Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Detroit hopes Ott will spark league-worst power play

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Last month, we wrote about Detroit’s struggling power play — ranked 29th in the NHL at the time — and things haven’t gotten better since.

In fact, they’re worse.

The Red Wings now own the league’s worst PP, sitting dead last at 11.7 percent. They scored just two goals with the man advantage in all of December, and didn’t exactly flip the script with the calendar, going 0-for-3 in a Centennial Classic loss to the Leafs on Jan. 1.

Desperate times? Desperate measures. At Tuesday’s practice ahead of tonight’s game in Anaheim, the Red Wings put veteran grinder Steve Ott on a power play unit.

More, from the Detroit News:

“Frustration doesn’t do anybody any good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “What you can do is find ways to be successful. We look at every which way we can find ways to where we can be successful.”

Putting Ott on net-front, with Niklas Kronwall, Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar gives the Red Wings a rugged player who will retrieve the puck, something the Red Wings have lacked.

“We don’t spend enough time in the zone and there are two reasons for that,” Blashill said. “We don’t retrieve enough pucks, so he (Ott) can certainly help with retrieving pucks, and the other is the break in. Those are two things we have to make sure we do a better job of.

Ott’s appeared in 33 games this year and, all told, received a grand total of 102 seconds of power play time. He also hasn’t scored a PPG since the ’13-14 campaign.

That said, if you go back far enough, the 34-year-old does have some history of power play success. He had eight PPGs in Dallas one season — granted, it was six years ago — and has carved out a reputation as a guy unafraid to do the dirty work, go to the greasy areas, and all the other hockey cliches you’ve come to know and love.

And really, Detroit needs to try virtually anything at this point. Their power play issues date all the way back to last year, when the club went an awful 1-for-25 in an opening-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

Coyotes acknowledge Hanzal trade could go down

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Martin Hanzal‘s in the last of his five-year deal. Per the Arizona Republic, Hanzal said both sides are “not really talking right now” about an extension and, as we wrote about back in mid-November, his name has surfaced in trade rumors.

Don’t expect those to go away anytime soon.

This week, Coyotes GM John Chayka told the Republic a “transaction could be made” for Hanzal, who would be one of the key targets available at the trade deadline.

“It’s one of those things where we kind of know where the player is at,” Chayka explained. “The player knows where we’re at. If there was an opportunity to do something, I don’t think it would take too long.”

Hanzal, who turns 30 in February, has 14 points through 32 games this year, missing time with a lower-body injury. Health has been an issue for the big Czech — he stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds — and, over the last two years, he’s missed 63 games due to various ailments.

But when healthy, Hanzal can be very effective.

Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.

Financially speaking, Hanzal has appeal ($3.1M cap hit). And there are teams that would certainly be interested in bringing him aboard.

Montreal has been floated as a suitor. The Habs aren’t deep at center, something that was an issue before losing Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais to injury. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also suggested San Jose or St. Louis would make sense.

To date, Chayka said he’s yet to receive a serious offer for Hanzal, and both the player and organization remain open to an extension.

But one gets the sense Arizona may be ready to move on — in addition to stockpiling centers through waivers and trades (Josh Jooris, Peter Holland, Alexander Burmistrov), the Coyotes also have some good youngsters in the system, including two currently starring at the world juniors — Canadian captain Dylan Strome, and the U.S.’ Clayton Keller.

Related: Coyotes scouts were ‘unanimous’ in wanting Burmistrov

World Juniors: Canada sticks with goalie Ingram for Sweden semifinal

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Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme has announced that Connor Ingram will start over Carter Hart in goal against Sweden in today’s world junior semifinal.

Goaltending has been a major storyline for Canada in this tournament, and not a good one. Neither Ingram nor Hart have looked strong at any point, and the numbers reflect as much — Canada has the ninth-ranked save percentage (.874) among the 10 teams in the tournament.

Only Latvia, which was relegated yesterday, is lower.

Ducharme’s decision to go with Ingram is likely because the Tampa Bay prospect has played in each of the last two games — a loss to the U.S., and a win over the Czechs — while Hart hasn’t seen game action in seven days.

That said, the temptation to make a switch had to be there, especially since Ducharme wasn’t very complimentary of Ingram the Czech game, in which he allowed three goals on his first 16 shots faced.

Hart, a Flyers prospect and the reigning CHL goalie of the year, came into this tournament as the starting netminder but looked shaky at the onset. He allowed a pair of soft goals in a win over Russia, and has only received one start since — an easy 10-2 rout of the aforementioned Latvians.

Sharks waive Nieto, their first-ever Californian draft pick

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For some time, Matt Nieto‘s been a cool story in San Jose. The Long Beach native was the first-ever Californian to be drafted by the team — 47th overall in 2011 — and, after a solid rookie year in which he scored 10 goals and 24 points in 66 games, looked to be a key part of the Sharks’ future.

Today, that narrative took an abrupt turn.

Nieto was placed on waivers Wednesday, after a difficult season that saw him dress for just 16 of San Jose’s 38 games, failing to score a single goal. Nieto has been out of the lineup since mid-December, when he played just under 12 minutes in a win over Ottawa.

Long regarded for his speed and skating ability, Nieto will almost certainly have suitors on waivers. He posted a career-high 10 goals and 27 points in ’14-15, and only turned 24 in November.

What’s more, Nieto has over 200 games on his resume and some good postseason experience as well — in that aforementioned rookie campaign of ’13-14, he scored five points in seven games, then dressed for 16 games during San Jose’s Stanley Cup Final run last spring.

He’s also affordable, currently on a one-year deal worth $735,000.

‘Canes claim Rattie off waivers from Blues

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St. Louis tried to pass Ty Rattie through waivers, and it didn’t work.

On Wednesday, Sportsnet reported that Carolina claimed Rattie, one day after the Blues exposed him and over a month since his last game action at the NHL level. Rattie has been out of the Blues lineup since Nov. 29 and, all told, has appeared in just four games this year, 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.

Last season, he had 46 points in 62 games for the Chicago Wolves.

Rattie’s always had issues breaking into the St. Louis lineup, however. He made his big league debut back in ’13-14, but has never appeared in more than 13 games in a single season.

With Carolina, he should have more of an opportunity.

The club has suffered some losses up front this season. Power forward Bryan Bickell has been sidelined since his multiple sclerosis diagnosis, and Elias Lindholm is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury.

This move also fits with GM Ron Francis’ penchant for taking waiver fliers on other team’s prospects. Previously, the ‘Canes scooped Detroit’s Martin Frk and Arizona’s Klas Dalhbeck; two years ago, Francis claimed Andrej Nestrasil from the Red Wings and Nestrasil has turned out well, scoring a career-high 23 points in just 55 games for the ‘Canes last season.

“We feel that Ty has a high skill level,” Francis said in a statement, confirming the Rattie acquisition. “We believe that he can help improve our team.”