Mike Halford

Eddie Lack, Patrick Sharp, Jamie Benn

Slumping Stars lose Sharp, Jordie Benn to injury

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The Dallas Stars, losers in seven of their last eight, got two more unfortunate results on Thursday, announcing that Patrick Sharp would miss the next 5-7 days with an injury, while Jordie Benn would miss 1-2 weeks.

Both ailments are of the lower-body variety, per the Dallas Morning-News.

Sharp’s injury likely came last game out, a 5-3 loss to Nashville. He finished with just 11:11 of ice time, the lowest among all Stars skaters.

Benn played just over 13 minutes against the Preds.

With Sharp out of the lineup, the Stars had a decidedly different look taking line rushes on Thursday morning. One of the bigger developments was Valeri Nichushkin taking a turn on the top line next to Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, a spot often filled by Sharp.

With Benn out of the mix on defense, newly acquired Kris Russell skated with John Klingberg. That left Johnny Oduya with Jason Demers, and Patrik Nemeth with Alex Goligoski.

Oilers to bid on 2020 World Cup of Hockey

Bob Nicholson
Getty Images
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With NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirming the next World Cup of Hockey will take place in 2020, potential cities are already lining bids to host.

One of the first to publicly declare interest?

Edmonton.

More, from the Journal:

That’s the word from Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson, who said he has already informed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly of the Oilers’ interest in staging the eight-team event, which is being held this year in Toronto.

“The year will be right in our wheelhouse,” Nicholson said of 2020. “In 2019, the whole Ice District is finished.

“And when you look at what they’re trying to do in Toronto, they’re trying to create a tournament and festival. Well, there is no better festival site than here in Edmonton. With Rogers Place, the top arena in North America, the Winter Garden and Ice District, these types of events are made for this district and the arena.”

The Ice District, as described on the project’s website, is “Canada’s largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district,” currently taking shape in Edmonton. It’s a $2.5 billion project that will feature Rogers Place — soon to be the new home of the Oilers — along with two office towers, condominiums, a movie theater and a hotel.

Spearheaded by Oilers owner Darryl Katz, the Ice District promises to be a massive development for bot the city and organization. Katz’ recent sale of Rexall Health confirmed one of his primary focuses moving forward was the Ice District, and all it entails.

From the Globe:

Katz, 54, has made no secret that his current focus is far away from the world of neighbourhood drugstores and Medicentres, and is laser-trained on the building of Canada’s largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district.

“There’s a change in the focus of his business operations, now that he’s become heavily involved in the real estate development and entertainment component in and around a new arena development here,” says Dan Mason, a University of Alberta professor of sport management, who consulted for the city on the arena project.

“There’s a new landscape for the operations of professional sport franchises, and in many respects, they’re seen as a piece of a bigger puzzle,” he said.

Nicholson said there’s no definitive timeline for the 2020 World Cup bidding process.

Sharks sign pair of WHL standouts

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach

San Jose has signed WHL Swift Current forward Jon Martin and Red Deer winger Adam Helewka to entry-level contracts, per the club and General Fanager.

Martin, 20, is an undrafted free agent that leads the Broncos in scoring while serving as club captain.

“Jon is a well-rounded player who brings a high skill set but also a tough, physical game.” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a release. “His game has really blossomed this season under Broncos General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb.

“As a result, he had a lot of suitors and we are thrilled that he has decided to join the Sharks organization.”

Helewka, also 20, was San Jose’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft. He played well enough during the preseason to open this year with San Jose’s AHL affiliate, the Barracuda, but was returned to junior.

He’s since gone onto score 34 goals in 45 games, split between Spokane and Red Deer.

Team USA won’t ‘fret about’ not getting to pick from ‘pretty imposing generation’ of Americans

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Johnny Gaudreau is the second-leading American scorer in the NHL this season. Only Patrick Kane has more points.

Seth Jones is one of the country’s brightest stars on defense, and was in the mix to make the 2014 Olympic team in Sochi.

Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad, who only turned 23 in October, has already won two Stanley Cups.

Jack Eichel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2015, is considered a generational talent.

You would think, at the very least, those four players would’ve been considered for USA Hockey’s 16-man preliminary World Cup roster, which was released on Wednesday. But Gaudreau, Jones, Saad and Eichel weren’t, because they were beholden to Team North America — a.k.a the “Youngstars” — comprised of the top 23-and-under players from the U.S. and Canada.

“No sense really thinking about it, because it’s beyond your control,” Team USA GM Dean Lombardi said via conference call. “Once you get the rules, what good does it do to fret about it? It is what it is. That said, going forward here, we got some tough choices to make. We have our hands full with the talent we have.”

Lombardi, of course, was the same GM that earlier lobbied for an exception — “let us pick one or two guys, like Eichel,” he told ESPN — before getting shot down by World Cup organizers.

It’s clear his affinity for the younger group hasn’t waned.

“I think on the other side of the coin, you look at that group, it looks like it could be end up being a pretty imposing generation,” he explained. “It’s actually good in a sense, because it highlights a generational facet that’s coming forward — and looks pretty potent.”

Of the 16 players named to Team North America, it’s hard to say which Americans would’ve challenged for a spot on the full senior team. Goalies John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck would’ve had a near-impossible time usurping one of Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider or Ben Bishop.

On defense, it’s fair to suggest Jones was worthy of consideration. Aside from having an ace up his sleeve — he plays for USA head coach John Tortorella in Columbus — he’s also received a ton of ice time since being dealt from the Preds to the Jackets and has responded well, racking up 12 points in his last 23 games.

Up front, Gaudreau and Saad (who also plays for Torts) almost certainly would’ve been in the mix. And depending on what transpires from here until September, Eichel, Dylan Larkin and J.T. Miller could’ve also played their way into consideration, if they weren’t in consideration already.

“You can’t even go there,” Tortorella lamented. “There’s no sense of trying to whet your appetite with that, because it’s a rule. [But] that young group there? I think that’s going to be a dangerous team. And moving forward, what are they in another four years? It’s scary.”

Both Tortorella and Lombardi are right, of course. It’s pointless to think about what could’ve been, because hypotheticals are just that — hyoptheticals.

Still, Lombardi couldn’t help but dream of one.

“I think I’d put it in another context,” he said. “I’d like to be GM of this team in four years, when those kids come through.”

Kessel among notable omissions as U.S. names preliminary World Cup roster

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The list of the first 16 American players named to the World Cup of Hockey roster has been announced, and Phil Kessel is not on it.

Kessel, one of the United States’ top goalscorers over the past few seasons, was probably the most surprising omission, especially after representing the U.S. at both the ’10 and ’14 Olympics.

Here’s the U.S. 16-man roster:

G Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

D Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

F Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
F T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
F Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
F Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
F Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
F Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

Up front, other notables failing to make the initial roster include Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan and the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo — and it’s worth mentioning that Ryan and Okposo were two of the most notable “snubs” from the American team that finished fourth in Sochi.

On defense, Byfuglien has played his way onto the roster after being passed over two years ago. With spots still left to fill, the U.S. could go a number of ways on defense: Carolina’s Justin Faulk (who played in Sochi), St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Colorado’s Erik Johnson, Boston’s Torey Krug and the Islanders’ Nick Leddy would all have to be considered candidates.

In goal, there were few surprises as Quick, Bishop and Schneider are all enjoying outstanding years and fully deserving of their spots.