Jason Brough

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Joel Eriksson Ek poses after being selected 20th overall by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Minnesota sends Tuch to AHL, while Eriksson Ek remains


It was always going to be tough for Alex Tuch to make the Minnesota Wild out of training camp. The team already had four NHL veterans at right wing — Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Jason Pominville, and Chris Stewart — while Tuch is only 20 years old and has yet to play a single regular-season game as a professional.

So today’s news that Tuch, the former Boston College star, has been assigned to AHL Iowa should come as no real surprise. The Wild also sent Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel and Hunter Warner down to the farm.

Related: Alex Tuch is looking to make the leap

While Tuch was sent down, another of the Wild’s top prospects, forward Joel Eriksson Ek, remained. The 19-year-old Swede was a first-round draft pick in 2015, and it sounds like he has a good chance to start the season in the NHL.

Eriksson Ek, a center, outlasted 23-year-old center Tyler Graovac, who today was placed on waivers. (Presumably Graovac will be assigned to the AHL should he clear.)

Suffice to say, Eriksson Ek is a very important prospect for a team whose top two centers, Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu, are on the tail ends of their careers.

According to the Star Tribune, if Eriksson Ek doesn’t stick with the Wild, he could return to Sweden for another season with Färjestad.

Ottawa releases Bartkowski from PTO

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 10: Matt Bartkowski #44 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during the pre-game warm up prior to NHL action against the Calgary Flames on October 10, 2015 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators have released former Bruins and Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski from his professional tryout.

Bartkowski, 28, took the audition with the Sens after failing to turn his one year with Vancouver into a guaranteed contract anywhere. He played 80 games last season and had six goals and 12 assists, but the Canucks chose to let him walk.

The Sens still have eight defenseman on their training camp roster. That includes 19-year-old Thomas Chabot, the 18th overall draft pick in 2015 who has yet to play an NHL game. It also includes 23-year-old Fredrik Claesson, who only made his NHL debut in December.

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Sens had “kicked tires” on free agents Dennis Seidenberg and Kris Russell. Seidenberg has since signed with the Isles, while Russell remains unsigned.

Flyers send big Samuel Morin to AHL

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Samuel Morin #55 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates in warmups prior to playing against the New York Rangers in a preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center on September 17, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they’ve assigned defenseman Samuel Morin and forward Taylor Leier to the AHL.

Morin, 21, is the best known of the two, having been the 11th overall draft pick in 2013. A big, tall defensive defenseman, he’s coming off his first pro season, scoring four goals with 11 assists in 76 games for Lehigh Valley. (He also had 118 penalty minutes, which tells you something about his style.)

Though Morin has yet to play his first NHL game, and while he doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, the Flyers still like him as a prospect.

“First of all, Sammy skates well,” GM Ron Hextall said recently, per PhillyVoice. “Sam is not old school where he doesn’t skate very well. He moves well, he’s a big guy who has great range. You still have to get the puck back, so guys like Sammy are not going to go away. I think the guys that started to go away are the guys who aren’t very fleet of foot.”

The future of the Flyers’ blue line is still unfolding. Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov are both sure bets to be part of it, and management liked Radko Gudas enough to give him a four-year contract extension. But Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, and Michael Del Zotto are all pending unrestricted free agents, and Andrew MacDonald, despite his contract, will need to keep proving he belongs in the NHL.

So while Morin may be disappointed that he’s yet to establish himself with the Flyers, there are opportunities to be had down the line.

Related: Travis Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly

After two major trades, Preds feel they’re contenders now


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators remember well the electricity that flowed through Music City last spring when they made the longest playoff run in franchise history.

Now they want to go even deeper with the Stanley Cup Finals the target.

“Absolutely,” captain Mike Fisher said. “We feel like we’re a team that’s very, very good, and we’re going to contend. We have a lot of confidence in who we are as a team and how we want to play and how we want to be successful. It’s going to take a lot of work.”

The Predators beat Anaheim in seven games before pushing San Jose to seven more in the Western Conference semifinals. Then general manager David Poile made a move that stunned the NHL on June 29, sending team captain Shea Weber to Montreal for P.K. Subban in a swap of standout defensemen.

Poile also traded defenseman Seth Jones for center Ryan Johansen on Jan. 6, then saw a chance to give coach Peter Laviolette more speed in the lineup with the deal for Subban. Now Laviolette has to make the moves work to stretch the Predators’ playoff streak to a third straight season.

Subban isn’t shying away from the big expectations in Nashville as he works to become familiar with his new teammates.

“I’ve never been shy to say I want to win a Stanley Cup and the first thing I said when I got traded is I want to win a Stanley Cup here,” Subban said. “Montreal was interesting. We had the opportunity to bring back the 25th Stanley Cup. But we have an opportunity to bring back a first here, and that’s pretty special, too. I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”

Some things to watch out of the Predators this season starting Oct. 14 when they open at home against Chicago:


The Predators have only themselves to blame for landing in the first wild card and making back-to-back trips to California over the first two rounds of the playoffs. Only Carolina (16) had more than Nashville’s overtime losses last season as the Predators posted a meager 2-14 record. Nashville did go 4-2 in shootouts.


Yes, the Predators still have a Weber on the roster in defenseman Yannick Weber. But they have to find someone to replace their captain, particularly on the power play where Shea Weber had 14 of his 20 goals. Subban matched Weber’s 51 points in 78 games last season despite playing 10 fewer games, though Subban had only two goals on the power play. Defenseman Roman Josi is the next best option to step up after having eight power play goals last season for a unit that ranked 10th in the NHL.


Slotting Subban into Weber’s spot with Josi may not be that easy. Subban opened the preseason playing with Mattias Ekholm, with Josi wrapping up his duties at the World Cup of Hockey. Josi is a pretty offensive-minded defenseman himself, with 61 points last season. Laviolette may split up Josi and Subban to create more offense through his defensive pairs.


The Predators have a handful of young players they hope develop further this season. Filip Forsberg, who led the Predators with a career-best 33 goals and 64 points, got a new contract in June. So did forward Calle Jarnkrok. Johansen just turned 24 and had 26 points in 34 games after joining Nashville in January.

Nashville’s biggest boost could come from Colin Wilson depending on which forward shows up. He had just 24 points in 64 games last season, yet “Playoff Colin Wilson” had 13 points in 14 games.


Goaltender Pekka Rinne was not at his best last season with a 2.48 goals-allowed average and a .908 save percentage over 66 games. In the playoffs he ranked fourth in time on ice yet had a goals-against average of 2.63. The Predators did their best to help Rinne last year, allowing the fewest shots on goal (27.3) per game. Rinne played in the World Cup of Hockey for Finland to work himself into shape for the regular season.

Related: Predators’ hopes still rest on Pekka Rinne


For the Blues, ‘no time to be sad’ about departures of Backes, Brouwer and Elliott

St. Louis Blues center David Backes, second from left, celebrates scoring a goal with, from left, center Paul Stastny, right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Blues have won at least 49 games in each of the past three seasons and advanced to the Western Conference finals last spring.

Doing it again this season will require effort from a bunch of new players.

David Backes, who spent 10 years in St. Louis, is now in Boston. Goalie Brian Elliott was traded to Calgary. Troy Brouwer, the Blues’ second-leading goal scorer in the playoffs last spring, signed with Calgary. Steve Ott, after two-plus seasons with the Blues, is now in Detroit.

“There’s no time to be sad about somebody,” Blues right winger Vladimir Tarasenko said. “They were great players and they’re still good players, but they play for other teams, so we’re going to play against them now. It seems like we have a really good team right now and I’m just looking forward for our season to start.”

Before the 2015-16 season, the Blues traded T.J. Oshie to Washington for Brouwer and opted not to re-sign defenseman Barrett Jackman. St. Louis went 49-24-9 with 107 points, just two points less than in 2014-15.

The Blues’ core group has changed slightly over the years but Ken Hitchcock’s squad remains one of the most talented groups in the NHL.

Tarasenko set career highs in goals (40) and points (74) last season, ranking fourth in the league in goals and 12th in points, after signing an eight-year contract extension. Alexander Steen (52 points), Paul Stastny (49) and Kevin Shattenkirk (44) ranked second, third and fifth among the Blues in scoring and are all back. Robby Fabbri accounted for 18 goals and 37 points as a rookie last season.

The defensive group, led by Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Shattenkirk and youngster Colton Parayko, is among the best in the NHL.

The biggest change for the Blues is in net, where St. Louis broke up its successful tandem of Elliott and Jake Allen, who went 26-15-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .920 save percentage last season. After sending Elliott to Calgary for a second-round draft pick, St. Louis signed Allen to a four-year contract extension that kicks in for the 2017-18 season.

“I think I have a great opportunity in front of me, I’m very fortunate for that, and it’s been a long road,” Allen said. “It’s been four years in the minors, some stints up and down here, a couple seasons here. It’s been quite the grind to get to this point but I feel like the process is finally paying off.”

Related: Backes and Brouwer may be gone, but Hitch says Blues youngsters still have room to grow