The CHL Top Prospects Game and AHL All-Star weekend are both in the rearview mirror for the season, while the Beanpot tournament in Boston is now half-over. Boston College and Boston U. will duel for the city’s trophy, with Northeastern and Harvard in the consolation game. In other development news, the Los Angeles Kings have partnered with the United States League to put on a Pacific Region Showcase at the NHL team’s practice facility in El Segundo. It takes place in late March and will feature players from the 2000, 2001 and 2002 age groups. These are exciting times for the growth of the game. Let’s get caught up in the world of prospects.
The Carolina Hurricanes, once as many as eight points out of a post-season spot, are now just one point back of the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. They moved closer to earning themselves a playoff position thanks to a dominating performance against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday in a contest in which Eddie Lack posted a shutout for the second time in four games.
And as promising as January was for the Hurricanes, and their 7-3-3 record over the past month is a step in the right direction, it may have been moreso for Lack. The 28-year-old has struggled for most of the season, but he has won three of his past five games, allowed only 12 goals over that span and has improved what was once an ugly .887 save percentage at the end of December to a .904 SP as teams break off for all-star weekend.
Lack’s uptick in play came at exactly the right time, too, as starting goaltender Cam Ward has been sidelined since Jan. 16 with a concussion. But Ward is back now. The Hurricanes activated the 31-year-old goaltender late Tuesday and sent netminder Daniel Altshuller to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Even with Ward back, though, it’s hard not to feel that now is the time for Carolina to put their hopes in Lack. Read more
Craig Adams has officially retired after 14 seasons, two Stanley Cups and more than 950 games in the NHL.
Adams, 38, announced his retirement Tuesday through the NHLPA. Previously an unrestricted free agent, Adams had played in 70 games in 2014-15 for the Pittsburgh Penguins and contributed one goal and seven points, but averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time per outing. Adams completed the second season of a two-year, $1.4-million deal.
In a statement, Adams said he was thankful that he was able to achieve his dream of playing in the NHL, adding it was an honor that he “never took for granted.” Read more
The Carolina Hurricanes may not make the playoffs this season, but take a look at their blueline and there’s a lot to be excited for in the near future. Justin Faulk is already the best player on the team, while prospects such as Haydn Fleury, Trevor Carrick and Roland McKeown are on their way. In the middle, you have NHL rookies Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, all of whom are contributing well beyond their experience. It must be fun to project what this ‘D’ corps will be like in three years and in fact, that’s exactly what the Canes are doing.
When the calendar turned to the month of December, the Montreal Canadiens were in first place in the NHL standings, a full 12 points clear of the last playoff spot. The Carolina Hurricanes, on the other hand, were tied for last place in the Eastern Conference and pretty much where everyone predicted they’d be, battling hammer and tong for the right to draft Auston Matthews first overall.
So here we are a mere 52 days later and the Hurricanes flew into the eye of the storm – they’re due for six inches of the white stuff in Raleigh tonight – Thursday night after a sluggish 1-0 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs tied with the Canadiens with 50 points. That has more to do with the Canadiens ineptitude over the past month-and-a-half to be sure, but to chalk it up to that exclusively would be to ignore the fact that the Hurricanes are indeed a group that is coming together a little quicker and a little more dramatically than everyone thought they would.
Cam Ward’s in the final year of his contract with the Carolina Hurricanes and his long-term future with the team is in question. So to is his short-term ability to suit up for the Hurricanes, though, as Ward has been diagnosed with a concussion.
The Hurricanes announced Wednesday that Ward has been placed on injured reserve and there’s no announced timeline for his return to the lineup. With Ward out, the Hurricanes have called up goaltender Daniel Altshuller from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, but the net in Carolina will belong to Eddie Lack with Ward on the shelf. Read more
Since last fall, Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was suggested as possible trade bait to address their need for a skilled top-four defenseman. On Friday, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector cited multiple sources claiming the Oilers offered up the 22-year-old center to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones before he was eventually dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Leon Draisaitl has emerged as a first-line center for the Oilers while promising rookie Connor McDavid is set to return to action following the All-Star break. With that much depth down the middle, it’s not surprising Nugent-Hopkins could be available.
Having failed to land Jones, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will likely set his sites elsewhere. Nugent-Hopkins was recently linked to the Minnesota Wild, who are seeking a boost at forward and have plenty of depth on defense. There’s talk Jonas Brodin and his $4.16-million annual cap hit could be available.
With this season’s Feb. 29 trade deadline over six weeks away, left wing Eric Staal’s tenure with the Carolina Hurricanes could be drawing to a close. Staal, 31, is completing a seven-year, $57.5 million contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
It was anticipated talks between Staal and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis would begin this month. However, the Raleigh News & Observer’s Luke DeCock reports discussions appear stagnant. He speculates a Staal trade is possible, “even likely” by the trade deadline.