Cam Tucker

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23: Connor Hellebuyck #37 and Toby Enstrom #39 of the Winnipeg Jets and Milan Lucic #27 of the Edmonton Oilers watch as Connor McDavid #97 looks to shoot during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)

Lucic dropped from McDavid’s line, as McLellan shakes up ‘hit or miss’ forward combinations


After three straight losses, Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan has made some changes with his forward combinations.

That means, for now at least, that Milan Lucic is no longer on a line with phenom Connor McDavid.

Say this about McLellan early on this season: He hasn’t been afraid to shake things up on rather quick notice.

After the team’s first loss — a 6-2 home defeat to the Buffalo Sabres — McLellan blasted the effort of his players, which certainly seemed like a tactical decision from the coach to put everyone on notice that such performances will not be tolerated.

Based on reports Friday, Patrick Maroon has been placed onto the wing with McDavid. Rookie forward Jesse Puljujarvi was on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot. Meanwhile, Lucic was moved on to the wing with Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian, which has the potential to be a punishing physical trio along the boards and on the forecheck.

McDavid’s line, the coach pointed out on, has been getting chances, but they’ve also been giving up more chances. Hence the changes.

“It’s up front where we’ve been hit or miss with different lines on different nights. One line is clicking and two others aren’t,” said McLellan.

The Oilers are off to a pretty good start, with seven wins in their first 11 games. They lead the Pacific Division with 15 points, three clear of San Jose.

McLellan has never given the impression that he’s content with how things are going in Edmonton this early.

The Oilers have a franchise player in McDavid and talented forwards around him. But the coach has been consistent with his message that the Oilers must be better defensively, saying last month: “We’ve tried to out-score our mistakes and that’s not happening.”

The Oilers, currently on a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, play the New York Islanders on Saturday.

There are still question marks about All-Star Game voting details, following the John Scott saga

Pacific Division forward John Scott looks into the stands during the NHL hockey All-Star championship game against the Atlantic Division Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Pacific Division won 1-0 and Scott was named most valuable player. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The John Scott saga played out as one of the most controversial storylines in the NHL last season.

There were suggestions that Scott, the towering forward known for his fighting prowess, was traded from Arizona to Montreal — and eventually sent down to the AHL — to keep him from playing in the All-Star Game in Nashville, even after he was voted in by the fans.

Yet despite the many twists and turns in the plot, this all somehow ended as a success.

Scott played the role of hero in the newly introduced three-on-three tournament. He scored twice. He was named the MVP. He was hoisted around the arena on the shoulders of his teammates. Heck, Mitch Albom was reportedly writing the script for the John Scott movie.

It was one of the weirdest developments that spawned plenty of controversy but eventually turned into one of the more fantastic stories of the entire season.

With the 2016-17 season now well underway, attention is turning to what, exactly, the league may have in store for the voting format in the lead-up to the 2017 All-Star Game, and whether or not it will try to eliminate the possibility of another ‘John Scott’ scenario from happening.

“I think since then, we’ve all wondered, ‘Would the league do something about this? Would they change the voting so there couldn’t be another write-in candidate?” Elliotte Friedman said during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. “I’m told there’s going to be no substantive changes to All-Star balloting.”

You can now add another wrinkle to the discussion.

On Monday, the Hockey News quoted an anonymous source as saying, “There will be parameters put around what it means to be an NHL player. The intent is to allow populist voting if that’s what the fans want to do, but players elected have to be bona fide NHLers.”

There was no specific detail or definition of what “bona fide NHLers” actually means.

So, at this point, there are still questions about the details of the voting process.

As for Scott, he’s playing in a men’s recreational league in Traverse City, Mich., according to The Telegram newspaper in St. John’s, where the Habs’ AHL farm team is located.

“Honestly, it was cool playing with those guys, cool having my family there and the kids, experiencing an event I never, ever thought I’d get to experience,” said Scott.

“But it seems like a long time ago now. I don’t think too much about it. I get reminded about it here and there, but it’s part of the past. I’m so busy nowadays with the kids, I don’t have time to think about anything.”

Maple Leafs place Hunwick on injured reserve

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Matt Hunwick #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs grabs the puck against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

After surgery prematurely ended his 2015-16 season, Matt Hunwick is once again dealing with an injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday placed the 31-year-old defenseman on injured reserve, per James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail.

Hunwick has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury.

In six games this season, Hunwick has just one assist, while his puck possession numbers are hovering just above 45 per cent in 83:11 of ice time at five-on-five.

With Hunwick out, the Maple Leafs would be down to seven defenseman.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old right shot blue liner Frank Corrado has yet to play a game this season. Instead, he’s been kept as a healthy scratch through all nine games.

Coyotes send Dvorak to the AHL, which could mean an extended opportunity for Dylan Strome

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 25:  Christian Dvorak #18 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 25, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes made a roster move Monday, sending center Christian Dvorak to the American Hockey League.

In seven games with the Coyotes, the 20-year-old Dvorak had three assists.

This move could impact another player already on the roster.

Dylan Strome has played in only three games for the Coyotes, who will have a decision to make when it comes to the 19-year-old center’s immediate future with the club.

Arizona selected Strome third overall in 2015. The Coyotes still have the option to send him back to junior before his 10th NHL game. Playing Strome beyond his nine-game tryout period would burn the first year of his entry-level contract.

From Bob McKenzie of TSN:

He’s only played in three games with the Coyotes, averaging 15:49 with no points and a minus-three ranking. But the third overall pick in 2015 dominated junior last season and the belief is another OHL year would not serve him well; that what he needs to do to improve — get physically stronger, play the game with a little more pace — is best served by practising, training and playing with NHLers.

The Coyotes have three players, including Strome, in that situation. The others include defenseman Jakob Chychrun and forward Lawson Crouse.

Strome has one assist, while Crouse has yet to record a point.

Chychrun, however, seems to be making a strong case to stay with the Coyotes. Remember, this was a player that saw his stock drop considerably last season ahead of the draft. It was believed early on that he could be a top-five pick, but when the draft took place, he fell all the way to 16th overall.

After making the Coyotes out of camp, he has scored once with three points in seven games.

“You can’t really be here without believing in yourself and believing in your own style of play and believing in what you can bring to the table,” Chychrun told

“I just honestly believe that I can help this team win. I think I can play here, keep up with the pace here and defend well here. That’s basically what I’ve been trying to show … Maybe for some people it’s shocking that I’m here, but this was the plan for me all along.”

Set for his 1,000th game, Bouwmeester knows he’s been lucky to avoid major injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 21: Jay Bouwmeester #19 of the St. Louis Blues in action against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on December 21, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

When the St. Louis Blues play the New York Rangers on Tuesday, it will mark the 1,000th game of Jay Bouwmeester‘s NHL career.

He’ll achieve the milestone at the age of 33. Taken third overall in the 2002 NHL Draft, his skating ability has always been lauded as his trademark quality. Well, he’s been durable, too.

On nine different occasions, including seven consecutively, Bouwmeester has played the full 82-game schedule, which isn’t easy to do when you’re playing an average of nearly 25 minutes per game throughout your career.

“Being healthy is a big thing. I’ve been lucky,” Bouwmeester told

“I haven’t had any major injuries that cause you lose to lose a big chunk of time during the season. Stuff happens that you can’t really control. I’ve been lucky with that. I think as you get older, as you play longer, you kind of realize what works for you, and what you need to do in the summers to prepare for the season and during the year. Everyone works out in the summertime now, but during the year you have to do a little bit more and just kind of take care of yourself a little bit better.”

Bouwmeester was drafted by the Florida Panthers. He was traded to the Flames at the 2009 draft, and then dealt to the Blues from Calgary prior to the 2013 trade deadline.

In 999 games, Bouwmeester has scored 81 goals and 377 points.

Meanwhile, the Blues have started the season with a 5-2-2 record, which puts them second in the Central Division.