It won't be easy for Tyler Seguin to make the NHL jump right away, but he appears ready


Thumbnail image for tylerseguindraftday.jpgFor some reason – maybe because I’m not a Boston Bruins fan, maybe because my expectations for him are different – I never thought to compare former B’s top draft pick Joe Thornton and their latest potential rookie sensation Tyler Seguin until Kevin Paul Dupont did so for

The two are coming into very different situations, though. While both arrived with plenty of hype, Thornton was given something of a Next One status, garnering comparisons such as an “Eric Lindros/Mike Modano hybrid” as Dupont wrote. Seguin will receive plenty of attention, but he’ll be battling for a spot on a playoff-caliber team instead of shouldering a huge amount of the burden like Thornton did in his rookie year (or Taylor Hall must cope with in Edmonton).

So there clearly are some differences between the two, but Dupont discussed the uncertainty ahead for the Bruins first high-end draft pick – and first player to wear number 19 – since Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks (although Phil Kessel might qualify as a high-end draft pick too, though he didn’t sport #19).

“Yeah,” said the much-ballyhooed 18-year-old forward, who arrived in town four days ago in anticipation of the club’s rookie camp next week. “I do believe I am ready.”

For the record, the most talked-about Bruins rookie since Joe Thornton (last seen in the Hub in that No. 19 sweater) said those words evenly and confidently, yet with no amount of hubris nor hint of braggadocio. Seguin’s “ready” is a healthy one, a smart one – verbalized as respect for those already on the roster, and also in acknowledg ment that a mediocre showing in the next 2-3 weeks could return him to the Plymouth Whalers for another year of junior hockey.

“It doesn’t really feel like anything yet,” said Seguin, sitting in the hovel that is the rookie’s dressing room at Ristuccia Arena. “Because the dream and the goal has never been to be right here right now. It has been to be here 2-3 years down the road, you know, playing for an NHL team, eventually starting a family, living in a house, knowing that I am in the spot. That’s the actual dream.

“Right now I can’t say that I’m living that. I am still trying to chase that, it’s what I am striving for.”

While the occasional top defensive or goalie pick might spend some time in the minors or juniors in recent years, it seems like every top forward drafted with the first or second choice in the entry drafts made an immediate jump to the NHL (and most of the time those jumps were pretty successful). Of course, most of those times the team drafting them needed their help right away; the Bruins made the playoffs three seasons in a row and would need to clear some cap space to bring in Seguin during the 2010-11 season. It’s quite possible that the Bruins might buck the trend and allow Seguin to take the marination vs. microwave approach to his development by waiting a while to jump to the NHL.

Considering Seguin’s skill, charisma and the buzz he brings with him as a top prospect, it’s going to be tough to keep him in the minors for long. If he even spends a day there.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.