Free agent center Jason Arnott will travel with the St. Louis Blues on their upcoming Western road trip and could sign with the team following next Sunday’s game in Anaheim, according to GM Doug Armstrong.
Armstrong acknowledged the club’s interest in the 37-year-old veteran after a rash of injuries sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion), Alex Steen (shoulder) and Andy McDonald (knee).
“[Arnott’s] going to join us this week on the road trip, make sure his body is with his mind and that he is ready to play,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He did have some offseason surgery. We have information from the doctors that he is ready to go.”
Arnott spent the 2011-12 season with St. Louis and performed well during the regular season — racking up 17G-17A-34PTS — but his time with the Blues didn’t end well.
He was a healthy scratch in the final two games of the Kings series and, as the Dispatch’s Dan O’Neill notes, “made no bones about” voicing his displeasure with the decision.
That said, Arnott did speak with head coach Ken Hitchcock about returning in a limited role this year, and clearly has a desire to keep playing. He signed a one-year deal with the Rangers in late January, only to see the Rangers nix the deal after Arnott was unable to receive medical clearance.
Armstrong said they won’t rush any decision about Arnott, acknowledging potential health concerns.
“One of the intriguing parts is, with older players, as the season wears on they tend to wear down,” he explained. “But our season is down to almost 20 games, not very long. So hopefully, if it works they way we hope and the way Jason hopes, he’ll just be sort of getting into his own with seven or eight games left.”
Remember those Dougie-Hamilton-to-Toronto trade rumors Brian Burke shot down last week? Well, in case you don’t, a refresher:
The Leafs, reportedly in the market for a defenseman, were reportedly willing to part with a winger — a position Calgary is looking to upgrade — which led many to speculate on a Hamilton-for-William Nylander swap.
Or, a Hamiton-for-James van Riemsdyk deal.
This week, JVR responded to the banter.
“You don’t really worry about it too much,” he said, per the Toronto Sun. “(Blocking it out) comes from experience.
“It tends to eat at you a little bit more (when you’re younger), but now you realize it is completely out of your control and it does not really faze you as much.”
Van Riemsdyk, who leads the Leafs with 11 goals and 20 points through 24 games this year, is fairly tantalizing as far as potential additions go. He’s on a good contract (two years left at $4.25 million per) and has been a pretty consistent scorer for the Leafs, which included a career-high 30 goals in ’13-14.
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he’s got solid size and has long been viewed as one of the better power forwards going.
This, of course, is the exact reason why Toronto would want to keep van Riemsdyk. It’s important to remember that he only turned 27 in May, and could easily be a part of the core group of Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri et al.
The New York Rangers may be winning, but their head coach, Alain Vigneault, knows they need to be better.
Hmmm…this feels familiar for some reason.
Oh right, that’s because it was the same story last season, when the Rangers got off to a great start before tailing off then fizzling out in the playoffs.
The Rangers head into tonight’s game in Brooklyn with a record of 17-8-1. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad — in five of their last six games, they’ve been held to 25 shots or fewer. On the season, their score-adjusted Corsi has fallen to 26th in the league.
“We’re very aware and very conscious of the areas we need to be better at,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “We’re playing a team that’s playing real solid hockey.”
Indeed, the Islanders are 3-0-1 in their last four, including wins over Pittsburgh and Washington.
To be fair to the Rangers, they’ve been without Mika Zibanejad for the past seven games, and he was a big part of their early success. Tonight, they’ll also be without Michael Grabner, who’s gone back to Austria for his grandmother’s funeral.
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But the Rangers aren’t looking to make excuses. They’re looking instead to get back on track.
“It’s definitely a five-man thing for us and communication and just getting on the same page again,” forward Jimmy Vesey said, per the Daily News. “It’s definitely something we need to get back to, and I think that’s kind of like the recipe for being a good team down the line and in the playoffs.”
Kari Ramo took another step in his return to the NHL on Tuesday, signing a PTO with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Marlies.
The deal, first reported by TSN, comes one day after Toronto placed backup netminder Jhonas Enroth on waivers.
“Obviously, wasn’t going good enough,” head coach Mike Babcock said of the decision to waive Enroth, per TSN. “We’re just in a situation where we’re making a change.”
(Enroth cleared today, FYI.)
As for Ramo, he’s an interesting figure. The 30-year-old suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Calgary this past February and, at the time of the injury, led all Flames netminders in starts, with 33.
Prior to that, he’d rebounded from a poor start to the year — which included Calgary waiving him — and, in January, then-head coach Bob Hartley called Ramo “probably one of the hottest goalies in the league.”
So it’s easy to see why Toronto would be interested.
Of course, Ramo is coming off a major knee injury and has basically been shelved for 10 months. He’s been practicing with the Leafs, but this ATO with the Marlies will give him a chance to test the knee in a game situation, and knock off some of the rust that’s surely accumulated.
Ramo is believed to be close to receiving medical clearance for a return to action.
It was Justin Schultz‘s kind of game last night in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins beat the Senators, 8-5, in a fun, back-and-forth affair.
Schultz was in on a pair of Pittsburgh goals, scoring one and assisting on another. The 26-year-old defenseman now has three goals and eight assists in 26 games. And on a good team that can put him in a position to succeed, he’s a plus-13.
Schultz, of course, joined the Penguins last season in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. He won a Stanley Cup in June, then re-signed for one year and $1.4 million in July.
Read more: Justin Schultz quietly making big impact on Penguins power play
“He deserves a lot of credit for the effort, the commitment level he’s shown,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Friday, per the Post-Gazette.
Sullivan too deserves credit, for playing Schultz to his strengths and bringing out the best in an imperfect player. An offensive defenseman, Schultz is not being asked to do much of the heavy lifting defensively. He starts a lot of shifts in the attacking zone, and he doesn’t play very often against the opposition’s best.
Last night, Schultz displayed his offensive instincts and abilities, jumping up in the rush to take a pass from Evgeni Malkin, then burying it for the go-ahead goal.
Schultz ended up logging 19:54 of ice time, including 16:20 at even strength, the most among Penguins d-men.