Jason Brough

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: (L-R) Ryan Hartman #38 celebrates a goal by Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 15, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Blackhawks have new lines again, as trade speculation heats up

Marian Hossa will be back in the Blackhawks’ lineup tomorrow versus Buffalo. After sitting five games due to injury (and watching his team win just once), Hossa practiced today on a line with one familiar face, Jonathan Toews, and one new one, winger Spencer Abbott.

Abbott was recalled yesterday from AHL Rockford. The undrafted 28-year-old has eight goals in 30 games for the IceHogs. He only has one game of NHL experience, and just 5:16 of ice time, which he got with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013.

On the thought of playing with Hossa and Toews, Abbott told reporters today, “It’s a little bit nerve-racking.”

In a related story, there is speculation that GM Stan Bowman is in the market for a winger — including one trade rumor involving Colorado’s Jarome Iginla.

It’s only January, but Iginla is already being asked about it.

“The deadline is still a couple of months off, so lots of things can change, but that’s part of the game and part of sports, and it’s also good for an organization, teams at the deadline, whether they’re in or out, to try to get assets back,” said Iginla, per the Globe and Mail. “I know how that works.”

Of course, as noted by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus, Iginla would be a tough add for the Blackhawks given their salary-cap situation.

How to improve his team, with limited cap space, is just the latest big challenge for Bowman. If the prolific line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin is to stay together, the ‘Hawks will need to find someone to play with Toews and Hossa. The captain has skated with a whole host of linemates this season, and he’s only managed six goals and 12 assists in 31 games, putting him on pace for what would be a career-low 42 points.

And even if the ‘Hawks can find that someone, internally or externally, there would still be questions about the bottom six. Tomorrow against the Sabres, a third line of Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero and Richard Panik is expected, with a fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Dennis Rasmussen, and Vinnie Hinostroza.

Read more: Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies

Coyotes scouts were ‘unanimous’ in wanting Burmistrov

Alexander Burmistrov

Alexander Burmistrov won’t play for the Arizona Coyotes tonight in Vancouver, but the 25-year-old forward could be in the lineup this weekend, once he gets his visa sorted out.

Coyotes GM John Chayka is looking forward to seeing what he’s got, after Burmistrov was claimed off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

“He’s a guy our scouts for a long time have identified as someone they think has got more potential than what he’s shown,” Chayka said Tuesday, per the Coyotes website. “(Claiming him) was unanimous across the board with our scouts, which is actually fairly rare.”

That’s interesting, because Burmistrov has yet to score his first goal of the season. He played 23 games for the Jets and managed just two assists.

Granted, he didn’t get a ton of ice time, and he played mostly with tough guy Chris Thorburn and rookie Brandon Tanev. The Jets didn’t have a top-six spot for him, now that youngsters Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers are cemented in scoring roles.

“Alex and I had a number of conversations about what he was hoping to have here, I just had other players ahead of him and the role he was looking for wasn’t here,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said, per CBCNews.ca. “So he’ll get a chance then to go and kind of reinvent … maybe not reinvent himself, maybe he gets that opportunity he’s been looking for to go and play with some of the top guys and get some power-play minutes.”

Burmistrov does have talent. That’s why he was drafted eighth overall in 2008. However, he’s only managed 30 goals in 298 NHL games, and most of those came when he was younger, before he went to the KHL for two years.

A pending restricted free agent, Burmistrov may be headed back to the KHL if he doesn’t find his game in Arizona. The Coyotes have nothing to lose by giving him a shot. Already 15 points back of a wild-card spot, they’ll need a miracle to make the playoffs.

Another day, another team: Boucher gets claimed by Canucks

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 20:  Reid Boucher #12 of the New Jersey Devils skates in an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center on March 20, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 2-1.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks have claimed forward Reid Boucher off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.

Boucher, 23, has already been claimed once this season, by the Nashville Predators. But the Devils claimed him back shortly thereafter, then put him on waivers again, hoping to get him down to the AHL.

Enter the Canucks, who are currently without winger Jannik Hansen due to injury. They’ve also lost winger Derek Dorsett (neck surgery) for the season. And yet another winger of theirs, Anton Rodin, is still getting back into game shape after tweaking his knee in the preseason.

Boucher was a prolific scorer in junior, and he’s been a good scorer in the AHL; however, he’s yet to break through at the NHL level. The Michigan native really had to work on his skating after the Devils drafted him in the fourth round back in 2011, and that may still be keeping him back.

In 85 games for the Devils and Predators, Boucher has 12 goals and 18 assists. Last season, he had 19 goals in just 34 games for Albany.

Khudobin on waivers; McIntyre recall coming?

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (2) celebrates after scoring against Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35) on a breakaway in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Anton Khudobin is on waivers today. Don’t be surprised if the Boston Bruins recall Zane McIntyre from the AHL at some point soon.

Khudobin just didn’t get the job done as the backup behind Tuukka Rask. The 30-year-old from Kazakhstan is 1-5-1 with an .885 save percentage. He had one encouraging performance on Dec. 1, but it wasn’t enough.

If McIntyre gets the call, he’s no sure thing to solve the Bruins’ problem. The 24-year-old has been excellent for Providence, going 10-0-0 with a .950 save percentage. But he allowed 10 goals on 71 shots (.859) in three appearances for the big club.

The Bruins host the Oilers Thursday.

Related: Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem

Another blown lead for the Leafs, and this one was costly


The Toronto Maple Leafs got away with blowing a big lead Sunday against Detroit. But last night in Washington, they paid the price with the loss of a valuable point.

The Leafs led the Capitals, 4-2, after two periods. They lost the game, 6-5 in overtime, on a goal by Alex Ovechkin.

Afterwards, Toronto coach Mike Babcock said he didn’t think his team collapsed. He thought it was a bad game from start to finish.

“I thought we were playing the same way the whole game: not good enough, not competitive enough, didn’t execute,” said Babcock. “They scored two goals in the third period on total D-zone breakdowns. All we’ve got to do is stop and talk to one another and execute. To me, that doesn’t have much to do with what time in the game it is, it has to do with doing your job. We weren’t good enough.”

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Leafs. It was also the sixth time this season that they’d lost a game in overtime after taking a lead into the third period. Their .650 winning percentage when leading after two periods is higher than only two teams, Detroit (.615) and Carolina (.588).

On the bright side, the Leafs still managed to move ahead of Tampa Bay into fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

“In lots of ways we got a point here tonight and getting a point on the road when you’re not very good doesn’t happen very often,” said Babcock.

Still, it was another disappointing loss after they’d put themselves into a position to win. Good teams know how to protect leads, and these young Leafs are still learning how.