Author: Joe Yerdon

Hunter Shinkaruk

Canucks’ Shinkaruk wants to make hometown Flames ‘pay’ for passing


Vancouver Canucks 2013 first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk has a bone to pick with the Calgary Flames.

Shinkaruk is a Calgary native and his favorite team growing up had two opportunities to pick him in the first-round at this year’s draft in Newark and passed. Now the NHL hopeful wants to make them pay for not taking the hometown guy as Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun shares.

“Being a competitive kid, I want to make sure the Flames wished they had taken me with that pick,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be something that will drive me every time I play against them, for sure. If I can get out there and make them pay for not taking me it would be pretty nice.”

Calgary chose Sean Monahan (6th overall) and Emile Poirier (22nd overall) before the Canucks grabbed Shinkaruk at 24.

Bagging on the Flames for taking Monahan might be a bit much as he could wind up starting the season in Calgary. Taking Poirier over the hometown guy though… That’s the stuff that makes debates happen.

Flyers’ 2012 first-rounder Laughton hopes to stay in Philly all year

Scott Laughton,

Flyers prospect Scott Laughton is hoping to leave a bigger, better impression on the team this year.

Laughton, the team’s 2012 first-round pick, had a five-game audition with the team last season. While he didn’t earn a point before being sent back to junior hockey, he tells Sarah Baicker of he believes he’ll show why he shouldn’t go back this year.

“[I’m] definitely more confident, more comfortable,” he said. “I think I’m better in the offensive zone, definitely, and I think I’ve stuck with the defensive game — I’m not cheating the puck or anything like that. I think staying on the offensive side, I’ve been better for sure.”

What should help Laughton’s confidence even more is the fact GM Paul Holmgren believes he’s got the best shot to make the team out of camp.

Last season, Laughton had 56 points and 79 penalty minutes in 49 games for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. That kind of output is well-rounded for junior hockey and makes him seem to be an ideal kind of guy for the Flyers.

Taylor Hall may start season at center

Taylor Hall

Edmonton’s Taylor Hall may have been one of the league’s best left wings last season, but he may be starting this season out at center.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss most of October rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder and the team will try out Hall and Sam Gagner as their top two centers.

Hall playing center isn’t a totally new thing. He’s done it in a pinch the last two seasons and has even had some success at winning faceoffs. Of course, it’s not the ideal place for him as he was one of the top point producers on the left wing last year with 50 points in 45 games. Taking a player like that out of their best position isn’t optimal.

The key part for Edmonton out of this, however, is that Nugent-Hopkins comes back at 100-percent. Rushing him back to action won’t do him or his shoulder any favors.

Report: Tom Gilbert may be headed for Switzerland

Tom Gilbert

Defenseman Tom Gilbert has been trying to land another NHL job since being bought out by the Minnesota Wild this year. Things haven’t gone so well on that front.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports the 30-year-old Gilbert may wind up overseas in Switzerland thanks to the lack of interest here.

Gilbert has spent seven seasons in the NHL, mostly with the Edmonton Oilers, and finished last year with the Wild. As a puck-moving, offensive-defenseman he’s gotten knocked for not playing physical enough, but his advanced statistics say he’s solid in the role he plays.

Should he not wind up headed abroad, a team like the Carolina Hurricanes could come knocking as they’ll be without Joni Pitkanen for an as yet unknown amount of time.

Caps re-sign Johansson; Two years, $4 million

Ryan Callahan (24), Marcus Johansson

The Washington Capitals are now officially ready to start the season.

The team announced they’ve re-signed restricted free agent forward Marcus Johansson to a two-year, $4 million deal. He was the final player the Caps had to get inked to a deal before the start of training camp.

Johansson has emerged as a key player for the Caps as he found a home on the left wing of the first line alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin. That trio got things going when Ovechkin found his stride midway through the year on his way to a MVP-winning season. Johansson finished the year with six goals and 22 points.

This season, he’ll break camp hoping to keep his spot on that top line while also upping his offensive output.