Tortorella liked what he saw from Wennberg in his first career fight


The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to eight games on Friday night with an impressive 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, moving them to within two points of first place in the Metropolitan Division with still three games in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game started with a little bit of a bang when Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad was absolutely run over by Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk.

There was an immediate response from an unlikely player when Alexander Wennberg went after Tkachuk and dropped the gloves in his first NHL fight.

Here is the entire sequence.

It didn’t last very long, and Tkachuk seemed to get the better of him in the end, but it was all still enough to get some praise from Wennberg’s coach, John Tortorella.

“Great left,” said Tortorella when he was asked about it after the game. “Great left, and then he switched to a right. I loved what I saw out of Wenny there, and he hit him right on the button. I thought he was one of our best players tonight, too.”

“I’ve talked since I’ve been here, I think Wenny needs to be more involved, maybe not to fight, but in the inside part of the game. He has done that this year. Before camp started we talked about responsibility as a third year pro. He is not a rookie anymore, he is not feeling his way through the league, he needs to take more responsibility with his play, and he has done that. For him to stand in there, right in front of the bench, that’s important for the bench to see that guy stand in there.”

That is pretty much the response you should expect from Tortorella because he absolutely loves that sort of game. But let’s be honest, that is not what the Blue Jackets need Wennberg to be doing because there is always going to be an injury risk there. The last thing the Blue Jackets need at this point is for one of their most talented players and their second leading scorer to be lost to an injury in something like that (we recently saw Arizona lose one of its best players, Max Domi, to an injury after he was involved in a fight). Especially when it was in response to what appeared to be a legal hit. But it all worked out this time.

Wennberg has 25 points (six goals and 19 assists) in 28 games for the Blue Jackets this season.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics


The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.


Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’


Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.