Flames’ Smith signs in Swiss league

After five NHL seasons and nearly 100 games played, Derek Smith is on his way to Europe.

The former Ottawa and Calgary defenseman has signed with ZSC Lions of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Monday. Smith, 29, split last season between the Flames and their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, appearing in 14 big-league contests while proving to be a good offensive d-man at the American League level, scoring 24 points in 32 games for the Heat.

Smith’s best NHL campaign came during the 2011-12 season, when he scored 11 points in 47 games while averaging nearly 16 minutes a night. That earned him a two-year, one-way deal with the Flames for $1.55 million — but he proceeded to fall out of favor with the club, and was placed on waivers in December of last season.

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    Penguins’ Hornqvist hurt after blocking shot vs. Capitals

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins have had to shuffle their forward combinations in the second period, after Patric Hornqvist was hurt blocking a shot in the first period of Game 2 versus the Capitals.

    The Penguins forward was in obvious pain after taking a shot right around the ankle, which is a concerning development for Pittsburgh.

    Per reports, he didn’t re-join the Penguins at the bench when the second period began.

    Hornqvist can be a frustrating player to go up against, and he’s productive, too, with two goals and five points in six playoff games prior to Saturday.

    Moving on up: Devils win NHL Draft Lottery, secure No. 1 overall pick

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    The New Jersey Devils entered the Draft Lottery with an 8.5 per cent chance of winning it. They will leave with the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

    The Devils finished the regular season with just 70 points, tied with Arizona for the third fewest in the overall standings. They’ve also had plenty of difficulty scoring goals in recent years, and this provides them with an opportunity to land a player — forwards Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier are expected to be the top two players selected in June — that can help remedy that.

    It’s become quite a close race between the two heading into the draft, which goes June 23-24 in Chicago.

    From Bob McKenzie of TSN:

    For TSN’s Draft Lottery edition, five scouts ranked the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick No. 1; five scouts ranked the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Hischier No. 1. The Swiss pivot has closed the gap with his dynamic play, which came at a time when Patrick’s injury-riddled season was ended prematurely by an upper-body ailment that wasn’t related to the groin/abdominal issues that plagued him for the first half of the season.

    While the Devils emerged as the overall winners, the Philadelphia Flyers had an enormous rise up the board. So, too, did the Dallas Stars.

    The Flyers had just a 2.2 per cent chance of winning the lottery, yet they moved all the way up into the No. 2 selection spot when it was over. The Stars, with a 5.8 per cent chance of winning the lottery, also had a good day, moving up into the No. 3 overall spot.

    Here is the 2017 draft order:

    1. New Jersey Devils
    2. Philadelphia Flyers
    3. Dallas Stars
    4. Colorado Avalanche
    5. Vancouver Canucks
    6. Vegas Golden Knights
    7. Arizona Coyotes
    8. Buffalo Sabres
    9. Detroit Red Wings
    10. Florida Panthers
    11. L.A. Kings
    12. Carolina Hurricanes
    13. Winnipeg Jets
    14. Tampa Bay Lightning
    15. New York Islanders

    As you see, there were a few other key developments in this lottery.

    Vegas was given a 10.3 per cent chance at winning the top pick — the same odds given to the 28th place team — however, the Golden Knights will pick sixth overall. The Colorado Avalanche, which finished with a miserable 48 points and had the best odds to win lottery, now pick fourth overall.

    And once again, the Canucks endured more disappointment at the lottery.

    Last year, they dropped two spots, from third to fifth. Needing an impact forward in order to help kickstart their rebuild, they dropped three spots, from No. 2 to No. 5 overall, on Saturday.

    Related: Report: Devils GM plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week

    Report: Devils GM plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week

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    Rumblings of a possible return to the NHL for Ilya Kovalchuk have continued for some time now, and it appears the New Jersey Devils are taking the next step in this process.

    On Saturday, prior to the draft lottery, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported that Devils general manager Ray Shero plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week to gauge Kovalchuk’s interest of a potential return.

    Kovalchuk is now 34 years old, having spent the last four seasons with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL.

    Getting Kovalchuk back for the Devils could provide an instant boost in scoring, which is an area New Jersey has struggled in. This past season, the Devils finished 28th in the league in goals for. Only the Canucks and Avalanche were worse in this category.

    Kovalchuk had 32 goals and 78 points in 60 games this past season.

    From NJ.com:

    Kovalchuk would step in and immediately serve as a top-six winger for the Devils, Outside of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, the Devils constantly rotated wingers into the top six last season. Having him up top would add another scoring dimension and help the depth down the rotation by bumping a player down.

    Kovalchuk has also been in the news for more than a possible NHL comeback. According to reports on Saturday, he will forego the upcoming World Hockey Championship for Russia in order to have knee surgery.

    Pageau’s brilliant four-goal game lifts Senators to comeback OT win over Rangers

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    Jean-Gabriel Pageau had himself a performance for the ages in Game 2 against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

    Pageau completed the hat trick to tie the game late in the third period, forcing overtime as Ottawa roared back from a late two-goal deficit. But he wasn’t done there. His best moment was still to come.

    His fourth goal of the game was the winner, as he ripped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa a thrilling 6-5 double overtime victory.

    The Senators now take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Rangers, as it shifts back to Madison Square Garden.

    On the deciding two-on-one rush, Pageau opted to keep his hot streak going, taking the shot instead of going for the pass.

    For the Rangers, this could be a devastating loss.

    Three times, they held a two-goal lead — thanks in part to a pair of goals from defenseman Brady Skjei, who is following up a strong regular season with what has so far been a very good post-season. The Senators, however, refused to go away.

    Pageau recorded a pair of late goals in the third period, just 2:17 apart, erasing for good any lead New York had.

    It was, until that point, shaping up to be a disappointing result for the Senators. Their power play not only went 0-for-4, but they conceded a pair of shorthanded goals.

    Senators forward Clarke MacArthur left this game early in the second period, after taking a hit from Ryan McDonagh in the first period. He didn’t return. MacArthur has dealt with concussion problems in his career, however the club didn’t disclose any details of the apparent injury during the game.