Filip Forsberg gets that new-car smell in a big way

Ken Campbell
Forsberg and Nuge

COLUMBUS – Filip Forsberg went from having no cars to owning two in record time. The Nashville Predators rookie, who has been bumming rides from teammate Mattias Ekholm most of his first season in the NHL, bought a new Jaguar recently, then won a Honda Accord for being taken last overall in the all-star fantasy draft.

In a recent piece on Forsberg in THN’s Rookie Issue, Forsberg talked about not having a set of wheels. “That might change soon,” he said. Little did he know at the time he was going to have one too many cars before long.

“It was just a really fun thing to be here with the guys,” Forsberg said. “Hopefully I can play in another All-Star Game and move up in the draft in the future. And I get a car out of this. That’s not too bad either.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, who was chosen second last in a fan vote, also received a Honda Accord. No word on whether it was equipped with a block heater.

Both Forsberg and Nugent-Hopkins said they would likely give the new car to a family member, “but you can never have too many cars,” Forsberg said.

Nugent-Hopkins said he expects members of his family back in Burnaby, B.C. will be vying for the prize.

“I’m expecting a few calls from family members lobbying for it,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We’ll see who gets it.”

Fellow top picks to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: It gets better

Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Despite some high-profile cancellations, a lot of players are happy to be at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus this weekend. For some, it’s the chance to treat friends and family to a grand experience. For others, it’s the camaraderie on the ice. But Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may also sneak in some time to do some fact-finding in Ohio.

Read more

Alex Ovechkin, scorer of goals, shatterer of goal cameras

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Getty Images)

Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin has been a central force in Washington’s success thus far this season, and even in a losing cause Tuesday against the Oilers, the Russian star showed his force is sometimes too much for goal cameras when he’s blasting pucks in nets.

The 29-year-old Ovechkin had already scored once in front of his home crowd Tuesday when, on the power play, he drilled a shot from the circle and beat Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth for his 27th goal of the year. Unfortunately for the goal camera, Ovechkin really got all of the puck: Read more

Ben Scrivens’ commitment to mental health awareness remains stronger than any stigma

Adam Proteau
Ben Scrivens (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens has established himself as one of the NHL’s leading voices in mental illness awareness, and he’s now teamed up with athletes and celebrities outside the hockey world to spread the word and encourage understanding and acceptance of those who suffer from it.

Working with the group Bring Change 2 Mind – a non-profit charity founded by actress Glenn Close to raise mental illness awareness – Scrivens is joining fellow athlete Brandon Marshall of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, actor Wayne Brady and musician Michael Angelakos of the group Passion Pit on a new public service announcement campaign, #StrongerThanStigma, that encourages the normalization of mental health conversations among men: Read more

Georges Laraque is making a comeback, and he’s doing it in Norway

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Georges Laraque hasn’t laced up the skates to play professional hockey in five years, but he’s signed a deal to play his first professional game since the 2009-10 season.

Laraque, 38, has signed a one-week contract with Fana IHK of the Norwegian second division, and the team has given him nearly two months to prepare for the week long stint which will see the former NHL tough guy play a pair of games in March. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Coyotes, Oilers, and Hurricanes trade buzz

Yandle Featured

With the Arizona Coyotes’ playoff hopes dimming, GM Don Maloney made what could be the first of several deals before the March trade deadline, shipping goalie Devan Dubnyk to Minnesota for a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft.

The Dubnyk trade increases focus upon the Coyotes’ plans for several of their notable veterans. They made clear last week via Twitter, long-time captain Shane Doan isn’t available. It remains to be seen what the future holds for center Antoine Vermette, who’s an unrestricted free agent in July.

While Vermette’s status dominates the Coyotes trade watch, rumors persist over the future of defenseman Keith Yandle. The 28-year-old has one season remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million. He’s among the Coyotes’ leading scorers this season and there are rival clubs who could use his puck-moving skills on their bluelines.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa believes Yandle, a Boston native, would be a perfect fit with the Bruins. The asking price, however, could be steep. Shinzawa speculates it could cost the Bruins Torey Krug, “maybe another young roster player, a pick and a prospect” to land Yandle.

In recent weeks there’s been suggestions the Coyotes should peddle Yandle to the Colorado Avalanche straight up for versatile forward Ryan O’Reilly. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks such a deal would make sense for both clubs. The Avalanche land an experienced top-two defenseman and the Coyotes get a possible replacement for Vermette. Friedman claims, however, there’s skepticism around the league Maloney will move his best trade chip for a player who could bolt via free agency in 2016.

Yandle’s future will be determined by whatever plans new Coyotes majority owner Andrew Barroway has in store for the club. If a major rebuild is in order, Yandle could be dealt before the trade deadline. A more likely option, however, is Maloney fields trade offers in the off-season, where teams have more cap space to work with.

TEAMS SEEKING SEKERA

Expect considerable interest in Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera if he’s placed on the block before the March trade deadline. Sekera, 28, is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it could take double his current annual cap hit of $2.75 million to keep him in Carolina.

Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the New York Rangers could be among the suitors. TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes the Los Angeles Kings could consider Sekera as a short-term option to replace the suspended Slava Voynov.

The Rangers have limited cap space this season so they’ll either have to move some salary to the Hurricanes in the deal or shed dollars in a separate deal. The Kings have some wiggle room thanks to Voynov’s suspension but could run into cap difficulties if he returns later in the season.

PETRY ON THE MARKET

Teams in need of an affordable defenseman with a right-handed shot could be in touch with the Edmonton Oilers before the trade deadline. Blueliner Jeff Petry is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and could test the market this summer.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson considers Petry’s days as an Oilers are numbered, believing the 27-year-old rearguard has value as a trade asset. He speculates the Pittsburgh Penguins or Detroit Red Wings could come calling.

It’s no secret the Red Wings have been in the market for some time for a top-four blueliner who shoots right. The Penguins, however, have considerable depth in young defensemen. Even with Olli Maatta sidelined for the rest of the season to a shoulder injury, there’s sufficient depth there to offset his absence.

Keep an eye on the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars if Petry hits the market. Like the Wings, the Ducks and Stars could use another right-handed shot on their respective bluelines.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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Don’t look now, but Panthers may be a playoff team after all

Adam Proteau
Nick Bjugstad (Getty Images)

After their 4-2 win over Edmonton Sunday, the Florida Panthers are one point out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with three games in hand on the team (Boston) they need to beat out for that spot. Florida is 8-3-1 since Dec. 13, and they’ve won three in a row.

I have no problem admitting I was skeptical before the season began when it came to Florida’s playoff chances, but they’re slowly winning me over. Thanks in large part to the play of goalie Roberto Luongo, rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad and third-year center Nick Bjugstad, we’re starting to see some serious progress from an organization that’s been all but bereft of it for the past two decades. Considering team ownership desperately needs to see a strong on-ice showing in order to help rebuild trust with the ticket-buying public, it couldn’t have come at a better time for it.

What stands in the Panthers’ way from their first post-season appearance since 2012 (and only the second since 1999-2000)? The same things that stand in the way of most bubble playoff teams: Read more

Not mad, just disappointed: 10 players we expected more from this season

Alex Semin

There are two sides to the surprise coin. On one side, you have the players who outperform even your wildest expectations. This season, they’ve taken the form of Colin Wilson, Mathieu Perreault, and several others. On the other, you have players who haven’t come close to expectations.

At the midpoint of the 2014-15 season, there are more than a few candidates for disappointing player of the campaign, but only one can take the cake. While fans of every team have the players they wish they would get more from, the following 10 are the ones that are playing well below the expectations this season. Read more