Author: Mike Halford

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Back to school: Hickey returning to BU, Werenski to Michigan

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Two of the better freshmen defensemen in NCAA hockey last season are returning for their sophomore campaigns.

Brandon Hickey, a Calgary draftee from Boston University and Zach Weresnki, the University of Michigan product taken eighth overall by Columbus at the 2015 draft, have opted not to go the Canadian junior route and instead stay at their respective schools.

Hickey’s status was thrown into doubt earlier this week when his WHL rights were traded to Red Deer, who will host the 2016 Memorial Cup. Werenski was rumored to be headed to OHL London, who drafted him in the second round in 2013.

“I’m going back to school, the plan hasn’t changed,” Hickey said, per TSN. “I’m looking for a backup plan in case I get injured. Injuries happen in sports. I don’t want to be a guy that is just tied to hockey.

“I want to be a guy who has options. If hockey doesn’t work out then I’ll always have my degree to fall back on.”

Werenski, meanwhile, confirmed his intention to play another year for the Wolverines to

The returns are a big boon for the collegiate hockey landscape. Hickey is the only NCAA player currently playing for Canada at the World Junior Showcase, and had six goals and 17 points in 41 games last season for the Terriers; Werenski led all Wolverines d-men in scoring, with 25 points in 35 games, and was named to both the Big Ten’s first and all-freshman teams.

Ducks goalie Bobkov signs in KHL

Igor Bobkov
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Anaheim netminder Igor Bobkov has signed a two-year pact with Russian club Admiral Vladivostok, per Championat.

Bobkov, 24, was the Ducks’ third-round pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. While he never played a regular-season game for the club, he was called up last season when both John Gibson and Frederik Andersen went down to injury (Bobkov briefly backed up Jason LaBarbera, who saw all the action.)

His move to Russia comes after Ducks GM Bob Murray acquired Anton Khudobin from Carolina at the draft. Khudobin is slated to be Andersen’s backup next year — Gibson is expected to get more seasoning in the AHL — which sort of left Bobkov as the odd goalie out, hence him signing in Vladivostok.

‘Hawks, Rangers among eight teams to play for Detroit’s Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup

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The Red Wings have unveiled which teams will be competing for the first-ever Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup.

The Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Wild, Rangers and Blues will send their prospects to Traverse City starting on Sept. 11, to participate in an eight-team tourney — one that will culminate with the awarding of the Cup named after CapGeek founder Matthew Wuest, who passed away in March after a two-year battle with colon cancer.


The tournament will divide the participating teams into two four-team divisions: the Gordie Howe Division (Carolina, Chicago, Dallas and Detroit) and the Ted Lindsay Division (Columbus, Minnesota, NY Rangers and St. Louis).

Teams will play each opponent in their division in a round-robin format before a crossover on the final day of the tournament, capped off with the first-place finishers in each division meeting for the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

This year will mark the 17th time the tournament has been played in Traverse City. In addition to his work with CapGeek, Wuest developed and maintained the now-defunct RedWingsCentral site, which played a key role in covering the early days of the event.

Prospect McCann sent to Vancouver after big hit at World Junior Showcase

Jared Mccann

Jared McCann, taken 24th overall by the Canucks at the 2014 draft, is being examined by doctors in Vancouver after getting knocked out of the World Junior Showcase.

McCann, who was playing for Team Canada, absorbed a big center-ice hit from Russian d-man Nikita Zhuldikov during Monday’s 4-1 win. In speaking with the Vancouver Sun, Canucks GM Jim Benning confirmed that McCann left the three-team tournament following the incident and was flown to Vancouver, where he’ll be seen by team physicians.

“We don’t know how bad it is,” Benning explained. “He flew in today with [senior advisor to the GM] Stan Smyl and he told Stan he’s feeling a lot better.”

McCann, 19, enjoyed a solid year with OHL Sault Ste. Marie last season, scoring 34 goals and 81 points in 56 games. Benning wouldn’t confirm if the youngster had suffered a concussion or not.

Pens sign veteran center Cullen: one year, $800,000


In an interesting move, Pittsburgh added even more depth up front on Thursday by signing veteran center Matt Cullen.

Cullen, who turns 39 in November, inked a one-year deal worth $800,000, re-uniting him with Pens GM Jim Rutherford — Cullen’s GM in Carolina in 2006, when the ‘Canes won the Stanley Cup.

“He has good leadership qualities,” Rutherford said of Cullen, per the Pens’ Twitter account. “He will play an important role on our 4th line.

“I know personally how good he is with other players. He has always been a guy that takes time to help his teammates.”

The 11th-oldest skater in the league last season, Cullen just wrapped a two-year, $7 million deal with the Preds, scoring seven goals and 25 points in 62 games. While he struggled early, Cullen eventually found his niche as Peter Laviolette’s “versatility guy,” flipping between the middle and wing, jumping up into the No. 2 center spot when Mike Fisher was injured during the playoffs.

Cullen is just the latest addition to Pittsburgh’s revamped forward group. The biggest splash came with the acquisition of Phil Kessel from Toronto, but Rutherford made other savvy moves as well — Nick Bonino and Eric Fehr were acquired in late July, while Sergei Plotnokov and Dominik Simon were signed out of the KHL and Czech League, respectively.

Cullen also provides the Pens with even more depth down the middle, as the club now has him, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bonino and Fehr at the center position. Rutherford did say, however, that Fehr may be shifted to the wing.