Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Nugent-Hopkins might be headed back to junior

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might lead the Edmonton Oilers in scoring, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be with the big club much longer.

Oilers coach Tom Renney says no decision has been made on whether to send the 18-year-old rookie back to junior.

“Have I told him he’s staying? No,” Renney said, according to the Associated Press.

Nugent-Hopkins has five goals and two assists in seven games — including a hat trick on Oct. 15 against the Canucks — while playing on a line with fellow phenoms Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

So why would the Oilers consider sending him back to the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League?

A couple of reasons:

First of all, the top pick in the 2011 draft has yet to fill out and there’s legitimate concern the 82-game NHL schedule will take too much of a physical toll. Basically the Oilers are worried he’ll break. Not get hurt. Break.

Secondly, the Oilers are still a ways from contending. Sending Nugent-Hopkins back to junior before he plays 10 games in the NHL means they won’t use up the first year of his entry-level contract. And if he plays fewer than 40 games, they won’t use up one of the seven years he has to play in the NHL before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Chances are, Nugent-Hopkins isn’t going anywhere. The last first overall pick who didn’t play in the NHL straight away was defenseman Erik Johnson (drafted in 2006). Since then, it’s been Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Taylor Hall. Plus all the other elite 18-year-olds that have stuck around and been stars, including Drew Doughty, Jeff Skinner and Matt Duchene.

“He’s a point-a-game player,” Hall said of Nugent-Hopkins. “He’s got five goals. It’s pretty hard to say that’s not NHL caliber.

“He was brought in to produce offense, and he’s done that in spades. That’s what he wanted to do. I’ve said all along that if he came in and did what he did best, and he’s even done more than that, he’d be a capable NHL player this year.”

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Penguins from Heinz Field

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins go toe-to-toe prior to fighting during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.

The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision

NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series

Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field

We have a (minor league) trade to announce: Coyotes and Bolts swap AHL forwards

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.

The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.

Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

 

 

Blue Jackets chase Greiss from Islanders net

FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, New York Islanders goalieThomas Greiss pauses during the team's NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston. Greiss has received the bulk of the starts after starting goalie Jarsolav Halak was injured last month. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
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The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.

Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.

Video: The Ducks and Kings brawl — again

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Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.

You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.

This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)

Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.