Drew LeBlanc’s year just keeps getting better.
On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks — who signed LeBlanc on the same day he won the Hobey Baker — announced he’d be making his NHL debut against Edmonton tonight.
The news had to come as a surprise to the 23-year-old St. Cloud State product.
Last week, he told the Chicago Sun-Times he didn’t expect to suit up for the ‘Hawks this season, having only joined the club one day after his collegiate career ended (with a Frozen Four semifinal loss to Quinnipiac.)
“No,” LeBlanc replied when asked if he expected to see any playing time. “I’m just here to work hard, have fun, take it all in, learn what it’s like to be a professional and get as many pointers as possible.”
He’s going to get a lot more than that.
According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, LeBlanc will center Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp against the Oilers, which is a pretty good way to kick off your professional career.
The move to insert LeBlanc makes sense on a number of fronts.
One, the ‘Hawks have little to play for with just three games left in the season — they’ve already clinched first overall in the Western Conference and winning the Presidents’ Trophy is a formality at this point (a victory of any kind tonight will clinch it.)
The move also makes sense due to LeBlanc’s playing status being in limbo.
He was ineligible to join AHL Rockford because he signed after the trade deadline (Rockford’s season is now over), which also made him ineligible for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.
The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field
Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision
NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series
Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.
The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.
Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.
The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.
Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.
Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.
You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.
This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)
Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.