The hockey world waits. What will happen with Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler in the days and hours leading up to the NHL Draft? Will he be moved? Will he stay in Vancouver?
It was a topic of conversation Monday, even as the Canucks introduced Willie Desjardins as the club’s 18th head coach in franchise history. At 29 years of age, Kesler has a no-trade clause in his six-year, $30 million contract with an annual cap hit of $5 million.
Based on the numerous reports, there are between two to six teams that he’s reportedly willing to waive that no-trade clause to go to. As of Monday, it appeared there were three teams – Anaheim, Chicago and Pittsburgh – he’d be willing to get dealt to.
The first round of the draft goes Friday. The Canucks appear to be in no hurry to resolve this situation before the draft.
“We’ll work with Ryan. As I’ve said before, Ryan’s a tremendous player, he’s got the assets that we want to have on this team,” said Vancouver’s president of hockey operations Trevor Linden.
“There’s absolutely no timetable there.”
Kesler’s name has been linked to trade speculation since February. While he denied reports back then that he requested a trade out of Vancouver, however in June, it was reported that even with a change in management, Kesler still wants to move on from the Canucks.
University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri has agreed to join the Ranger organization, per the Star-Tribune.
Lettieri, 22, finished second on the club in goals this year, with 19, and third in scoring with 37 points in 38 games. The Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo reports Lettieri is joining New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford, and that he and the Blueshirts are closing in on a two-year, entry-level contract.
Lettieri has some interesting bloodlines. His grandfather is former Minnesota North Stars player/head coach/GM Lou Nanne, and his father is former professional soccer netminder Tino Lettieri, who represented Canada at the 1986 World Cup.
The younger Lettieri went undrafted, and was a free agent following Minnesota’s NCAA championship loss to Notre Dame.
Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.
Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.
Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.
John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.
Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).
Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.
A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.
Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.
Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.
Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”
McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.
It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.
Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.
Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.
The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.