Is Tampa Bay ready to start selling? (Update: Kubina asked to waive no-trade clause)

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Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports that, after the Lightning’s 4-0 home loss to Ottawa on Tuesday, the “winds of change” may soon be blowing through the Bolts’ locker room.

Tampa Bay is 1-3-1 over its last five games and mired in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, 10 points back of eighth-place Toronto. The Bolts have three games left on their current homestand and if they don’t emerge with three wins, GM Steve Yzerman could start moving assets.

“We are aware of [the trade deadline] and we know this home stand makes the job a lot easier or harder for management if we put ourselves in a position,” center Steven Stamkos said. “We obviously like the group that is in this room and we’d like to win with this group.

“And we realize that if things don’t go as planned, there are going to be some moves.”

So, who’s up for grabs? Sounds like Tampa’s five impending UFAs — Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark, Adam Hall and Matt Gilroy — are in the mix (especially Moore, who has twice been a trade deadline acquisition.)

Erlendsson also notes that Steve Downie and Ryan Malone could be in dealt, the latter being an especially hot commodity given his playoff experience (Malone’s participated in two of the last four Eastern Conference finals.)

That said, Malone’s trying not to focus on the trade talks.

“We are just trying to win hockey games,” said Malone. “It’s been hard for me not to play in the previous  games [missed last eight with an upper-body injury] because we know there are only 20-something games left and you are already looking at the standings and these already feel like playoff games.

“We know that we have to beat the teams in front of us … and we need a great home stand to get back into the hunt here.”

UPDATE: Per Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, defenseman Pavel Kubina will soon be on the move. He’s been asked to provide a list of teams to whom he would accept a trade and won’t play in the interim. Kubina has a limited no-trade clause; Yzerman wouldn’t say if a trade is imminent.

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.

 

 

Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand

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Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.

Hurricanes sign Finnish prospect Kuokkanen

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The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.

The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.

“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”

The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.