Sabres halt contract talks with Zack Kassian

Kassian.jpgAccording to The Buffalo News, the Buffalo Sabres have decided to
stop talks with 2009 first round draft pick Zack Kassian, after last
week’s news broke that Kassian had been arrested for assault outside a
bar. Says
GM Darcy Regier, courtesy of John Vogl:

“It’s obviously not something we condone,” Regier said. “It’s
unfortunate. I happen to
believe Zack’s a good kid. He just put himself in a position that going
forward you can’t put
yourself in those types of positions. It’s a learning process.

“It obviously, by his own admission, wasn’t a smart thing for him to do.
It caught a wave.
They won the Memorial Cup. He was out with some of his [Windsor]
teammates, and he’s the big
guy there, getting challenged and egged on, and those are things you
have to learn to walk
away from. You’re not on the ice. You can’t take that position.

“We’re going to continue to work with him. I told him that on one hand
there’s no way we’re
going to abandon him, we’re going to help him, but he’s got some work to
do on the other
hand.”

Kassian was a highly regard prospect last summer, after putting up 24
goals and 63 points for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. His
combination of size (6-3, 215) and scoring and playmaking ability,
especially as a right hander, had him very high on many scouts’ draft
charts. He eventually went 13th overall to the Sabres.

He’s been in trouble a few times this season, however, and scored
just 12 goals and 31 points this past season between Peterborough and
the Windsor Spitfires. He was in trouble with his team after missing
curfew and was suspended 20 games by the OHL for a dangerous hit.

With this latest transgression, combined with his drop off in
production, it’s perfectly understandable that the Sabres would hold off
on giving Kassian an entry-level contract. He still has one year of
eligibility left with the OHL, and there is no rush to get him signed
right away.

Of course, he could get things figured out this summer and lead the
OHL is scoring next season. Then the Sabres might not get the deal they
would be certain to get now.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Tortorella says ‘not a chance’ LeBron James could play hockey

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    Auston Matthews is putting together one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a long time, but if it wasn’t for a Ukrainian skating coach Boris Dorozhenko’s unique teaching methods, he might not be the player he is today. (ESPN)

    –Not many people expected the Minnesota Wild to contend for the Central Division crown this season, but their play is making some in the national media believe they have a chance to do some damage in the near future. “I give them a ton of credit,” NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said. “They’ve put themselves in a great position to win a Cup. This is the best team they’ve had in Minnesota ever. Like, ever!” (Minneapolis StarTribune)

    –If he wasn’t a basketball player, I could see LeBron James playing in the NFL. But a hockey player? I don’t think so. It sounds like Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella agrees with me. “He can’t skate,” Tortorella said during a radio interview. “He’s too damn big, he can’t skate. And you can tell him I said that, I challenge him.” (BarDown)

    –The Boston Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 in last night’s game against the Red Wings, but they still found a way to lose the game. Watch the highlights of that tilt by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    –Every hockey fan is aware of the incredible season Sidney Crosby has put together, but for some reason, Evgeni Malkin‘s stellar play seems to be flying under the radar. After all, Malkin isn’t too far behind Connor McDavid for the scoring title. “He doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves,” said Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar. “Not only this season or that season. I think overall if you look at his career, I don’t think he has been covered as much as some other guys. I think he deserves more credit for what he has done in his career.” (NHL.com)

    –The 2003 NHL Entry Draft is regarded as one of the best drafts in league history. That year, the Penguins took Marc-Andre Fleury first overall, but if it had to be done over again, who would the top pick be? According to a pair of Sportsnet hockey analysts, Patrice Bergeron or Ryan Getzlaf would go number one if that draft could be done over again. (Sportsnet)

    –In his final year of eligibility, former Expos outfielder Tim Raines was finally voted into the hall-of-fame yesterday and the Montreal Canadiens made sure to congratulate him during last night’s game:

    Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings

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    If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.

    They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.

    During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.

    The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:

    1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
    2. Oilers – 57 in 47
    3. Sharks – 56 in 45

    San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:

    Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games

    Canucks – 48 in 46
    Predators – 47 in 44
    Stars – 46 in 46
    Jets – 46 in 48

    The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.

    Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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    Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

    To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

    Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

    Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

    Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

    Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

    The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

    (That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

    Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

    Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

    Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.

    Pavelec makes highlight reel save, gets win in return to Jets’ net

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets dives across to make a first period save against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    With an expiring contract, Ondrej Pavelec’s time with the Winnipeg Jets is nearing an end. Plenty of Jets fans would say, mercifully.

    Still, he did return to the Winnipeg Jets net on Wednesday for his first NHL appearance since April 9, 2016, to mostly successful results. The Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3, for one thing.

    Beyond that, it probably felt like a typical Pavelec start for many Jets fans, though some would contest that it would also need to involve a loss.

    There were those regrettable moments, like giving up a goal right away:

    Even his critics would probably agree that Pavelec does have a knack for making breathtaking saves:

    It’s unclear how many more times we’ll see Pavelec play for the Jets (or an NHL team in general). His performance – if given more chances – in the near future may determine that answer.

    If nothing else, his 2016-17 debut felt pretty fitting.