2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

Sabres opted for safe pick instead of possible ‘home run’ Nichushkin

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The Buffalo Sabres, with the eighth overall pick in Sunday’s NHL Draft, had their doubts about Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin.

And so, they passed up on him. The risks, they felt, weren’t worth the potential rewards of selecting the touted and towering forward.

Instead, the Sabres went the safe route, and chose defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen out of Finland.

“We thought that Ristolainen, he was close. Nichushkin, he could be a home run, but if things don’t work out,” Kevin Devine, the Sabres’ director of amateur scouting, told the Buffalo News.

“He’s been quoted in the paper as saying if he didn’t play and some things didn’t go right this year he was going back to the KHL. Then if he goes back there, do we ever see him again?”

However, it didn’t take long for an NHL club to select Nichushkin. Two picks later, the Dallas Stars grabbed him at 10th overall.

“We plan on signing him as soon as possible,” Stars GM Jim Nill told the Dallas Morning News recently.

“He’s free. His contract is free from Russia. We have notice from the NHL, from the KHL. So there was no problem that way for us. That’s not a concern.”

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)

Video: Dion Phaneuf’s assist is his first point with Senators

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Dion Phaneuf‘s first home game as a member of the Ottawa Senators is going more smoothly than his debut did on Wednesday.

Ottawa fell 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings last night, and they need another goal to tie up the Colorado Avalanche. Still, Phaneuf’s making a bigger impact on Thursday, collecting two assists … his first two points in a Sens’ sweater.

You can see his crowd-pleasing first helper above.

Here’s his second assist for good measure:

Update: The Avalanche held on, taking a 4-3 edge. Even so, Phaneuf’s getting a warm welcome in his new hockey city.