PHT Morning Skate: Henrik Lundqvist’s touching letter to his younger self

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–Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist wrote an awesome letter to his younger self for The Players’ Tribune. “Nobody told you and your brother to love hockey. It doesn’t make any practical sense. You’re from a tiny skiing town of 1,200 people. Your dad is a ski instructor. You don’t live close to a rink. Nobody goes pro from Åre.” (The Players’ Tribune)

–TSN’s Travis Yost breaks down whether or not the Senators are a better team with Guy Boucher behind the bench. “At the end of the day, I think you have to ask at the midway point whether or not this team is any better under Boucher. They certainly appear like a different team. But, when you start adding everything up, it’s as if Ottawa has just sacrificed offence at the altar of better defense.” (TSN)

–The Dallas Stars were forced to make an emergency landing in St. Louis on Sunday because of a mechanical problem with their plane. As you’d imagine, it was a pretty frightening experience for some of their players. “It put a shock to the system, but we’re thankful we’re got out OK and the people running the plane did a heck of a job,” said forward Patrick Sharp. (NHL.com)

–The Boston Bruins made David Backes‘ return to St. Louis a pleasant one by beating the Blues. Backes didn’t score, but he did drop the gloves. You can watch the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–In his “30 Thoughts” blog, Elliotte Friedman writes about the Avalanche and Coyotes’ trade demands, Mike Sullivan’s raise, how the Bruins refused to ship Brandon Carlo to Colorado and much more. (Sportsnet)

Benoit Pouliot is having an ugly season in Edmonton and the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples wonders if it’s time for them to send him to the AHL. “Essentially, Pouliot is now carrying himself like a scoring, finesse winger, yet he has just seven points in 37 games,” explains Staples. “His underlying scoring chance numbers are OK-ish, but when you add in his lack of hitting and scoring, he’s not doing nearly enough to justify his $4 million per year salary, which is why he’s deep in the doghouse.” (Edmonton Journal)

–A fun read from Puck Junk, who takes a look at the top 10 hockey collectible stories from 2016. We saw Upper Deck come out with E-Packs, Topps came up with a digital hockey card app and Jim Craig even sold some of his “Miracle on Ice” equipment. (Puck Junk)

Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal

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The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.

The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.

“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”

Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators

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For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.

Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.

“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.

“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”

Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.

He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”

It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.

Habs place Redmond on waivers — again

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A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.

(CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)

Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.

Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.

Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.

Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.

Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension

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The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.

The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.

Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.

“Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.

“Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”