Team Canada announced its 22-man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship today. Here are five players to watch, starting Dec. 26 when Canada plays Finland in Edmonton.
Dougie Hamilton (D) – Also known as the guy the Bruins drafted with the second of the two first-round picks the Leafs sent to Boston for Phil Kessel. Hamilton’s been tearing up the OHL with the Niagara Ice Dogs – the 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman has 45 points in 30 games.
Ryan Murray (D) – One of two undrafted players to make the cut (the other being forward Tanner Pearson), Murray is the No. 4 prospect in the 2012 draft, according to International Scouting Services. Due to a high-ankle sprain, the 18-year-old has only played 11 games this season for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.
Jaden Schwartz (F) – The only NCAA player on the team, Schwartz (Colorado College) was drafted 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010. One of four returning members to the squad, the 19-year-old will hope to have a better experience than last year when he fractured his ankle in the second game of the tournament. It’s sure to be an emotional time for Schwartz. His sister, Mandi, a former Yale hockey player, passed away from cancer in April. “She’s on my mind every day,” he said Saturday. “You can’t stop thinking about her. She was there for me so much. She inspires me every day still. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about here. Everything I do is for her.”
Brendan Gallagher (F) – Though small in stature, Gallagher managed to turn a lot of heads at Montreal’s training camp. The Habs drafted the Vancouver Giants (WHL) winger with the 147th overall pick in 2010. “He’s not a big player but has a big heart,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “He goes to the net, he’s not afraid and has good hands.” Of note, Gallagher’s junior coach, Don Hay, is also Team Canada’s coach.
Jonathan Huberdeau (F) – Taken third overall in June by the Florida Panthers, Huberdeau (Saint John, QMJHL) is still recovering from a broken foot that he suffered in early November. Obviously management is optimistic he’ll be able to play or they wouldn’t have kept him. Huberdeau had 28 points in 13 games for the Sea Dogs before getting injured.
Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.
Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.
As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.
Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.
Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”
At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.
The Rangers host Carolina tonight.
Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’
Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.
That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.
On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.
Related: The latest on Price’s injury
If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.
So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.
“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.
“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”
Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.
That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.
While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?