Mike Halford

Jets announce Little (fractured vertebrae) out for year after Stralman hit

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The ramifications from Anton Stralman’s big hit on Winnipeg center Bryan Little are severe.

Little, who’s been out of the Jets lineup since getting crunched by Stralman last week, suffered a compression fractured vertebrae and will miss the remainder of the season, the club announced on Thursday.

In a related move, the Jets have recalled Matt Halischuk from AHL Manitoba.

Losing Little is the latest in what’s been a very difficult year for the Jets. The club has underachieved all season long and, barring a remarkable turn of events, will miss the playoffs after making it last year — for the first time since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta.

Little, who found good chemistry on the club’s top line next to Blake Wheeler and potential outgoing captain Andrew Ladd, had scored 17 goals and 42 points through 57 games this year. Had he stayed healthy, Little was on pace to challenge the career-high 64 points he notched during the ’13-14 campaign.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice was livid with the Stralman hit, so he’s probably more irate having learned his top pivot is done for the year. After the Bolts game, Maurice went off:

Stralman wasn’t penalized on the play, and didn’t receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Roundup: ‘Canes waive Malone, Falk clears, Ducks claim Wagner

<> in the first period of an NHL hockey game at Prudential Center on December 23, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.
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Quick glance at Thursday’s waiver-related transactions:

— Carolina has placed gritty forward Brad Malone on waivers. Malone, 26, has five points through 37 games this year but has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions recently. Prior to getting parked in the press box, he was best known as a physical, hard-hitting presence that drew the ire of Columbus captain Nick Foligno for a big hit back in early January.

Malone is in the second of a two-year deal worth $1.3 million. It carries an average annual cap hit of $650,000.

— Columbus d-man Justin Falk has cleared waivers. Not much to see here.

— The Ducks have claimed forward Chris Wagner off waivers, after losing him to Colorado via waivers earlier this season. Wagner, 24, had no points in 11 games with Anaheim prior to getting picked up, then scored four in 26 contests with the Avs.

Wagner is on a one-year, $600,000 deal that expires in July. The Ducks have since assigned him to their AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Habs lose blueliners Petry, Gilbert to season-ending surgeries

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
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Montreal’s nightmare campaign continued on Thursday, as the club announced defensemen Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert are done for the year due to sports hernia and left knee surgery, respectively.

Petry, in the first of a five-year, $33 million deal, was a key cog on the blueline this season. He had 16 points through 51 games and was averaging over 21 minutes a night.

Gilbert, 33, wasn’t as big of a loss but still contributed regularly, averaging just under 17 minutes TOI in 45 games. It’s worth pointing out that Gilbert’s future is very uncertain in the wake of his surgery — performed by Dr. James Andrews, the procedure will require six months of recovery, and Gilbert is without a contract for next season.

With these two gone for the year, Montreal will likely ice a blueline largely similar to the one from Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Caps: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Mark Barberio, Greg Pateryn and Victor Bartley.

Nathan Beaulieu is also in the mix, but currently injured.

 

 

Flyers ‘not going to add’ at deadline

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This won’t come as a huge shock with Philly five points out of a playoff spot, but at least it’s now official — the Flyers won’t be buyers at Monday’s trade deadine.

“We’re not going to add,” general manager Ron Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “We feel like we have depth, quite honestly. I feel like we have a couple guys up in Lehigh Valley that can help us, so we feel that we have enough depth right now to make it through the year.”

The announcement is in lockstep with Hextall’s methodical strategy of rebuilding the Flyers. He’s jettisoned some of the club’s more onerous contracts via trade — Vincent Lecavalier, specifically — and hasn’t been shy about burying expensive, underachieving veterans in the minors (like Andrew MacDonald and Sam Gagner.)

Eventually, the plan is to have a defense featuring all of the club’s ballyhooed prospects — Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg — along with Shayne Gostisbehere, who’s burst onto the scene in a major way this season.

In that light, it’s worth mentioning that CSN Philly floated the idea of 38-year-old Mark Streit being moved at the deadline, though that could prove difficult given he has this year and the next remaining on his five-year, $21 million deal, one that carries a $5.25M average annual cap hit.

Hextall also showed last deadline he’s not afraid to sell. He moved Braydon Coburn to Tampa Bay for a tidy sum (1st- and 3rd-round picks, Radko Gudas) and Kimmo Timonen to Chicago for a nice return as well (2nd- and 4th-round picks).

Schultz acknowledges Oilers fans are ‘obviously unhappy with my play’

Darren Helm, Justin Schultz
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Justin Schutlz says yes, he can hear the boos from fans at Rexall.

Fortunately for him, he might not have to hear them much longer.

Widely expected to be traded by Monday’s deadline, Schultz — Edmonton’s much-maligned (and pending RFA) blueliner — told the Edmonton Journal he’s having a tough time lately, between his name swirling in rumors and the constant jeering from Oilers fans.

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The booing is getting to him, understandably. It’s a low-blow tactic by fans, even if they pay their money. It’s not as bad as throwing jerseys on the ice, but it’s hard to ignore.

“I guess I’m used to it from Anaheim (fans there giving him the business because they drafted him and he didn’t want to sign there, becoming a college free-agent) but, yes it’s disappointing. I have to be better,” he said. “They’re obviously unhappy with my play. It’s up to me to work hard, get better and hopefully get them cheering for me.”

While Schultz wants to get the fans back on his side and re-iterated he “wants to be in Edmonton,” it’s hard to see much of a future for him in the city.

For all his warts, the 25-year-old is still an offensive d-man, with a right-handed shot, that can put points on the board. The Journal also noted that Tampa Bay — a team in need of a righty on the blueline — sent director of player personnel Pat Verbeek for a “rare visit” to Rexall on Tuesday.

Of course, Schultz went minus-3 on Tuesday, and got a less-than-glowing review from head coach Todd McLellan.

“Schultzie didn’t have a good game last night,” McLellan said in the aftermath of a 4-1 loss to the Sens. “He’d be the first one to admit it.”

So yeah. Maybe it’s best for all parties involved if Schultz just moves on.