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:
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jared Boll isn’t an every game player, so the veteran tough guy has learned to make an impact in what little ice time he does get. He may have crossed the line Tuesday, though, and a late hit on Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare could see Boll taking a seat for a few games.
Early in the second period Tuesday, Philadelphia was attempting to exit their zone when Bellemare took a short pass from Radko Gudas before moving the puck along to Ryan White. As Bellemare’s pass was heading White’s direction, though, Boll lined up the Flyers pivot and dropped him with a late hit. Bellemare was left in a heap while Gudas and White jumped in after Boll: Read more
CHL playoffs and the NCAA Frozen Four tournament kick off this week, so it’s a big time for prospect evaluation. But there is also a lot of change in the air, starting at the University of Wisconsin, where long-time coach Mike Eaves was given his walking papers after two straight disastrous seasons. Recruiting and retention was an issue, as the Badgers could have had Brock Boeser (VAN), Luke Opilka (STL) and Jack Dougherty (NSH) in their lineup this year, but lost all of them. It’s been a rough ride in Madison, but I’m sure Eaves will land on his feet. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh signed scorer Jake Guentzel once his season with Nebraska-Omaha was finished and there’s rampant speculation about another NCAA product’s future plans that I’ll mention below. Let’s take a spin around the world of prospects again:
Following a failed holdout attempt to force a trade prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, left winger Jonathan Drouin is back with the Syracuse Crunch, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate. Drouin, 20, received permission last week from Lightning GM Steve Yzerman to return to the Crunch. He picked up an assist in a 5-2 win over Bridgeport last Friday, marking the first time he’s seen game action in nearly two months.
With the trade deadline passed and Yzerman willing to wait until the off-season to move him, Drouin had no choice but to return to the Crunch. Remaining on the sidelines for the rest of the season would only further damage his reputation and trade value.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a three-day break before their next game, but that layoff could be even longer for defenseman Dalton Prout.
In a Sunday afternoon tilt between the Blue Jackets and Lightning, Prout earned himself a two-minute minor for roughing and 10-minute misconduct for a punch he delivered to Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov, but that might not have been enough punishment for the 25-year-old rearguard, especially considering Kucherov had to leave the game.
The punch from Prout to Kucherov came in the second period after a scrum that started when Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno knocked down Lightning netminder Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay defenseman Andrej Sustr started a scrum with Foligno, Kucherov got involved and Prout came all the way in from the blueline to get into the mix: Read more
So 44 days and 19 games after the Dennis Wideman Affair began, we’re where most observers predicted we would be – with Wideman being hit with a 10-game suspension for abusing an official.
And nobody is particularly happy with this. The NHL, which originally mandated a 20-game suspension that was upheld in an appeal to the commissioner, said in a statement, “We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling and are reviewing the opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate.” That’s code for, “Don’t be surprised to see this thing end up in court.”