Jesse Puljujarvi and world-killing Finland just did it again

Jesse Puljujarvi (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Finland has won gold again – get used to it.

Led by superstar 2016 draft prospect Jesse Puljujarvi, the Finns dusted off archrival Sweden in the final of the World Under-18 Championship in North Dakota on Sunday. Puljujarvi scored a hat trick in the 6-1 demolition, while the home-side Americans earned bronze with a 10-3 walloping of a disorganized Canadian squad.

If it sounds like the Finns have been on the podium a lot lately, it’s because they have. This is the third junior-level gold in three years for Suomi, when the 2016 and 2014 world junior titles are added in. So how are they doing it?

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Hurricanes owner Karmanos says ‘absolutely no basis’ to Quebec relocation rumors

Jared Clinton
Peter Karmanos (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

The NHL has yet to make a formal decision on expansion but it seems increasingly likely that if the league does decide to expand, the lone expansion team will be granted to Las Vegas. However, with an NHL-ready building waiting for a big league tenant in Quebec City, rumors have been swirling about the potential for relocation.

One of the most persistent rumors is that the Hurricanes would be on the move, but Carolina’s owner Peter Karmanos made sure to snuff out those talks when speaking with Le Journal de Quebec’s Stephane Cadorette. Karmanos bluntly told Cadorette that, “the Hurricanes will not become the Nordiques.”

“I swear to you that the team is not going to Quebec,” Karmanos told Cadorette. “I’m not saying this because I have anything against Quebec, but because we have commitments that we value (in Carolina). We have an excellent lease, I love (PNC Arena) and I am deeply committed to this market.” Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Boston’s latest shutdown threat

Brandon Carlo (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Everything is happening right now, as Bob Cole would say. You’ve got the Jimmy Vesey saga in Nashville, Zach Werenski signing with Columbus and Pittsburgh grabbing college free agent Ethan Prow out of St. Cloud State. Plus, the CHL playoffs are in full swing, with a couple upstarts threatening the top seeds. In the OHL for example, Sarnia is in trouble thanks to a surging Sault Ste. Marie squad, while Edmonton is giving powerhouse Brandon fits in the WHL. Oh, and the Frozen Four is set, with Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver all in the mix for April 7. Let’s keep the prospect party going:

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Hurricanes’ Staal could be facing fine after spearing Penguins’ Rust in the groin

Jordan Staal spears Bryan Rust (via Streamable)

With the way the NHL Department of Player Safety has been handling spearing this season, it wouldn’t be shocking in any way if Hurricanes center Jordan Staal is slapped with a $5,000 fine for some stick work on Penguins winger Bryan Rust.

Carolina and Pittsburgh had been battling for most of the first two periods, and the only infraction called was a Rust boarding penalty for a hit on the ‘Canes Brett Pesce. But midway through the second period, shoving matches were regularly breaking out and things for Staal and Rust came to a head with seven minutes left in the second frame.

Staal had stumbled and slid into the Penguins’ zone, collected himself off the ice and was exiting the zone when he took the opportunity to deliver a crosscheck to Rust, who turned around and returned the favor. Staal and Rust squared up, and then Staal delivered a jab with his stick that looked as if it caught Rust below the belt: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Dan Hamhuis could be popular free-agent target

Dan Hamhuis.

More than a few eyebrows were raised at the trade deadline when the Vancouver Canucks didn’t move pending UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Carrying a full no-movement clause, the 33-year-old blueliner gave the Canucks few acceptable destinations (Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars) via trade.

Canucks management received grief from Vancouver fans and pundits over their inability to trade Hamhuis for a return. The blueliner, meanwhile, hasn’t ruled out re-signing with the Canucks this summer.

If Hamhuis and the Canucks part ways in July, he won’t lack for suitors via free agency. Despite his age and recent injury history, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Blackhawks, Stars, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins had “genuine interest” in the veteran defender. While that undoubtedly stemmed from his status as a potential playoff rental at the trade deadline, one of those clubs could revisit their interest in him.

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Skinner scores buzzer beater with 0.2 seconds left, keeps Hurricanes’ playoff hopes alive

Jared Clinton
Jeff Skinner (Karl DeBlaker/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes simply won’t go away in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, and even when it looks like they’re about to fall too far out of contention for the final wild-card spot, the Hurricanes pull off a bit of magic to stay within striking distance of the playoffs.

Take Tuesday for example. Down 3-2 to the Senators with two minutes remaining, Carolina goaltender Cam Ward headed to the bench for an extra attacker, and seconds later Ottawa’s Mark Stone came inches from hitting the empty net which would have iced the game for the Senators. Roughly 45 seconds later, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman took his own attempt at the empty cage and shot it just wide, turning possession over to Carolina.

For the next minute-plus, the Hurricanes chipped, chased, hit and were dogged on loose pucks. And after coming within inches of being down 4-2 on two separate occasions, the puck found the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner in front of the net with 1.5 seconds remaining. Skinner wound up, fired and with 0.2 seconds remaining, the puck found the net: Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Sebastian Aho is soaring to the top

Sebastian Aho (Photo by Karpat Oulu/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

The NHL trade deadline had plenty of ramifications in the prospect world, with a slew of draft selections going to new teams and some actual players changing organizations as well. One situation to keep an eye on? Conner Bleackley, now of Arizona. The Colorado first-rounder would net the Coyotes a compensatory second-round pick if he doesn’t sign with his new team and based on his fractured kneecap and uneven career to date, that could be a real possibility.

 

Here’s a look at some of the other prospects you should know about right now:

 

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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