Jason Brough

SASKATOON, SK - JANUARY 3:  Anton Rodin #18 of Team Sweden skates with the puck while being defended by David Warsofsky #5 of Team USA during the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Semifinal game on January 3, 2010 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Team USA defeated Team Sweden 5-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Looking to make the leap: Anton Rodin

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This post is part of Canucks Day on PHT…

Most Canucks fans had already written off Anton Rodin. He was the guy who came to North America in 2011 and couldn’t even cut it in the AHL. Just another draft bust for an organization that’s had plenty of those in its history.

But then Rodin — a second-round draft pick of Vancouver’s in 2009 — went back to Sweden and found his game. In 2014-15, he scored 19 times with 21 assists for Brynas. He maintained that level into 2015-16, before suffering a freak knee injury during practice in January. Despite the season-ending injury, he was still named the MVP of the SHL with 37 points (16G, 21A) in 33 games.

Also despite the injury, the Canucks signed him in March, and GM Jim Benning is pegging Rodin — a 25-year-old, left-shooting right winger — as a potential third-liner for them next season.

“We watched him 20 times this year,” Benning told Postmedia. “He’s got the skill to play in the NHL and he’s a little older, so he’s mentally tougher and physically stronger. The time was right.”

Rodin is expected to be healthy for training camp, which should be a pretty competitive one for Vancouver. Benning would still like to add another forward, either via trade or free agency. And even if the group remains the same, there’s already been talk that Jake Virtanen, who turns 20 next week, could start the season down in the AHL.

“There’s going to be competition amongst our young players for ice time and spots on the team,” Benning said in a recent radio interview, per Canucks Army. “Jake is in good shape, he’s working hard. He’s an important guy for our group, but we’ll make the decision that’s best for him in the long term. If he needs to spend time in the AHL and that’s what’s best for his development, that’s what we’ll do.”

Looking to make the leap: Jesse Puljujarvi

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Jesse Puljujarvi poses for a portrait after being selected fourth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

This post is part of Oilers Day on PHT…

Jesse Puljujarvi‘s English is still a work in progress, so he wasn’t exactly overflowing with words after getting drafted fourth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in June.

Was he surprised that the Blue Jackets passed on him at third overall?

“I like Edmonton, and I’m very excited to go there, and I’m very happy now.”

What does he think about the opportunity to possibly play with Connor McDavid one day?

“Maybe yes, I want to play with him, and very nice.”

And is he ready to play in the NHL right away?

“Yeah, of course.”

That last answer was the key answer.

Indeed, the expectation is that Puljujarvi will be on the Oilers’ roster next season. Though the highly touted Finnish winger only turned 18 in May, unlike most other prospects at that age, size and strength are not a concern.

“I like his big, strong stride,” said Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, per the Edmonton Journal. “He protects the puck very well. He shoots in traffic and he can make plays, too. … You don’t accomplish what he’s accomplished at the men’s level and at the international level without being a real good player. He’s obviously a real good player, but he does all this stuff and he’s a big, strong body which I like.”

A few days later, Chiarelli would concede that having Puljujarvi fall to them made it “easier” to trade Taylor Hall for defensive help in the form of Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic to help replace Hall.

To be sure, Puljujarvi will still have to earn his NHL roster spot. If he does, he could start on the right side of the third line, or maybe even on the second line if he outplays Nail Yakupov. Barring a trade, Jordan Eberle will most likely be on the right side of the first line, with Zack Kassian on the fourth.

But if it turns out that Puljujarvi isn’t ready, he’s eligible to be sent to the AHL.

“Jesse will dictate his entry into the league and the pace of it,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, per Postmedia. “He’s highly skilled and he’s played against men in a pro league back in Finland. … Jesse’s play (in the Finnish Elite League) gives him a head start but we’ll see it turns out. There’s years where you count on things and they don’t get done. In other years, there’s surprises.”

Charges will reportedly be pressed against KHL brawler


KHL club Red Star Kunlun will reportedly press charges against Astana Barys defenseman Damir Ryspayev, after Ryspayev went on what can only be described as a rampage during a preseason game in Kazakhstan on Monday.

Ryspayev has already been suspended indefinitely by the KHL. An update from the league’s English website:

The conflict was triggered by a snide punch by Barys forward Damir Ryspayev on Red Star’s Tomas Marcinko, which resulted in the Slovak forward requiring hospital treatment, and the disorder was exacerbated by continued aggressive behavior from Ryspayev toward members of the opposing team.

The League imposes the strictest punishments in cases of serious foul play, particularly of the kind which results in injury to opposing players, and also notes that Ryspayev has been a serial offender in this regard, in spite of previous disciplinary sanctions from the League and a stern warning issued to the player in January of this year.

As a result of yesterday’s events, Damir Ryspayev is provisionally banned from participating in any game held under the auspices of the KHL, including preseason friendlies. A final decision on Ryspayev’s fate will be taken in due course, after the League has received and scrutinized all material and evidence related to the incident.

Red Star Kunlun — based in Beijing, China — only just joined the KHL for the 2016-17 season. It remains to be seen what will come of the team’s decision to press charges against Ryspayev.

A mostly successful first season for Talbot, but uncertainty about the Oilers’ goaltending remains

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Connor McDavid #97 and goaltender Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate their victory against the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game is the final game the Oilers will play at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

This post is part of Oilers Day on PHT…

The Edmonton Oilers took a calculated risk when they traded for Cam Talbot last summer. The risk was that Talbot had never been a full-time starter in the NHL. In fact, he’d only made 53 starts in his entire career, serving mostly as Henrik Lundqvist‘s backup in New York.

But Talbot’s numbers were definitely good, albeit in a small sample size. He’d just gone 21-9-4 with a .926 save percentage for the Rangers, and he knew he had a “great opportunity” to prove he could be a full-time guy in Edmonton.

It did not start out well with his new team. Talbot struggled mightily in October and November, and by December he was already talking about his “extremely frustrating” season.

But then things started to turn around. He finished with a .934 save percentage for December. In January, it was .932, during which he signed a three-year, $12.5 million contract extension.

Talbot would eventually finish 2015-16 with a .917 save percentage — not too bad, given how things had gone out of the gate. His record may have been a losing one (21-27-5), but that certainly wasn’t all on him.

“Mentally it’s a bit challenging when you’re not winning as often,” the 29-year-old told Sportsnet in July. “As we grow as a team, the wins are going to come. If I get on a roll, I can play 65 games this year and my body will be great. Should be a lot of fun.”

The goaltending situation in Edmonton is still somewhat uncertain heading into 2016-17. The Oilers signed 31-year-old Jonas Gustavsson to back up Talbot, and if Gustavsson wasn’t good enough in Toronto, Detroit, and Boston, it’s hard to figure he’ll be good enough on his fourth NHL team. Gustavsson will compete with 23-year-old Laurent Brossoit for the No. 2 role. Brossoit has only made six career NHL starts.

Talbot also needs to be more consistent. Though his overall numbers were decent, he didn’t fare particularly well in the “quality starts” department. According to Hockey Reference, only 26 of his 53 starts qualified as good ones. For comparison’s sake, 42 of Braden Holtby‘s 66 starts were deemed “quality”, and Holtby was awarded the Vezina Trophy.

Talbot is hopeful that an upgraded defense will help get Edmonton back into postseason contention. The Oilers have already added Adam Larsson to the mix, and GM Peter Chiarelli may not be done fixing his blue line.

“When you shore up the back end,” said Talbot, “which is what Peter’s trying to do, as long as I do my part, I think we could definitely battle for a playoff spot this year and next year and go from there.”

Poll: Are the Oilers better or worse after the Hall-for-Larsson trade?

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers attends the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This post is part of Oilers Day on PHT…

Peter Chiarelli had to do something, and every other general manager in the NHL knew it. In order for the Edmonton Oilers to upgrade their defense, they were going to have to pay a very big price.

Still, it came as a shock when Taylor Hall was traded to New Jersey for Adam Larsson on June 29. The former was the first overall draft pick in 2010, a dynamic young winger who’s averaged almost a point per game in the NHL. The latter is a 23-year-old defenseman who’d been quietly developing with the Devils since going fourth overall in 2011.

“It’s a need-based trade. I feel very strongly about [Larsson],” Chiarelli told reporters. “I think he’s only scratched the surface. He was really excited when I talked to him. He felt the same thing.

“The bottom line is you’re going to have to pay a good price to get a good player, and that’s really what happened. It was a need I felt was significant. That’s the bottom line on this transaction.”

It helped that the Oilers had been able to draft winger Jesse Puljujarvi, after the Blue Jackets had gone against the consensus and selected Pierre-Luc Dubois. Chiarelli was also hoping to land winger Milan Lucic in free agency, a signing that was announced a couple of days after Hall was traded.

But Chiarelli was criticized all the same. From TSN’s Travis Yost:

The problem with this trade is that I’m not sure Adam Larsson is the player that Edmonton thinks he is, and the Oilers are thus assuming significant risk in this deal. The piece moving from the organization is one of the best scorers in the game, a top-10 5-on-5 point producer on a team that’s struggled mightily to do much of anything in recent years.

In return, the Oilers have acquired a steady, defensively talented blueliner who has all of nine goals in 274 games played. Larsson can certainly play, but is a seemingly one-dimensional player worth the cost of a Taylor Hall?

And that leads us to the poll:

(Click here if the poll doesn’t show up for you.)