Monday, October 23, 2017

NHL news: Niemi placed on waivers

                    The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed G Antti Niemi on waivers. He is not expected to be claimed.

                     Niemi was signed to replace Marc-Andre Fleury, who was claimed in the expansion draft. But, he has done the opposite of what Fleury did through three games, and has been one of the worst goalies in the league early on. It's probably why he was bought out by Dallas in the offseason. Sending Niemi doesn't hurt, and it can help him work on mechanics.

                     Niemi, 34, has a 7.50 GAA and .797 SV% in three games for the Penguins this year. In his NHL career for the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Stars and Pens, Niemi has a GAA of 2.52 and a SV% of .912.

                     To replace Niemi, the Pens called up 26 year old netminder Casey Desmith from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AHL).

                     Desmith has never played in the NHL. But, in three games in the AHL, Desmith has a 0.98 GAA and SV% of .965.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

NHL news: Leafs sign Polak

          The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed D Roman Polak to a one year, $1.1 million deal.

           Polak was a part of the Leafs team that made the playoffs last year. But, he sustained a knee injury in the first round on a hit by Brooks Orpik, and had surgery. Polak signed a PTO with the team, and was well-liked throughout the locker room. Being a tough defenseman brings that, especially on a young team like this one. He had an astounding amount of hits last season with 232, and 303 the season before.

             The one thing Leaf fans might not like is that this means that youngsters Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman could be sent to the AHL. If so, the Leafs' pairings would look like this.

Morgan Rielly  - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Ron Hainsey - Roman Polak

             Toronto could do this, or they could keep one of Rosen or Borgman, and put them in for Hainsey or Polak on some nights. Preferably Hainsey since both Rosen and Borgman or left-handed, like Hainsey, and unlike the right-handed Polak.

             Polak, 31, scored four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 75 games for the Leafs last season. In his NHL career for the Leafs, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, Polak has scored 23 goals and 92 assists for 115 points in 634 games.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

NHL trade review: Puempel goes to Wings for Sproul

           The Detroit Red Wings have acquired F Matt Puempel from the New York Rangers in exchange for D Ryan Sproul.

           For the Wings, Puempel is a 4th line-type of player that can net some goals here-and-there. He's going to go to Grand Rapids (AHL), but if there's an injury, Puempel can be called up. The Wings have a surplus of defensemen (though they are all the 7th d-man type). Trading Sproul doesn't hurt when you have Dylan McIlrath, Nick Jensen and Robbie Russo among others to play his exact same role.

             Puempel, 24, hasn't played in the NHL this year. In his NHL career for the Rangers and Ottawa Senators, Puempel has scored 10 goals and five assists for 15 points in 79 games.

             For the Rangers, they don't need Puempel after claiming Adam Cracknell a few days ago. Sproul still won't start, but he'll have a better role than he had in Detroit. Sproul will go to Hartford of the AHL.

             Sproul, 24, also hasn't played in the NHL this year. In his NHL career, only for Detroit, the defenseman has scored a goal and six assists for seven points in 28 games.

             I think this is an even trade. Both teams get a depth player, but at different positions. That's why it's an even deal.

NHL trade review: Pens, Wings swap Sheahan and Wilson

                The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired C Riley Sheahan and a 2018 5th round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for F Scott Wilson and a 2018 3rd round pick.

                The Penguins badly need a 3rd line center. Greg McKegg is their current third line center, so you could see why they went out and made this trade. Sheahan's faceoff percentage of 50.6% last year was pretty solid. They only drop back less than two rounds, and that third could be nothing. Sheahan will take Wilson's roster spot, and McKegg will drop back to the 4th line. Sheahan is 25, so that's also a positive.

                Sheahan, 25, has no points in eight games this year. In his NHL career, all for the Wings, Sheahan has scored 38 goals and 60 assists for 98 points in 292 games.

                 For the Wings, things weren't working out for Sheahan last year. He scored just two goals the entire season, in 80 games! As a defenseman, that's okay, but for a forward, that can't happen. Wilson needed a change of scenery, because with the crowded forward core the Pens have, Wilson couldn't do much. Also, after signing RFA Andreas Athanasiou, the Wings needed to unload some cap, and got rid of Riley's $2.075 million hit.

                Wilson, also 25, has no points in three games this season. In his NHL career, all for Pittsburgh, Wilson has scored 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points in 106 games.

                I think this is an even trade. Both players have much to prove. Sheahan needs to prove he can be a solid NHL 3rd line center, and Wilson needs to prove he's an NHL regular.