AHL to stream All-Star Challenge for free — here are five players to watch

Mikko Rantanen (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Fans will be watching Nashville this weekend as the some of the world’s greatest players gather for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, but hockey fans looking to watch some great up-and-coming talent can tune into AHL’s skills competition Sunday and All-Star Challenge Monday.

The events, which will in large part mirror those of the NHL, will give fans the opportunity to see talents who could be breaking into the big league in a few season’s time. Best of all, there’s no reason not to be able to watch the game, either, as Canada’s Sportsnet and 25 regional networks in the United States will be carrying both Sunday’s skills competition and the mini-tournament Monday evening. And for fans without access, the league is offering a free stream of the All-Star Challenge. By going to AHLLive.com Monday evening, fans can access the broadcasts by entering in ‘ASC2016’ as a promotional code.

Unlike the NHL, which has gone full 3-on-3 for its All-Star Game, the AHL has decided to change the format up to increase action at the tail-end of the games. Four teams — one from each the Atlantic, North, Central and Pacific divisions — will play a six-game round-robin. Games will last nine minutes with play switching from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 at the midway mark of each game. The top two teams when round robin play concludes will square off in the final — a six-minute, 3-on-3 game.

The AHL all-star weekend has, in the past, featured players such as Patrice Bergeron, Logan Couture, Tyler Johnson, Gustav Nyquist, Tuukka Rask, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp and P.K. Subban, so if you need more reason to watch, it could be your chance at watching a few future NHL all-stars before they make their climb to the NHL. Read more

In honor of Thornton and Luongo’s major achievements, five other milestones to watch for post-break

Jaromir Jagr (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Joe Thornton and Roberto Luongo will both say the most important thing about Tuesday’s games were that their respective clubs picked up victories, but both veteran stars added to their Hall of Fame resumes.

In the Sharks’ victory over the Avalanche, Thornton extended his point streak to 10 games and racked up two assists in the 6-1 win. Thornton’s helpers were the 1,299th and 1,300th points of his career, as he moved became just the 33rd player in league history to reach the 1,300-point mark for their career.

As for Luongo, his milestone wasn’t as round as Thornton’s but it continued the Panthers netminder’s climb up the all-time ranks. The Panthers’ convincing 5-1 victory over the Maple Leafs gave Luongo 423 wins in his career, putting him into a tie for seventh-place all-time with longtime Chicago Blackhawks netminder Tony Esposito. He’s now 14 wins back of Jacques Plante and 24 wins away from reaching a tie for the top-five alongside Terry Sawchuk.

With the all-star break upon us, there’s not much time left in the season for others chasing down major career milestones: Read more

Two-time Stanley Cup champion Craig Adams retires at 38

Craig Adams (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Craig Adams has officially retired after 14 seasons, two Stanley Cups and more than 950 games in the NHL.

Adams, 38, announced his retirement Tuesday through the NHLPA. Previously an unrestricted free agent, Adams had played in 70 games in 2014-15 for the Pittsburgh Penguins and contributed one goal and seven points, but averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time per outing. Adams completed the second season of a two-year, $1.4-million deal.

In a statement, Adams said he was thankful that he was able to achieve his dream of playing in the NHL, adding it was an honor that he “never took for granted.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Eriksson potential deadline scoring options, Ducks still looking for help

Loui Eriksson (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s suspension of unhappy left wing Jonathan Drouin has observers wondering about the effect this will have upon his trade value. Prior to suspending the 20-year-old over his refusal to play in the AHL until his trade request is honored, between 12 to 15 clubs reportedly had varying degrees of interest in the youngster.

Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh claims the Lightning informed them a trade was close to completion, prompting their request that he no longer participate in AHL games to avoid injury. According to The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, that drew an icy denial from GM Steve Yzerman. “We never said that there was a pending deal or a deal close,” said Yzerman.

The Lightning GM still claims trading Drouin is a priority, but it doesn’t put additional pressure upon him to get a deal done. Yzerman didn’t rule out a reconciliation, but that appears remote right now.

Staging a holdout is the only card the Drouin camp has to play. He’s in the midst of an entry-level contract through 2016-17. However, his actions could hurt his trade value, raising questions about his character. Read more

Kings mortgage future to have Anze Kopitar in the present

Ken Campbell
Anze Kopitar (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

One of the first things that went through my mind when word surfaced that Anze Kopitar was going to sign an eight-year deal worth $80 million was, are the Los Angeles Kings paying him for what he has already done for them? It’s hard to believe the Kopitar they have for $10 million a year on this deal is going to be as good as the one they had for $3.2 million less on his current contract.

Analytics tells us that Kopitar will decline, probably badly, toward the end of this deal. He likely has had his best years already, although with four goals and 18 points in his past 11 games, Kopitar will have one of the best offensive seasons of his career if he keeps scoring the rest of the season. And his defensive game has never faltered.

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Penguins’ David Warsofsky injured after legs taken out by falling referee Tim Peel

Jared Clinton
David Warsofsky (via NHL)

Penguins defenseman David Warsofsky was injured Sunday, but it wasn’t a blocked shot, awkward collision or dirty hit that put him out of the game. Warsofsky’s injury occurred after after a collision with referee Tim Peel.

With Carolina breaking up ice, Warsofsky was picking up speed and heading backwards to defend the rush. As the Hurricanes were coming up ice, though, Peel caught an edge, went tumbling to the ice and began sliding in Warsofsky’s direction. Peel’s legs took out an unsuspecting Warsofsky from behind and sent him flipping backwards on to his shoulder, neck and head: Read more