College hockey apparently isn’t immune to defections during the season as it seems. After an off-season that saw numerous NCAA hockey players leave college early to sign entry-level deals with the NHL teams that drafted them, college hockey takes another blow to their ego. University of Minnesota-Duluth star Dylan Olsen is giving up college halfway into the season to sign his three-year entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.
This season for UMD, Olsen has been a stud. The 6’2″ 206-pound defenseman had one goal and 12 assists this season for the Bulldogs and is a member of Team Canada’s World Junior Championships squad. Olsen is 20 years-old and rather than end up playing in Canadian juniors, he’ll head to Rockford in the AHL to join fellow college defectors Nick Leddy and Brandon Pirri. Chicago’s done as much to hurt college hockey in the past year as any team in recent memory signing away three premiere players at the NCAA level.
Chicago’s severe lack of depth in the AHL was apparent before the season began and they had to fill ranks somehow. Doing it with top draft picks isn’t a big surprise, but doing so so soon after drafting them is a different and dangerous thing as far as college hockey is concerned. For the Blackhawks though, adding another highly talented young defenseman to their depth right now is a big deal. With Olsen and Leddy now waiting in the wings, the days of Jordan Hendry and Nick Boynton holding down top six jobs on the blue line are in jeopardy down the line.
The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.
On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.
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Not surprisingly, Edmonton’s 8-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday didn’t pass without consequences.
The Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Griffin Reinhart had been sent down to the AHL. Additionally, defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.
Reinhart was a team-worst minus-4 versus the Isles.
Schultz, whose name has been coming up in trade rumors…
…was a minus-2.
“He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is offensively and defensively,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters of the decision to sit Schultz against the Devils.
Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening, scratches in Brooklyn, will replace Reinhart and Schultz in the lineup.
Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.
Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”
Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.
As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.
Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has taken exception to criticisms from Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, in the wake of Simmonds concussing Blueshirts captain Ryan McDonagh with a punch over the weekend.
“Vigneault can say whatever he wants. He’s the coach, that’s his opinion,” Simmonds said, per CSN Philly. “I don’t really care. I’m protecting myself; guy comes to cross check you in the head. I didn’t know what he expected. I had no intention of hurting him and I feel bad about that. That’s not what I want.
“I may play physical and I like to take the body. I fight occasionally. But by no means am I a dirty player, trying to run around and injure guys.”
Simmonds was tossed from Saturday’s game after punching McDonagh, but wasn’t suspended by the league. McDonagh missed New York’s next game — Monday’s 2-1 win over the Devils — and the lack of supplemental discipline incident irked Vigneault, who had words for both the officials and Simmonds.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said following the Flyers game, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences?”
At this point, it’s probably worth noting the Flyers and Rangers play each other on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Worth circling that one on the ol’ calendar, methinks.