The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks have enjoyed a spirited rivalry in recent years, but that didn’t stop the two franchises from consummating a trade late Thursday night, swapping two young defenseman: heading to the Hawks from Vancouver is 18-year-old Swedish blueliner Gustav Forsling; going the other way is 22-year-old American d-man Adam Clendening.
Neither player is ready for full-time NHL duty yet. Forsling, born in Linkoping, Sweden and drafted in the fifth round (126th overall) by Vancouver in 2014, was named to the IIHF World Junior championship’s All Tournament Team in 2015, but at 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds, he’s going to need time to mature in Chicago’s system. Clendening, a native of Niagara Falls, N.Y. and a Boston University alumnus, was drafted at a much higher slot (in the second round, 36th overall, of the 2011 draft) than Forsling and had made his NHL debut in November, scoring his first goal on his first shot. However, he’s appeared in just four NHL games this season (registering two points in total) and was continuing his apprenticeship in the American League at the time the deal went down. Read more
If there’s one player fans and players alike would like to see win a Stanley Cup before the end of his career, no player would be at the top of more lists than Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes. That’s not going to happen, though, because Doan is intent on playing his entire career with the Coyotes, a team that is getting further away from winning a Cup, not closer.
Doan said “you never say never,” but it doesn’t seem like there is any circumstance that would get him out of the desert. And the Coyotes don’t seem to be in a huge rush to trade him. Read more
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is known around the NHL to be fond of working well in advance of the NHL trade deadline, so news he had made another move Tuesday night was not terribly surprising. What was, though, was the deal he made, sending useful center Marcel Goc to St. Louis in exchange for rugged center Maxim Lapierre.
The 31-year-old Goc, who came to Pittsburgh late last season from Florida, had become a dependable penalty-killer under coach Mike Johnston – he led the team’s forwards in average PK time (3:00) in 43 games this year – and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will be licking his chops looking forward to utilizing him. Coming to the Penguins in return is the 29-year-old Lapierre, who was averaging only 10:21 per game in St. Louis. He’s spent time on the Blues’ PK, but he’s clearly coming over to give the Pens more toughness and edge. Read more
COLUMBUS – Well, that was some “showcase of skill” wasn’t it? Unless of course, you consider bodychecking, backchecking, stopping pucks and skating hard for pucks to be valuable skills.
There’s a good chance that you’ve forgotten whether Team Toews or Team Foligno won as you read this. But it was a good weekend and good on the city of Columbus for being so hospitable and welcoming. And good on the players for letting their hair down a little and letting the fans in on the fun.
Now to more important matters, specifically the second half and stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Here are 10 storylines that should provide some compelling moments as we hit the most crucial part of the season: Read more
Chins up, Columbus Blue Jackets. No one likes an excuse maker, but, honestly, you deserve an exception. You were simply cursed in 2014-15. We loved your chances to contend this season – I had you going all the way to the Eastern Conference final – but some witch in some basement impaled an entire collection of team bobblehead dolls with pins. Nothing you can do.
According to mangameslost.com’s Jan. 20 update, the Blue Jackets lead the NHL with 283 man games lost this season. For context, the 10th-ranked team, the Dallas Stars, have lost less than half that many. The horseshoe-infused Montreal Canadiens sit last at 37.
And it’s not like the Jackets have lost one or two role players to season-long injuries that jack up the number. Virtually every important cog has missed time. Nathan Horton’s back threatens his career altogether. There was Boone Jenner’s broken thumb and back, Scott Hartnell’s broken finger, Artem Anisimov’s torn triceps, Ryan Murray’s knee injury…I’ll stop there lest I explode my word count. Let’s just say any Jacket who hasn’t endured an injury this season may feel like a dressing room outcast.
Sergei Bobrovsky’s misfortune looks like the last straw for Columbus in 2014-15. He’d already missed time with a fractured finger and brief illness, and his lower-body injury Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets looked grim. The extent won’t be clear until his MRI results come in, but Bobrovsky had to be helped off the ice.
Now it’s time for GM Jarmo Kekalainen to swallow his pride and realize this season wasn’t meant to be. If Bobrovsky is seriously hurt, it’s obviously a knockout blow for a team 14 points out of a playoff spot. And if the injury is, say, a minor sprain, there’s no reason to rush back a precious commodity freshly signed to a four-year, $29.7-million contract extension. The Jackets are finished.
Most fantasy hockey seasons have reached the turn, meaning it’s time to start negotiating magical trades to put your team over the top. Figuring out who to target is ultimately a buy-low, sell-high ballet, but at this time of year, it’s not so obvious. The sample sizes are big and less extreme than, say, a star player without a goal in his first 10 games. We have to factor history in much more, examining first and second-half splits.
Above all else, the key is to target any player you believe (a) will have significant value down the stretch and (b) can be had for his proper price or anything less, even the tiniest discount. That’s why you’ll see some big names on his list. It’s amazing how lazy certain GMs can be in any given league, placing such massive value on current numbers. Jakub Voracek is untouchable because “he’s the top guy in the whole game this year, come on.” Great player, but wouldn’t you still trade him for a John Tavares? And see if you can get the Tavares owner to add a sweetener because “Hey, Tavares has 11 fewer points, it’s gonna take more than him”?
Here are 20 names of varying value to consider in your negotiations, with positions listed according to Yahoo qualifications.
You know things are really bad when you’re so bad, you’re bad at being bad.
That’s where the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves as they return from a four-game road trip through California and Missouri bruised, sunburned and winless. As James Mirtle points out, the Leafs essentially prolonged their playoff-bubble misery by signing a bunch of spare parts in the off-season. They were destined all along to scratch and claw to, say, a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. At the same time, by signing the likes of Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli to highly tradable one-year deals, GM Dave Nonis and president Brendan Shanahan covered their bottoms in case the bottom felt out. If they lacked confidence in the team then, was it worth the slap-dash solution? Why not let the whole thing collapse and guarantee a high pick in a phenomenal draft class?
Either way, each loss puts the Leafs closer to full seller mode, with the March 2 trade deadline visible on the distant horizon. Leaf Nation will start to buzz over who should stay and who should go. Here are 10 candidates to consider, starting with the least likely.
Mired in a six-game losing skid and fading fast from the Western Conference playoff race, the Minnesota Wild acknowledged the obvious and made a trade for a goaltender, acquiring veteran Devan Dubnyk from Arizona in exchange for a third-round draft pick. With just two wins in the past 14 games, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was left with little choice but to make some type of move in net. But this move represents a small-g, low-risk gamble that doesn’t mortgage the team’s future, but also isn’t a commitment to a long-term acquisition.
The 28-year-old Dubnyk has done a solid job rehabilitating his reputation in Arizona this season, posting a 9-5-2 record in 19 games. Last season had been an unmitigated disaster, as he’d been dealt from Edmonton to Nashville for Matt Hendricks and his save percentage and goals-against average only got worse as the campaign dragged on. But as a backup to Mike Smith, he’s boosted his numbers back to respectability (a save percentage of .916 and a goals-against average of 2.71) – and with an $800,000 cap hit on a one-year contract this season, he doesn’t hurt the Wild’s flexibility either this season or next. He’s got a chance to further re-establish himself and earn an unrestricted free agent raise on a team built to be in the playoff mix for the foreseeable future. If that doesn’t happen, Fletcher moves in an entirely different direction. Read more