Mike Halford

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
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Arizona’s Rieder hurt at worlds, expected to miss a month

Coming off a career year, Tobias Rieder was looking forward to representing the German national team at the world hockey championships in Russia.

Unfortunately for him, his tournament has ended early.

Rieder has been knocked out of the worlds with a lower-body injury and will be sidelined for a month, Coyotes GM John Chayka told the team website.

“Tobi has a long summer to recover and get his training in,” Chayka said. “We expect him to be ready to go at training camp in September at 100 percent.”

Rieder, 23, is coming off a solid campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 37 points in 82 games. He was one of just two Coyotes to play in every game this year, and averaged over 17 minutes a night.

Looking ahead, it’s fair to speculate Rieder’s injury could make him questionable for Team Europe selection for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

He wasn’t named to the initial 16-man roster, but was considered to be in the mix for one of the final seven spots.

Canucks sign former Coyotes draftee Laplante

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Yan Pavel Laplante, 62nd pick overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, poses for a portrait during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Vancouver has added one of the top scorers from the Quebec League, inking Yan-Pavel Laplante to a three-year, entry-level deal.

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

KELOWNA, CANADA - JANUARY 16: Head coach Dan Lambert of Kelowna Rockets speaks to a referee at the whistle during third period against the Seattle Thunderbirdson January 16, 2015 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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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.”

Lambert, 46, joined the Sabres last season to reconnect with Bylsma. Lambert and Bylsma were teammates in both the AHL and IHL in the early- to mid-90’s and, when Bylsma was out of coaching two years ago, Lambert brought him on board to serve as a guest coach in WHL Kelowna.

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.

The Sabres were reportedly interested in ex-Sens assistant Luke Richardson prior to hiring Bylsma, but it’s believed Richardson wants a head coaching gig, not an assistant’s position.

What’s more, he’s believed to be in the running for the vacant Anaheim gig.

Bolts notes: Vasilevskiy likely to start, Stralman could make playoff debut


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.

More, from the Tampa Bay Times:

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.

Forwards Erik Condra and Mike Blunden were among the last on the ice, so could be scratched. Jonathan Marchessault could be in if the Lightning goes with 12 forwards.

Getting Stralman back would be a huge boon for the Bolts. He’s one of their best possession d-men, averages 22 minutes a night and is a right-handed shot, something the blueline is short on.

Stralman was also a key cog to last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, with nine points in 26 games.

Caps want to turn Tom Wilson into Joel Ward

Tom Wilson
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There have always been plenty of ideas about what Tom Wilson might become in Washington.

Now, GM Brian MacLellan has the latest:

Joel Ward 2.0.

“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.

After the year, Wilson’s head coach said he was the team’s best forward.

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.

The issue, of course, is that Wilson’s played three full years in the NHL already, and he’s still a fourth-liner primarily known for his questionable hits.

Related: Caps’ window has one more year, then all bets are off