Welcome to the club: Benn, Rask earn first-team All-Star recognition

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The National Hockey League’s First All-Star Team includes a pair of first-timers – Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.

Rask already took home hardware from the NHL Awards, as he was named the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goaltender. The 24-year-old Benn finished 12th in Hart Trophy voting. But he enjoyed a breakout season with the Stars as their captain, with 34 goals and 79 points. Dallas also made it back into the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and Benn was also named to Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry were also named to the first All-Star team.

2013-2014 NHL Second All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche 63 41 14 6 2.41 .927 2

GP Mins. G A Pts
D Shea Weber, Nashville Predators 79 26:54 23 33 56
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues 81 25:21 8 43 51
C Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks 77 21:17 31 56 87
RW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 78 20:32 51 28 79
LW Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks 82 19:51 41 38 79

2013-2014 NHL ALL-STAR TEAM VOTING RESULTS

GOALTENDER

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd) Career All-Star Selections

1. TUUKKA RASK, BOS 506 (70-47-15) 1 First Team, 0 Second Team
2. Semyon Varlamov, COL 450 (60-44-18) 0 First Team, 1 Second Team
3. Ben Bishop, TB 154 (2-29-57)
4. Carey Price, MTL 89 (3-13-35)
5. Jonathan Quick, LA 24 (2-4-2)
6. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 5 (0-0-5)
7. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 3 (0-0-3)
8. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 2 (0-0-2)

DEFENSE

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd) Career All-Star Selections

1. DUNCAN KEITH, CHI 587 (101-25-7) 2 First Team, 0 Second Team
2. ZDENO CHARA, BOS 442 (58-42-26) 3 First Team, 4 Second Team
3. Shea Weber, NSH 432 (51-50-27) 2 First Team, 1 Second Team
4. Alex Pietrangelo, STL 253 (16-45-38) 0 First Team, 2 Second Team
5. Ryan Suter, MIN 244 (22-36-26)
6. Drew Doughty, LA 207 (15-32-36)
7. Erik Karlsson, OTT 94 (4-12-38)
8. Ryan McDonagh, NYR 53 (1-9-21)
9. Victor Hedman, TB 35 (1-4-18)
10. Matt Niskanen, PIT 34 (1-6-11)
11. Mark Giordano, CGY 31 (2-3-12)
12. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJ 22 (1-5-2)
13. PK Subban, MTL 10 (1-0-5)
14. Niklas Kronwall, DET 10 (0-3-1)
15. Jay Bouwmeester, STL 4 (0-1-1)
16. Andrei Markov, MTL 3 (0-1-0)
17. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, PHX 3 (0-0-3)
18. Brent Seabrook, CHI 2 (0-0-2)

CENTER

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd) Career All-Star Selections
1. SIDNEY CROSBY, PIT 677 (133-4-0) 3 First Team, 1 Second Team
2. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA 378 (3-117-12) 0 First Team, 1 Second Team
3. Claude Giroux, PHI 101 (1-8-72)
4. Patrice Bergeron, BOS 32 (0-5-17)
5. Tyler Seguin, DAL 22 (0-0-22)
6. Anze Kopitar, LA 10 (0-1-7)
7. Jonathan Toews, CHI 6 (0-1-3)
8. David Krejci, BOS 4 (0-1-1)
9. David Backes, STL 1 (0-0-1)
Jeff Skinner, CAR 1 (0-0-1)
Joe Thornton, SJ 1 (0-0-1)

LEFT WING

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd) Career All-Star Selections
1. JAMIE BENN, DAL 446 (57-48-17) 1 First Team, 0 Second Team
2. Joe Pavelski, SJ 325 (49-23-11) 0 First Team, 1 Second Team
3. Patrick Sharp, CHI 259 (26-31-36)
4. Taylor Hall, EDM 73 (0-13-34)
5. Max Pacioretty, MTL 40 (2-7-9)
6. Alex Steen, STL 26 (2-3-7)
7. Patrick Marleau, SJ 22 (1-4-5)
8. Chris Kunitz, PIT 21 (0-5-6)
9. Gabriel Landeskog, COL 11 (0-2-5)
10. Thomas Vanek, MTL 3 (0-1-0)
11. Milan Lucic, BOS 2 (0-0-2)
Ryan O’Reilly, COL 2 (0-0-2)
Zach Parise, MIN 2 (0-0-2)
14. Patrick Kane, CHI 1 (0-0-1)

RIGHT WING

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd) Career All-Star Selections

1. COREY PERRY, ANA 606 (109-18-7) 2 First Team, 0 Second Team
2. Alex Ovechkin, WSH 299 (23-47-43) 6 First Team, 3 Second Team
3. Phil Kessel, TOR 211 (5-44-54)
4. Patrick Kane, CHI 65 (0-16-17)
5. Jaromir Jagr, NJ 14 (0-3-5)
Martin St. Louis, NYR 14 (0-3-5)
7. Jarome Iginla, BOS 12 (0-4-0)
8. Jason Pominville, MIN 4 (0-1-1)
9. T.J. Oshie, STL 3 (0-1-0)
10. Blake Wheeler, WPG 2 (0-0-2)
11. David Backes, STL 1 (0-0-1)
Marian Hossa, CHI 1 (0-0-1)
Kyle Okposo, NYI 1 (0-0-1)

Busy Blackhawks bring back Pokka, reportedly let Rasmussen walk

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A busy off-season for the Chicago Blackhawks continued with some smaller moves that may still surprise some.

The eyebrow-raiser, at least in some quarters, came when the Blackhawks decided not to hand Dennis Rasmussen a qualifying offer, thus allowing the 26-year-old forward to hit free agency. That news comes from The Athletic’s Scott Powers.

Rasmussen played in 68 games last season (along with three playoff contests), receiving almost 12 minutes of ice time per night. Both were examples of him seeing more of a role in his second year with Chicago.

Still, he didn’t put up big numbers at either the AHL or NHL level, so apparently the Blackhawks decided to spring him free. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports that the team might have soured on Rasmussen after he rejected an offer for a contract extension back in March.

Powers also notes that Ville Pokka was signed to a one-year deal, opening the door for him to possibly make Chicago’s roster.

These developments aren’t likely to add to what’s already been a frustrating off-season for Joel Quenneville in particular, but this still lines up with a pattern of changes. In the latest edition of “30 Thoughts,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shares some details of Coach Q’s irritation:

21. Joel Quenneville was at the draft Saturday after not appearing on Friday. He stormed out of a coach’s meeting — in full view of reporters — as news broke of the Chicago trades. It would have been very tough for him to lose Hjalmarsson, one of the NHL’s underappreciated great players.

Quenneville’s cage was already rattled by the firing of assistant Mike Kitchen, so here’s hoping he at least signed off on these latest moves.

Report: Red Wings grant Coyotes permission to interview Todd Nelson

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There’s some activity as far as the Arizona Coyotes’ coaching situation goes, and soon there may be some answers.

As noted during the weekend, the Coyotes were interested in speaking with Todd Nelson, who most recently coached the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate) to a Calder Cup victory. The Red Wings granted Arizona permission to interview Nelson, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

(Red Wings fans are greeting this news with despair.)

It’s not the only noteworthy development, either, as the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that the Coyotes parted ways with associate coach Jim Playfair today. (The Coyotes confirmed the news moments after this post went up.)

This is a time of change for this organization, and some are bristling at the way they’re handling things. Still, there’s also an argument that the team is ultimately making wise choices, and Nelson could end up being a big part of that.

Assuming they convince him to come on board, of course.

Gryba sticks with Edmonton on two-year, $1.8 million deal

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After spending the last two seasons with the Oilers, Eric Gryba has signed on for two more.

Gryba, the veteran blueliner that was set to go unrestricted on Saturday, has signed a two-year, $1.8 million extension with Edmonton, per TSN. The deal comes after the 29-year-old appeared in 40 games for the Oilers last year, and three during the club’s playoff run.

Gryba is the second UFA blueliner Edmonton has re-upped with, having previously inked Kris Russell to a four-year, $16 million pact. It’s the byproduct of available cap space GM Peter Chiarelli created by shipping out Jordan Eberle to the Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome.

It’s likely Gryba will continue to play his existing role in Edmonton — a physical, hard-nosed depth defenseman that won’t play every night, but can jump into the lineup in case of injury or when the Oilers face a particular matchup.

This move also gives the Oilers seven defensemen under contract for next season: Gryba, Russell, Andrej Sekera (who could miss extensive time with a torn ACL), Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matthew Benning and Darnell Nurse.

So, perhaps Chiarelli isn’t done signing blueliners.

 

 

Report: Kings in contact with Joe Thornton

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Yesterday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported 12 teams were in contact with San Jose’s Joe Thorton who, on Saturday, will become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, it’s been revealed that one of those teams is also one of San Jose’s biggest rivals — the Los Angeles Kings.

Per LA Kings Insider, the Kings have “been in contact” with Thornton, who just wrapped the last of a three-year, $20.25 million deal with a $6.75M average annual cap hit.

More:

On top of Thornton’s abilities are his relationships with key figures in Los Angeles’ front office. He played with Kings General Manager Rob Blake in San Jose, while Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Development Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager when he played in Boston.

On top of these relationships, Thornton also remains very close with Glen Murray, a figure in Los Angeles’ player development, and I’m told the two, who played together with the Bruins for three and a half seasons, regularly communicate.

LeBrun reported that staying with the Sharks remains Thornton’s No. 1 option, but it’s pretty clear interest in him is sky-high — and coming from a number of different places.

Los Angeles has been making moves to clear cap space, recently buying out the remainder of defenseman Matt Greene’s contract. The Kings also lost blueliner Brayden McNabb to Vegas at the expansion draft.

What happens with Marian Gaborik‘s $4.875M cap hit remains to be seen. The veteran winger underwent an offseason procedure for a “chronic” knee issue and, depending on his recovery, could open the year on long-term injured reserve.

Thornton would give L.A. a formidable one-two punch at center along with Anze Kopitar (and a truly formidable 1-2-3 punch with Kopitar and Jeff Carter, for that matter). It’s also worth noting that as he’s gotten longer in the tooth, Thornton has successfully platooned as a winger — most notably during San Jose’s Stanley Cup run in 2016.