Thomas Vanek

PHT Morning Skate: Thomas Vanek explains his hot start


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Thomas Vanek’s explanation for his hot start? A return trip home to Austria during the lockout. (AP via Sportsnet)

Ondrej Pavelec has had a less-than great start to the season and now he’s got the flu. (Winnipeg Sun)

It’s a good thing the Edmonton Oilers signed Justin Schultz in the offseason because Ryan Whitney has really struggled. (Edmonton Journal)

After one whole game off, Jimmy Howard is back in goal today for the Red Wings. (Detroit Free Press)

Things are getting weird in Columbus. Derick Brassard has a four-game point streak and was benched during their last game. Meanwhile, R.J. Umberger is pointless in 11 games and played on. This is where Yoda says, “This is why you fail.” (Columbus Dispatch)

Good news goal-lovers, penalties are on the rise in the new season. Power plays for all! (New York Times)

The Wild didn’t think they’d struggle with scoring goals but boy are they ever. (Star-Tribune)

Trade rumors are swirling, swirling, swirling around Phil Kessel in Toronto. (Globe & Mail)

David Krejci’s search for consistency is paying off. (

Milan Michalek is under the gun to score goals with Jason Spezza out. (Ottawa Sun)

Oilers prospect Brandon Davidson is back playing hockey in the AHL after battling cancer. (Oilers)

While Team USA and Canada are dreaming up their rosters for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Slovenia has qualified in hockey for the first time. Anze Kopitar and Jan Mursak are heading for Sochi. (L.A. Kings Insider)

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.