• Splitting Suter, Spurgeon should improve Wild blueline

    Jared Clinton
    Ryan Suter (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The Wild had to have known changes were coming. Minnesota has dropped six of their past seven games, has only allowed fewer than three goals against once since Nov. 12 and, as witnessed by their on-ice play and their underlying numbers, is heading in the wrong direction.

    As the Wild prepare to take on the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday evening, one of the big changes at Monday’s practice was alterations to the defensive pairings. One such change saw Jonas Brodin slide up the lineup and skate alongside Ryan Suter, breaking up his pairing with Jared Spurgeon. Suter and Spurgeon had been performing well together, and when asked about coach Mike Yeo’s decision to break up the duo, Suter didn’t shy away from the question.

    “They decided to change things up,” Suter told Wild.com following Monday’s practice. “I don’t know what they’re thinking. It’s different. I need to play with a right-handed defenseman to give me more options — neutral zone, offensively and even coming out of the D-zone. It’s not fair to put [Brodin] on his off-side.” Read more

  • The Top 50 jerseys of all-time: Nos. 40-31

    Ryan Kennedy
    The Hockey News counts down the 50 best sweaters of all-time.

    What makes a great jersey? When the topic comes up, it’s hard not to default to the NHL’s Original Six era. Those sweaters launched the pro game to another level. But does that means sartorial glory is a given?

    This was one of the questions when we put our list of the greatest jerseys of all-time together. Just because a team has never won a Stanley Cup doesn’t mean it hasn’t looked good trying.

    The criteria emphasized factors such as boldness, uniqueness, aesthetics and yes, timelessness. To guard against historical biases, we also reached out to a group of graphic designers, some of whom watch little to no hockey.

    Over the next five days, we list off the best ever. Some are really old, some are brand new. And it’s not NHL exclusive. Major junior, college, minor pro, even international jerseys are repped.

    Previously: Nos. 50-41

    40No. 40: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

    The origins of this sweater actually date back to 1982, though the primary logo was modernized in the late 1990s. This QMJHL franchise rocks a great double-blue color scheme, and the striping on the shoulders is what really sets it apart from most other sweaters. The Sagueneens (named after the Saguenay region where the team is based) also rocked some pretty impressive, albeit now dated, logos during the franchise’s early days of the 1970s.

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  • Paging Auston Matthews: The Oilers are dead last in the NHL — again

    Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    In a recent conversation with a longtime GM, I was told there has never been any serious discussion about limiting the number of times a team can have successive first overall picks in the draft. It has been discussed, he said, but not to any great extent.

    I then asked him if he thought that would change if the Edmonton Oilers managed to get the first overall pick again in 2016 and the right to select Auston Matthews. “I’m sure it will be discussed,” he said.

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  • Teddy bear madness! 7,908 stuff animals fly at annual AHL Teddy Bear Toss

    Jared Clinton
    More than 7,900 stuffed toys hit the ice at the Bakersfield Condors annual Teddy Bear Toss (via Bakersfield Condors)

    The Bakersfield Condors are known for being one of the most entertaining teams in all of minor professional sports, but they are also one of the most giving.

    The organization, like many others, took part in its annual Teddy Bear Toss this past weekend in an effort to collect some stuffed animals for the United Way. The Condors’ Teddy Bear Toss was entering its 17th season and looking to hit the 100,000-mark for stuffed animals donated to charity, and they more than reached their goal as 7,908 toys flew from the stands and onto the ice after a Ryan Hamilton goal in the first period. Skip to 1:01 in the video: Read more

  • Prospect Need to Know: Alex Nylander is ripping it up in Mississauga

    Alex Nylander (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

    Canada’s world junior camp roster is out and there weren’t a lot of surprises. The biggest was previewed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who revealed on the weekend that St. Louis Blues prospect and star Providence College defenseman Jake Walman was deemed ineligible for Team USA by the IIHF. Walman is a dual citizen and will now try his luck with Canada.

    “We’re excited to have him,” said Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel. “It gives us another element on the blueline, with his ability to score goals. He’s got a nice shot.”

    Otherwise, the Canucks are once again going with just two goalies at camp – New Jersey pick Mackenzie Blackwood and Calgary prospect Mason McDonald. With no other competitors, these two can now spend camp fighting for the starter’s role. This is the third year in which Canada has gone into camp with just two netminders, but it’s not a snap decision – rather a strategic one.

    “We take their whole body of work into account from the past two or three years,” Jankowski said. “Historically it’s been tough to make decisions on goalies based on the CIS (exhibition) games, so this streamlines the process.”

    Canada is always deep in terms of talent, so there will be hard decisions to make, though I also believe there are plenty of roster spots yet to be locked up here, making for an interesting camp (which begins next Thursday).

    With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the world of prospects, as per custom:

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  • Rumor Roundup: As Matt Duchene’s play picks up, trade rumors die down

    Matt Duchene. (Getty Images)

    The trade rumors that arose last month over Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene have died down. Duchene, 24, was red hot through November, netting 20 points.

    Duchene was linked to several clubs, notably the Ottawa Senators, but it appears nothing will come of it. A rumor blog had the Avs center being offered to the Philadelphia Flyers, but NJ.com’s Randy Miller wasted little time picking that one apart.

    Miller cited Duchene’s $6-million annual cap hit as the biggest impediment, noting that’s a problem for a team like the Flyers with limited cap room. Parting with promising young prospects was another.

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  • Scottish team wears awesome purple plaid, kilt-style jerseys

    Jared Clinton
    Braehead Clan's Tristan Harper in the kilt-themed jersey (via Braehead Clan)

    Four of the EIHL’s clubs reside within Scotland, and one of those clubs, the Braehead Clan, pulled out special jerseys to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day, a day of food, music and dance, this past weekend.

    As part of their celebration of the national holiday, Braehead hit the ice in amazing custom jerseys that were built to make each skater appear to be wearing a kilt. Complete with awesome purple plaid pants, socks and a sash across the jersey, they’re an absolutely incredible special event jersey. Take a look: Read more

  • Rangers’ Stepan out at least a month with broken ribs

    Jared Clinton
    Derek Stepan. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The huge hit Boston Bruins winger Matt Beleskey delivered to New York Rangers center Derek Stepan broke his ribs, and now he’ll be watching from the sideline for at least a month.

    Rangers coach Alain Vigneault announced Monday that Stepan, who missed the third period of Friday’s matinee against the Bruins, will be out four-to-six weeks due to two broken ribs, and the Rangers subsequently recalled Jayson Megna from the Hartford Wolf Pack. But with Stepan out for more than a month, the Rangers, who just snapped a three-game skid, are going to need someone to step up and fill the second-line center role. Read more