Jason Brough

Rinaldo suspended five games for illegal check to Paquette’s head

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Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo has been suspended five games for an illegal check to the head of Lightning forward Cedric Paquette.

In the explanatory video, the NHL’s Department of Player said that Rinaldo made Paquette’s head the “main point of contact on a hit where such head contact is avoidable,” while later noting that Rinaldo is a repeat offender under terms of the CBA.

Prior to today’s ruling, Rinaldo had managed to avoid suspension/fine this season. However, he received an eight-game ban for charging/boarding Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang last season and, the season prior, was suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of then-Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel. He also served a two-game ban in 2012 for charging Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

The hit on Paquette was not Rinaldo’s first controversial play of 2015-16. In October, the Department of Player Safety released a video explaining why Rinaldo was not suspended for charging Flyers forward Sean Couturier.

Here’s the video explanation for the Paquette hit:

Yesterday, Rinaldo was assigned to AHL Providence. No word when or if he’ll be called up to serve his suspension.

The 25-year-old is under contract through next season for a cap hit of $850,000.

The Preds stood pat on deadline day because they didn’t want to ‘give away Vesey’s position on our team’

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 23:  Jimmy Vesey #19 of the Harvard Crimson skates against Steve Santini #6 of the Boston College Eagles during the second period of the 2015 Beanpot Tournament consolation game at TD Garden on February 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The recruitment of Jimmy Vesey was in high gear yesterday in Nashville, even if Predators GM David Poile wasn’t.

The Preds didn’t add any significant pieces on deadline day. The way Poile spun it, they didn’t want to do anything that might dissuade Vesey from joining the club after his Harvard season ends.

“The biggest thing in this trading deadline is that we did not want to give away Vesey’s position on our team,” Poile told The Tennessean. “We have a place for him to come in and play. We feel he is as good or better than anybody we could have gotten in a trade. We want to sign him when he gets out of school. We’ve told him we have a place for him and I didn’t want to take away that place.”

It was not the first time Poile had relayed that message. The Preds have until Aug. 15 to sign Harvard’s leading scorer, otherwise the 22-year-old senior can become a free agent, assuming he graduates.

The last possible day Vesey could play for Harvard is April 9, which also happens to be last day of the Predators’ regular season.

‘Frustration’ is how Benning would describe Vancouver’s deadline day

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Dan Hamhuis was willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Dallas or Chicago.

But when today’s deadline expired, he’d been traded nowhere. The 33-year-old defenseman — a player who was good enough to win Olympic gold for Canada just two years ago — was still a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

In fact, save for Adam Cracknell, a depth forward who was plucked off waivers by Edmonton, the same was true for everyone else who started the day with the Canucks organization.

Radim Vrbata. Not traded.

Matt Bartkowski. Not traded.

Yannick Weber. Chris Higgins. Brandon Prust. Ronalds Kenins. The Canucks were willing to trade them all.

None of them found takers.

At the very least, GM Jim Benning thought he’d get something for Hamhuis and Vrbata.

“They’re both good players,” said Benning. “They both could help winning teams make a difference in the playoffs.”

Benning was asked how he felt about not getting anything for either.

“I think maybe frustration,” he said. “We tried hard to give our players an opportunity to go to a winning team and have playoff success and be a part of a Stanley Cup team. Then the other part is, from an organizational standpoint, it would’ve been nice to recover some picks for them.”

Benning explained that, initially, the Stars chose Kris Russell from Calgary over Hamhuis. However, he also said that the Stars came in with a last-minute offer to get Hamhuis as well.

“They had made a deal for a defenseman,” he said. “They phoned and they gave an offer that probably from their perspective they thought was fair, but we just didn’t see the value in accepting that offer.”

Not surprisingly, Benning said that the Canucks “haven’t ruled out re-signing” Hamhuis.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Hamhuis confirmed that he was willing to be traded to the Stars or Blackhawks, but would have refused a trade to a team in the Eastern Conference.

He also reiterated that he wants to remain in Vancouver past this season.

“From now to July 1, we’d certainly entertain the idea of being back as a Canuck,” Hamhuis said, using “we” to mean his family.

“We love playing for this organization. We love playing in this city. We’d have no reason to want that change.”

For the Canucks, that may turn out to be the best remaining option from a public-relations standpoint. The worst-case scenario was always that Hamhuis would would walk away for nothing in the offseason.

It may also be the best option from a roster standpoint. Because as it stands right now, the Canucks’ blue line is a glaring weakness, with no easy solutions to fix it. 

Bottom line: today was not a good day for the Vancouver Canucks.

“If we could have got draft picks…” Benning lamented. “I come from a draft background. I value picks, and that’s how we’re going to rebuild this thing, through getting draft picks and drafting well and developing our players. So if we could’ve recouped draft picks, we would’ve done that and we would’ve been on our way.”

But in the end, they didn’t.

They didn’t get one, single thing.

(Click here for Benning audio.)

For Staal, joining Rangers was ‘an opportunity I needed to take’

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NEW YORK (AP) For Eric Staal, it wasn’t that he wanted to leave the Carolina Hurricanes.

He just knew his time with the team had run its course and he wanted another opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup.

“As much as I think they’re doing the right thing with the young players – there’s some great pieces there for the future – I think deep, deep in my gut this was an opportunity I needed to take,” Staal said Monday, hours before his debut with the Rangers against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

New York acquired Staal from the Hurricanes in exchange for second-round picks this year and 2017 and prospect center Aleksi Saarela.

The 31-year-old Staal joins his younger brother, Marc, who is a defenseman with the Rangers. He said it would be the first time he and Marc play on the same team at the same time, and he said he was grateful to Hurricanes executives for working things out so he could play alongside his brother.

The second overall pick in the 2003 draft, Staal is second on the Hurricanes’ all-time list in goals (322), assists (453) and points (775). He was the leading scorer in the regular season and the playoffs on Carolina’s 2005-06 Stanley Cup-winning team.

But Carolina has not qualified for the playoffs since 2008-09. And at 28-26-10, the Hurricanes are seventh in the Metropolitan Division and trail Pittsburgh by four points for the last Eastern Conference wild card slot.

“When you miss the playoffs for six years and you’re the leader, the captain, it’s tough,” Staal said. “There was a lot of trying times. For a lot of different reasons it didn’t happen the way you envisioned. For me it was time for this opportunity and this chance.”

While a no-move clause allowed Staal to control where he was going to go, Carolina retained half of Staal’s pro-rated $8.25 million contract for the remainder of the season. Staal can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“Right now, I’m focused on fitting in with this group, this team, and playing out these 20 games and hopefully having a big playoffs,” Staal said. “That’s why I wanted to come here. I wanted to help this group moving forward. That kind of stuff we’ll worry about later.”

The first order of business was determining where Staal will fit in with a Rangers team that entered the day second in the Metropolitan.

New York coach Alain Vigneault said he views Staal as a center, even though he alternated between center and left wing in Carolina this season. Vigneault did add he thought Staal’s flexibility between center and the wing would be a benefit to the Rangers.

“I do envision him playing in the middle. But the fact that he can play the middle and the left side, play both those positions well, are a good thing for a team; being versatile is a bonus,” Vigneault said. “It gives me more options and we’re definitely going to use those options going forward.”

Vigneault said the addition of Staal showed the organization believes the team is capable of competing for the franchise’s fifth Stanley Cup and first since 1994.

“I think with what’s happened in the league – Chicago, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera – I think it was important to send a message to our group that we believe in them and that we have faith in them,” Vigneault said. “I think that’s the message management and the coaching staff has sent. The fact that he can play in the middle, play on the left side, has won a Cup, has won a World Championship, has won an Olympic medal, you’re talking about an elite player that’s been captain of his team, (and he) is going to bring that leadership to our group. He’s going to fit in real well.”

Oilers bulk up in trade for Maroon

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 22:  Tanner Glass #15 of the New York Rangers fights with Patrick Maroon #19 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Another late trade trickling in — the Edmonton Oilers have acquired forward Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks, in return for prospect Martin Gernat and a 2016 fourth-round draft pick.

Maroon, 27, is signed through 2017-18 for a cap hit of $2 million. Though he only has four goals in 56 games this season, at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he fits the Oilers’ desire to inject some size and strength into their lineup.

Maroon’s spot in Anaheim’s lineup may have been jeopardized by the addition of Jamie McGinn from Buffalo. The Ducks also picked up forward Brandon Pirri from Florida.

Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, by the way, suffered a shoulder injury last night against the Islanders. He’s going to be out “long term,” according to coach Todd McLellan.

“Shoulder injury, not day-to-day, and he’s got to see some doctors and have some tests to figure out what long term really is. He won’t play for a little while for sure,” said McLellan.

Related: Maroon can be a ‘big force’ for Anaheim