The Atlantic division leads East's influx in enforcers


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for boogaard.jpgWhen the New York Rangers spent a ton on Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard and the Philadelphia Flyers gave Jody Shelley more than a million per year, I remarked that the Atlantic division might be the “heavyweight” division. The Goon Blog did it one better, wondering if the division should be renamed the “Bob Probert division” considering all the enforcers/bruisers were added to an already stout group this summer. Here is what they wrote.

In a nod to recently passed Bob Probert, I think it fitting the Atlantic Division be renamed the Bob Probert Division. Here is the breakdown by team. New additions are bold.

NJ-PL3, David Clarkson
PITT-Eric Godard, Mike Rupp
PHI- Jody Shelley
NYR- Derek Boogaard, Brandon Prust
NYI- Trevor Gillies, Zenon Konopka

(“PL3” stands for the difficult-to-spell fighter Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. You can understand the use of an acronym, though. Want to see him fight someone for three minutes? Click here.)

Let’s not forget that the Flyers have a time-honored tradition of goonery, either, although they might not see PIM-leader Dan Carcillo return thanks to restricted free agency and cap concerns. Either way, the division could very well be the NHL’s leaders in knuckle chucking.

To round things out, though, The Goon Blog also pointed out the other fighters in the East’s other two divisions. Here is a snippet about each.

First, a tidbit about the Northeast.

One of Bob Probert’s biggest rivals, or at least a guy he fought a lot, was Craig Berube. I have renamed the Northeast Division the Craig Berube Division. Some good tough guys here and a message to Buffalo, and Montreal. Add some toughness. Quick.

OTT- Matt Carkner, Chris Neil
BOS- Shawn Thornton, Jeremy Reich
TOR- Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill

That’s a substantial bunch right there, although the Atlantic might be tougher top-to-bottom. (Granted, I’m not expert on puck-based pugilism.)

Finally, here’s their take on the Southeast.

The Southeast Division will be renamed the Andre Nazarov Division. They need to get tougher if they want to hang with the true heavies, but have enough experience to win some every now and then.

ATL- Eric Boulton, Ben Eager
CAR- Tim Gleason
TBL- Mitch Fritz

Atlanta should dominate the division physically, as they have been reaping the rewards of the Chicago Blackhawks fire sale and have gotten better, and tougher. Carolina never really has a tough guy on the roster, but Tim Gleason can do the heavy lifting if needed. Mitch Fritz may be the worst skating NHLer ever.

Mitch Fritz? Really? He should fight with Byron Bitz, just for the sake of the pun-based headlines that would result.

Anyway, as you can see, the Eastern Conference added a lot of beef this summer. I wouldn’t say that enforcers really make much of a difference in today’s NHL, but clearly NHL GMs think differently.

(H/T to Puck Daddy)

Preds place Salomaki on IR, recall Sissons

Jake Allen, Miikka Salomaki
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Nashville made a minor roster transaction on Thursday, putting forward Miikka Salomaki on IR while recalling fellow forward Colton Sissons from AHL Milwaukee.

Salomaki, 22, was a fairly regular lineup presence through the of November, appearing in eight games while averaging just under 12 minutes per night. Despite his relatively small frame (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), he racked up 28 hits over that time and emerged as a decent energy guy for the Preds.

As for Sissons, he’s about to get yet another crack with the parent club.

Having spent most of the last two seasons in Milwaukee, Sissons — the 50th overall pick in 2012 — has seen some action with the Preds this year. He has one goal in five games with Nashville, and eight points in 12 games with the Admirals.

Oilers say McDavid ‘ahead of schedule’ in broken clavicle recovery

Connor McDavid
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There hasn’t been much good news for the Oilers lately — Connor McDavid‘s hurt, Nail Yakupov‘s hurt, they’ve lost seven of their last nine — so what GM Peter Chiarelli had to say on Thursday qualified as very welcome news.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” Chiarelli said of Connor McDavid and his broken clavicle, per Sportsnet. “He’s been in the pool, been lifting weights… There are no soft tissue injuries, which is important.

“When you get a break like that, oftentimes there is accompanying soft tissue injuries. That slows down the recovery.”

McDavid, who suffered the injury on Nov. 3 against Philly, was originally supposed to be sidelined until early March. But per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, there’s cautious optimism the star rookie could be back in the Edmonton lineup by “mid-to-late January.”

But even with that cautious optimism, there’s still a long way to go.

McDavid has yet to resume skating and is still at his parents’ home in Newmarket, Ontario. That said, he’s expected to join Edmonton soon — when the Oilers take on the Leafs in Toronto on Monday — and, according to Chiarelli, will want to get back onto the ice way sooner than expected.

“I can tell you that when it comes time,” he said, “[McDavid] is going to want to come back a lot earlier than what we forecast internally.”

There’s another Radulov NHL comeback rumor making the rounds

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It’s been roughly six months since the last one so yeah, time for an Alex Radulov update.

Radulov, who’s spent the last four seasons playing for KHL outfit CSKA Moscow, has reportedly rejected the club’s contract extension offer and is ready to become a free agent, per Russian sports writer Slava Malamud.

Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko also reported the Radulov news, tweeting the ex-Preds forward claimed “there’s nothing” regarding a new deal with CSKA, adding “I’m a free agent after this season.”

Radulov, 29, is having another terrific offensive campaign in Russia, with 37 points in 32 games. This comes one year after he tore up the KHL in ’14-15, with 24 goals and 71 points in just 46 contests — one of the best offensive campaigns in league history.

Rumors of Radulov returning to North America happen with the same frequency as Ilya Kovalchuk comeback rumblings, and always with the same outcome. But it’s hard to ignore them completely.


Well, back in late May, Radulov’s agent told Championat Colorado had been in contact about an NHL return once Radulov’s deal with CSKA expired. Colorado, of course, is coached by Patrick Roy — the same guy that had great success coaching Radulov in the QMJHL.

The two were, at one time, a dynamic force for the Quebec Remparts. During the 2005-06 campaign, Radulov scored a ridiculous 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 games, the nine more in four Memorial Cup contests, helping Roy capture his first and only championship as a head coach.

Radulov, of course, hasn’t played in the NHL since an ill-fated reunion with Nashville in 2012, which included him getting suspended for a playoff game after breaking curfew.

Malamud does note that, should Radulov try to return to the NHL, he’d do so as a unrestricted free agent — meaning he’s no longer Nashville property.

Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

If you don’t spend tomorrow eye-gouging someone to save 50 bucks on an iRobot, why not spend it watching hockey?

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow’s a pretty big day. Not only is there an Original Six matchup between the Bruins and Rangers — essentially kicking off the NHL on NBC national broadcast campaign — but there’s also an additional evening game, and a good one at that:

Anaheim hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Final.

But before the Ducks and ‘Hawks do battle, the B’s and Rangers will get it on.

This marks the second time in the last three years Boston and New York meet in the Thanksgiving Showdown. Back in ’13-14, the Bruins beat the Blueshirts 3-2, and this Farrelly Brothers commercial went to air:

Tomorrow’s game promises to be a quality affair. The Bruins come in riding a four-game winning streak, which included Wednesday’s 3-2 OT win over Detroit. In that game, Jonas Gustavsson exacted a measure of revenge against his old Red Wings mates, stopping 32 of 34 shots for the win.

The Rangers, meanwhile, come into Friday’s action looking for some redemption.

Alain Vigneault’s club was waxed in Wednesday’s big test against top-seeded Montreal, dropping a 5-1 decision, at home, in front of the MSG faithful. The Rangers allowed five regulation goals for the first time this season, and saw All-Star netminder Henrik Lundqvist get yanked as a result.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.