St. Louis’ offseason to this point has been pretty busy in taking care of the host of restricted free agents they’re due to have this summer. They’ve already locked up Chris Porter, Nikita Nikitin, and T.J. Hensick to deals and today they’ve retained yet another important young forward in Vladimir Sobotka.
Sobotka, acquired from the Boston Bruins last summer for prospect defenseman David Warsofsky, had a career best in goals and points for St. Louis last season finishing the year with seven goals and 29 points in all. Playing as a third and fourth line player for the Blues he saw his minutes increase (averaging 16:11 time on ice) as well as his scoring chances. He’s a solid two-way centerman and still young at age 24 and with the opportunity to see the ice time that he has as a Blue he’s showing more what he’s capable of.
The Blues are already loaded up with younger centers and Sobotka helps give them more depth there. With the injuries to T.J. Oshie last season, Sobotka was able to get more ice time and helped show that he’s worth it to St. Louis. At his age, the Blues are hoping that his offensive breakout in 2010-2011 is the start of better times ahead for the young Czech. With the Blues having to compete with Chicago, Detroit, and Nashville in the Central Division, they’ll need all the help and improvement they can get.
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: