Mike Halford

New Hampshire forward Tyler Kelleher, right, celebrates with teammate Andrew Poturalski after scoring against Boston University goalie Matt O'Connor during the first period of the Hockey East semifinals in Boston, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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NCAA sniper Poturalski inks with ‘Canes after ‘interest from numerous NHL teams’

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Carolina made an interesting signing on Tuesday, bringing aboard University of New Hampshire forward Andrew Poturalski on a two-year, entry-level contract.

More, from the ‘Canes:

The deal will pay Poturalski $700,000 on the NHL level or $70,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level in 2016-17, and $832,500 in the NHL or $70,000 in the minor leagues in 2017-18. He will also receive a signing bonus of $185,000. Poturalski will report to Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

“Andrew had an outstanding season with New Hampshire and attracted interest from numerous NHL teams, so we are thrilled that he chose Carolina to start his professional career,” said [GM Ron] Francis. “He’s a smart hockey player with really good speed and skill.”

Poturalski, 22, was the second leading scorer in the country this year, with 52 points in 37 games — an impressive figure for his sophomore campaign. He’s a bit undersized — listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds — and had previously spent time with the Sabres and Bruins in their summer prospect development camps.

 

Goalie nods: Problem solved? Stars give streaking Lehtonen third straight start

Kari Lehtonen

After a forgettable month of February in which he posted an .898 save percentage — moderately better than Antti Niemi‘s .870 — Kari Lehtonen is having himself a pretty good March.

And tonight, he’ll look to build upon it.

Lehtonen, who’s stopped 56 of 60 shots over his past three games — which included a relief appearance for Niemi against Nashville last week — will make his third straight start when the Stars take on the Canadiens in Montreal.

Goaltending has been an issue in Dallas this season. Despite a combined cap hit of $10.4 million — no other team has committed that much cap space to goaltending this season — Lehtonen and Niemi have largely underwhelmed, and currently sit tied for 24th in the NHL with a combined .903 save percentage.

Despite this, Dallas has emerged as one of the better teams in the Western Conference and was, at one point, tops in the Central Division. But some poor defensive play and inconsistent goaltending has seen the Stars fall back into the pack — heading into tonight’s action, they’re tied on 87 points with Chicago, and are just two up on third-place St. Louis.

For the Habs, Ben Scrivens is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— With Henrik Lundqvist still banged up, the Rangers are expected to go with Antti Raanta tonight in Buffalo. Robin Lehner, who’s been quite good since returning from an ankle injury, goes for the Sabres.

— Good matchup in Brooklyn tonight as Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins take on Jaroslav Halak and the Isles.

Andrew Hammond gets another start for Ottawa, in place of the injured Craig Anderson. Cam Ward goes for the ‘Canes.

— As Brough wrote about earlier, Jimmy Howard gets another start for the Wings ahead of the struggling Petr Mrazek. The Jackets are going with Joonas Korpisalo.

— Looks like Jonas Gustavsson will go for Boston tonight after Tuukka Rask beat the Panthers on Monday. Ben Bishop appears likely for the Bolts, after Andrei Vasilevskiy lost to Philly last night.

— Appears as though Pekka Rinne will take on Ondrej Palevec as the Preds play in Winnipeg.

— After Martin Jones‘s terrific win over Calgary last night, sounds like James Reimer will start for the Sharks tonight in Edmonton. Cam Talbot, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week, goes for the Oilers.

 

Jets keep going young, Kosmachuk latest to make NHL debut

LONDON, ON - MAY 21:  Scott Kosmachuk #24 of the Guelph Storm celebrates a goal against the London Knights in Game Six of the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup at Budweiser Gardens on May 21, 2014 in London, Ontario, Canada. The Storm defeated the Knights 7-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, J.C. Lipon, Connor Hellebuyck and now, Scott Kosmachuk.

Those are the six Jets that will have made their NHL debuts this season — the latest, Kosmachuk, gets his tonight when Winnipeg hosts Nashville at the MTS Centre.

Kosmachuk, 22, was the Jets’ third-round pick (70th overall) in 2012, and has spent most of the last two seasons in the American League.

This year, the former OHL Guelph standout has 14 goals and 27 points in 59 games with the Manitoba Moose.

Kosmachuk’s opportunity comes at the expense of another young Jet, however, as Joel Armia will be out one week with a lower-body injury.

Armia, one of the prospects acquired from Buffalo in the Evander Kane trade, had eight points in 34 games prior to getting hurt — and he too was only just cutting his teeth at the NHL level, having appeared in one career contest prior to this season.

 

Leafs announce Hunwick, a Babcock favorite, will have season-ending surgery

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Matt Hunwick #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs grabs the puck against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Matt Hunwick, the journeyman blueliner enjoying one of his finest NHL campaigns, has been shut down for the year to have surgery on a recurring injury, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock announced on Tuesday.

Hunwick, 30, was playing on the club’s top defensive pairing with Morgan Rielly prior to getting hurt, averaging a career-high 22:34 TOI per night (second only to Rielly among Toronto skaters).

Signed to a modest two-year, $2.4 million deal last summer, Hunwick has emerged as one of the better value contracts on the club, and has earned the trust of head coach Mike Babcock, who’s used Hunwick in almost every situation imaginable this season.

Of course, it’s tough not to look at the Hunwick shutdown without a bit of cynicism.

The Leafs, having been accused of going full tank these last few months, currently have the likes of James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak on IR, and traded away former captain Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer, Daniel Winnik and Shawn Matthias.

With Hunwick now sidelined, Toronto’s available defensemen for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders will be Rielly, Martin Marincin, Jake Gardiner, Frank Corrado, Connor Carrick and Viktor Loov.

 

 

 

Reimer shoots down report of $6M asking price

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer reacts during a break in the first period of Toronto's NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Shortly after James Reimer was dealt from Toronto to San Jose, Sportsnet reported part of the reason the pending UFA goalie was shipped out was because of his asking price — $6 million annually over six years, a whopping $36M total.

Now, Reimer is trying to set the record straight.

“I don’t even want to dignify it with a response,” Reimer said of the report, per the Calgary Sun. “That was definitely untrue.”

Reimer, 27, is in the last of a two-year, $4.6 million deal with a $2.3M average annual cap hit, so the $6M would represent a fairly massive raise.

Not that he doesn’t deserve some kind of pay bump.

Reimer was solid this year playing behind a weak Leafs team, posting a .918 save percentage and 2.49 GAA, snatching the No. 1 gig away from Jonthan Bernier in the process.

And now — barring some major development in San Jose — Reimer will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

It promises to be an interesting bit of negotiating.

Reimer is near the top — or, depending on how you feel about him, at the top — of a UFA goalie list that projects to feature the likes of Cam Ward, Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Career backups like Anton Khudobin, Alex Stalock, Chad Johnson, Jhonas Enroth, Al Montoya, Antti Raanta, Carter Hutton and Jonas Gustavsson are also available, but Reimer could be a legit No. 1 option for a few clubs.

The question, of course, is how much teams are willing to pay a potential starting goalie in free agency?

Last summer, Ramo scored a one-year, $3.8M deal with Calgary — one of the teams rumored to be interested in Reimer — while Dallas sort-of inked Antti Niemi to a three-year, $13.5M pact (the Stars technically acquired Niemi’s negotiating rights prior to signing him).

Given the limited number of starting gigs available and cap uncertainty, it’s tough to see Reimer cashing in come July 1.