Mikhail Grigorenko

At this point, anything could happen at the draft

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Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff thinks the 2012 NHL draft could be even more unpredictable than most. As such, he hasn’t ruled out trading his club’s ninth overall pick and moving up, or down, in the selection process.

“I think that this year’s draft, it’s going to be really tough to predict,” Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Free Press. “You’ve got a lot of guys who have had injuries throughout the year and missed a good portion of the year.

“You’ve got a lot of team dynamics, different teams that may want to draft more for position than player. I think you’ll see a lot of players ranked very differently on each and every team.”

Russian forward Nail Yakupov is the consensus pick to go first overall June 22 in Pittsburgh, but he’s hardly the universal choice.

“I wouldn’t say that [Yakupov is the true No. 1],” Edmonton’s head scout, Stu MacGregor, told NHL.com. “I think he’s one of the players you have to consider for that spot, but I think there are a few players you have to consider.”

And what about fellow Russian Mikhail Grigorenko? Back in November, International Scouting Services had Grigorenko and Yakupov ranked one-two, respectively. By April, Grigorenko had fallen to third on ISS’s list, and has since fallen even further in some rankings due to a disappointing playoff performance with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

Then again, he did have mononucleosis.

“They’ve been asking what happened in the playoffs,” Grigorenko told the National Post. “I don’t think I had a bad playoff because the first round was good. The first round I had seven points in four games. But after I got mono, I didn’t have lots of energy.”

Still, there were concerns about Grigorenko prior to the playoffs, including whether he’d bolt for the KHL.

For Cheveldayoff, all the uncertainty places a premium on preparation as the draft approaches.

“You try to get the feel for the different things that might or might not happen (ahead),” he said. “You just don’t know. All of a sudden there could be a trade. You just have to be prepared and have your own thoughts and lists in place.”

Related: Yakupov to visit with Oilers, but Edmonton’s head scout not tipping his hand

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?