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Buffalo Sabres might be interested in trading Tim Connolly

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While people rightly chose to group trade deadline teams into “buyers” and “sellers,” there could be quite a few teams who aren’t really sure where they stand. That’s what happens when both conferences have convoluted playoff bubble situations, which is the case this season.

The Buffalo Sabres seem like they might be one of those hybrid teams, judging by the fact that they’re tied for ninth place in the Eastern Conference right now.

This unclear status might encourage the team to stick with players who have contracts that extend past this season, but perhaps they might become “sellers” when it comes to expiring deals?

Talented but injury prone center Tim Connolly might be the leading candidate for such a trade, according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.

The center is in the final year of the controversial two-year, $9 million extension he signed at the trade deadline in 2009. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the season and could be the kind of third-line center and special teams player that a club like Pittsburgh, Washington or Los Angeles might be interested in as the NHL trade deadline looms next Monday.

It’s unfathomable that the Sabres would re-sign Connolly again for next season. And many observers think it would be hard to believe he even lasts the week here.

“I don’t know what to expect to happen,” Connolly said after practice Monday in HSBC Arena. “I’ve seen a lot of deals happen early this year but those aren’t real deadline deals. You just have to wait and see. It’s not in my control. I have to perform to the best of my ability for this team. I’m excited about this team. We still have a good shot [to make the playoffs].”

Obviously it would make sense to make a trade if the Sabres decided to move on without Connolly anyway, but if they move him for picks and/or prospects, it will make the task of making the playoffs even tougher. After all, they’re already short on centers with Derek Roy on the shelf.

That being said, there are some teams who could benefit from adding Connolly’s skill and speed to their mix. The Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings are among the teams who could use a player like him, if the price is right.

Please note that this is just a rumor, although it does come from a beat reporter so it holds a little more weight. We’ll keep you informed of all the latest trade news, as it’s obvious teams aren’t procrastinating as much this season when it comes to the deadline.

Gostisbehere sets new rookie record in OT loss to Devils

Philadelphia Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere reacts after scoring the first goal of his career during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Associated Press
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Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.

With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.

Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.

Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:

Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.

It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.

The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.

To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.

Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:

standings

After missing two games because of an illness, Panarin will return to ‘Hawks lineup

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal on an assist from Patrick Kane against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
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CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.

Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.

The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.

Rangers get good news on McDonagh, bad news on Nash

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Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.

Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.

The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.

McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).

The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.

McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.

The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.

Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.

He’ll miss at least another week.

Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

Some Twitter reaction to the goal: