THN Trade Deadline preview: Central Division

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As of Wednesday night, there is no division in the league that boasts more teams on the brink of the playoffs Central Division and that could have a major impact on the trade deadline action throughout the division. The Minnesota Wild made a major move in landing Devan Dubnyk in December and made another splash when they landed Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers, so it will be interesting to see if the Winnipeg Jets – currently holding on for dear life to one of the West’s wild-card spots – answers back.

St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville are all probably done aside from minor deals and Colorado and Dallas are right in the middle – they could be buyers and they could be sellers. Don’t be shocked if the Central is the quietest of the four divisions at the deadline. Read more

Wild acquire Sean Bergenheim from Florida, continue push for playoff berth

Adam Proteau
Sean Bergenheim (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As the NHL’s March 2 trade deadline draws closer, the number of deals are starting to pick up. Early Tuesday, the Canadiens sent left winger Jiri Sekac to Anaheim for right winger Devante Smith-Pelley – and late the same night, the surging Minnesota Wild attempted to bolster their playoff chances by acquiring disgruntled winger Sean Bergenheim and a seventh-round draft pick in 2016 from Florida in exchange for a 2016 third-round pick.

Bergenheim had fallen out of favor very publicly in Florida – he’s been out of Florida’s lineup for ten of their past 16 games and his agent has angrily demanded a trade on his behalf – but he’s still got decent numbers (eight goals and 18 points in 39 games) in limited minutes and isn’t a defensive liability. He’ll help the Wild deal with injuries to wingers Jason Zucker, Ryan Carter and Matt Cooke. The 31-year-old Finn hasn’t scored more than 17 goals in either of his previous seasons with the Panthers, but his expiring contract, reasonable salary cap pro-rated hit (his 2014-15 salary is $2.75 million) and playoff history (which includes nine goals in 16 games with Tampa Bay in 2011 and three goals and six points in seven games with Florida in 2012) made him attractive enough to Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. Read more

Jamie Benn scores first career hat trick – here are five players waiting for their own

Patric Hornqvist and James Neal

Multi-goal games happen on a near nightly basis, but it takes a special night for a player to complete a hat trick. There have been strange hat tricks in NHL history – heck, Mason Raymond has three in his career – but even most gifted offensive talents have struggled to net their own.

Take Jamie Benn, for instance. Tuesday night marked his first career hat trick and it was his 401st NHL game. Shane Doan was drafted in 1995 and scored his first trio in 2012. Brad Richards was nearly 33 before he scored his first.

Two players on this list have had playoff hat tricks, but the regular season feat remains out of their grasp. The names will shock you, too. These are five players waiting for their first career hat trick: Read more

In The Cards: Josh Harding’s “Heroic Inspiration” is his father

Sal Barry
In_The_Cards_644x427

Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding became an inspiration to people with multiple sclerosis after he was diagnosed with the disease, but battled back and won the Masterton Trophy in 2013. Randomly inserted in packs of 2014-15 O-Pee-Chee is a card autographed by Harding with the inscription: “My inspiration is my father.”

“The point of adding inscriptions to the cards is to share that you cannot fight MS alone,” said Harding. The card is limited to 25 serial-numbered copies. However, alternate versions of the signed card with different inscriptions of others who have inspired Harding will be available for purchase from his charity’s website, HardingsHope.org. Proceeds will support those afflicted with MS who struggle with treatment costs.

 

Harding

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How the Minnesota Wild almost landed Peter Forsberg in 2007-08

The Hockey News
Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche

By Tom Lynn

Despite the atmosphere in private, the regular season was going very well for the Wild in 2007-08, even more so than the prior season. Similar to 2006-07, the Wild came out of the gate in ’07 with five straight wins, and seven in their first eight games. But although the Wild were on a pace to garner fewer overall points than the record 104 of 2006-07, the team moved into first place in the Northwest division Jan. 11 and never really looked back, falling no lower than second-place for the rest of the season (then only for a few days). Adding to the first-place status were Marian Gaborik’s franchise-record 42 goals and Brian Rolston having a third straight 30-goal season. The team was repeating the prior year and building on it.

The trade deadline that season fell on Feb. 26, 2008. It had been moved to earlier in the season under the new CBA in an effort to preserve some competitive integrity to the regular season (so that better and wealthier teams could not simply reload and reconfigure themselves into different entities with three weeks left in the season). This was pushed in a large part by Nashville GM David Poile, who smartly realized that the old, late deadline that had helped him command higher prices when we was a “seller” during the Preds’ early years now hurt him as a “buyer” as the Preds had matured into a playoff contender. It was easier for the big-market teams to dole out money or take on salary late in the season, so moving the trade deadline earlier in the season, when there was more uncertainty about playoff positioning and hence fewer deals to be made, put small-market teams on a more even footing. Read more

Wild rookie Matt Dumba’s shot will bust your blade

Adam Proteau
Matt Dumba (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Minnesota rookie defenseman Matt Dumba has yet to establish himself as an elite-level NHLer, but if he continues taking slap shots that break the skate blade of another player – in this case, one belonging to Canucks winger Derek Dorsett – he’s going to become known around the league in a hurry.

Dumba unloaded a slap shot from the blueline Monday and the force of the shot blasted the skate blade clean off of Dorsett’s right foot, leaving the veteran to hobble to the bench on one skate to get a replacement: (gif from @TheCauldron via reddit user kasabe) Read more

The 10 strangest injuries of the 2014-15 season

Sidney Crosby had a visibly swollen face when he met with media on Friday. (via PensTV)

On Sunday night, Philadelphia Flyers netminder Steve Mason went down with an injury during a TV timeout. It could very well have been the reaggravation of an earlier ailment, but it simply looks like the Philadelphia goaltender just had awful luck.

And strange injuries have been one of the big stories this season. Even when it’s not a strange injury, in some cities players are heading to the injured list at such a rate that it makes one wonder what’s in the water. So, in what has been an odd season for injuries, here are the 10 strangest: Read more