Ville Leino, Tuukka Rask

The Hockey News lists its top 10 all-time rookie playoff performances

No doubt about it, Tyler Seguin made a huge impact in his first two career playoff appearances. Some even think that he’s been good enough to make Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien look bad (even if his team managed to make the Eastern Conference finals without Seguin).

In the rush to crown Seguin the next big thing, it’s important to note that two games remain a small sample. Sure, his six-point start ties him for second place in NHL history for a player’s first two contests, but he has a way to go before he can join the ranks of the all-time best rookie playoff performers.

In a tribute to that sentiment (and also Seguin’s big night), Adam Proteau constructed his top 10 list of all-time rookie playoff performances for The Hockey News. The list includes memorable runs from Ken Dryden, Jeremy Roenick and even current Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney.

First, here are the two active players who made the list:

9. Cam Ward, Hurricanes

Just 22 years old at the time, Ward tasted his first playoff action in 2006 when he replaced Canes starter Martin Gerber in Game 2 of the first round against the Canadiens. Ward never surrendered the role the rest of the way, winning 15 games (including two Game 7s) and claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy as Carolina won its first Stanley Cup.

(snip)

5. Ville Leino, Flyers

Though Leino played seven playoff games with Detroit in 2009, he was also still considered a rookie in his second playoff season. Leino was a relatively old 26 when he suited up for Philadelphia in 2010, but made the most of it, setting a new league record for playoff rookie assists (14) and tying Ciccarelli’s record for rookie playoff points (21) set in 1981.

Some might have actually ranked Ward higher than Leino because he was arguably even more valuable to his team as he won the Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup in 2006, but it’s tough to argue with Leino’s overall numbers.

Quite possibly the greatest goalie in NHL history and two scrappy overachievers round out the top three of Proteau’s list.

3. Claude Lemieux, Canadiens

One of the more underrated playoff performers in NHL history, Lemieux first showed his post-season chops as a 20-year-old in 1986, scoring 10 goals (including four game-winners) in 20 games and helping the Habs to another Cup.

2. Dino Ciccarelli, North Stars

A member of the most recent Hockey Hall of Fame class, the right winger was 21 and had only played 32 regular season games when the 1981 playoffs began. He then set a rookie record for post-season goals (14) and points (21) in 19 games for a North Stars team that lost the Cup final in five games to the Islanders.

1. Patrick Roy, Canadiens

The Canadiens legend was just 20 years old in 1986 when he powered the Habs to the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP thanks to 15 wins and a 1.93 goals-against average.

People often point the advantage of experience in the postseason, but those 10 players rank among the players who were quick learners. Will Seguin force his way onto later top 10 lists like this in the future? He’ll need to keep his hot streak going to have a chance.

Lightning sign their other Nikita (Nesterov)

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - APRIL 07:  Nikita Nesterov #89 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on April 7, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning signed their second-most important Nikita on Monday, inking Nikita Nesterov to a one-year, $725K contract.

The 23-year-old defenseman has to appreciate the fact that this is a one-way deal, as the Lightning blueline isn’t the easiest group to crack. (That will be especially true if James Wisniewski makes an impression with his PTO.)

Nesterov has been battling for ice time the past two seasons and was also a member of Russia’s World Cup team. It’s super-important to note that he wears No. 89, which is a little unusual for a defenseman.

(Only the important tidbits here.)

Now, onto the tougher challenge of signing that other Nikita

Senators focus on MacArthur’s safety

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 13: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators in action against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on November 13, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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The Ottawa Senators were already trying to take a relatively safe approach with Clarke MacArthur, yet he suffered a concussion thanks to a Patrick Sieloff hit during a scrimmage.

It’s too early to say that MacArthur will be forced to retire after this latest injury. At the moment, the Senators were merely happy to see him at the rink receiving treatment, as Guy Boucher told reporters.

“At this point in time, it’s not about Clarke MacArthur the hockey player. It’s about Clarke MacArthur the person,” Mark Borowiecki said, according to the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren.

It’s a thought echoed by Senators GM Pierre Dorion shortly after the check, noting that they’re most focused on MacArthur as a “human being.”

Many wonder if Sieloff will face repercussions – perhaps even being released – for delivering such a hit during a scrimmage, especially after just being acquired.

So far, it sounds like he isn’t getting much heat, at least beyond the initial reaction of players getting physical with him right after the check. Boucher said “we’re not pointing fingers at the young kid right now,” according to Warren.

Here’s video of that hit, by way of Silver Seven Sens:

Twitter has field day with Oilers’ dead-eyed mascot

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The Edmonton Oilers started a Photoshopping frenzy on Monday by unleashing their bizarre, dead-eyed mascot “Hunter” onto the Internet.

Give the team credit; the road to this mascot was paved with good intentions. Apparently thousands of Edmonton-area students aided in choosing “Hunter,” who is a tribute to the team’s original owner.

Here’s the introductory Tweet itself. Feel free to insert your own screaming noises.

Let’s bypass the Oilers’ more mundane release for a “bio” written in character by the, erm, “Canadian lynx” itself. Here’s a choice bit:

Like my lynx family and friends, I only come out at night to hunt, and on one of those nights I actually came across a bunch of kids playing hockey on an outdoor rink. One look at the game and I was hooked. The speed, the skill, the fun! I began climbing up the banks of the River Valley every night during the winter, catching shinny games with everyone wearing their Edmonton Oilers jerseys, both old and new! It didn’t take me long to become a hard core Oilers fan.

O…K.

Honestly, there are a lot of elements to unpack here. We almost don’t need people to bat this one around on social media, but then again, Hunter inspires references from “Too Many Cooks” to “Thundercats” and more.

Let’s gather some of the best bits.

Futility references

Hey, did you hear that the Oilers struggle to compete? The Internet sure did.

They sure did.

Pop culture references

More than one Thundercats reference.

Warning, if you’ve never watched “Too Many Cooks,” you might not want to go down that rabbit hole. (Either that, or you’ll feel like you REALLY missed out … there’s not a lot of room in between.)

Creepiness

Sensibly enough, most people hit the highest notes about how specifically terrifying that mascot is. Some of these mix in pop culture references too, but still:

All in all, it was quite a good time, right?

/Plans on sleeping with every light on.

Report: Gaborik (foot) to miss eight weeks

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 17: Marian Gaborik #12 of Team Europe celebrates his first period goal against Team USA during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Update: Yikes, the Los Angeles Kings announced that Marian Gaborik will be sidelined for eight weeks with a foot injury, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott.

Team Europe GM Miroslav Satan confirmed Gaborik’s departure:

“Due to a lower-body injury suffered on Sunday, forward Marian Gaborik has left Team Europe and he will not return. Marian was a very important part of Team Europe throughout the entire World Cup of Hockey and though he is leaving our group today, he remains a part of our team. We know he will be supporting us in the final against Team Canada and we wish him all the best in his recovery.”

***

Some bad news for Team Europe and the Los Angeles Kings — Marian Gaborik, who was seen this morning on crutches, is reportedly out of the World Cup of Hockey final and may miss the beginning of the NHL campaign as well.

The news, first reported by Sportsnet, comes after Gaborik played 17:58 in Europe’s shock semifinal win over Sweden, scoring his team’s opening goal.

Gaborik took a puck to the foot during the second period, yet managed to finish the game.

The veteran Slovak had enjoyed a good tournament prior to getting hurt, scoring a pair of goals while getting healthy doses of ice time, including nearly 19 in a win over the Czechs in the group stage.

With Gaborik out, Mikkel Boedker will (presumably) make his tournament debut. Boedker has been a healthy scratch for the Europeans thus far, though it’s possible he could continue to sit if head coach Ralph Krueger elects to dress seven defensemen — Luca Sbisa would get the call — rather than plug in another forward.

As for the ramifications for L.A… well, this could be tough. Gaborik, signed through 2021 at $4.875M per, only scored 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games last season — missing extensive time with a lingering knee injury — and the Kings were hopeful he was in line for a bounce-back campaign, especially given how good he looked at the World Cup.

Sportsnet reports Gaborik is headed back to Los Angeles today.