Jason Brough

Connor McDavid, Mike Reilly
AP

Wild’s Reilly could make NHL debut Saturday

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Mike Reilly seems likely to make his NHL debut Saturday for the Minnesota Wild.

Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t completely commit to playing the 22-year-old defenseman tomorrow in Dallas, but he made some pretty strong hints that that was the plan.

“I want to see him show us what he’s got … if he plays,” Yeo told the Star Tribune. “At this point, he should be pretty familiar with the type of game we want to play structure-wise, system-wise, our philosophy in what we’re looking for from our defensemen. With young players coming up, you get one chance to play your first NHL game and if [Saturday] is his opportunity, then I want him to take advantage of it and play to make a difference.”

Reilly was originally drafted 98th overall in 2011 by the Blue Jackets. However, the ex-Gopher opted not to sign with Columbus. He chose the Wild instead.

An offensive defenseman, Reilly has five goals and 13 assists in 32 games for AHL Iowa this season.

It’s his defensive play that many still wonder about. As noted by the Star Tribune, Reilly is last in the AHL with a minus-26 rating.

Report: NHL to hold ‘special’ expansion meeting later this month

Nordiques Rally Hockey
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According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, a “special” meeting will be held later this month in New York where the NHL’s executive committee will discuss the two formal expansion bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City.

“Details of the meeting are limited,” writes Dreger at TSN.ca. “It’s highly unlikely the executive committee will emerge with a formal decision, but the fact the NHL has called this meeting suggests it is inching toward a conclusion. The meeting is designed to be somewhat secretive, so the NHL won’t provide a post-meeting progress report or announce its direction until the process is finalized, which could still be months away.”

Certainly, the ongoing plunge of the Canadian dollar does not bode well for Quebec City’s chances. The loonie is worth just $0.71 USD today. And it may go lower still, with Canada’s resource-dependent economy facing serious headwinds over the next few years.

It would not surprise anyone if the league opted to tell Quebec City thanks, but maybe laterIn the meantime, that would give Seattle the opportunity to get an arena built (or renovated). 

As for Vegas, the big news there is that T-Mobile has purchased the naming rights to the city’s new arena.

“If the NHL comes, we would obviously love it,” T-Mobile’s chief marketing office, Andrew Sherrard, told the Review-Journal. “It would be nice icing on the cake, but it was not a driver.”

Louis Domingue has been ‘really, really good’

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 26, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
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A rather unlikely player has stepped up to keep the Arizona Coyotes in the playoff race.

Goalie Louis Domingue started the season in the AHL. But an injury to starter Mike Smith, combined with the ineffective play of backup Anders Lindback, gave the 23-year-old a big opportunity.

Last night, Domingue stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 2-1 win over Calgary. His record improved to 5-2-2; his save percentage to .930.

“He’s been really, really good,” Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal told NHL.com. “He was probably our best player the last four or five games. It helps the team, for sure.”

With Domingue’s help, the Coyotes have shaken off their December struggles and ridden a 6-1-2 stretch into second place in the Pacific Division, three points clear of third-place Vancouver.

In a related story, we wonder if GM Don Maloney is still “willing to pay up an asset” to “get a top-end goaltender that’s a long-term value to the franchise.”

At the risk of getting fooled by a small sample size, maybe Maloney’s already got one of those.

Would the Blues give up Shattenkirk for Drouin?

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 06:  Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the St. Louis Blues skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Arizonna Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blues defeated the Coyotes 6-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Trade rumors are starting to swirl about the St. Louis Blues.

Specifically, about the Blues acquiring Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“To me, the team that’s most interesting to watch right now is probably St. Louis,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 radio, per Today’s Slapshot. “Not only because I think they’re in on Drouin, but they haven’t won yet since the calendar flipped. There’s a lot of expectations on this team. They kind of lurch forward and lurch backwards.”

We wrote yesterday about the Blues’ recent stretch of blowing leads. They play in Anaheim tonight and Los Angeles tomorrow. They’re still comfortably in a playoff position, but they say they’re not “taking anything for granted.”

So, how might the Blues be able to pry Drouin out of Tampa Bay? Well, here’s a hint from ESPN’s Craig Custance:

…GM Doug Armstrong will soon be faced with a difficult decision regarding defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Multiple sources have said Shattenkirk’s name is in play on the trade front, not because the Blues don’t like him, but because they probably can’t afford to keep him when his contract runs out after next season.

Back to Tampa Bay, where it’s no secret the Lightning covet “a puck-moving, power-play right-shot defenseman.” They have Anthony DeAngelo in the system, but he’s only 20. Shattenkirk, 26, is all those things, plus NHL-ready now.

Just for fun, let’s say Steve Yzerman put a Drouin-for-Shattenkirk trade on the table. The big question may be whether the Blues would do that deal now, or whether they’d insist on waiting until the offseason.

After all, losing Shattenkirk — even if it meant adding Drouin — would be a huge short-term adjustment for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Shattenkirk has 25 points, nine more than any other Blues d-man. That includes 15 power-play points, which is 12 more than any other Blues d-man.

Of course, in that scenario, if the Blues did insist on waiting until the offseason, they may lose out on Drouin.

Still waiting for that ‘big bounce-back’ by the Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Head coach Peter DeBoer talks to his team during their game against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center on October 10, 2015 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks didn’t make our mid-season list of the five most disappointing teams in the NHL.

Maybe that was on oversight on our part, because the Sharks — even after getting Logan Couture back — just cannot seem to pull it together.

They lost against last night, falling 2-1 at home to Detroit. They’re 1-3-0 on their current five-game home stand. They’re 5-10-2 in their last 17. And most damning of all, they’re three points back of a playoff spot in the awful Pacific Division.

We’d give the Sharks credit for the two or three games in hand they hold on most of the other teams in the Pacific, but you have to win those games for that to be a factor.

“Frustrating we didn’t get points, but I liked our effort, I liked our response after last game,” coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area said last night. “Two great chances to go ahead 2-1 just before they scored. That’s the way things are going right now. We’ve got to be resilient and know that if we play that way, that over the long term we’ll be alright.”

And to be fair, DeBoer had a point. If not for Petr Mrazek’s brilliant save, maybe the Sharks end up winning last night. San Jose did outshoot Detroit, 36-25.

But Joe Pavelski was also right: “We’ve got to find ways to win…that’s the bottom line.”

Remember, when DeBoer was hired in May, he predicted a “big bounce-back” for the Sharks.

“You’ve got a lot of proud people here that aren’t too happy about where they were sitting at the end of last season,” he said. “My history with that is, if you’ve got character and you’ve been through that, you’re ready to push back. And I think we’re going to see that.”

There’s still plenty of time for that prediction to come true, but 18-18-2 after 38 games certainly does not qualify.

The Sharks host the Leafs Saturday.