Flames’ Nakladal ‘dodged a big bullet’ by avoiding serious eye injury following high stick

Jared Clinton
Jakub Nakladal (via FlamesTV)

Flames first-year defenseman Jakub Nakladal nearly suffered one of the worst injuries imaginable this past weekend when he caught a high stick in the eye.

During Calgary’s contest against Pittsburgh Saturday, Nakladal, 28, was retreating into the Flames’ zone to recover a puck that had been dumped in when he became tangled with the Penguins’ Tom Kuhnhackl. As they battled towards the loose puck, Kuhnhackl’s stick rode up under Nakladal’s visor and made contact with the blueliner’s eye, causing him to drop to the ice clutching his face. Read more

The five best Leap Day players, in honor of Simon Gagne’s ninth birthday

Simon Gagne

Today is Simon Gagne’s ninth birthday. Of course, seeing as Gagne was born in 1980, he’s actually turning 36 today, but given that his actual birthday is the Leap Day, Feb. 29, Gagne has only celebrated his actual birthday nine times.

That means w Gagne made his NHL debut, he had only celebrated four actual birthdays. So, in a sense, Gagne made it onto the Philadelphia Flyers before celebrating his fifth birthday. A real prodigy for his age, you could say.

The thing is, though, Gagne wasn’t the first Leap Day-born player to make it to the NHL having celebrated only a handful of birthdays, nor was he the best. And while he ranks among the very best of the Leap Day players, he’s not the best, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to ever take the crown as the best Leap Day-born NHLer. Here are the five best players born on Feb. 29: Read more

Arbitrator’s ruling on Wideman suspension not expected until next week

Jared Clinton
Dennis Wideman (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

By the time Dennis Wideman knows the neutral arbitrator’s ruling in the case of his 20-game suspension, it’s expected he will have served at least 90 percent of his original ban.

According to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s not anticipated that arbitrator James Oldham will have made his decision until the week of March 7, meaning any resolution to Wideman’s case is still at least one week away. Wideman was originally handed his 20-game ban by the league on Feb. 3 and he met with commissioner Gary Bettman to appeal the initial suspension on Feb. 10.

If Oldham upholds the suspension, Wideman will be forced to sit out until March 14 when the Flames host the St. Louis Blues, and it will have been a month and a half since he last suited up in game action. Read more

Watch Flames’ Gaudreau, Monahan, Hudler go tic-tac-toe for beautiful goal

Jared Clinton
Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Flames aren’t heading to the post-season after last season’s magical run, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to be excited about what the future might hold in Calgary. After all, putting Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan together seems to make magic, and Jiri Hudler was the lucky recipient of that magic Thursday night.

In the first period of a scoreless game, a pinching Mark Giordano managed to keep the puck in the Islanders’ zone, where the trio of Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler took over. After taking a short pass from Monahan, Gaudreau drifted toward the net and drew a defender in before changing the angle of his body with a quick pivot and slipping an awesome pass back to Monahan. Monahan then slipped the puck over to Hudler, who had to do nothing but rifle the puck into a now wide-open net: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Jets moving Andrew Ladd could kick off flurry of trade activity

Andrew Ladd (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The fate of Winnipeg Jets winger Andrew Ladd remains the hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. With the trade deadline fast approaching, there’s a feeling everyone’s waiting to see where the Jets ship the 30-year pending free agent. If so, his eventual destination will have a considerable effect upon the rest of the trade market.

NBC Sports’ Mike Halford reports Ladd’s been linked to the Florida Panthers for some time. Citing a recent report from Sun-Sentinel.com, Halford notes Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu sang the praises of the Jets’ captain, noting GM Dale Tallon knows Ladd well from their days with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, Cifu didn’t say if Tallon is actively pursuing him.

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun also reports of the Panthers’ rumored interest in Ladd. He believes the Jets’ asking price could start with a first-round pick and go on from there as part of a package. LeBrun wonders at what point Ladd could prove too expensive for the Panthers. Read more

Wideman’s appeal to neutral arbitrator to be heard Thursday, Friday in New York

Jared Clinton
Dennis Wideman (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman has already served more than half of his 20-game suspension for cross-checking linesman Don Henderson to the ice, but the veteran blueliner will get his chance to have the ban reduced this week.

The NHLPA announced Wideman’s appeal will be heard Thursday and Friday in New York City. Wideman, who has sat out the past 11 games, will have his appeal heard by James Oldham, who has been tabbed as a neutral arbitrator for the league since 2004.

After the incident between Wideman and Henderson occurred on Jan. 27, the league suspended the 32-year-old indefinitely. It wasn’t until after the all-star break, on Feb. 3, that Wideman was handed his 20-game ban. Wideman has already appealed the suspension to commissioner Gary Bettman, but he chose to uphold the ban, which set the table for Wideman and the NHLPA to take it to neutral arbitration. Read more

Report: Gaudreau, Flames working on extension, could be largest contract in team history

Jared Clinton
Johnny Gaudreau. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Calgary may not be front and center in the post-season race any longer, but there are more than a few reasons to keep an eye on the Flames as the regular season winds down. One of the biggest reasons is the contract status of Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames’ 22-year-old star.

Gaudreau is in the final season of his three-year, entry-level deal and Calgary’s leading scorer could be in for a big time contract extension before the season’s through. According to The Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis, Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, is in Calgary to visit Gaudreau and GM Brad Treliving said he and Gross will be sitting down to talk. Treliving wouldn’t say it would necessarily be about the contract, though.

Treliving said the on-ice struggles for the Flames have put a damper on any contract negotiations of late — “(W)e haven’t been worrying about it too much because we’re trying to hop back up in the standings,” he told Francis — but that doesn’t mean Treliving won’t take this opportunity to talk deal. And if they’re looking to lock up Gaudreau long-term, there’s no reason to believe ‘Johnny Hockey’ won’t be signing the richest deal in Flames history. Read more