Laplante, 21, was originally selected by Arizona in the third round of he 2013 draft, but went unsigned and re-entered the draft two years later.
He wasn’t picked in his second go-round.
That paved the way for him to play a final QMJHL season as an overager with Gatineau, and he fared well: 34 goals and 65 points in 63 games, finishing tied for 17th in the league in goals.
The Canucks may have been drawn to Laplante’s aggressive, physical game — he fought four times this year — as well as his pedigree as a former touted prospect. In ’13, Laplante shot up the pre-draft rankings while dealing with a serious shoulder injury.
Sabres name assistant coach Lambert AHL Rochester bench boss
Buffalo made a coaching change at the American League level on Monday, moving Dan Bylsma’s assistant — Dan Lambert — to the head coaching gig down in AHL Rochester, where he’ll replace Randy Cunneyworth.
“We had a plan in place going into last season to eventually promote Dan to head coach of the Americans and transition Randy back to player development,” Sabres GM Tim Murray said in a release. “With his experience as a Sabres assistant last season, we felt Dan was ready to take on the added responsibility of being a head coach and implementing our organizational philosophy in Rochester.”
With today’s move(s), there is a position on Bylsma’s staff at the NHL level that needs to be filled. Given the fluidity of the coaching market in the last few weeks, it’ll be curious to see who Buffalo targets for the job.
Based on today’s optional skate in Pittsburgh, the Lightning will have two significant lineup changes for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Final against the Penguins.
Starting netminder Ben Bishop wasn’t on the ice Monday, and has only briefly taken to the playing surface after getting stretchered off in Friday’s series-opening win.
That means 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the start tonight, after making 25 saves in relief of Bishop in Game 1. It would be the second Stanley Cup playoff start of Vasilevskiy’s career, having made an emergency start in place of Bishop during last year’s final versus Chicago.
On defense, it appears as though Anton Stralman will make his long-awaited postseason debut. The veteran Swedish d-man has been out of action for nearly two months.
Stralman (fractured left leg) could return tonight, having been sidelined since Mar. 25. Stralman participated in today’s skate, coming off the ice with regulars. Defenseman Nikita Nesterov would probably be the odd man out if Stralman comes back.
“We miss Joel Ward — he’s the kind of guy we need in the playoffs,” MacLellan said on Monday, per the Washington Times. “You know, you make changes, and he’s a guy we wanted back and we didn’t get back. We missed that skill set.
“I think it’s on us to turn Tom Wilson into Joel Ward. It’s on Tom and it’s on us.”
MacLellan cited his team’s need for a “net-front presence” that “finds loose pucks and finds rebounds.” That was Ward’s forte during his four years in Washington, especially come playoff time, when greasy goals are at a premium.
Ward’s strength, size and ability to whack home loose pucks saw him score some crucial playoff markers for the Caps — none more famous his Game 7 OT winner against the Bruins in 2012:
Ward’s penchant for scoring in the postseason dated back to his time in Nashville, and was on display again last year when he finished with nine points in 14 games.
So it’s easy to see why MacLellan and the Caps wanted to keep him — but the Wilson comment might explain why they were willing to let him go.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Wilson certainly has the size to be a quality net-front presence. He also has some offensive acumen — back in his final year of junior with OHL Plymouth, he scored 23 goals and 58 points in 48 games.
Now with all that said, it’s important to remember the lede — there have been plenty of ideas about what Wilson might be. He was drafted 16th overall because scouts were enamored with his ceiling. If he could reach it, the thought was Wilson could become a goalscoring power forward, PP contributor, top-six winger, etc. etc.