This week’s edition of the NHL three stars of the week features a pair of names we haven’t seen come through much and one name we’ve seen virtually every week.
Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson walked away with this week’s top honors after going 3-0-0 with a 0.98 goals against average and a .972 save percentage in helping the Isles to go 4-0-1 over their last five games and getting the team out of last place overall in the NHL. Roloson’s outstanding play comes at a time when the Isles were showing little to no hope of doing something positive and now suddenly find themselves out of the basement being supplanted there by the Devils.
Roloson, who is 41 years-old, has had his name thrown around in trade rumors to help out a contending team in need of solid goaltending thanks to his play has been one of the few steady players in Long Island this season. Even though his overall record this year looks crummy (5-12-1) his save percentage (.920) and goal against average (2.38) say he’s been the reason the Isles have had any success at all. If Roloson is a candidate to be moved, you could see him earning a lot of interest elsewhere.
Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg took home the week’s number two star of the week after stepping up his play in the absence of Pavel Datsyuk. Zetterberg tallied three goals and four assists in helping the Red Wings win all three of their games in the past week. Zetterberg’s always consistent level of play will come under closer scrutiny now with Datsyuk out with a broken hand but for now, he’s the man leading the team in scoring with 13 goals and 27 assists over 35 games.
Unsurprisingly, Sidney Crosby earns the the league’s third star of the week. Crosby’s been a point producing machine all year in helping the Penguins to be one of the top teams in the league and over the past week he’s been no different. Sid the Kid had four goals and three assists in leading the Pens to a 3-1-0 record over the last week and extended his consecutive games with a point streak to 24 over that time. All Sid has done this year is lead the NHL in goals scored (30) and points (61) so far this year. Ho hum, another great season for one of the league’s top players.
Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.
And now it’s happening.
Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.
Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.
As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.
LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.
Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.
Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.
Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.
Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.
In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”
You can watch the full ruling below:
Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.
Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.
Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.
Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.
As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.
The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.
The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.
“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”
The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.