Cam Tucker

Edmonton Oilers v New York Rangers
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Oilers activate Nugent-Hopkins from injured reserve

The Edmonton Oilers have activated Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from injured reserve, which should finally give head coach Todd McLellan his full compliment of top forwards heading into the weekend.

The Oilers play the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday to begin a five-game home stand.

From the Edmonton Journal:

If Nugent Hopkins is back for Game 71 Saturday, it will mark the first time this season that he, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Connor McDavid have all been on the same ice.

It’s like a game of tag. Eberle gets injured in training camp and returns Nov. 6, one game after McDavid breaks his collar bone. McDavid comes back Feb. 2, four games after Nugent-Hopkins breaks his finger.

“The biggest thing is we haven’t been able to put our team together on the ice to really know what we have or don’t have and give it time to gel or grow,” said McLellan. “So we’re going to have to make some decisions in the summer without having the complete package together.”

The 22-year-old Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t played since Jan. 18 after suffering a broken hand while blocking a shot.

In 46 games this season, Nugent-Hopkins has eight goals and 30 points. The Oilers are back in a familiar spot near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They currently sit two points up on Winnipeg for last in the West.

Related: McLellan laments Nugent-Hopkins loss: ‘For me, he’s like Joe Pavelski’



Burke: Flames concussion protocol was ‘followed to the letter’ in Wideman case

Brian Burke
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On the same day Dennis Wideman‘s suspension was reduced to 10 games after an appeal to a neutral arbitrator, Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke defended his team’s medical staff, saying proper concussion protocol was followed with Wideman during the incident.

Seconds before Wideman collided with linesman Don Henderson, the Flames defenseman was hit awkwardly into the boards and appeared woozy as he got to his skates. As he was skating back to the bench, he made contact with the official, prompting a 20-game suspension from the league.

Wideman remained in that game, despite the hit.

“A player can exhibit concussion symptoms after a game and our protocol was followed to the letter. The trainers spoke to him, felt he was lucid … and he stayed in the game and finished the game without any difficulty,”  Burke told reporters in a press conference on Friday.

“After the game he complained of symptoms, was given a test and registered concussion symptoms. But nothing fell through the cracks.”

It’s worth noting that Wideman spoke to reporters after the game, saying the contact with Henderson wasn’t intentional.

Wideman has missed 19 games as a result of the ban. The Flames play the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, and he’ll be back in the lineup.

In a statement released Friday by the NHLPA, the union said: “Given that it was undisputed that Dennis suffered a concussion mere seconds prior to his collision with linesman Don Henderson, we felt strongly that there should have been no discipline.”

(The NHLPA made a similar statement in February, when it was decided an appeal would be launched.)

Given the length of this specific process through a neutral arbitrator, Burke said he hopes it will be “expedited” for the next occurrence.

“To throw rocks at anyone about the length of time it took, I think is counterproductive,” said Burke.

“I do think they need to … streamline this for the next player that goes through this.”

Blues sign Gunnarsson to three-year, $8.7M contract extension

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The St. Louis Blues have re-signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a three-year extension worth $8.7 million.

According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, this deal also includes a no-trade clause.

Traded from Toronto to St. Louis in June of 2014, the 29-year-old Gunnarsson was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, according to General Fanager. His previous deal with Toronto was for three years at $9.45 million and cap hit of $3.15 million.

In 62 games this season, he’s scored twice with seven points while averaging 17:35 of ice time per game.

Nash skates on line with Staal, could return to Rangers lineup versus Red Wings

New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs
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It’s possible Rick Nash could be in the New York Rangers lineup versus the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, and it’s possible that if he does play, it could be on a line with newcomer Eric Staal.

Nash, who has missed 20 games with a bone bruise, took part in Friday’s practice and, based on reports, was on the wing on a line with Staal, who the Rangers acquired from Carolina, and Viktor Stalberg.

“We’ll see how he responds. Today was his first practice. He’s been skating a lot on his own there and skated with half the team (Thursday),” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told reporters.

“If he responds well to today’s practice, I would say there’s a very good chance that he’d be in the lineup tomorrow.”

Here’s a glimpse of the Rangers’ forward combinations:

The combination of Nash, Staal and Stalberg is a big line for the Rangers. Or at least, it could be. And Vigneault referenced how it could present difficulties for opposing teams.

“I find me and Eric to be pretty similar players, and I remember playing with him (as teenagers) way back in the day, so it’s fun whenever you get a chance to play with a guy like him,” said Nash.

“I think with Stalberg, he brings so much speed, one of the best skaters in the league, and hopefully that opens things up once we get playing.”

A minor penalty for an unsuccessful coach’s challenge? One GM is reportedly mulling over the idea

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators
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The coach’s challenge has been under scrutiny in its first season of implementation, and it’s a topic general managers from around the league could bring u when they meet next week.

According to a report from hockey insider Pierre LeBrun on TSN’s Insider Trading, one NHL general manager has considered suggesting that teams that lose a coach’s challenge then receive a minor penalty for delay of game.

As it stands now, if a coach is unsuccessful with their challenge, that team only loses its one timeout.

“He thinks that would cut down on the number of 50-50 calls that coaches are going for, especially in the third period,” said LeBrun.

Last month, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, never one to shy away from offering an opinion on something in the game — remember his comments on the shootout? — ripped the coach’s challenge, saying the league should get rid of it.

“Just get rid of the coach’s challenge. Just get rid of it,” said Tortorella, per The Columbus Dispatch.

“The whole (reason for) being of the coach’s challenge is to get it right. If we can’t get it right on that call, then get rid of the coach’s challenge. All I did was waste a timeout. It’s discouraging. That is a no-brainer call. If they vote again for it, no coach’s challenge as far as this organization is concerned.”

Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa . . . also not a fan of the coach’s challenge.

The coach’s challenge and three-on-three overtime were both introduced for this season.

Related: The NHL’s new coach’s challenge and timeouts