Saturday night, the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 in game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final.
The got a huge opening goal from Brad Richards, last summer's top free agent. Richards, who recently turned 32, was awarded a nine year contract worth almost $60 million.
Last season, with ownership issues in Dallas, it became clear that the Stars would be unable to resign their top player, and the hunt was on. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames both made serious efforts to bring Richards into the fold, but in the end he chose to go back to coach John Tortarella with whom he won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is currently making Glen Sather look like a genius as he has led an offensively challenged Rangers team to the Conference Finals. The Rangers have averaged just 2.07 goals per game, putting them 11th of 16 playoff teams. The other conference finalists are all in the top 5. Richards himself has 6 goals and 5 assists, putting him 4th in the league in postseason scoring.
Ilya Kovalchuk, he of the record-setting, rule-breaking contract the summer before, is 3rd in the league in postseason scoring with 12 points.
This summer, Kovalchuk's teammate Zach Parise has the distinction of being top fish in the free agent pool like Richards and Kovalchuk before him. He is a game-breaking talent, the kind of player that 30 teams would do just about anything to have on their team. His leadership skills, competitive nature and intense battle level are the kinds of things you hope for in any player. However, the fact that he has been a 45 goal scorer in this league and this season managed to put up 31 goals and 69 points (all despite missing all of last season with a knee injury) make him a rare commodity indeed. Not to mention, as his knee continues to get better, one has to think he will get back to that 40 goal, 90 point range he has shown he is capable of.
All of this leads to one conclusion-- should the Devils find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to keep Parise, 29 other teams will take a run at him. One team will be successful, and will likely be very happy about it, even if their pockets are quite a bit lighter.
Liens après le saut!
Barren Wasteland (AKA Sens Links)
- Let us get the most ludicrous link out of the way. Doug MacLean, the greatest GM in the history of GM's has made a proclamation that Daniel Alfredsson OWES the Senators one more season. You read that correctly. After all he has given us, he MUST play next year because the Sens face his cap hit regardless. With all due respect (read: none) Ottawa will NOT be a cap team next year, so the cap hit is irrelevant. If Alfie comes back, I will be the happiest guy, but to think he owes it to us is ridiculous. [Garrioch]
- Nikita Filatov has signed with Salavat of the KHL [6th Sens]
- Somebody very familiar to the Battle of Ontario and Daniel Alfredsson offers him some advice on his current retire/keep playing conundrum. [Garrioch]
- This week's What We Learned by Lambert with a focus on the Washington Capitals. [Puck Daddy]
- For those of you advanced stat nerds, Anze Kopitar was a +27 in his Corsi rating last night which is actually absurd.
- Terry Jones takes a look at how Duncan Keith has been leading the way for the Canadian World Championship team and how he is a great example for some of the team's younger d-men. [Sun]
- My bandwagon team out West from the first round, the LA Kings, are playing some amazing hockey led by their ferocious captain Dustin Brown. He has had a hell of a playoff for someone who was supposed to be available for trade not too long ago. Right now, he's getting Conn Smythe talks. [Citizen]