Cam Tucker

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Penguins acquire Justin Schultz from Oilers for a third-round pick in 2016

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers, in exchange for a third-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

The much maligned 25-year-old defenseman has been at the center of trade rumors and speculation for some time, and now his time in Edmonton, which started with so much hope, has come to an end.

Parting ways appears to be the best option for both parties.

He’s a pending restricted free agent at the end of the season, with a cap hit of $3.9 million, as per General Fanager.

There was great anticipation when Schultz first joined the Oilers as a free agent in 2012. He chose Edmonton over a whole host of suitors and the hype surrounding the start of his career in that market was considerably high.

(His AHL coach during the lockout compared Schultz with defensemen Drew Doughty and Scott Niedermayer.)

But his development with the Oilers hit numerous snags. He was a minus-78 combined over four seasons on some bad teams in Edmonton. This season, he has the fourth worst goals-against per 60 minutes (2.90) among NHL defensemen with more than 500 minutes of ice time at five-on-five this season, as per stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

He goes to Pittsburgh with the possibility of becoming a reclamation project.

“He’s very good on the offensive side. He still needs some work on the defensive side,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.

“Different teams have different approaches.

“Our approach was to go with more speed, more transition game from our backend. This is a player that will be able to help that.”

In 45 games this season, he’s scored just three goals and 10 points. But he’s still billed as an offensive defenseman with a right shot and perhaps a change of scenery may be the best thing for him.

 

Bowman may be done dealing, likes the way Blackhawks look after big trades

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Stan Bowman has pushed his chips into the pile.

The Chicago Blackhawks general manager is all-in for another run at the Stanley Cup, as evidence by the major moves he’s made to augment an already strong roster prior to Monday’s trade deadline.

Based on his comments Saturday, it seems he could be done dealing. But he also didn’t shut the door on the possibility of something else happening between now and Monday.

Already with the second best point total in the West right now, and coming off a Stanley Cup in 2015, Bowman — get this — likes the look of this team following the multitude of trades that landed them Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg, Christian Ehrhoff from L.A. and Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann from Montreal.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“I think the one thing you have to also look at is just the chemistry of the group, and I think the one thing we’ve been able to do here is we’re bringing back a player in Andrew Ladd, who we’re very familiar with,” Bowman said. “It’s like he never left in some ways. I just had a chance to talk to him, and I think the familiarity with the surroundings and the players and the coaches, that’s not really too difficult to bring him back.

“And Fleischmann and Weise have both played together for a lot of the time. So, there’s some chemistry there. So, we’ll look at what’s out there. I’m sure there will be more discussions [about other moves], but I really like the way this team looks right now, and we’re excited to get on the ice and play.”

The Blackhawks are still without forward Marian Hossa, who was placed on injured reserve almost two weeks ago with a left leg injury. But he could take another step closer to a return when he hits the ice at the start of this week.

 

Report: Oilers trade Nilsson to Blues (Updated)

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With Brian Elliott now on long-term injured reserve, the St. Louis Blues may have addressed concerns about their current depth at the goalie position prior to the trade deadline.

TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported Friday evening that it’s believed the Blues have acquired 25-year-old goalie Anders Nilsson from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a mid-round draft pick.

Updated: The Oilers confirmed the deal on Saturday, sending Nilsson to the Blues in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2016 and minor-league goalie Niklas Lundstrom.

In 26 games this season with Edmonton, Nilsson has a 10-12-2 record and a .901 save percentage.

Rutherford: Penguins coach Sullivan isn’t happy Plotnikov suggested possible return to Russia

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With the trade deadline approaching, it would appear Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sergei Plotnikov has gotten on head coach Mike Sullivan’s bad side.

The apparent reason: Well, according to reports quoting Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, it’s because the 25-year-old Plotnikov expressed an interest in possibly returning to Russia.

Plotnikov hasn’t played since Jan. 6 — a span of 19 games. In 32 games with Pittsburgh, he has two assists.

Plotnikov signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Penguins last summer. According to General Fanager, it’s worth a cap hit of $925,000.

He payed a hefty price just to sign in the NHL, reportedly footing a $500,000 bill to get out of his KHL contract at the time.

“Sergei wants to play in the NHL as evidenced by the amount of money he paid to be excused from the last year of his KHL contact,” Plotnikov’s agent Mike Liut told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“He understands that this will not happen in Pittsburgh and the Penguins have been attempting to trade Sergei, albeit, a difficult task when a player is a healthy scratch for two months. If a trade is not available, he will have no choice but to return to Russia.”

Stamkos and the Lightning are on a roll

at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.
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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Steven Stamkos extended his goal-scoring streak to a season-high five games and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the fading New Jersey Devils 4-0 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.

Ben Bishop made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Matt Carle also scored as the Lightning sent the Devils to their second loss in as many nights and fifth in six games.

Stamkos’ goal-scoring streak is two games shy of his personal best, set in 2010.

Ryan Callahan had two assists for Tampa Bay, which moved to within three points of first-place Florida in the Atlantic Division.

Cory Schneider, who was lifted after giving up three goals in the first period of a 6-1 loss to Columbus on Thursday, had 32 saves for New Jersey.

The win was the first for the Lightning in New Jersey since 2013 – a span of three games – and only their fourth in the last 16 games (4-8-4).

This one wasn’t as one-sided as the score, but Tampa Bay was able to convert its chances while the Devils battled both the puck and Bishop.

Stamkos set up Killorn’s first-period with great strength in front and he extended his goal-scoring streak with a deflection of Anton Stralman‘s shot late in the second for a 3-0 lead.

Stamkos’ play on Killorn’s goal was impressive. With his back to the goal, he took a pass from the point by Callahan, spun and got a shot off that Schneider saved. The goaltender had no chance as Killorn put the rebound into an open net at 15:36 of the first period for his 11th of the season.

Bishop’s best saves were on Tyler Kennedy. He made a stacked pad stop on him in close midway through the second period and saved the shutout with a snapping glove stop on an open shot from low in the right circle with 10:43 to play.

Palat’s goal with 6:58 left in the second period came off a Devils mistake. Lee Stempniak turned over the puck behind his net and Tyler Johnson quickly found his linemate in front for his seventh goal of the season in what was a bang-bang play.

Stamkos got his 27th goal of the season with a deflection of Stalman’s shot over Schneider’s shoulder.

Carle scored on a third-period point shot for his second goal.

New Jersey had its chances, particularly Adam Henrique. He missed the net early in the first period after being set up by Joseph Blandisi and he could not control a rebound in front in the second with Bishop out of position.

NOTES: Stamkos’ assist gave him 244 with the Lightning, tying him with Vaclav Prospal for fourth in team history. He also played in his 553rd game, passing Brad Richards for fourth in Lightning history. … Devils LW Mike Cammalleri has had a setback with his right-hand injury and his status for the rest of the season is uncertain, coach John Hynes said. Cammalleri, whose 38 points are third on the team, has missed the last 13 games. … With Nikita Kucherov back in the Lightning’s lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury, Erik Condra sat for Tampa Bay. … Devils C Jacob Josefson was a late scratch because of illness. … Callahan has points in five of six games (3 goals, 5 assists).