Ethan Moreau

Ethan Moreau looks back at his time with Oilers, hopes to play until he’s 40

When word surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings were on the verge of signing banged-up winger Ethan Moreau to a one-year, $600K contract, the reactions ranged from mildly supportive to a shoulder shrug to stunned criticism.

Aside from the most blindly supportive members of the Kings’ front office and equally optimistic fans, it’s likely that Moreau is the only person who expects the move to be a slam dunk. Jonathan Willis points out the most obvious problem – though not necessarily the only issue – that comes with signing the soon-to-be 36 year old winger: his lack of health. He missed huge chunks of three of the last five seasons with wear-and-tear related injuries, with 186 games lost to various ailments during that five-year span.

It’s tough not to think of the Kings’ run of bad luck with injuries in the previous decade or so as a caveat while discussing their seemingly bright future. You may remember that semi-solid Los Angeles teams were derailed by injuries in many cases as the team saw players such as Pavol Demitra, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison fall apart due to health issues.

The current Los Angeles roster features some obvious injury risks with Moreau, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams in the mix – especially since the latter two could play very important roles as scoring wingers. Even Anze Kopitar went down with a nasty ankle injury last season.

Many of us cannot help but second-guess the Kings’ decision to sign Moreau, but the team brought in the rugged former captain of the Edmonton Oilers with the hopes that he’ll provide veteran leadership. (It’s also likely that they’ll ask him to do the hockey equivalent of “Charlie work” such as spending time on the penalty kill and grinding out fourth line minutes.)

The biggest line on his resume is almost certainly his connection to the Oilers’ Cinderella run to just one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2006 (which happened to be the last time Moreau made a postseason appearance). He reflected on that run with Mayor’s Manor, calling it both the highest and lowest point of his career.

“Going to the Finals was probably the high and the low point,” he said, when speaking of his time playing in Edmonton. “We were one game away from winning a Stanley Cup. Then, losing was probably the low point because you come so close to realizing a dream that doesn’t happen – you’re left with a very, very empty feeling – which is motivation to get back there with this team and to win it. That’s the only thing that will kind of make that feeling go away.”

One cannot help but wonder if Moreau wonders if his career will go away before that feeling will dissipate. He told Mayor’s Manor that he hopes to play until he’s 40, but to do so, he’ll need to surprise onlookers who are far from convinced that he can turn around his health and all-around play. Willis points out some discouraging defensive numbers that indicate that Moreau’s time in the NHL is about to run out, but we’ll have to wait and see if this low-risk move by the Kings turns out to be an irritating (if small) waste of money or a nice bargain.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Video: Kuznetsov sets table for Vrana’s first NHL goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jakub Vrana of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).

Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.

See it for yourself:

Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.

He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.

Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.

Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:

Kulikov returns to increasingly healthy Sabres lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Dmitry Kulikov #77 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.

The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?

He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.

Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.

With Foligno out sick, Columbus gives Bjorkstrand another shot

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.

The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.

He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.

With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.

Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?

Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: