Jason Brough

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 03:  Andrew Ference #21 of the Edmonton Oilers skates up ice against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on February 3, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Sean Rudyk/Getty Images)

Ference to have hip surgery, out for remainder of season


The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Andrew Ference will undergo hip surgery and be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Ference has only appeared in six games in 2015-16. He’s been on injured reserve for the majority of the time with what the Oilers called a “nagging hip injury.”

The 36-year-old is signed through next season for a cap hit of $3.25 million.

Related: Ference no longer captain of the Oilers

Yzerman: Lightning are ‘actively and aggressively’ trying to trade Drouin

Jonathan Drouin, Steve Yzerman

Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman had the same message today that he did earlier this month when Jonathan Drouin’s trade request went public:

The Lightning won’t be strong-armed. They’ll trade the 20-year-old forward when they’re good and ready to trade him. There’s no timeline for the completion of a deal.

Of course, the difference today is that Drouin has been suspended by the Lightning, without pay, after he failed to report for his AHL duties.

And, so, while Yzerman maintained that he won’t be pressured into making a trade that doesn’t benefit the club — in fact, he’s still open to a reconciliation — he did concede that a deal to move the talented forward is “actively and aggressively” being pursued.

As for the claim by Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, that the Lightning had recently “advised that a trade involving Jonathan was moving closer to completion,” Yzerman denied that ever happened.

Yzerman also had this piece of advice for any player in Drouin’s situation:

For Drouin, that’s obviously not possible anymore. All he can do now is wait and hope that Yzerman finds a deal that’s to his liking.

Weber on Preds’ scoring woes: ‘We shoot everything from the outside’


The numbers say the Nashville Predators are a good puck-possession team.

In fact, according to 5-on-5 Corsi, the Preds are right up there with teams like the Kings, Stars, and Blackhawks.

So then why are the Predators just 20-18-8 ? If their Corsi is so great, how have they fallen out of a playoff spot?

Well, first off, nobody ever promised that these new “advanced stats” could tell the whole story. They can’t. Ask the Carolina Hurricanes. Or, more recently, the Montreal Canadiens.

Goaltending is one area that can sink a good possession team, and we all know Pekka Rinne hasn’t been at his best this season.

But captain Shea Weber has another theory. This one has to do with the Predators’ struggling offense.

“I think we’re too perimeter,” Weber told The Tennessean. “We shoot everything from the outside. First thing is traffic and then we’ve got to get inside the slot into good areas to shoot. It’s not good enough to get 40 shots from outside. … We’ve got to find ways to beat their players, make plays into the middle of the ice and get good quality scoring chances.”

Nashville has scored on just 7.9 percent of its shots this year, so perhaps Weber is onto something. Only five teams have converted at a lower rate than that. The Washington Capitals lead the league in shooting percentage, at 10.8.

Another theory is that the Preds just aren’t blessed with enough pure goal-scoring ability. James Neal leads the team with 16 goals. To put that in perspective, 26 NHLers have more goals than that, led by Patrick Kane, who has 30.

And that’s the theory that GM David Poile may believe, given his openness to acquire some scoring help via trade.

“We have to get more production, more consistency, so that would be the first place I would look,” Poile told ESPN.com. “But I’m just open to ideas and anything that might come along. You know how hard it is to make a trade, but for whatever reason it seems to open up more at the trade deadline.”

The Preds kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in Winnipeg.

Raffi Torres had ‘minor setback’ during AHL conditioning stint


When Ben Smith was placed on waivers today, some saw it as a sign that Raffi Torres was about to return to the San Jose Sharks’ lineup.

Not so.

In fact, Torres remains with AHL San Jose on a conditioning stint. And per CSN Bay Area, he was unable to play Monday for the Barracuda, then missed practice Tuesday.

“I know he had a minor setback and then he didn’t play the other night,” said Sharks coach Pete DeBoer. “Where he’s at, as of today, I don’t know.”

Torres did manage to play two AHL games before his “minor setback.” He didn’t register a point in either.

A pending unrestricted free agent, the 34-year-old admitted earlier this month that his lingering knee issues may force him to retire.

Ekblad expected back for Panthers, who need to ‘address some things’

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 10:  Aaron Ekblad #5 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second period goal against the Calgary Flames at the BB&T Center on November 10, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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The suddenly struggling Florida Panthers will get a nice boost Friday when they host the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks.

“I feel good and I feel prepared to play,” defenseman Aaron Ekblad told reporters today.

Ekblad has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, courtesy Edmonton’s Matt HendricksAll four games ended in Florida losses. Prior to that, the Panthers had won 12 straight and were the talk of the league.

On Monday, they dropped a 4-2 decision at home to the Oilers.

“It’s not good enough,” coach Gerard Gallant told reporters. “We give them a couple of goals, we give them, I don’t know, four or five breakaways tonight. We gave them odd-man rushes. It wasn’t a fun game to coach.”

In retrospect, the good times seemed bound to end for the Panthers. The last two games of their 12-game winning streak, they managed just 30 shots total — 16 in one game, 14 in the other.

“We’ve got to settle it down and kind of re-evaluate how we’ve been playing and what’s going wrong,” forward Nick Bjugstad said. “We can’t overthink it, but we do have to address some things.”

The Panthers host Chicago (winners of 12 straight) Friday then Tampa Bay (winners of six straight) on Saturday. So, yes, that’s a fair comment by Bjugstad — the Panthers do need to address some things.

But getting Ekblad back should help.

“I didn’t think we were going to miss him that much,” Jaromir Jagr told reporters, “but we did.”