Jason Brough

Oilers recall Kassian from AHL

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Zack Kassian is back in the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers recalled the big winger from AHL Bakersfield today. He had one goal in the four games he played for the Condors after being traded from Montreal.

Kassian, 24, last played an NHL game on March 14, when he was still a member of the Vancouver Canucks. After spending time in treatment for substance-abuse issues, he understands that this opportunity with the Oilers is “most definitely” his “last chance”.

Edmonton plays in San Jose tomorrow, before hosting Calgary Saturday.

With Matt Hendricks suspended, the Oilers opted to dress seven defensemen in last night’s overtime loss to the Arizona.

In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Hurricanes have managed to win a few here and there

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Back in November, when the Carolina Hurricanes were languishing at the bottom of the NHL standings, GM Ron Francis said, “The frustrating thing for us is that in five of our losses we clearly were the better team but did not win.”

His frustration was understandable. Statistically, the ‘Canes were one of the top puck-possession teams in the league. For whatever reason, they just couldn’t score. And they weren’t getting many saves from their goalies, either. A bad combination.

Fast forward to the present and the Hurricanes are one of the NHL’s hottest teams. No, really. They totally are.

Since bottoming out at 8-13-4 on Dec. 3, the Hurricanes have gone 11-5-3. Last night’s 3-2 overtime win in Pittsburgh put them within two points of Boston for the final wild-card spot in the East.

Granted, they’ve got a bunch of company in the race…

wild

…but it beats jockeying with the Blue Jackets at the back of the pack.

“We’ve been staring at the standings all year,” captain Eric Staal told reporters after beating the Pens. “We talked about (how) we scraped and clawed … (and) now you’ve got to climb, you’ve got to beat teams in front of you.”

It’s worth noting that, if the ‘Canes can keep making up ground in the standings, Francis could be faced with some interesting decisions at the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Staal is a pending unrestricted free agent; his situation has been well-covered here at PHT.

But Staal’s not the only pending UFA. Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles are, too. The former has 27 points in 43 games; the latter is logging around 20 minutes a night.

Carolina plays in St. Louis tomorrow, before returning home to face Vancouver Friday.

Bruins will be without Krejci, McQuaid for at least two more games

The Boston Bruins have just two wins in their last 10 games. They’re barely hanging on to the final wild-card spot in the East. And it gets worse.

Per CSN New England, injured regulars David Krejci and Adam McQuaid aren’t expected back for the final two games of the Bruins’ road trip (tonight in Philadelphia, Friday in Buffalo), and it may be longer than that.

“They’re still home,” said coach Claude Julien. “They’re not coming on this road trip so far, so that’s all I need to know at this point.

“Those guys…you hope they’re getting better, but in McQuaid’s case it was one of those hits from behind. Who knows what is going to happen with him?

“I’d suspect David is healing as predicted from week-to-week, and that he is getting better.”

On Dec. 21 — the day before the B’s entered this challenging stretch — Boston was one point back of first in the Atlantic and had a five-point playoff cushion.

Today, the standings look like this:

Standings

Related: Kevan Miller is not the problem for Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem

Elias out ‘indefinitely’ after knee surgery, but Devils ‘optimistic’ he’ll return

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Patrik Elias #26 of the New Jersey Devils waits for a faceoff in an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers at Prudential Center on December 6, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils are “optimistic” that forward Patrik Elias will be able to play again this season, despite the 39-year-old having undergone an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee today.

“The surgery was successful and he will be out indefinitely,” said Devils GM Ray Shero in a release. “There is no current timetable for his return, but we are optimistic that Patrik will return this season.”

Elias has only played in 13 games this season, scoring once with four assists. A two-time Stanley Cup-winner with the Devils, he’s also a pending unrestricted free agent.

“This was a decision that was made based on conversations and in conjunction with our training staff, team doctors and Patrik,” said Shero.

“Patrik will be unavailable to the media until he resumes participating in the team’s on-ice activities.”

Related: Elias once again on IR with knee injury

Canadian dollar dips below $0.70 USD for first time since 2003

Canadian Dollar Advances To Highest Level Since March 2008
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From the Globe and Mail:

Canada now has a 70-cent dollar.

The loonie dipped under the 70-cent (U.S.) level, touching as low as 69.9 cents, having rallied earlier to as high as 70.5 cents.

The currency has been largely hit by oil prices, which dipped below $30 a barrel at one point today, the domestic economic outlook and the different timelines for interest rates in Canada and the United States.

We’ve already written plenty on the loonie, and how its largely unexpected plunge has the potential to affect everything from expansion to Quebec City to the Los Angeles Kings’ ability to re-sign Milan Lucic. It’s a big story, no matter how much Gary Bettman tries to downplay things.

True, the NHL is in a different place than it was the last time the Canadian dollar sunk to its current levels. There was no salary cap, for one.

But consider the following quote from former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, who sold the franchise in 1997 when the loonie was around $0.73 USD, and headed lower.

“The team turned into the greatest money pit in terms of losing money year after year,” Griffiths told Business In Vancouver. “I was collecting Canadian dollars and paying players in U.S. dollars.”

Two years later, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver. The year after that, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix. Those moves weren’t entirely due to the currency disparity, but it was a significant factor.

Again, the NHL is in a different place than it was back then.

“If you look at purely the salary cap and the exchange rate, you can do the math,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said in October, “but then, there’s revenue that comes to us in American dollars.”

So no, we’re not predicting another era of southern migration. Not yet anyway.

What we’re saying is that the NHL is unique among the four major leagues. Seven of its 30 franchises collect revenue in Canadian dollars, and the loonie’s strength the past decade, before the oil crash, was a boon for the league as a whole.

At the same time, it made things a lot harder for lower-revenue American clubs like the Coyotes and Panthers. Those franchises were dragged into a game they couldn’t afford to play, with the salary cap rising from $39.0 million in 2005-06 to $71.4 million this season.

“Ideally for us, the Canadian dollar tanks and the cap goes down, not up,” Arizona GM Don Maloney quipped a year ago.

He was joking, sort of, but that’s exactly what the loonie has done — it’s tanked.

And the scary thing — at least for Canadian teams, as well as certain American teams who are up against the cap — is that it may not be done tanking.

Related: Next season’s salary cap pegged at $74.5 million