As more and more NHL teams near the nine-game mark — nine games, of course, being the deadline when junior-age players can be sent back to their respective clubs — we’re starting to get a better sense of what this year’s rookie class will look like.
Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Brett Connolly has made the team. Connolly, the first-ever selection by GM Steve Yzerman, posted just two assists in his first nine games, but is tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating and is averaging 13:54 of ice time per game.
Shortly thereafter, Florida’s other team announced they’re also holding onto a prized prospect. The Miami Herald reported the Panthers will keep D Erik Gudbranson in the fold — he’s played in all eight of Florida’s games this year and GM Dale Tallon expects him to play No. 9 Thursday night in Ottawa.
Speaking of Ottawa, the Senators parted ways with Mika Zibanejad today. Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, had just one assist in nine games, and was a minus-3. He’ll return to Djurgarden in Sweden, but this still leaves Ottawa with four rookie skaters: Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Stephane Da Costa and Colin Greening.
As for the rest of the NHL, players we’re still waiting to hear a decision on include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Bulmer.
Bang it here (to steal a phrase from Pro Football Talk) for PHT’s take on which rookies will stay and which will go.
Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.
“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.
“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”
7 hours of back and forth legal speak…otherwise known as the Wideman appeal has concluded in NYC.