Preds hoping for Weber, Suter-like haul after drafting Jones, Diaby


Over at the Nashville City Paper, David Boclair has a really interesting look at two of Nashville’s first three picks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — defensemen Seth Jones and Jonathan-Ismael Diaby.

In the piece, the Preds talk not just about their selections, but how the organization hopes to replicate what it did at the draft 10 years ago — when it selected Ryan Suter with its first pick, and Shea Weber with its fourth.

“If you think about the characteristics that [Jones and Diaby] have — the way that they both control the entire ice surface, the way they can change games both offensively and defensively,” Preds assistant GM Paul Fenton explained. “To have two guys with that stature and to be able to take that that early in the draft, we were just thrilled to take it.”

Jones, obviously, is the far more recognizable prospect and would be the “Suter” of this analogy (Suter went No. 7 overall in 2003 and was the first blueliner taken in the draft.)

Jones came into the ’13 draft as Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked North American skater. His fall to No. 4 overall surprised some — including the Predators, who were thrilled to get him.

“Seth is a franchise-type player,” Preds GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “I really feel good about the direction our defense is headed.”

Diaby is more of a wildcard.

Physically, he’s already got NHL size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but his game lacks offensive refinement. That said, Fenton is convinced the Preds got a steal with Diaby at No. 64 overall — not unlike Weber, who went 49th overall in 2003.

From the City Paper:

They got Diaby to potentially play alongside [Jones] one day.

A 6-foot-4, 220-pounder (he’s a little bigger and heavier than Jones), out of the Quebec Hockey League, he calls to mind Weber, whose most celebrated traits when he was drafted were his size and power.

Diaby is the kind of player who takes care of things in his own end, which seems to be a good fit for the smooth-skating and offensively gifted Jones.

“Diaby is a gigantic specimen in himself,” Fenton said. “When we interviewed him back in May he informed us that he was already 250 pounds.

“This kid is an absolute skyscraper that plays with a mean sense to his game.”

All told, the future of Nashville’s defense looks very bright. Jones and Diaby are now set to join a young group that features Ryan Ellis (22 years old), Roman Josi (23) and Mattias Ekholm (23).

Ready to Roll: Oilers activate Schultz from IR, send down Reinhart

Justin Schultz
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The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.

Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.

Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:

Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.

The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February: