Mikko Koivu

Mikko Koivu leaves Wild-Ducks game with hand injury

The heat was already on the fledgling Minnesota Wild coming into this weekend, but now they might have to forge ahead without their most important skater, Mikko Koivu. The Finnish two-way forward left the team’s game against the Anaheim Ducks after he blocked a Todd Marchant shot. Wild beat writer Michael Russo hasn’t gotten the team to disclose anything more than the fact that it’s a hand injury, but wrote that a source “in the know” says that “it’s not good.”

Losing Koivu would indeed be bad news for the Wild, as the pivot ranks high one of the league’s most underrated players.

Now, much like beauty, “underrated” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, some people might look at Koivu’s salary – especially when it jumps up to $7.29 million next season – and say that he might be overrated or at least overpaid. (Especially by the out-of-touch “look what schoolteachers make” argument.) Surely there are probably some Minnesota Wild fans who also rate him as the greatest thing since the specialization of labor*, too.

* – A high school teacher pointed this out as one of the “greatest inventions” in human history, but doesn’t that seem like a bit of a cop-out answer?

Yet when you consider his relative anonymity among hockey fans, Koivu is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL. Saku Koivu’s considerably younger brother is a great two-way player who can be a threat on offense to boot, with three 20+ goal seasons already to his credit.

Again, there isn’t much concrete information just yet, but we’ll keep you updated as information surfaces. The Wild’s status as a playoff contender is tenuous already, but losing their heart-and-soul center for a significant amount of time would be an enormous blow to their postseason dreams.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.