Saku Koivu

Ducks parting ways with Koivu, Hiller and Winnik


The Anaheim Ducks are moving on from three veteran presences.

On Thursday, GM Bob Murray said the club wouldn’t extend offers to pending UFAs Saku Koivu, Jonas Hiller and Daniel Winnik, per the O.C. Register. The moves aren’t entirely surprising given Anaheim’s wealth of young prospects on the horizon, but still represent a significant shift in the club’s identity.

Koivu, 39, has been with the team for the last five seasons and has served as the Ducks’ alternate captain since signing in 2009. Despite missing significant time last year with a concussion, Koivu still put up a respectable 11 goals and 29 points in 65 games while averaging over 15 minutes a night… that said, he struggled in the playoffs and went goalless with just one assist, and saw his ice time dip to 12:44.

Cutting ties with Hiller, 32, isn’t surprising at all. The writing was on the wall late in the regular season when Bruce Boudreau played both Frederik Andersen and John Gibson down the stretch, and was further etched when Boudreau turned to Gibson, not Hiller, after Andersen was hurt in the second-round defeat to Los Angeles. The Swiss netminder, who has spent all six of his NHL seasons in Anaheim, sits third all time among Ducks goalies in games played (326), wins (162) and shutouts (21).

As for where Hiller might end up?

Winnik, 29, is an interesting case. He scored a career-high 30 points last season — while making a tidy $1.8 million — and at times proved to be a useful, big-body forward (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) in his two seasons with the Ducks. The former Coyote, Shark and Avalanche did fall out of favor in the postseason, though, sitting as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions while recording just one assist in nine games.

As mentioned above, Anaheim does have a ton of young forward talent waiting in the wings. Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell and Emerson Etem were all knocking at the door last season, and the club still has the likes of William Karlsson (53rd overall, 2011) and Nicolas Kerdiles (36th overall, 2012) in the mix.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?