Alex Edler

Video: Devils’ Butcher with some razzle dazzle to set up Boyle

1 Comment

If you’re the type to get annoyed when college free agents soak up a lot of attention during the dog days of the hockey summer (Brandon Dubinsky is nodding), you were probably fed up with defenseman Will Butcher by the time he chose the New Jersey Devils as his destination.

Well, at least the 22-year-old blueliner is backing up the hype, especially when it comes to setting up goals.

Butcher’s 15th assist (and 17th point of the season) ranks as one of his best yet, as he totally baffled the Vancouver Canucks before setting up a Brian Boyle goal. You can watch that sweet helper in the video above this post’s headline.

Speaking of Devils rookies, it seems like Nico Hischier is OK after this Alex Edler hit, but the Devils might be wise to keep an eye on the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, as this looked a little worrisome:

Again, it seems like Hischier avoided injury, yet we shall see.

There was also this big hit by Taylor Hall on rising Canucks forward Brock Boeser:

The Devils ended up beating the Canucks 3-2 on Friday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Former Penguins prospect Pouliot gaining confidence with Canucks

Getty
1 Comment

VANCOUVER — A trade prior to the start of the season brought Derrick Pouliot to Vancouver. An injury to the club’s top blue liner, Alex Edler, presented a chance for the former Penguins prospect to get into the Canucks lineup.

Through seven games, Pouliot’s confidence is beginning to grow with the Canucks, who have started to roll over the past few games despite expectations that they would once again struggle in the Western Conference despite a number of offseason acquisitions and a coaching change.

Selected eighth overall by the Penguins in 2012, Pouliot had never played a full regular season for Pittsburgh, instead splitting his time between the minors and the NHL since joining that organization. Just prior to the start of this season, the Canucks decided to take a chance on the left-shooting defenseman, sending Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick in 2018 to Pittsburgh.

In Vancouver, Pouliot re-joins his old Portland Winterhawks teammate Sven Baertschi and coach Travis Green. He acknowledged that it’s nice knowing some familiar faces as he gets more familiar with his new team. On the ice, Pouliot has three assists while being used on the point on the power play.

“I feel good out there on the ice. Hockey is fun and it’s good to come to the rink every day,” said Pouliot last week, after the Canucks thumped the Washington Capitals. “The change of scenery is sometimes all you need.

“Getting more comfortable with the guys, how they play, the guys’ habits … and then just playing a regular shift, playing every night. It really helps your confidence grow and your overall game develop.”

Pouliot is so far averaging just below 16 minutes of ice time per game on the third pairing, while posting a Corsi For rating of just under 52 per cent at five-on-five, per Corsica. Known as a player that can quarterback the power play from the blue line, the Canucks have given him opportunities with the advantage at 2:51 per game in the absence of Edler.

While the Penguins were willing to move on from the now 23-year-old blue liner, Canucks general manager Jim Benning admitted at the time of the trade that they have had interest in Pouliot dating back to his junior days and the hope is that his offensive potential, which he has shown in the WHL and then when he made the jump to the AHL, will pay off in Vancouver. The belief from Benning was that Pouliot fit in well with the style Green wanted to play, and he was confident it was worth the chance as the team searches to find more offense throughout its lineup.

Pouliot also isn’t the first player struggling to make the full-time jump to the NHL that the Canucks have taken a chance on in recent years. Baertschi and Markus Granlund were both prospects in the Flames system, splitting time between the NHL and AHL but ultimately unable to secure full-time roster spots in Calgary before they were acquired in trades with Vancouver.

“I think he’s a guy that plays with a lot of confidence most of the time and he makes his plays,” said Baertschi of Pouliot.

“The way I know him from back in junior is he’s exactly the same player, still. Maybe a little more mature now. But he still wants to make plays. Sometimes you don’t expect that exact play but he’s still going to make it and that’s what makes him such a good player.”

————

Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Pouliot to make Canucks debut, with Edler sidelined 4-6 weeks

Getty
2 Comments

The Canucks will be without Alex Edler for a significant amount of time.

On Saturday, head coach Travis Green confirmed that Edler will miss the next four to six weeks due to a sprained MCL suffered during Thursday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

That’s a tough loss for the Canucks this early in the season, with Edler leading the team in ice time at an average of more than 24 minutes a night through the first two games, and playing a sizable role with the penalty kill and power play.

This will now provide 23-year-old Derrick Pouliot with an opportunity to get into the lineup. He’s slated to make his Canucks debut Saturday against the Calgary Flames.

Pouliot was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 NHL Draft, but has yet to make the jump to the big league on a full-time basis. He had split each of the last three seasons between the Penguins and their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before Pittsburgh finally moved on from him prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, trading him to Vancouver.

Trying to get his NHL career on track, Pouliot has a familiarity with the new Canucks bench boss dating back to their time together with the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

————

Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Injury roundup: Canucks’ Edler hurt vs. Jets; Coyotes lose Raanta to lower-body injury

Alex Edler just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to injuries.

The Canucks defenseman suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. The play looked innocent enough, as he went to hit Jets forward Mark Scheifele along the boards. Instead of doing damage to Scheifele, Edler hurt himself.

Last season, Edler was limited to 68 games because he suffered fractured leg in February. The previous year, he suited up in just 52 games. The last time he played a full season was back in 2011-12.

Coach Travis Green didn’t have an update on Edler’s status after the game:

The season is still young, but things haven’t been easy for the Arizona Coyotes. Not only are they 0-3-1 to start the year, they also lost goalie Antti Raanta during last night’s loss to the Red Wings.

The ‘Yotes acquired Raanta from the Rangers in a blockbuster trade that also landed them center Derek Stepan. He was expected to be their starting goaltender, but he’s already had to deal with two separate injuries since coming to Arizona.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Del Zotto to get bigger offensive role in Vancouver

Getty
2 Comments

In Michael Del Zotto‘s first year in Philadelphia, Mark Streit was the top power-play defenseman on the Flyers.

The second year, Shayne Gostisbehere came along, and Streit was still there.

The third year, another talented, young defenseman was added to the mix in Ivan Provorov. That knocked Del Zotto down to fourth in power-play time among Flyers d-men: just 48:46 on the season, compared to 65:16 on the penalty kill.

It also spelled an end to Del Zotto’s career in Philly. The Flyers were moving on without him. On July 1, he signed a two-year, $6 million contract with Vancouver.

For the 27-year-old, the change of scenery should be a good opportunity, given the Canucks’ blue line doesn’t have nearly the kind of offensive ability that the Flyers have built up on theirs.

Mobility was another glaring issue for Vancouver’s defense last season.

“You have to be able to move into today’s game,” said Del Zotto, per The Province. “It’s all about puck retrieval and the strength of my game is that first pass and that’s what the game has become. And I didn’t get a ton of power play time in Philly because my role there was more defensive, which is fine, because it’s about whatever it takes to win.”

Next season, Del Zotto will compete with the likes of Alex Edler, Troy Stecher, and Ben Hutton for power-play time. The Canucks were dreadful (29th, 14.1%) with the man advantage in 2016-17 — a big reason they also signed forwards Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov on July 1.

“We wanted to add experienced players to help with the development of our kids,” GM Jim Benning said, per NHL.com. “These players are still relatively young, they add speed and skill, and it will help with the competition for ice time and jobs. Now our young players have to earn spots.”