Prospect Need to Know: Max Lajoie has stepped up in Swift Current

Max Lajoie (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Boston College won its 20th Beanpot tournament in 64 years last night, with Minnesota prospect Alex Tuch firing a seeing-eye shot in overtime for the only goal in a 1-0 overtime win over archrival Boston University. On the international scene, two Five Nations tournaments kick off this week – Finland hosts the under-18s and the U.S. hosts the under-17s. Needless to say, these will be marquee events and a lot of good evaluations will come from there. Here’s a look at some of the other kids making noise in the prospect world right now:

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Rumor Roundup: Decision time looming for playoff bubble teams

Nick Schultz (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

With the Feb. 29 trade deadline less than a month away, the general managers of several playoff bubble teams must soon determine if they’ll become buyers or sellers in the coming weeks.

Emerging from the NHL all-star break, the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers were one and five points outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, respectively. Like the Flyers, the Vancouver Canucks sit five points back in the Western Conference postseason chase. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, are 11 points out and fading.

NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulitti believes Devils GM Ray Shero owes it to his hardworking players to bolster their weak offense. He notes Shero isn’t keen to part with assets for a rental player, preferring instead to add younger players who could fit into the Devils long-term plans. Gulitti points out such deals tend to be uncommon at the trade deadline.

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Youngsters dazzle at the AHL’s All-Star skills competition

Eric Comrie (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)

While John Scott was being carried on the shoulders of his all-star teammates in Nashville (I can see the reports now: Joe Pavelski, day-to-day, hernia. Brent Burns, day-to-day, hernia…), the American League’s finest were having their skills competition at their all-star festivities in Syracuse. And there were some pretty nice performances for fans of a couple NHL franchises.

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Canucks’ Hamhuis eyes February return after two months sidelined with facial fractures

Jared Clinton
Dan Hamhuis

It was one of the scariest scenes of the season. Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who had been hit in the face by Dan Boyle’s slapshot moments earlier, was down on the ice, kicking his feet in agony as the whistle blew. He got up, face bloodied badly and wobbled his way off the ice with the help of teammates.

The puck to the face resulted in Hamhuis, 33, suffering multiple facial fractures that required surgery to be repaired. And while it seemed like an injury that could be potentially season- or even career-ending, Hamhuis is eyeing up a return to the Canucks lineup Feb. 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which would technically put him ahead of schedule, as hard as that may be to believe.

It’s not as if Hamhuis won’t have a constant reminder of his injury, though. He had two permanent plates put into his cheeks and he’s still dealing with numbness in areas throughout his mouth and nose, Hamhuis told Metro Vancouver’s Cam Tucker. Hamhuis added there’s dental work coming in the off-season. Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Meet Sweden’s top 2016 NHL draft hopeful

Rasmus Asplund  (Photo by Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

The CHL Top Prospects Game runs this Thursday in Vancouver and it will be a strange year for the showdown. To begin with, three of the top four prospects in the NHL draft aren’t even eligible to participate – Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi all play in Europe. On top of that, hometown hero Tyler Benson of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants will miss the contest due to a lingering injury, so his captaincy of Team Cherry has been ceded to top defenseman Jakob Chychrun instead. The other bad news out west is that Red Deer center Conner Bleackley (Colorado) will miss six weeks with a fractured kneecap. The Rebels host the Memorial Cup, so at least his season’s not finished. Let’s get to the rest of the prospect world:

 

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Canucks unveil awesome old school jerseys ahead of Retro Night

Jared Clinton
(via CanucksTV/YouTube)

Of all the classic Vancouver Canucks jerseys, there’s not one fans wanted to see make a return more than the old school ‘Flying Skate’ Canucks sweater. It’s the jersey of Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean. It’s the uniform the Canucks wore during their magical run to the Stanley Cup final in 1994. And it’s making its return Feb. 13.

The Canucks unveiled the updated version of the sweater Monday on their Twitter account in a take-off of the unboxing videos that have become popular over the past few years. With mascot Johnny Canuck behind the camera delivering a bizarre voiceover, we get our first look at the ‘Retro Night’ Canucks jerseys: Read more

Henrik Sedin out until after all-star break with upper-body injury

Jared Clinton
Henrik Sedin hit by Mikhail Grabovski (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A hit from behind knocked Henrik Sedin out of Vancouver’s Sunday game against the New York Islanders with an upper-body injury, and the Canucks aren’t likely to have their captain back in the lineup until February.

Ahead of Vancouver’s game against the New York Rangers Tuesday, Sedin wasn’t on the ice for practice. Post-practice, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said the injury will keep Sedin out of the lineup for the remaining three games of Vancouver’s six-game road trip and Desjardins said he doesn’t expect his top-line center to return before the all-star break is over.

“We’ll probably send him back [to Vancouver] so he won’t have any more games the rest of the road trip,” Desjardins said, via NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. “Hopefully he’ll be ready after the all-star break. I think it’s probably a 10-day injury or so.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blues seeking hockey trade for Shattenkirk

Kevin Shattenkirk (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

For several weeks, the St. Louis Blues have regularly appeared in the trade rumor mill. There’s talk defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s UFA status in 2017 could force GM Doug Armstrong to move the skilled blueliner this season. Among the clubs believed pursuing Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin, the Blues are said to be the front-runners.

Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Blues need an offensive jolt, as they’ve dropped to 21st in scoring. They also began this week with 167 man games lost to injury. However, Armstrong tells Rutherford he doesn’t expect any trade activity until after the upcoming NHL All-Star break, possibly not until closer to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

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