Florida Panthers fail to reach an entry-level agreement with first rounder Erik Gundbranson

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for erikgudbransonbloodied.jpgWhile we were discussing the merits of the Florida Panthers keeping first round pick Erik Gudbranson at the NHL-level or not, we seemed to overlook one important detail: that the two sides might not even make a deal.

The Florida Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov reports that the Panthers and Gudbranson did indeed fail to reach an agreement on a rookie contract, which means that the tough and talented defenseman will just go back to the junior level for the time being.

Gudbranson was a physical force at the blue line and rarely made rookie mistakes. The Panthers own his rights for another two years and will eventually sign him. GM Dale Tallon has pegged him as a future captain.

For now Gudbranson’s future, who despite earning a First Star in his first game when he scored a goal and notched an assist on his first two shots in a 4-1 win over Carolina, will be back in Kingston of the OHL where he was named captain when he was 16.

While I am in favor of Gudbranson gaining more experience and confidence before he enters the NHL, you have to wonder how much more he can prove in the OHL with Kingston. After all, he was a captain there at the age of 16, as Filakov pointed out.

Still, as long as the Panthers eventually sign the big blue liner to a deal, it will work itself out. It’s still a little surprising to hear that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, though. My guess is it might have come down to bonuses or incentives. Hopefully Gudbranson didn’t want a jar full of peanut M & M’s in his locker before every game, though, because that would be some serious diva behavior.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.