Mike Halford

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
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Habs lose blueliners Petry, Gilbert to season-ending surgeries

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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.

Report: Panthers, Thornton ‘close’ on extension (Update: Done Deal)

Anaheim Ducks v Florida Panthers
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Shawn Thornton might not be headed for retirement after all.

Thornton, who turns 39 in July, is apparently close to signing a contract extension in Florida, per the Miami Herald.

A 14-year veteran, Thornton has spent the last two years in Florida on a $2.4 million deal with a $1.2M average annual cap hit. It’s a bit surprising to hear the Panthers want to retain his services — while he’s been lauded as a veteran leader and tough guy that will stick up for his teammates, his on-ice role has diminished, averaging just 8:51 TOI this season while appearing in only 35 games.

That said, this is Florida.

GM Dale Tallon is a fan of experienced players like Jaromir Jagr (44 years old), Willie Mitchell (38), Brian Campbell (who turns 37 this year) and Roberto Luongo (ditto).

It’s also worth noting that several young Panthers have been on the receiving end of some physical play this year — Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have each taken big hits within the last couple of months — and Thornton could be used to “protect the kids,” as it were.

He currently sits tied for second on the club in fighting majors this season, with four.

Update: The Panthers have confirmed the signing. It’s a one-year deal, financial terms yet to be disclosed.

“We are pleased to have Shawn return for another season,” Panthers Owner, Chairman & Governor Vinnie Viola said. “Shawn is the embodiment of the selfless, team-first culture we are trying to create on and off the ice with the Florida Panthers and has made himself an important part of the South Florida community. We look forward to having this man of character as a leader within our organization for many years to come.”

Video: Habs chase Holtby with three goals on 18 shots

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: Goalie Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals looks on after allowing a goal to Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens in the first period at Verizon Center on February 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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A rare sight in Washington this evening, as Braden Holtby was hooked from his start against Montreal after allowing three goals in the first 22 minutes of action.

The Habs got to work midway in the first, when Alex Galchenyuk scored his 15th of the year for a 1-0 lead. Just over eight minutes later, Brendan Gallagher made it 2-0 on assists from Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov.

Tomas Fleischmann put the final nail in Holtby’s coffin less than two minutes into the second period, scoring his 10th of the year. Philipp Grubauer came on in relief after that.