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)

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.