Jannek Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal with Henrik Sedin #33, Daniel Sedin #22 and Cam Barker #18 during their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on March 3, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
(March 2, 2013 - Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)

Veteran NHLer Cam Barker signs with KHL squad


With the first month of the NHL campaign already in the books, Cam Barker has decided to join Barys Astana of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to the team’s website and Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov.

Barker was originally taken with the third overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, right after Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. The 27-year-old defenseman has gone on to record 96 points and 290 penalty minutes in 310 games with the Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks.

At his height, Barker recorded 40 points in 68 games with Chicago in 2008-09. However, his playing time plummeted in the following campaign until Chicago dealt him to the Wild in Feb. 2010. He went on to play for three teams in his following three campaigns and recorded a total of nine points over 91 contests.

Barys is the only KHL team that’s located in Kazakhstan. They currently rank second in the Eastern Conference with 52 points in 23 games.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.