Jason Brough

San Jose Sharks v Chicago Blackhawks
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Report: Blackhawks’ van Riemsdyk is ‘available’ on the trade market

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Trevor van Riemsdyk has only played one game this season, and it didn’t go all that well. The 25-year-old defenseman was stuck in his own end for much of the Blackhawks’ season-opening loss to St. Louis, and he’s been a healthy scratch ever since.

Now comes word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that Chicago could be looking to trade van Riemsdyk for help up front.

First, a caveat: Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune followed up on Friedman’s report and tweeted that there did not “appear to be anything serious in the works at the moment.” Hine also noted that van Riemsdyk has a low cap hit — just $825,000 for the next two seasons, per Cap Friendly — so if the cap-strapped ‘Hawks do trade him, they either can’t take back much salary, or they’d have to shed it some other way (would they be willing to part with Marcus Kruger?)

But if the Blackhawks are indeed looking for help up front — and remember, they reportedly kicked tires on Nail Yakupov, so it’s safe to assume they are — dangling van Riemsdyk does make sense. He may have fallen short of replacing Johnny Oduya last season, but he could still help a team in a bottom-pairing role, or possibly in a more significant role.

He’s just less helpful to the ‘Hawks, who have Brian Campbell, Michal Kempny, and the surprising rookie, Gustav Forsling, now. Their depth issues are up front, not on the back end anymore.

Bergeron ‘on track’ to make season debut Thursday

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand (63) celebrates his NHL hockey game-winning goal with teammate Patrice Bergeron (37) during the overtime session against the  Buffalo Sabres Thursday, Oct., 30, 2014, in  Buffalo , N.Y. Boston won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
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The Boston Bruins (2-1-0) should get a nice boost for their home opener tomorrow night against New Jersey, as center Patrice Bergeron is “on track” to make his season debut, according to head coach Claude Julien.

“We’re hoping he’ll be in the lineup,” said Julien.

Bergeron missed Boston’s first three games with a lower-body injury. Today, he practiced on the Bruins’ top line between wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

David Backes, meanwhile, dropped down to play right wing on the second line with veteran center David Krejci and 21-year-old Danton Heinen.

Backes, the Bruins’ big free-agent addition, centered Marchand and Pastrnak in Bergeron’s absence, and Backes, Marchand, and Pastrnak were very productive together.

But according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Julien said there was no chance that he’d break up Bergeron and Marchand, who’ve played almost exclusively together since Marchand’s rookie season in 2010-11, the year the B’s won the Stanley Cup.

The Canucks are happy to be undefeated, but ‘gotta stop’ falling behind early

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 15: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks fights for the puck against Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames during the first period of their NHL game at Rogers Arena on October 15, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)
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It’s only been three games, and nobody’s sold on the Vancouver Canucks quite yet.

But after three come-from-behind victories — the latest coming last night over the previously undefeated St. Louis Blues — the Canucks see a definite difference between how they played last season and how they’re playing now.

“Structurally, we’re way better this year,” center Bo Horvat said after Tuesday’s 2-1 OT win. “It’s the one thing we talked about as a group, that we wanted to be better structurally. We wanted everyone to buy in to the system, and if someone’s not doing it, then you gotta let ’em know. Everybody has to buy in. Everybody’s bought in so far, and it’s been turning out great.”

In Vancouver’s first three games, they’ve surrendered an average of just 23.7 shots against. Last season, that number finished at 32.5.

“We’re not giving up near as many shots in the home plate area, which is just in front of the net,” said Horvat.

Again, nobody’s sold on the Canucks yet. Their first three games were all at home, and they all required overtime.

“Three games isn’t a big enough sample size,” said head coach Willie Desjardins. “Is it good? Yeah, it’s good. We’re happy with that. But we’ve got to keep improving every day. All the games (have been) close. They could’ve gone either way.”

In fact, last night, the Canucks became the first team in NHL history to win their first three games of the season without once holding a lead in regulation time, per Elias Sports Bureau. 

That’s not sustainable, to keep falling behind and fighting back for wins.

“We gotta stop doing that,” said Horvat. “It wears down on you. … We’ve gotta jump out with the lead every once in a while.”

The Canucks host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

No obvious solution to Kings’ goaltending problem

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Jeff Zatkoff #37 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on after allowing a goal during the second  period of a game against Philadelphia Flyers  at Staples Center on October 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings fell to 0-3-0 last night, losing 6-3 to the Minnesota Wild despite outshooting them 30-26.

It was not a good night for goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed five goals on just 16 shots and saw his save percentage fall to a ghastly .839. The Kings could be without starter Jonathan Quick for months, so a shaky Zatkoff is the last thing they need. Their backup is Peter Budaj, who’s spent the last two seasons in the AHL. Zatkoff himself only has 31 career NHL stars.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” head coach Darryl Sutter said of Quick’s injury, per LA Kings Insider. “There’s not one thing. I said it when Jonathan got hurt. There’s not one thing that I can do about it or anybody can do about it, right? You expect the guys that are in there to play as well as they can, and if they play as well as they can, that’s good. I mean, heck, that’s what you do, right?”

Many expect GM Dean Lombardi to add a goalie via trade. But that begs the obvious question: who’s he going to get? Ondrej Pavelec seems to be a popular answer, given he’s in the AHL after the Jets waived him. Here’s the thing about Pavelec, though — there was a reason the Jets waived him. His career NHL save percentage is .907. It was .904 last season. Perhaps he could turn it around with a new team, one that was better structurally than the Jets, but only perhaps.

At this point in the season, if a team has a good backup goalie, it’s not going to just give him away. Because backup goalies are important. They can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Would the Philadelphia Flyers have made them last year without Michal Neuvirth? Probably not. Neuvirth and Steve Mason are both pending unrestricted free agents, but if Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going to trade one of them, is he going to do it now? Not for nothing, that’s for sure.

The Kings’ next game is Thursday in Dallas against the high-scoring Stars. After that, they return home for three games against Vancouver, Columbus, and Nashville, then it’s off to St. Louis and Chicago to close out the month.

“Obviously it’s a tough situation,” said Budaj. “Jonathan is arguably the best goalie in the world. We miss him, but I think me and Zats are trying to do the best we can.”

Dec. 1 deadline no concern yet for Trouba camp

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 28: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 28, 2014 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Jacob Trouba needs to sign an NHL contract by Dec. 1, otherwise he can’t play in the league this season.

But according to his agent, that deadline is not part of the equation quite yet.

“It’s only Oct. 17,” Kurt Overhardt told the Winnipeg Free Press last night. “There’s obviously a lot of time between now and then. … It’s not really an issue at this point.”

In the meantime, Overhardt says he’ll keep working to “facilitate a positive transaction,” i.e. facilitate a trade out of Winnipeg so that the young defenseman can play a bigger role elsewhere.

So far, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hasn’t given in to Trouba’s demand. But the Jets (1-2-0) are not off to a great start, and if they continue to struggle, the pressure on Cheveldayoff to bring the situation to some sort of conclusion will only increase as Dec. 1 approaches.

Of course, at the same time, Trouba isn’t playing, so he isn’t getting paid either. And if he signs an offer sheet and the Jets match, he has to stay in Winnipeg.

It’s quite the game of chicken, and the Jets and Trouba aren’t the only ones playing it. The Anaheim Ducks still haven’t been able to sign their young defenseman, Hampus Lindholm. And like the Jets, the Ducks (0-2-1) are off to a tough start.

“The season is more than three games,” Lindholm’s agent, Claude Lemieux, told Postmedia. “Trying to get a long-term deal is more than just the performance of the team during a short period of time. There’s definitely motivation from both sides to try and get a deal done.”

It’s a different situation in Anaheim compared to Winnipeg, because Lindholm doesn’t want to be traded. But it’s complicated by the likelihood the Ducks will have to make a trade to keep him. The speculation has Cam Fowler on the move. Which probably wouldn’t surprise Fowler, who expected to be dealt over the summer.

But we’ll have to wait and find out for sure.

It’s only Oct. 18.