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Suggestions for six NHL teams who haven’t named a captain yet

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However you might feel about the actual impact of a captain, a team can reveal it’s direction by who it names. Two teams recently announced their likeable decisions to name heart-and-soul forwards as their new captains. The St. Louis Blues gave the job to rugged winger David Backes while the Rangers made Ryan Callahan their new leader.

While those two teams filled those vacancies, there are still six NHL clubs without captains. Here are PHT’s polite suggestions for which direction those teams should go in.

Buffalo Sabres

Former captain: Craig Rivet

The Sabres are set to embark on the first full season of the Terry Pegula era, but the captaincy remains a bit of mystery. Jochen Hecht is a balanced veteran, but he might be on his way out soon. New acquisitions such as Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff don’t really seem like the captain types. Tyler Myers might be a bit young for that role while the team should avoid giving the “C” to their goalie Ryan Miller after Vancouver’s failed experiment with Roberto Luongo.

If I were Lindy Ruff, we’d name top center Derek Roy the captain. Perhaps Buffalo would be best served waiting a while, though, especially if hard-hitting blueliner Robyn Regehr shows some of those leadership qualities.

Colorado Avalanche

Former captain: Adam Foote

The Avalanche are a team in transition, with the 2011-12 season being a pivotal campaign. Milan Hejduk is a long-time veteran, but it seems like the clock is ticking on his impressive NHL career. Matt Duchene is an All-Star player with a great attitude, but might need a little more time to mature into the job. Erik Johnson could be a good choice if he justifies the Avs’ risky move to get him.

When you consider his contract situation (only Jan Hejda’s deal runs longer and only Semyon Varlamov matches his three remaining years), overall talent level and experience with the team, Paul Stastny might be the best option as their next captain. Besides, if it doesn’t work out, they can just trade him like the rumor mongers say.

source: APFlorida Panthers

Former captain: Bryan McCabe

The Panthers are a wildly different team than the one that last played in April, with a slew of new young players and even two veterans added in Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski. If you ask us, their options should come down to a player who’s been there through thin and really thin: Stephen Weiss. The underrated center remains their best all-around player and should serve as the backbone of this team alongside David Booth.

New Jersey Devils

Former captain: Jamie Langenbrunner

The Devils’ only have one reason not to make Zach Parise their new captain: his unclear contract situation. New Jersey should just suck it up, though, because he’s a shining example of what the team wants from their players. Honestly, handing him the “C” might help convince him that he should be a part of the team’s future … even though a similar tactic didn’t work out when Atlanta tried that method with Parise’s teammate Ilya Kovalchuk.

New York Islanders

Former captain: Doug Weight

The Islanders have some great options for their next captain (check out a lengthier discussion of the topic here). While veteran defenseman Mark Streit and rugged winger Kyle Okposo have strong chances, we’d go with John Tavares. Tavares is the obvious face of the franchise for the present and probably long-term future.

Philadelphia Flyers

Former captain: Mike Richards

Sure, he’s battling injuries and hasn’t always been the most popular guy in the world, but the Flyers should give Chris Pronger the “C.” He carries an air of authority regardless of what letter is on his shoulder and still has the makings of being an impact player in the NHL. Besides, many felt like he was their “real” captain during the last couple seasons, anyway.

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Those are PHT’s picks for should-be captains, but do you think teams should consider different options? Let us know in the comments.

Mike Smith is out with illness that is not the mumps, Coyotes say

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that she was told Mike Smith is missing tonight’s game because of an illness that is not the mumps.

You may recognize “not the mumps” as the NHL’s version of letting out a barrage of coughs and then insisting the issue is not contagious.

Anyway, Smith is out tonight as the Arizona Coyotes visit the Stars in Dallas. With that, Louis Domingue gets the start while the team made an emergency recall of Adin Hill to be his backup.

A quick 411 on Hill: the 20-year-old goalie was the 76th pick in 2015 by the Coyotes. He’s put together some solid work after being promoted from the ECHL to the AHL this season, managing a respectable .916 save percentage in 26 games with the Tucson Roadrunners.

It’s been a tough season for Domingue (5-13-1, .895 save percentage, 3.29 GAA), so you almost wonder if the Coyotes are tempted to see how Hill would handle a little relief work.

Rare wave of injuries for Capitals as Oshie, Orpik are also out

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Matt Niskanen #2 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate T.J. Oshie #77 after scoring a third period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals have been outright dominant this season, but there’s one opponent they haven’t faced very often: injuries.

They’ve been healthier than everyone else to an almost spooky extent in 2016-17, yet it seems like they’re dealing with a rash of ailments for the first time in a while.

The injury list for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers appears to be: Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Orpik and T.J. Oshie.

We already knew that Burakovsky will miss some time and that Niskanen was injured after colliding knee-to-knee with Radko Gudas. Oshie and Orpik are bigger surprises as far as their lineup goes. It seemed like Oshie took some significant hits against the Flyers in that same game that injured Niskanen, so maybe that’s the issue there?

Here’s what the Capitals lineup will look like, via the team itself:

The team labels Oshie’s injury as upper-body related while Orpik and Niskanen have lower-body issues. On the bright side, those three are all considered day-to-day.

Riley Barber makes his debut with all of these injury absences.

Predators are a wild card in more ways than one

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators is congratulated by teammates after scoring a hat trick against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 21, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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The Nashville Predators have really earned the “wild card” moniker lately, even beyond holding the West’s first wild card spot.

Such a label could describe their up-and-down 2016-17 in general, and it might only intensify over the next few weeks.

Trade deadline players?

Nashville boasts Filip Forsberg, a guy with rare back-to-back hat tricks, not to mention other quality scorers such as James Neal, Ryan Johansen and diamond in the rough Viktor Arvidsson. (Their defensemen can produce points in buckets, too.)

But perhaps they can go from sporadically good to regular contender with that extra boost?

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes that the Predators could be in on talks to acquire Matt Duchene or “somebody big” at forward. Duchene, himself, might be tough to get:

That schedule, though

Honestly, the way their schedule looks, the Predators might need a shot in the arm.

Check out what they’re dealing with during the next few weeks:

Saturday: vs. Capitals
Sunday: vs. Oilers
Tuesday, Feb. 28: at Sabres
Thursday, March 2: at Canadiens
Saturday, March 4: vs. Blackhawks
Tuesday, March 7: at Ducks
Thursday, March 9: at Kings
Saturday, March 11: at Sharks
Monday, March 13: vs. Jets
Thursday, March 16: at Capitals
Saturday, March 18: at Hurricanes

That’s a rough mixture of tough opponents and road games, with even games against non-playoff teams being less than layups (the Hurricanes can beat you when they’re on point, for instance).

The Predators are in the first wild card spot. They’re also not far behind for the third seed in the Central, as the Blues hold a tiebreaker advantage over Nashville right now with both teams at 67 standings points.

That schedule could be an issue, however, for a team that’s been vulnerable to hitting highs and lows.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen hints of the dominant squad many penciled in as a possible contender in 2016-17. In a weakened West, the Predators remain a fascinating team to watch. That could be especially true in the near future.

‘Hawks nab Jurco in trade with Red Wings

Tomas Jurco
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The Chicago Blackhawks picked up some forward depth today, adding winger Tomas Jurco in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings.

In return, the ‘Hawks sent the Wings a third-round draft pick in 2017.

Jurco has only appeared in 16 games this season. He has no goals and no assists.

The 24-year-old was forced to undergo back surgery this past offseason.

“I could still play with it but the worst for me was sitting on the bench all the time,” Jurco said in November, per NHL.com. “Sometimes I’d have to get up and walk. Sometimes I’d stretch it. It was bad and I’ve been sitting a lot for the last couple of years on the bench. It was really tough but I’m glad it’s gone and I’m excited for a fresh start.”

A pending restricted free agent, Jurco’s cap hit is just $900,000.

In a corresponding move, the ‘Hawks assigned rookie forward Vinnie Hinostroza to the AHL.