Mike Halford

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Sedins helped sell Sharks on putting Hansen with Thornton, Pavelski

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San Jose had an idea that trade deadline acquisition Jannik Hansen would be a good fit on the club’s top line next to Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

But a word from Hansen’s ex-Canucks teammates — Daniel and Henrik Sedin — cemented it.

From CSN Bay area:

According [Sharks head coach] Pete DeBoer, assistant Johan Hedberg “got a note from one of the Sedins” that Hansen “would be a real good fit with those two guys. That just reinforced it,” said the coach.

Hansen has been a nice fit since making his Sharks debut on March 9. While he hasn’t exactly racked up the points — just one assist, in his first game — the club is 3-1-0 since acquiring him, and Pavelski said the 31-year-old Dane has been a nice compliment to the line.

To hear Hansen explain it, playing with Joe and Joe is a lot like playing with Danny and Hank.

“[Pavelski and Thornton] play the same way as a couple guys in Vancouver,” Hansen said, referring to the twins. “They want the puck, they want to hold on to it, they want to make the plays. For me, it’s fairly simple as to how I’m playing.

“It’s the same thing – digging pucks out, going to the net, getting pucks back for them.”

Hansen often played alongside the Sedins in recent years. When he scored a career-high 22 goals during the ’15-16 campaign, one or both of the twins routinely provided primary/secondary assists.

Hansen will look for his first goal in teal-and-black tonight, when the Sharks host the Blues in San Jose.

 

Mike Keenan hired by KHL’s Chinese team

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MOSCOW (AP) Mike Keenan is taking charge of a Chinese hockey team.

The longtime NHL coach has been hired to lead Chinese club Kunlun Red Star, which competes in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. Kunlun’s aim is to develop Chinese players as the country builds a national team to compete at its first home Winter Olympics in 2022.

Keenan, who ended the New York Rangers’ 54-year wait for a Stanley Cup title in 1994, has been instructed to ensure at least five Chinese players get regular ice time on a roster dominated by foreigners.

It’s not Keenan’s first job outside North America. In 2015, he became the first coach to win NHL and KHL titles when his Metallurg Magnitogorsk team won the KHL’s Gagarin Cup.

Will Devils lose Hobey Baker finalist Kerfoot to Vancouver?

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Alex Kerfoot has a lot in common with Jimmy Vesey.

And soon, perhaps even more.

Kerfoot, the senior forward who led Harvard in scoring this year en route to a Hobey Baker nomination, was drafted by the Devils in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. But much like Jimmy Vesey — who also went to Harvard, and who also was nominated (and won) the Hobey in his senior year — Kerfoot can balk on signing with the team that drafted him, and be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.

A Vancouver native, there’s widespread speculation the Canucks would be interested in securing Kerfoot’s services. But the 22-year-old insists he’ll meet with the Devils first, before making any decisions.

“It’s exciting, I grew up a Canucks fan and I still follow them,” Kerfoot said, per News 1130. “But at this time I’m just focused on Harvard and my plan is to meet with the Devils after the season.

“It was a dream to play for the Canucks growing up, but I’m property of New Jersey and I’m not looking past the Devils at this point.”

Vesey, you’ll recall, opted not to sign with the team that drafted him — Nashville — and had his rights flipped to the Sabres before passing on them as well. He eventually signed on with the Rangers, and has 24 points through 69 games in his rookie campaign.

Kerfoot’s situation is also similar to that of Minnesota d-man Mike Reilly. Originally drafted by Columbus, Reilly had huge ties to Minnesota, where he played in college, and eventually spurned the Blue Jackets to sign with the Wild (where his dad, also named Mike, was a minority owner).

Of note, Kerfoot’s father, Greg, is part of the ownership group of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer franchise, the Whitecaps.

Report: NCAA power forward Vigneault to turn pro, sign with Columbus (Updated)

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Columbus is close to landing 6-5, 202-pound forward Sam Vigneault out of Clarkson, TSN has reported.

Vigneault, 20, is coming off an impressive season for the Golden Knights, leading the team with 36 points through 39 games. The Quebec native is expected to join AHL Cleveland on an ATO this year, and per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, will have his two-year, entry-level deal kick in next season.

UPDATE: Columbus has made the two-year ELC official.

Vigneault opted to forego his senior year at Clarkson, and strike while his stock was high.

“His maturation, physically, as a player, has been great,” Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said, per the Watertown Daily Times. “He’s always had great offensive vision and an IQ for the game. I think he’s become more patient in the application of it and making plays. I like the way his game has rounded out.

“You look down the stretch and he’s impacted some games for us and been a go-to guy. I think he’s taken that step for us this year to understand that it falls on his shoulders and there is expectation for him to be a key cog offensively for us, and he’s done a fantastic job.”

 

Pre-game reading: Dillon and Watson fight, then make friendly summer workout plans

— Above, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon and Nashville’s Austin Watson exchange penalty box pleasantries following a scrap.

Here’s the transcript:

Dillon: Hey Wats… we gotta work on our cardio this summer, huh?

Watson: I’m dyin’ after like 10 seconds, man.

Dillon: Jesus.

Watson: I’ll come see Joey, we’ll mix it in.

Dillon: Joey doesn’t know cardio.

Watson: I know, that’s why I’m gonna come see him.

Dillon: Ah, I like it.

Watson: Good luck the rest of the year, bud.

Dillon: Thanks, you too buddy.

“Joey” is Watson’s teammate, Preds center Ryan Johansen. Johansen and Dillon are British Columbia natives and co-host a charity summer golf event in Whistler each summer. To the best of our knowledge, the tournament does not include cardio.

— On Feb. 3, the Lightning lost 5-2 to Ottawa, dropping them to 22-24-6 and seemingly out of playoff contention. Then, GM Steve Yzerman had a fire sale and traded away Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle, further suggesting the postseason dream was dead.

But after last night’s OT win over Ottawa, the Bolts are now 12-2-3 since that aforementioned loss on Feb. 3. They’re right back in the playoff picture and, what’s more, there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” for injured captain Steve Stamkos, who’s missed the last four months following knee surgery.

— Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was hit in the head with a Shea Weber slapshot during last night’s game against the Habs. The Tribune’s Chris Hine wonders if NHL concussion protocol failed Crawford by not removing him from the contest.

— Vancouver won’t make the playoffs, so GM Jim Benning has a new goal in mind, and that’s to see how well his young prospects fare at the NHL level. But will head coach Willie Desjardins, who’s notoriously and fiercely loyal to certain vets, get on board?

“I talk to Willie on a day-to-day basis and we talk about that,” Benning said, per The Province. “Up to this point, his focus was to try and compete hard every night and win enough games to challenge for one of those last playoff spots.

“Now that reality has set in, he’s going to be on-board with getting our young kids more ice time.”