Mike Halford

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Plenty of intrigue as AHL announces All-Star rosters

The American Hockey League announced the 48 players selected to its annual All-Star Game on Thursday, and there was no shortage of accompanying storylines.

Twelve rookies and seven first-round draft picks were named and, all told, 27 players participating have been recalled to the NHL already this season.

Here’s a quick look at some of the more eye-catching narratives:

• The seven first-round picks?

Rangers forward Nicklas Jensen (29th overall, ’11), Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen (22nd overall, ’14), Devils forward John Quenneville (30th overall, ’14), Jets forward Jack Roslovic (25th overall, ’15), Stars d-man Julius Honka (14th overall, 14), Flames forward Mark Jankowski (21st overall, ’12) and Coyotes forward Brendan Perlini (12th overall, ’14).

• Utica d-man Jordan Subban, the younger brother of P.K. Subban, made his first-ever All-Star game. Subban failed to crack the Canucks out of training camp this year and has yet to be recalled, but has racked up eight goals and 20 points in 29 games for the Comets, and looked good doing so.

• B’s goalie prospect Zane McIntyre made it, but he might not be around for the festivities. With the struggling Anton Khudobin clearing waivers today, many expect McIntyre to get the call up to Boston, and begin serving as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.

• We’ve written quite a bit about high-scoring Ducks blueliner Brandon Montour, and how he might affect Anaheim’s trade deadline strategy. Montour earned his second consecutive ASG nod, but his participation is questionable as he’s currently up with the Ducks.

• No shortage of veteran presences on this year’s roster. Minnesota’s Teemu Pulkkinen, claimed off waivers from Detroit earlier this season, will represent Iowa. Michael Leighton, the 35-year-old journeyman that saw some time with the ‘Canes this year, will represent Charlotte. And veteran AHLers like Chris Bourque (Capitals), T.J. Brennan (Flyers) and Brad Hunt (Blues) are all there as well.

Here’s the full roster breakdown:

Atlantic Division AHL All-Stars
F Chris Bourque (“C”), Hershey Bears (5th appearance)
F Travis Boyd, Hershey Bears (1st)
D T.J. Brennan, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4th)
F Jake Guentzel, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Danton Heinen, Providence Bruins (1st)
G Tristan Jarry, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Nicklas Jensen, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
F Taylor Leier, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
G Zane McIntyre, Providence Bruins (1st)
D Devon Toews, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Jordan Weal, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2nd)
D Mackenzie Weegar, Springfield Thunderbirds (1st)
Coach: Clark Donatelli, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division AHL All-Stars
F Casey Bailey, Binghamton Senators (1st appearance)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
F Joe Blandisi, Albany Devils (1st)
F Yanni Gourde, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Marlies (2nd)
G Charlie Lindgren, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
F John Quenneville, Albany Devils (1st)
F Cole Schneider, Rochester Americans (1st)
D Jordan Subban, Utica Comets (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (3rd)
G Linus Ullmark, Rochester Americans (1st)
Coach: Benoit Groulx, Syracuse Crunch (1st)

Central Division AHL All-Stars
F Spencer Abbott, Rockford IceHogs (1st appearance)
F Kenny Agostino, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Alexandre Carrier, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Craig (“C”), Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Chicago Wolves (4th)
G Michael Leighton, Charlotte Checkers (5th)
F Matt Lorito, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Teemu Pulkkinen, Iowa Wild (2nd)
F Jack Roslovic, Manitoba Moose (1st)
D Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
G Juuse Saros, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
Coach: Todd Nelson, Grand Rapids Griffins (2nd)

Pacific Division AHL All-Stars
F Taylor Beck, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
F Jonny Brodzinski, Ontario Reign (1st)
F A.J. Greer, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
G Troy Grosenick, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
D Julius Honka, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mark Jankowski, Stockton Heat (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (2nd)
G Spencer Martin, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (2nd)
F Daniel O’Regan, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Brendan Perlini, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
D Kyle Wood, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (5th; 3rd as head coach)

Sharks healthy scratch struggling Boedker

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Mikkel Boedker, San Jose’s biggest free agent signing this past offseason, will be parked in the press box tonight when the Sharks host the Wild tonight, per CSN Bay Area.

It’s the lowest point of what’s been a disappointing campaign. The Danish speedster, who inked a four-year, $16 million deal on the opening day of free agency, has just two goals and eight points through 38 games this year, and had already been subjected to an in-game benching by head coach Peter DeBoer.

Expectations were high for Boedker at the start of the year. Coming off an impressive ’15-16 campaign, in which he scored 17 goals and tied a career high with 51 points, he was expected to add a new dimension to San Jose’s forward group. He’d previously played for DeBoer in OHL Kitchener, who praised Boedker’s “world class speed” upon bringing him aboard in July.

The coach’s tune has changed since then, however.

After sitting Boedker for the entire third period against Anaheim in late November, DeBoer said Boedker was “pissed off,” adding the move was “always a last resort.”

Apparently not the last resort.

DeBoer hasn’t been afraid to go the healthy scratch route this season. He’s done the same with veterans Joel Ward and David Schlemko already, in part because San Jose’s received solid contributions from a pair of rookie forwards: Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier.

Kuznetsov fined for diving

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Washington forward Evgeni Kuznetsov has been fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment, the NHL announced on Thursday.

More:

Kuznetsov was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 56 at Florida on Oct. 20.

His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident at 18:32 of the second period during NHL Game No. 533 against New Jersey on Dec. 29.

Kuznetsov is just the second player this year to be fined for diving/embellishment, joining Coyotes d-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s also the second Capital to be dinged since the NHL went public with its monetary punishments for such acts — in ’14-15, Washington forward Tom Wilson was also fined for diving/embellishment.

 

Blues ready to face ex-mate Rattie, ‘a pretty angry guy with something to prove’

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In a weird twist, Ty Rattie won’t have to wait long for a shot at revenge.

Rattie, who was waived by the Blues on Tuesday and claimed by Carolina on Wednesday, will be in a unique spot tonight — the ‘Canes are in St. Louis, meaning his first game with his new team is also his first game against his old team.

“We’re going to be dealing with a pretty angry guy with something to prove,” Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk said, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac. “Good for him for hopefully getting a chance now to move on and make a name for himself.”

Rattie was cut loose by the Blues after failing to establish a regular spot in what was, to be fair, a pretty competitive lineup. He hadn’t played since Nov. 29 and, all told, appeared in just four games this year for the Blues, registering no points.

He also played three more on a conditioning stint in the AHL, registering one assist.

The 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, Rattie was once a highly touted prospect. He put up huge numbers in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, and he continued to produce after he graduated to the AHL.

And that pedigree could be why he’s getting such a big shot in Carolina.

The ‘Canes wasted little time showcasing their new asset on Thursday, giving him morning skate rushes on the top line with Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask.

That’s the kind of chance Rattie simply didn’t get in St. Louis — while Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said Rattie was a “good player” and “good solider” during his tenure, Rattie needed this kind of opportunity, one he wasn’t going to get wearing a note on his chest.

‘Going to be a fun moment’ ending Columbus’ streak, says Burakovsky

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Tonight in Washington, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to match the longest winning streak in NHL history — 17 games, set by Pittsburgh in ’92-93.

The Caps, meanwhile, will try to keep it from happening.

Heck, forward Andre Burakovsky is already predicting how good it will feel to put an end to it all.

“Obviously they’re on a huge winning streak right here,” Burakovsky said, per the Washington Times. “It’s going to be a fun moment for us to end.”

Burakovsky’s remarks aren’t much, but it is interesting he’s doing this kind of talking. The former first-round pick’s had a disappointing year, with just four goals through 34 games, and has been parked as a healthy scratch this season.

His remarks also stand out given what teammate T.J. Oshie said on Thursday.

“I think a lot of teams have wanted to break [Columbus’ streak] along the way,” Oshie explained, per the Washington Post. “So, we’re not going to be too focused about that. If the guys need that to motivate them, that’s fine.

“But I think right now, we’re getting our game going in a pretty positive direction, and we’re going to focus on that and hopefully that’ll be enough to break it.”

One thing aiding the Capitals’ cause? Verizon has been a difficult place to get results lately.

Washington is 6-1-1 in its last eight at home, with its lone regulation loss coming against Montreal on Dec. 17. The team also seemed to get a serious shot in the arm from Tuesday’s wild 6-5 OT win over the Leafs, in which the Caps came back from being down 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4.

Know what else the Caps did on Tuesday? They snapped Toronto’s winning streak. Sure, it only sat at five games, but it was a streak broken nonetheless.