With former Blackhawks first-rounder Kevin Hayes set to hit free agency at midnight, rumors are swirling around which clubs will try to land the former Boston College standout.
One prospective suitor, Calgary, is keeping tight-lipped about its interest.
“I’ve heard that natural assumption for a while,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said, per the Calgary Herald. “I see where people would make the connection. But at this point, we can’t talk about it.”
The “connection” Treliving’s referring to is Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold, Hayes’ BC linemates that are both Flames prospects. The trio lit up collegiate hockey scoreboards last season, with Gaudreau and Hayes finishing one-two in the country in points. Given the amount of time Calgary’s scouts have watched Gaudreau and Arnold, it’s safe to assume they’ve had an extended look at Hayes too.
Calgary’s also likely interested in Hayes because he’s a first-round pick. The Flames have previously explored any and all angles in the quest to add top-end prospects; at the draft, reports suggested Treliving tried to “buy” first-round picks from Phoenix and Carolina by agreeing to take on the contracts of Mike Ribeiro and Cam Ward.
Hayes, 22, has declined to sign in Chicago ever since being drafted. Though he’s never directly said it, the assumption is he was concerned about his ability to crack the Blackhawks’ lineup, a legitimate fear given the number of prospects that couldn’t make the leap in Chicago but found regular NHL minutes elsewhere. One of those prospects happened to be Hayes’ older brother, Jimmy, who the ‘Hawks traded to Florida last season in the Kris Versteeg deal; the elder Hayes proceeded to score a career-high 11 goals in 53 games for the Panthers.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: