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Pre-game reading: Chris Pronger wants to be a GM

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Chris Pronger‘s post-playing career has been full of some bizarre and interesting turns. Technically he is still an “active” player in the NHL and under contract with the Arizona Coyotes, but he hasn’t suited up in a game since 2012, is already inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and is currently working in the league office as a part of the department of player safety.

One of his next goals: Being the general manager of an NHL team.

“I’m very interested one day in becoming a GM,” Pronger told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. “I have a lot to learn, and need to put some work in. But down the road at some point, under the right circumstances, it’s definitely something I’m interested in pursuing.”

More from Lebrun:

The 42-year-old has sought out advice from the likes of Kings vice president Rob Blake, Ducks general manager Bob Murray and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, among others. But perhaps most notably, Pronger also asked Steve Yzerman about his journey to becoming a general manager, which included four years of tutelage under general manager Ken Holland in Detroit before Yzerman got his own gig in Tampa Bay.

— The New  York Islanders have removed veteran forward Casey Cizikas from injured reserve. He has not played since Feb. 21. He has seven goals and 16 assists this season for the Islanders. He has been sidelined with a broken left hand.

Brian Elliott‘s season has turned around in Calgary, and he credits his relationship with one of his idols, former NHL goalie Curtis Joseph, for helping him to get back on track with the Flames.

— If you follow any hockey writers on Twitter you know they all hate the cannon in Columbus. But do you know who else hates it? Opposing players. Solution: Don’t give up goals.

— Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom has not appeared in a game since Feb. 16 due to injury but coach Willie Desjardins believes he will play again this season. He has a .910 save percentage in 25 appearances for the Canucks.

— The Ottawa Senators have sent goalie Chris Driedger back to the American Hockey League, which means Craig Anderson is at least ready to serve as the team’s backup goaltender this weekend as he recovers from a lower body injury.

 

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.

 

 

Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand

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Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.

Hurricanes sign Finnish prospect Kuokkanen

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The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.

The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.

“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”

The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.