Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Ducks unveil another good young d-man, as Montour makes NHL debut


Anaheim already boasts a nice collection of under-25 blueliners — Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm Josh Manson and Shea Theodore, specifically — and will get a look at another tonight in Calgary.

Brandon Montour, the 55th overall pick in 2014, will make his NHL debut tonight on a pairing with Fowler, per the O.C. Register. The debut comes with Montour leading the AHL in shots on goal, co-leading San Diego in scoring (with 21 points in 27 games) and sitting sixth among all league d-men in points.

The 22-year-old has been a productive scorer since he turned pro. Last year, he was named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team after scoring 12 goals and 57 points in 68 games.

His first NHL game comes at the expense of Vatanen, who is sidelined with the flu.

Montour’s development will be worth monitoring. As mentioned above, the Ducks have a surplus good young d-men and there are more in the pipeline, like ’15 first-rounder Jacob Larsson (who made his NHL debut earlier this year) and Swedish blueliner Marcus Pettersson, who was taken 17 spots ahead of Montour in ’14.

If Montour steps in right away and proves he can play, it could re-ignite those Fowler trade rumors we heard throughout the summer.

Another day, another slew of injuries in Tampa Bay


Yesterday, things were going well for the Lightning. They returned Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat from injuries and opened a five-game homestand with a win over Montreal.

Then, today happened.

The Bolts announced a trio of injuries on Thursday, the biggest being rookie Brayden Point‘s upper-body ailment, which will sideline him for the next 4-6 weeks.

Forwards Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov — who took a huge hit from Habs d-man Shea Weber last night — were also hurt, and are listed as day-to-day.

Point, one of just six Bolts to play in all 36 games this year, is a pretty big loss. The rookie forward has been a pleasant surprise, sitting fourth on the team with 12 assists, and is averaging nearly 16 minutes per night.

Injuries, as alluded to in the headline, have been a major issue in Tampa Bay. Steve Stamkos is the most notable — his knee surgery led to Point moving to center, a position switch Cooper was eager to see — but others have been banged up as well.

Ryan Callahan has been dealing with rehab from offseason hip surgery. Ben Bishop is on IR with a lower-body ailment. Jonathan Drouin missed time with injury issues, as did J.T. Brown.

In related moves today, the Bolts recalled Erik Condra and Yanni Gourde from AHL Syracuse. Gourde could be in line for his season debut, joining the likes of Matthew Peca, Michael Bournival, Tanner Richard, Joel Vermin and Luke Witkowski as farmhands to log minutes for the Bolts this season.

Campbell in ‘no rush’ to decide future, but only wants to play in Chicago


At 37, Brian Campbell is the NHL’s 13th-oldest skater (non-goalie division), and the fifth-oldest blueliner. He’s appeared in over 1,000 career games and won a Stanley Cup, which has led to the inevitable question:

When you gonna hang ’em up?

“I’m going to decide at the end of the season what I’m going to do, as in whether I play or not,” Campbell said this week, per the Daily Herald. “I’ll sit down with the wife and figure it out, see what we want to do and see what our options are from there.

“As of right now, I feel good and I feel like I’m playing good and feel like I can still contribute. But there’s no rush to make any sort of decision.”

Campbell’s second stint with the ‘Hawks has gone pretty well. Signed to a one-year, $2.25 million deal in free agency — his version of a hometown discount, given he was making $7.1M annually on his last contract — the veteran has three goals and 10 points this season, averaging just under 19 minutes per night.

That last figure is interesting, though.

Campbell is a durable workhorse, as always — he’s played in all 37 games this year, and hasn’t missed one since ’10-11 — but his minutes are down from Florida, where he averaged 23:13 and 22:17 TOI the last two campaigns.

Obviously, some of this has to do with Chicago’s other d-men — Duncan Keith plays 26 minutes per night, Brent Seabrook 22:35, and Niklas Hjalmarsson 21:45 — but one wonders if head coach Joel Quenneville might be holding back a bit, knowing Campbell will be relied upon more in the playoffs.

And, potentially, next season.

Campbell told the Daily Herald “I don’t want to go anywhere else,” in ’16-17, adding the ‘Hawks are “well aware” of his stance and plans. Of course, Campbell also said he probably wouldn’t come back for a bargain basement price — “you’ve got to get up and want to do it for what you’re being paid,” he said — which could be a problem, given GM Stan Bowman just shelled out $12 million for Artemi Panarin.

Something to keep an eye on this offseason, for sure.

Versteeg: Breaking Brouwer’s finger ‘definitely had me rattled’


Broken fingers have been a sensitive subject in Calgary this year — remember Johnny Gaudreau and slash-gate? — so it came as little surprise that the latest busted digit, on the hand of veteran winger Troy Brouwer, caused some consternation.

With good reason, though.

Unlike Gaudreau, Brouwer’s finger wasn’t broken by an opponent’s incessant chopping but, rather, a slapshot from teammate Kris Versteeg.

“It’s a buddy on your team. It was definitely in my head the rest of the night and kind of rattled me,” Versteeg said, per the Calgary Herald. “Thankfully we got the win. I talked to him right when it happened, and the day after, and the day after that just to see what was going on.

“It definitely had me rattled. He’s a friend and a teammate and a big part of this team.”

Versteeg and Brouwer go way back. The two spent three years together in Chicago, capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010, and recently reunited as linemates under Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan.

The two had formed a fairly effective unit as wingers between Sean Monahan, but all that came crashing down on Dec. 23 when, in a win over the Canucks, Versteeg unloaded a slapper late in the first period…right around the time Brouwer skated in front of him.

And that was it. Broken finger, sidelining Brouwer “week-to-week.”

It’s a tough blow, given Brouwer’s production — eight goals and 17 points through 36 games this year — and his veteran leadership. Despite only joining Calgary this offseason, Brouwer was immediately named one of the club’s alternate captains and, as GM Brad Treliving explained, was an important voice in the dressing room.

“Troy has a strong voice and a presence,” Treliving said. “He holds people accountable.”

Ducks say Stoner out 4-6 weeks following abdominal surgery


Anaheim blueliner Clayton Stoner, who’s already missed significant time to injury this season, will be out another 4-6 weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery, the club announced yesterday.

Per the O.C. Register, Stoner had the procedure on Dec. 21 in Philadelphia. As mentioned, he’d already been sidelined by a lower-body ailment — no word if it’s related to the abdominal issue — and hadn’t played a game since Nov. 15, when he skated just over 17 minutes in a win over Edmonton.

Waived at the beginning of the year in what appeared to be a cap-relief move, Stoner played reasonably well when healthy. He had three points in 14 games while racking up 35 hits, but is still saddled with an albatrossian contract — he’s only in the third of a four-year, $13 million deal with a $3.25M average annual cap hit.