Thursday, September 28, 2006

Around the Rink 09.28.06

After weeks of bickering back and forth, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nikolai Zherdev reached an agreement of terms to a new contract. In the deal, Zherdev will receive $1.75M this season, $2.5M next season, and $3.25 in the last season. Zherdev is going to join the team right away and should be in the line-up for opening night.

With Zherdev now in the mix, it should give the Jackets a pretty solid top-6, even without Sergei Fedorov in the line-up. Expect to see Rick Nash, Gilbert Brule, and Zherdev to be the top line right now with the possibility of Fredrik Modin, David Vyborny, and Anson Carter to be the second line with Fedorov out.

The Philadelphia Flyers will have to start out the season without Antero Niittymaki. Niittymaki is out with a torn labrum in his hip. It was first thought to require surgery, it seems that if Niittymaki took cortisone shots, he could delay the surgery until the off-season. Whether or not the Flyers want to risk it is another story.

With Robert Esche still in the mix, it could be possible for the Flyers to hope for the best with the vet in net. The Flyers haven't had a real solid goaltending since Ron Hextall lead the team to the Stanley Cup in 1997 and it seemed that Niittymaki could have been that goalie if he had stayed healthy. With little experience in the minors, the Flyers could be on the market if something good doesn't come out of Esche's first few games.

In other goaltending news, Dan Cloutier signed a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings. The two-year extension for the 30-year-old is worth $6.2M over those two seasons. Cloutier would have become a free agent in the off-season if he hadn't signed.

There's plenty of people out there wondering if this is the right things for the Kings, especially considering Cloutier's history of injury in the past few years. The upside is that the Kings will have a solid #1 goalie for the next two season. If Cloutier can be healthy (which is unlikely given the Kings history), then it could be the best thing for the Kings. Not to knock on Mathieu Garon or Jason Labarbera, but I personally would like an experienced starter in my line-up over some youngsters.

It seems that some of the money is spent for Cloutier, as he has stepped into the 1990's by getting an actual goalie mask.

We're less than a week away before the drop of the puck for the '06-'07 NHL season, and we're already in mid-season form. Check out Face Off Hockey Show every Wednesday night at 9 PM ET. If you can check us out live, you can always get us on the Podcast to take the show where you go.

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