Jason Brough

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Hansen adds more speed to Sharks, who were already faster

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The San Jose Sharks couldn’t handle the Pittsburgh Penguins’ speed.

And so, after losing the Stanley Cup Final in six games, the Sharks decided they had to get faster.

First came the signing of winger Mikkel Boedker, whose “tremendous speed is his best attribute,” said GM Doug Wilson on July 1.

The Sharks also signed defenseman David Schlemko, who brought “puck-movement speed” to the third pairing, in the words of head coach Pete DeBoer. 

Then, when the season started, there was a quasi-youth movement, as players like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier received opportunities with the big club.

And finally, last night, the Sharks acquired right winger Jannik Hansen in a trade that sent Nikolay Goldobin to Vancouver.

“Jannik is a versatile, gritty player who plays with speed and is talented on both sides of the puck,” said Wilson. “We think he is a perfect fit for the style of our team, which has earned the right for us to make this move and add to our NHL roster as we push towards the playoffs.”

Wilson probably undersold Hansen’s speed a touch. Even at 30 years old, Hansen is still very fast.

Where DeBoer puts his newest player remains to be seen. On the third line with Tomas Hertl is one possibility. That could bump Joel Ward down to the fourth line, which may be a better spot for the 36-year-old who’s struggled offensively this season.

The thing about Hansen is that he’s versatile enough to play up and down the lineup. In Vancouver, he started out as a checker. Eventually, he was skating with the Sedins on the top scoring line.

The Sharks’ next game is tomorrow at home against, of all teams, the Vancouver Canucks.

Related: The Penguins played great defense their own way

Iginla excited and grateful for opportunity with Kings

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At 39 years old, Jarome Iginla is thankful for what could be one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup.

Iginla was traded by the Colorado Avalanche today. With 619 career goals but no championship ring, he’s excited to join the Los Angeles Kings — even though his new team is currently just outside the playoff picture.

“The Kings are such a hard team to play against,” Iginla told TSN. “They get into the playoffs and they’re such a determined, competitive group that they excel. … I really appreciate the opportunity to be in meaningful, competitive games.”

It remains to be seen where Iginla will play in the Kings’ lineup. It’s possible it could be with Anze Kopitar, who could certainly use a scorer on his wing.

That being said, Iginla’s production this season — just eight goals in 61 games — leaves doubts about his ability to become the top-six winger the Kings so desperately need.

“I believe I can still produce,” said Iginla. “I hope to go there and help out, but also be a pleasant surprise. I know there’s questions and stuff about whether I can or not. I believe I can.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Iginla couldn’t say whether retirement was looming. At the moment, he said it’s “probably 50-50” that this would be his last year. Among NHL forwards, only Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan and Matt Cullen are older.

“It’s honestly just get ready for now and this playoff push,” said Iginla. “Hopefully a long playoff run and a championship. That’s where the focus is. I honestly don’t know what the future holds after that.”

It’s going to be a very different draft for the Red Wings

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If the Detroit Red Wings finally miss the playoffs this year — and it’s a near certainty they will — their general manager, Ken Holland, will work hard this summer to make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

“We don’t want to miss two years in a row,” Holland told TSN today.

That being said, the GM is excited he’ll be going to the draft with so many selections. In the past few days, the Wings have acquired three third-round picks by selling off Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Jurco.

“Somebody told me it’s the most picks we’ve had in a draft since 2002,” said Holland. “Usually we go into these drafts with five or six picks, (because) we’ve traded picks away.”

The Wings may also draft in the top 10 for the first time since — amazingly — 1991. That was the year they took Martin Lapointe, who’s long since retired.

In spite of the losing season, Holland has been encouraged by a number of youngsters who’ve taken steps in their development, referencing Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Petr Mrazek, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

The GM didn’t have to mention Dylan Larkin, who’s still only 20. Larkin’s endured a tough sophomore season, but still has great promise.

The key for the Wings will be to add more and more young talent — especially down the middle and on the back end, which was once a great strength but is now a significant weakness.

“These moves that we made for these draft picks will allow us to pick more players,” said Holland, “and hopefully some of them will end up as Red Wings down the road.”

Related: Don’t expect a full-scale rebuild in Detroit

Trading Burrows and Hansen represents significant ‘shift’ for Canucks

AP
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Ever since Jim Benning was named general manager in 2014, the Vancouver Canucks have been reluctant to embrace an aggressive rebuild.

But with the recent departures of Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen, two of the few remaining holdovers from the good teams of the past, the winds have decidedly shifted for the club.

“I think that’s where we’re at as an organization,” said Benning, per The Province. “I think I’ve been patient with a lot of these players. They kind of went through and were part of those real good Canuck teams. Now, we need to shift our focus and get this next group of players up and going that we’re going to be competitive and win with.”

For trading Burrows and Hansen, the Canucks received a couple of talented prospects in forwards Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin. Those two will join a system that already included first-round picks Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen.

Vancouver, currently sitting 28th overall, is also in the running to draft a center like Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, or Gabriel Vilardi. Combine one of those three with 21-year-old Bo Horvat and the Canucks could have a pretty promising one-two punch down the middle.

To be sure, Vancouver may still be three or four years from being competitive again. The Sedins, 36, are only signed through next season and can’t carry a first line anymore. The way things are trending, veteran d-men Alex Edler and/or Chris Tanev could be traded to further stock the rebuild.

So, there will be growing pains. And lots more losing.

But these last few days have been encouraging for all the fans in Vancouver who’ve been pleading for management (and ownership) to stop trying to make the playoffs and start being realistic.

The future for the Canucks is looking a little brighter today.

It’s pretty far away, but it’s brighter.

Five straight wins have the Flames feeling confident

AP

The Calgary Flames, with their fifth straight win, took a big step last night on their way to clinching a playoff spot.

A 2-1 OT victory over the Kings at Scotiabank Saddledome put the Flames five points clear of the Blues, holders of the second wild-card spot in the West, and six points clear of L.A, just on the outside looking in.

In other words, it’s looking a lot like the Blues and Kings will battle down the stretch for the final playoff spot.

The Flames, as long as they don’t collapse, should be able to outlast at least one of St. Louis or L.A.

“We are confident, and we should be,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said, per the Calgary Herald. “We’ve been trying to build that up all season.”

The season, of course, did not start out well for the Flames. They were 5-10-1 after 16 games; they weren’t getting good goaltending from Brian Elliott; and Gulutzan’s new system was taking time to get used to.

Fast forward to the present and Elliott is finally starting to string together some solid performances. He registered a .922 save percentage in February. In four of his starts, he only allowed one goal.

Offensively, the Flames have been led by the resurgence of Johnny Gaudreau. The 23-year-old has eight points during the five-game winning streak, with two goals and six assists. He’s also a plus-7 over the same stretch, taking his season tally down to a somewhat more respectable minus-11.

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