Chicago trades Kris Versteeg to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg, prospects

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krisversteeg.jpgThe quiet before the free agency storm was broken tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The trade breaks down like this:

Toronto obtains: Kris Versteeg (RW), Rights to Bill Sweatt (LW)

Chicago obtains: Viktor Stalberg (LW), Chris DiDomenico (C), Philippe Paradis (C)

The main piece here is, of course, Versteeg. Versteeg emerged the last two seasons in Chicago after once being a prospect of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins dealt Versteeg to Chicago infamously for journeyman forward Brandon Bochenski. The last two seasons with Chicago, Versteeg scored 22 goals in 08-09 and 20 goals last year finishing with 53 points in 08-09 and 44 points in 09-10. He’s a big time player and got caught up in the depth the Blackhawks had the last two seasons. He’ll get a chance to be a top six forward for the Maple Leafs and give Leafs opponents someone other than Phil Kessel to have to worry about.

Prospect Bill Sweatt just completed his final year at Colorado College last season where his four-year career line was 46 goals, 63 assists and 109 points. He was a 2007 second round pick by the Blackhawks.

The main piece going to Chicago in this package of youth is Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg in his first season out of the University of Vermont where he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior, was a training camp hero for the Leafs stunning everyone with his speed and offensive creativity. A lack of goal scoring finish doomed him early in the season and he was sent back to the AHL to work things out. Overall, he played in 40 games for the Leafs and had a scoring line of 9 goals, five assists and 14 points.

Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis were two Leafs prospects who have yet to make their mark in the professional ranks. DiDomenico played last season for Drummondville in the QMJHL. Paradis, meanwhile, was originally a Hurricanes first round pick in 2007 who was then traded to Toronto as part of the Jiri Tlusty trade. Paradis spent most of last year in the QMJHL with Shawinigan before playing a small handful of games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

The major implication on this deal for Chicago is the effect on their salary cap and according to the newly updated CapGeek.com, the Blackhawks are sitting in shockingly good shape now $8 million under the salary cap. The Hawks will still have some holes to fill on defense, but burying Cristobal Huet and his bloated salary in the AHL may not be totally necessary now. As for the Leafs and their cap situation, they’re sitting at $53 million with only forward help to absolutely worry about.

PHT Morning Skate: Snoop Dogg wears OHL team’s jersey during a show

Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, arrives at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–Snoop Dog wore a Mitch Marner London Knights jersey at his concert in London. (Bardown)

Brent Burns‘ son got a gift from Jaromir Jagr:

–Here’s Pierre LeBrun’s latest edition of Team Canada’s World Cup roster. (ESPN)

–The NHL completely ruined the Toronto Maple Leafs’ centennial season. (Puck Daddy)

–The Chicago Blackhawks will be going to the White House on Feb. 18. (Blackhawks.nhl.com)

–Wings goalie Petr Mrazek talks to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman about “doing the right things” and “working hard”. (Sportsnet)

Sharks scratch Flames’ big lead, Calgary wins anyway

Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund (11) chases down the puck against San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl (48) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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If you turned off Thursday’s Calgary Flames – San Jose Sharks game early, you’ll probably be stunned to see that Calgary won 6-5 via a shootout.

For instance:

  • A Sharks fan may have bitterly called it a night when Calgary went up 4-1.
  • Conversely, a Flames devotee might have retired after San Jose took a 5-4 lead, possibly with a broken remote.

The Flames only trailed for about two minutes before scoring the last “real” goal of the game, eventually taking their third straight win thanks to a shootout triumph.

It’s been a strange ride for Calgary, with its most recent win happening after Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma were punished with a healthy scratch. As strange as this game was, the “charity point” can leave both teams looking through a lot of film, yet with something gained as well.

Ultimately, the message may very well be: don’t sleep on these teams.

(In less positive news, Karri Ramo is injured, and it doesn’t look good.

Jonas Hiller closing out the game on a hot streak could be pretty important if Ramo’s out for some time.)

By winning fifth straight, Caps extend Wild’s slump to seven losses

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the second period for his 14th career hat trick, and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, who leads the league with 34 goals, has 13 in his past 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Jason Chimera added an empty-netter for Washington, which improved to a league-best 20-5-2 on the road.

Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals, who won their fifth consecutive game and became the first team to reach 40 victories this season.

Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, but Minnesota lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games (1-10-2). Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Wild, who have lost seven in a row at home (0-4-3).

Ovechkin’s third goal, which deflected off both the post and the back of Dubnyk into the net, was upheld following a coach’s challenge. Wild coach Mike Yeo challenged that the puck had left the zone for offsides, but the call stood after a review showed that Backstrom stopped the puck before it crossed the blue line.

The goal gave Ovechkin his first hat trick since he scored four goals against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2013.

It wasn’t the only fortunate bounce for Ovechkin on the night, and the five-time 50-goal scorer capitalized on each opportunity.

A shot from T.J. Oshie deflected off of Minnesota forward Zach Parise across the ice right to Ovechkin in the left faceoff circle and Ovechkin quickly snapped off a shot to beat Dubnyk, who couldn’t get across the crease to get into position. Three minutes later, Ovechkin scored on the power play when a point shot bounced off the end boards right to Ovechkin in front of the net.

The tally provided some relief for the Capitals’ surprisingly ineffective power play. Washington had one power play in its previous six games, an empty-netter for the only goal in its previous 20 power-play chances. The Capitals were 1 of 5 on the power play on Thursday.

Coyle scored for the fifth time in eight games in the second, but second periods have doomed the Wild during their slump. Minnesota has been outscored 13-3 in the period in five straight losses.

Suter scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third as Minnesota went 1 of 5 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov left in the third period after he was hit in the face by the stick of Mikael Granlund off a faceoff. … Backstrom has 20 points in his last 17 games. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second straight game with an unspecified deep bruise. Spurgeon has returned to practice, but was held out again. … Holtby is 27-1-3 in his last 31 games with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.