Dustin Byfuglien signs five-year, $38-million extension with Winnipeg Jets

Jared Clinton
Dustin Byfuglien (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Scratch Dustin Byfuglien off the list of pending free agents and star players available at the trade deadline.

The Jets announced Monday afternoon that Byfuglien, 30, has signed a five-year, $38-million deal to remain in Winnipeg. His $7.6-million annual average salary makes him one of the five highest-paid defensemen in the entire league. Byfuglien’s new deal also makes him the highest paid player on the Jets.

The deal comes exactly three weeks from the trade deadline, where it was expected that Byfuglien, if available, would have been one of the hottest trade candidates. Read more

NHL goes 0-for-2 (0-for-3 actually) in McDonagh-Simmonds incident

Wayne Simmonds (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

What happens to an attempt to injure match penalty when the attempt to injure is actually successful? Well, not much if you’re talking about the NHL, which ignores and justifies suspendable acts with mind-boggling regularity.

Take the Wayne Simmonds sucker punch on Ryan McDonagh Saturday afternoon, for example. In another decision that makes the Department of Player Safety the most spectacular oxymoron since jumbo shrimp, Simmonds skated away with nothing more than a game misconduct for sucker punching McDonagh of the New York Rangers in the head. And McDonagh got away with a two-minute minor for a stick offense that was gratuitous and unnecessary. Give the NHL credit, at least it manages to baffle, confuse and infuriate everyone with its decisions.

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Gostisbehere keeps making case to become first Flyers’ first ever Calder Trophy winner

Jared Clinton
Shayne Gostisbehere (Getty Images)

Never in the history of the Calder Trophy has a Philadelphia Flyers rookie won the award. In Ron Hextall’s rookie year, 1987, he finished second to Luc Robitaille. Bobby Clarke, who’s synonymous with the Flyers, finished fourth the year Tony Esposito backstopped his way to the award. And not even Eric Lindros, who was one of the most hyped rookies in league history, finished higher than fourth in voting.

In total, Philadelphia has had 10 players finish in the top-five of Calder voting, but not once has a Flyer won the award. Hextall and Bill Barber came closest with second-place finishes, and no one from Philadelphia has come closer than fourth place since Simon Gagne in 1999-2000. But the Flyers’ 49-year Calder drought could be coming to an end this season and from the unlikeliest of sources: 22-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

There’s no doubt Philadelphia had high hopes for Gostisbehere, the 78th overall pick in the 2012 draft, but no one would have expected that through 33 games he would be a near point-per-game player in his rookie season. Now, in the midst of an eight-game point streak, there should be some serious consideration given to Gostisbehere’s chances at making Flyers history, because he — not the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin, Sabres’ Jack Eichel or Oilers’ Connor McDavid — might have the best chance at beating out top rookie scorer Artemi Panarin for the Calder this season. Read more

Maple Leafs’ Grabner’s gift allows former billet, a Broncos fan, to witness Denver win Super Bowl

Jared Clinton
Michael Grabner (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Grabner, the Denver Broncos had one extra fan in the stands to watch them win Super Bowl 50 Sunday night. It wasn’t Grabner himself, though.

Grabner, like many kids playing major junior, needed a billet family to stay with during his time with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. The Austrian native ended up spending his years in Spokane with the McCann family, and it was there he met Rachel McCann, a teacher and diehard Broncos fan. According to The Spokesman-Review, Grabner lived with the McCann’s during his WHL stay until 2007, when he left Spokane and headed to Manitoba to play for the AHL’s Moose.

It turns out McCann is a huge Broncos fan even though she’s right in the middle of Seahawks fan territory. Grabner knew of McCann’s fandom, in large part because he liked to tease her about the Broncos whenever they were playing. But when the Broncos made the Super Bowl, Grabner had an idea of how to repay McCann for all she had done for him. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bruins may deal Eriksson rather than lose him to free agency

Loui Eriksson. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson remains a hot topic of NHL trade speculation. Eligible for UFA status in July, recent reports claim the 30-year-old could seek a five-year deal worth over $6 million per season. That’s too expensive for the Bruins, who could trade Eriksson rather than lose him to free agency in July.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins could try moving Eriksson for a defenseman. While that deal would address a pressing need for the Bruins, it will be difficult replacing a reliable two-way right winger. Indeed, trading Eriksson could adversely affect their playoff hopes.

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Young Blues fan makes heartwarming gesture, gifts Tarasenko stick to another youngster

Jared Clinton
(via NHL.com)

Every young fan at a hockey game thinks of the moment a puck comes sailing into the crowd and they make a great grab to take home a souvenir. That’s a moment that kid will never forget. So imagine instead of a puck, it’s a stick, and instead of catching the stick, he or she is handed it by one of the best players on the home team.

That’s exactly what happened in St. Louis this past weekend, as post-game a young fan leaned over the railing and held his hands out only for Vladimir Tarasenko, arguably the best Blues player, to hand off his stick as a souvenir.

The young fan who snatched it up and was ready to leave, but instead of taking off with his newfound treasure, the young man, who was wearing a Jori Lehtera jersey, spotted a youngster in a Tarasenko jersey and did the selfless thing: he walked back down the stairs, up to the kid and passed off Tarasenko’s stick: Read more

Five second-year players hit with the dreaded sophomore slump

Jared Clinton
Damon Severson (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s rare in today’s game that the sophomore slump hits rookie standouts hard. With the way the game has changed over the past several seasons, rookies who break out are usually able to maintain their level of play because the speed and skill that made them stand out as freshman doesn’t disappear in a single season.

That said, not all second-year players are able to avoid a step back in their sophomore season. Be it a coaching change, decrease in minutes or simply a lack of puck luck, not every rookie who stood out continues on an upward trajectory. Here are five players who’ve struggled in their second season in the big league: Read more