Mike Halford

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Flyers, Sabres goalie prospects among Richter Award semifinalists

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A nice feather in the cap for Philly’s and Buffalo’s scouting departments on Thursday.

Cal Petersen, the Notre Dame product taken by the Sabres in the fifth round of the ’13 draft, and Harvard’s Merrick Madsen — Philly’s sixth-round pick that same year — have been shortlisted as 10 semifinalists for this year’s Mike Richter Award, given annually to the NCAA’s top goalie.

The rest of the field includes: Michael Bitzer (Bemidji State), Park Gahagen (Army), Kyle Hayton (St. Lawrence), Tanner Jaillet (Denver), Hunter Miska (Minnesota-Duluth), Jake Oettinger (Boston University), Shane Starrett (Air Force) and Charles Williams (Canisius).

It’s worth noting that Miska and Oettinger were the lone freshmen nominated.

Introduced in 2014, the Richter Award has gone to some pretty prevalent names. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck was the inaugural winner, followed by Bruins farmhand Zane McIntyre in 2015.

Last year, prized Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko captured the trophy. Demko is currently with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica, and was called up to the Canucks in a backup role earlier this season.

Sestito to have hearing for boarding Enstrom

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Pittsburgh forward Tom Sestito will have a disciplinary hearing today for his ugly hit on Winnipeg d-man Tobias Enstrom last night, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced.

Sestito was given a five minute boarding major and tossed from the contest, which was a testy affair. It was the first rematch between the Jets and Penguins following an equally chippy affair back on Feb. 16, and Pittsburgh actually recalled Sestito — a notorious tough guy — from the American League to suit up in Winnipeg.

Sestito left his mark on the game (albeit an ugly one) with a first-period fight against Chris Thorburn and the subsequent hit, which forced Enstrom to the hospital for facial fracture examination.

The 29-year-old has spent a lot of time in the AHL in recent years, so he doesn’t have any recent suspensions to speak of. His last one came back in 2011, as a member of the Flyers.

Per Sportsnet, Sestito will have a phone hearing with the DoPS, as opposed to an in-person.

 

After ‘frustrating’ year with ‘Canes, Murphy could be headed to Vegas

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It’s been a tough for Carolina d-man Ryan Murphy.

Murphy, the 12th overall pick at the 2011 draft, was projected to make the leap this season after injuries and ineffectiveness rendered him a part-timer through his first four NHL campaigns.

But it hasn’t happened. Injuries and a lack of trust from head coach Bill Peters have limited him to just 18 games — and now, there’s serious talk about him moving on.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Murphy is aware the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, will be in business in the 2017-18 season. An expansion draft will be held in June to stock the new team’s roster, and 30 general managers in the league are strategizing over which players will be exposed for the draft.

Murphy, who turns 24 on March 31, could be one if he stays in the Canes lineup the rest of the season. One criteria is that a player have 70 total games over the past two seasons to be expansion-draft eligible. Murphy has played 53 – 18 this season – with 19 games remaining in Carolina’s season following a 3-1 road loss Tuesday against Colorado.

“We’ve got a couple of different options we’re looking at,” general manager Ron Francis said last week. “Certainly if he plays all the games that would be one guy who would be potentially available if need be.”

Murphy, 23, has drawn back into the lineup lately thanks to Ron Hainsey‘s deadline deal to Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily back in the teams plans.

The ‘Canes, you’ll recall, were reportedly shopping Murphy earlier this year, prior to sending him to the AHL on a conditioning stint. It seemed Peters and Francis were ready to move on from the former OHL Kitchener standout, despite calling him a “valuable” member of the blueline in November (and, prior to that, signing him to a two-year extension last summer).

With young defensemen like Hadyn Fleury and Roland McKeown in the system, Carolina sure looks as though it’ll move on from Murphy and allow him to start anew.

And Murphy might welcome it.

He called this year “frustrating,” explaining that “I want to be in the lineup every night.” While he said he likes being in Raleigh and would like to stay with the ‘Canes, he knows opportunities could be elsewhere — like Vegas, a team that would (presumably) like to snag a former first-round pick in his mid-2os (one on an affordable contract, no less.)

“If that’s what the future holds for me I’ll look forward to the opportunity,” Murphy said.

Goalie nods: Streaking Anderson looks for fifth win in a row

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Ottawa’s playing well lately — Brough wrote about that earlier today — and a big reason why is the netminding of Craig Anderson.

Anderson, who’s won four straight games while stopping 109 of 115 shots (.948 save percentage), will look for his fifth consecutive win when the Sens take on the Stars in Dallas tonight.

Goaltending has been a real strength for Ottawa this season, as the Anderson-Mike Condon duo — with a few cameos from Andrew Hammond — has recorded a collective .914 save percentage, good enough for 12th in the league. That’s a marked improvement from last season, when Ottawa allowed 2.94 goals per game — fifth-most in the NHL — with a .910 save percentage.

Anderson’s missed extensive time this year to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment, but has been rock solid. He’s at 19-8-1 with a .930 save percentage and 2.24 GAA, his best numbers since the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, when he finished fourth in Vezina voting.

For the Stars, Kari Lehtonen is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Team North America teammates Matt Murray and Connor Hellebuyck are both coming off losses, and both will get a chance at redemption tonight when the Pens take on the Jets in Winnipeg.

— Boston will go back to Tuukka Rask, after he allowed three goals on 28 shots in a loss to Ottawa on Monday. No word yet on a Detroit starter.

 

 

Stars extend Cracknell, ‘a valuable member of our team’

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Adam Cracknell‘s in the midst of a career year — posting personal bests in games played, goals and blocked shots — and on Wednesday, Dallas rewarded the gritty veteran forward.

Cracknell has signed a one-year, $675,000 extension, the Stars announced. The deal comes after with the 31-year-old scored seven goals and 10 points through 53 games this season — averaging just over 10 minutes per night — and is a nice pay raise, up from the $600,000 he made this season.

“Adam stepped into our lineup this season and established himself as a valuable member of our team,” Stars GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He plays a heavy, physical game and has been steady and reliable for us all season long.”

It should be noted this gives Dallas a forward to expose at the upcoming expansion draft. Nill has several pending UFAs up front — Patrick Sharp, Alex Hemsky and Jiri Hudler most notably — and it remains unclear if any will be brought back.

A former ninth-round pick, Cracknell bounced around the league prior to this year, with stops in St. Louis, Columbus, Edmonton and Vancouver.