Matt Hendricks blocks a shot with his groin, thanks protective cup manufacturer post-game

Jared Clinton
Matt Hendricks (via Sportsnet/YouTube)

Matt Hendricks has blocked 41 shots in 36 games this season, which means he’s usually stepping in front of at least one shot every game in an attempt to stop it before it gets to the net. Thursday was no different, but it was almost one of the most regrettable shot blocks of Hendricks’ career.

With Edmonton already down 2-0 to Dallas, Hendricks stepped in front of a shot from Stars blueliner Alex Goligoski, who was steaming into the Oilers zone and wound up before unleashing a slap shot. The puck didn’t get past Hendricks, though, because the Oilers winger had opened up his stance to cover more area. Unfortunately for Hendricks, opening his stance also made him crouch to the ice, which resulted in him taking the slap shot right to the groin: Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Jeremy Lauzon has Rouyn-Noranda flying

Jeremy Lauzon (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

It’s home stretch time in the CHL as trade deadlines have passed and all the newbies are settling in to their new uniforms. In 2016 draft news, the NHL’s Central Scouting bureau released its mid-term rankings and not surprisingly, Auston Matthews topped the European skaters list (because he’s playing in Switzerland). Team USA linemate Matthew Tkachuk of OHL London was tops amongst North American skaters, while Filip Gustavsson (Lulea) and Carter Hart (Everett) lead the goalies. Here’s a look at some of the other prospects making noise right now:


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Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ‘out long term’ with hand injury after blocking shot

Matt Larkin
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. (Getty Images)

The star-crossed Oilers sustained yet another blow Monday night. Scoring center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left Edmonton’s game against the Florida Panthers after he attempted to block a Dmitry Kulikov shot and took a puck off the hand. After the game, Oilers coach Todd McLellan announced Nugent-Hopkins would be “out long term.”

Here’s a look at the play that caused the injury to Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick of the 2011 draft:

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Watch: Erik Gudbranson fights Matt Hendricks to avenge Aaron Ekblad hit

Matt Larkin
Oilers Panthers fight

Anyone who prefers on-ice justice to the official, league-mandated kind of justice can rejoice at what happened Monday night between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers.

On Jan. 10 Oilers left winger Matt Hendricks caught the Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad with a hit from behind. Ekblad returned to the game but wound up in concussion protocol and was forced out of the lineup the following night. He hasn’t played since, though he’s expected to return later this week.

Hendricks earned a three-game suspension for the hit but returned just in time for his Oilers to face the Panthers again Monday. It didn’t take a genius to know what was coming, though it was hardly the Claude Lemieux treatment for Hendricks, who stood tall. Rugged Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson, all 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds of him, challenged the six-foot, 207-pound Hendricks. Fists flew just 4:16 into the game. Check it out:

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Rumor Roundup: Oilers still shopping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

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

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.

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Oilers sign Cam Talbot to a three-year extension

Dhiren Mahiban
(Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers and goaltender Cam Talbot agreed to a three-year contract extension on Sunday, the club announced.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the deal is worth $12.5 million and carries an annual average value of $4.167 million per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

“It’s extremely exciting for me and my family and it’s an exciting time in Edmonton,” Talbot told the Oilers’ website. “I’m just happy I’m going to be around for the next three years to grow and improve with this team.”

The 28-year-old, who signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers in March 2010, is in his first season in Edmonton after being dealt by the Rangers at last June’s draft.

In 26 games this season, Talbot is 8-13-2 with a 2.58 G.A.A. and a .914 save percentage.

“Definitely, I think we’ve made some huge strides from Game 1 to now, it’s moving in the right direction and I only see us going forward from here. When I was given the opportunity to stay for another three years, it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Talbot. “From Day 1 to now we’ve made some big strides, I think, and I expect nothing more in the next three years (than) to push forward and be a playoff team and then eventually a contender. I want to be a round for all of that.”

Talbot is currently on a one-year, $1.45 million deal signed with the Rangers and was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Caledonia, Ontario native admitted he’s starting to feel more confident in the Oilers’ net of late. In his last five starts he’s posted a 1.40 G.A.A and a .949 save percentage.

“We’ve tightened some things up in our own end and it’s easier for me to make some reads,” Talbot said. “I just feel more comfortable and more confident – more patient. I think that’s the key. Before I was doing a little bit, maybe, too much – cheating on back door plays instead of playing the shooter.

“Now it’s just trusting my guys that are going to take away the other options and making that first save and playing from there.”

Edmonton returns to action on Monday night when they open a three-game road trip in Florida.

Rumor Roundup: Rangers want to ship out Yandle for forward

Keith Yandle. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle remains a central figure in the trade rumor mill. There’s growing speculation the Blueshirts could shop the pending unrestricted free agent before the Feb. 29 trade deadline in hopes of landing a scoring forward.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post believes Yandle’s usage by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault suggests he doesn’t have a long-term future on Broadway. Despite the 29-year-old’s offensive skills, Brooks suggests he’s now being used more as a sixth defenseman.

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Kassian resumes NHL career with Oilers after it ‘almost slipped away’

Jared Clinton
Zack Kassian (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Zack Kassian’s season has been marred by an off-ice incident that resulted in him entering the league’s substance abuse program after breaking his foot and nose in an early morning car crash before the season began. But after being cleared to return to action and being dealt to the Edmonton Oilers, Kassian is set to make his season debut Thursday.

Kassian, 24, was called up by the Oilers Wednesday from the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and, in practice, skated on a line with Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov. Following practice, he confirmed that he would be getting into the lineup and playing an NHL game for the first time since March 14.

“I’m excited to be back in the NHL,” Kassian said. “It’s what we dream about. It almost slipped away and I couldn’t be more happy to get another chance.” Read more