New Jersey. This is a lateral move, the Devils being Ryder’s third team in the past four years having gone from Boston, with whom he won a Cup in 2011, to Dallas and now to New Jersey.

Philadelphia Flyers
It didn’t turn out to be much of a surprise when the Flyers signed Ray Emery to a one-year deal worth $1.65 million. Emery wanted a chance to earn back a starting job and the Flyers represented one of the few teams with that kind of dynamic. The fact Emery had played for the Flyers was a bonus. But the big question is whether Emery, who was so good as Corey Crawford’s backup with the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks -- going 17-1 with a .922 save percentage during the regular season, has the durability to become a starter again. Emery will split time with Steve Mason, and given Mason’s up-and-down career, there’s no reason to think Emery can’t be the man, as long as his body goes along with the plan. And, oh yeah, the Flyers remain over the salary cap so GM Paul Holmgren still has a little work left.

New York Islanders
Weird day for goaltenders. With Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas still looking for a place to land late Friday, the Isles re-upped netminder Evgeni Nabokov for one year at $3.25 million. Apparently no one in the Islander front office bothered to look at tape of the Isles' first-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps GM Garth Snow has a Plan B that will reveal itself at some point, but right now the Isles do not possess enough goaltending to get in the top four of their division despite adding character forwards Cal Clutterbuck at the draft and signing Pierre-Marc Bouchard on Friday.

Edmonton Oilers
Loved the Oilers' addition of veteran defenseman Andrew Ference to a four-year deal worth $13 million. If it’s one thing the Oilers need, it’s some maturity on the blue line. Ference won a Cup with Boston in 2011 and was part of the Bruins’ run to the finals this spring, logging more than 24 minutes a night in the postseason. Not sure about Boyd Gordon signing at $3 million a year for three years, but someone had to take on the departed Shawn Horcoff’s role (the former Edmonton captain was dealt to Dallas). Jason LaBarbera was inked to a one-year deal to come in to back up Devan Dubnyk, which is fine if you believe Dubnyk is the guy to lead this team out of the wilderness, but right now the Oilers look to have no better than the sixth-best goaltending in their new division.

Boston Bruins
You can’t beat the irony of this one. The Bruins were spurned by Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline when Iginla waived his no-trade clause and joined the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then the Bruins waxed the former Calgary captain and the Penguins in four games in the Eastern Conference finals, allowing just two goals in four games and leaving Iginla without a point in the series. Of course, Friday afternoon Iginla signed a one-year deal worth a $6 million cap hit (the final compensation is dependent upon bonuses) with the Bruins because, well, why not? The Bruins, shut out of the Alfredsson talks, among others, as they tried to plug the holes that have opened up on the right side of their lineup, are actually a nice fit for Iginla. As was the case at the trade deadline. And would it surprise anyone if the rugged winger lights it up after having a difficult time with the Penguins especially against the Bruins? Of course not.

Minnesota Wild
Interesting afternoon for GM Chuck Fletcher, who unloaded salary in Devin Setoguchi, essentially giving the winger away to the Winnipeg Jets for a second-round pick, and then picking up rugged winger Matt Cooke, signing him to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million. Setoguchi has one year left on his deal worth a $3 million cap hit. He started slowly with the Wild this season but playing with Matt Cullen ended up with 13 goals and 27 points but Setoguchi was never the perfect fit in Minnesota and so he joins a Jets team that continues to collect other teams’ castoffs. Cooke, a part of the Penguins’ Cup-winning team in 2009, will ostensibly replace Cal Clutterbuck, who was dealt to the New York Islanders at the draft. Cooke is well-known to Fletcher and to head coach Mike Yeo, both of whom were with the Penguins during that Cup run.

Morning jam: Stat highlights from Monday

January, 29, 2013
Bruins 5, Hurricanes 3
* Bruins: 4-0-1; best 5-game start since 1990-91 (also started 4-0-1)
* Bruins: snap a 4-game losing streak against the Hurricanes
* David Krejci: game-winning goal with 1:50 left; 1st goal of season (scored 23 goals in 79 games last season); has at least 1 point in 4 of 5 games this season
* Anton Khudobin (BOS): 29 saves in 1st start of season, now 6-1 in his career

Kings 3, Canucks 2 (F/SO)
* Jeff Carter (LA): scored only goal in shootout
* Slava Voynov (LA): scored tying goal (1) with 44 seconds left in 3rd period
* Zack Kassian (VAN): scored goal in 4 of last 5 games

Blue Jackets 2, Stars 1
* Vinny Prospal (CBJ): Game-winning goal in 3rd period (2); 1st GW Goal since April 7, 2010 with Rangers
* Philip Larsen (DAL): Power-play Goal in 2nd (1); 1st PP Goal allowed by Blue Jackets at home this season in 3 games
* Blue Jackets: snap 3-game home losing streak vs Stars

Coyotes 4, Predators 0
* Chad Johnson (PHX): 21 saves, 1st career shutout and 2nd career win
* Johnson: Only 5th career start and first since Jan. 31, 2010 when he was with the Rangers
* FROM ELIAS: Johnson is 3rd goaltender in franchise history to post shutout in debut for team (Ilya Bryzgalov in Nov. 2007, Al Montoya in April 2009)
* Derek Morris (PHX): Assist on Nick Johnson's goal was 400th career point
* Predators: Shut out for the 2nd time in last 3 games

Oilers 4, Avalanche 1
* Oilers are 6-1-2 in last 9 home games vs Avalanche
* Avalanche are 0-3 on road this season, with 3 goals in 3 games
* Nail Yakupov (Oilers) 3rd goal of season (empty-net goal); has a goal in 3 of his last 4 games
* Devan Dubnyk: season-high 37 saves
* FROM ELIAS: Oilers have 10 power play goals in 1st 5 games for 3rd time in franchise history (1986-87 and 1987-88)

Anyone who doesn’t think the Boston Bruins have their eyes on the big prize after they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last spring hasn’t been paying attention. With backup Anton Khudobin making his first start of the season to give Tuukka Rask a break, the Bruins got a goal from David Krejci with less than two minutes to go in regulation and went on to defeat Carolina 5-3. The win moved the Bruins’ mark to 4-0-1. They are one of two teams in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss this season (New Jersey is the other). The win stopped a two-game win streak by the Hurricanes. The principle assist on the Bruins’ winning goal came from rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton who, to the surprise of no one, will not be heading back to junior hockey but remaining with the big club in Boston for the balance of the season.

• The Vancouver Canucks’ stutter start continued Monday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as they blew a 2-0 lead and dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the defending Stanley Cup champs. Roberto Luongo was in goal for the Canucks (2-2-2). The Kings, meanwhile, have won two in a row after going winless in three to start the season. They tied Monday’s game with less than a minute to go on a goal by defenseman Slava Voynov. Jeff Carter was the only player to score in the shootout.

• Word out of Phoenix is that starting netminder Mike Smith is close to a return. But in his absence, the reeling Coyotes got a clutch start from former Rangers prospect Chad Johnson, who stopped all 21 Nashville shots to pace the Coyotes to a much-needed 4-0 victory. Phoenix had lost four of five and had given up 20 goals in its first five games before Monday’s victory. Defenseman Keith Yandle led the way with his first goal of the season and he also added two assists. As for Nashville, the offensive well is bone-dry as the Preds have scored just 10 goals in six games and are tied for 29th in the league in goals per game. For those keeping score at home, Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber has yet to register a single point in six games.

• How bad are things for Nashville? Well, Monday’s loss coupled with Columbus’ 2-1 win over Dallas dropped the Preds into last place in the Central Division. The Blue Jackets continue to get solid goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 24 of 25 shots. And while their offense remains anemic at best, the two goals the Blue Jackets sneaked past Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen were enough to give them the win and stop a 0-3-1 slide. Offense continues to plague the 2-3-1 Stars, who have just 12 goals in six games. On a positive note for the Stars, Monday did mark the return of Jamie Benn. The newly signed restricted free agent center added an assist and played 20:47 in his first game.

• Speaking of unrestricted free agents with Benn’s return and the announced signing of P.K. Subban by the Montreal Canadiens on Monday to a two-year deal worth $5.75 million, only Colorado’s Ryan O'Reilly remains unsigned of the big three post-lockout free agents. Given that Edmonton waxed Colorado 4-1 Monday, the pressure will continue to mount on Colorado GM Greg Sherman to get a deal done with the hard-as-nails center who led the Avs in scoring last season. The Oilers scored three power-play goals through the first half of the game to stake the Oilers to a 3-0 lead and Devan Dubnyk was again solid, turning aside 37 of 38 shots to move the Oilers to the top of the Northwest Division standings with a 3-2-0 record. The Avs, meanwhile, have lost two in a row and have scored just 10 goals through their first five games.