Florida Panthers v New York Rangers

Helping the enemy? Florida trades Cory Stillman to Carolina for Ryan Carter and 5th round pick

The NHL trade deadline helps create some strange partnerships in deals. Today Southeast Division rivals Florida and Carolina came together on a deal that sends Cory Stillman from the Panthers back to the Hurricanes in exchange for Ryan Carter and a fifth round pick in 2011.

Stillman is a power forward that used to play for the Hurricanes, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2006. Through his career he was a steady 20-goal, 50-point per season player. Lately, his health has gotten the better of him reducing the number of games he’s gotten to play. He hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since 2007-2008 when he split time with Carolina and Ottawa. This season, he’s played 44 games and has seven goals and 16 assists.

It’s also not the first time that GM Jim Rutherford dipped into the Hurricanes past to bring back a guy that’s helped them out in the past. Joni Pitkanen, Erik Cole, and Anton Babchuk were all reclamation acquisitions for Carolina in their recent history. It’s just all proof that once you’ve been in Carolina, you can always go home again. I guess you can always go home again.

What he’ll provide the Hurricanes with is a veteran presence familiar with how things are done in Raleigh. With the lack of wing depth they’ve got in Carolina, he’ll help them out. He’ll also give them a veteran leader should the Hurricanes make the playoffs. Stillman won Stanley Cups in consecutive seasons with Tampa Bay in 2004 and Carolina in 2006.

For Florida, GM Dale Tallon clears out a veteran forward in order to give more of the Panthers young guys ice time and brings in a checking forward in Ryan Carter who now joins his third team this season. He started the season in Anaheim and was then moved to Carolina in exchange for two minor league players. Now he heads to Florida where he’ll figure to get a better shot at ice time there.

While rumors swirl in Sunrise, Florida about what may or may not happen with the likes of Stephen Weiss, David Booth, and Tomas Vokoun, it’s Stillman who is the next to go. Florida recently dealt Michal Frolik to Chicago for Jack Skille and as the Panthers fall back further in the Eastern Conference playoff race, teams are circling hoping to pick off useful players for their own playoff pushes. Dale Tallon is a guy with a plan, but for now things appear to be down in the dumps for Panthers players and fans as the deadline approaches.

The next few days might be trying ones for fans in South Florida, they’ll just have to hope that Tallon’s plan pays off the same way his plan in Chicago paid off for the Blackhawks last season. The fifth round pick acquired gives the Panthers nine choices in the 2011 draft. With other players still potentially set to be traded, that number figures to go up before the end of business on Monday.

Video: Drouin equalizes, but Rust strikes again 30 seconds later

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Bryan Rust is really having himself a series.

After opening the scoring in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, Rust took matters into his own hands after Jonathan Drouin evened the score for Tampa Bay, notching his second goal of the game — just 30 seconds after Drouin scored — to put Pittsburgh back out in front, 2-1.

Before digging into the Rust goal (posted above), let’s take a moment to appreciate Drouin’s snipe, one that whizzed by Pittsburgh netminder Matt Murray:

Now, back to Rust.

With that second goal he’s now racked up eight points for the playoffs, just three back of the 11 he put up over the course of the entire regular season. The former Notre Dame standout has become a major storyline, and now sits tied with Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in even-strength playoff goals.

Not bad for a guy that spent a fair chunk of the year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, eh?

Video: Rust opens scoring in Game 7

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What an Eastern Conference Final for Bryan Rust.

Rust scored his second goal of the series — and third point in as many games — to open the scoring on Friday night, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead over the Lighting at Consol.

After scoring just 11 points during the regular season, Rust — in just his second season at the NHL level — now has seven points in 16 playoff games, and has emerged as a vital bottom-six contributor in the process.

Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin notched assists on Rust’s goal, which came early in the second period. The Pens out-shot the Bolts 8-5 in the first period, but were unable to get one past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Oh, and speaking of Kunitz, he’s also produced extremely well in this series — he now has six points in his last five games.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…