Author: Mike Halford

St Louis Blues v Tampa Bay Lightning

Butler, Paajarvi, Hishon among notables on waivers


There was another flurry of players put on waivers Wednesday, as teams continue to trim down to their 23-man roster limits.

We already touched on the Flyers putting veteran forwards Chris Porter and Colin McDonald on waivers; now, it appears the Blues have followed suit by exposing two of their more experienced players — defenseman Chris Butler, and winger Magnus Paajarvi.

Butler, 28, is a veteran of nearly 400 NHL contests and had a pretty solid ’13-14 campaign in Calgary, scoring 16 points while appearing in all 82 games. He found it more difficult being a regular on a loaded St. Louis blueline, however, and made just 33 appearances last season.

Paajarvi, the 10th overall pick in 2009, has never really secured a consistent role under head coach Ken Hitchcock. This marks the second time he’s been waived in the last 10 months; in ’14-15 he played just 10 games for the Blues, spending the majority of his season in AHL Chicago.

Elsewhere, the Avs raised some eyebrows by waiving former first-round pick Joey Hishon.

Hishon, 23, was the 17th overall pick in 2010 but had the start of his pro career derailed by concussion issues. He eventually debuted with Colorado in the ’14 playoffs, then appeared in 13 games last year.

For the rest of today’s waivers, click here.

Ouch: Oilers lose Eberle (shoulder) for 4-6 weeks

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have been met with their first bit of adversity this season.

OK, more than a “bit” of adversity.

Jordan Eberle, the club’s leading scorer last season, will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury suffered during last night’s exhibition win over Arizona, the team announced on Wednesday.

It’s unclear what the injury is, how significant it is or if it’ll require surgery. Rumblings suggested it may be a separation, and head coach Todd McLellan will address the situation later today.

As mentioned above, the Eberle injury puts a damper on what’s been an otherwise terrific preseason for the Oilers.

No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid has looked as good as advertised, the club’s goaltending and defense are improved and the Oilers are a perfect 6-0 this preseason, with back-to-back shutouts victories over the Wild and Coyotes.

With Eberle sidelined, veteran winger Teddy Purcell could be bumped up into top-six forward duties.

Flyers waive vets McDonald, Porter

Brayden Schenn, Christopher Gibson, Chris Porter
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Two of Philadelphia’s summer signings have hit the waiver wire.

Forwards Colin McDonald and Chris Porter were waived on Wednesday, per the club. McDonald, 31, signed a two-way deal with Philly in July after splitting last year between the Isles and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport; Porter, also 31, joined the Flyers after spending the last eight years in the Blues organization.

Of the two, Porter was thought to have the better chance of sticking, as he spent four years at the University of North Dakota under Philly’s new head coach, Dave Hakstol.

The waiving of Porter and McDonald certainly looks to play into the favor of young forward Scott Laughton. Laughton, the 20th overall pick at the ’12 draft, appeared in 36 games for the Flyers over the last two seasons but has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHLer.

Philly has one more cut to make to get down to the 23-man limit. Per the Inquirer, it’s believed that last cut will either be Laughton or defenseman Brandon Manning.

Once again, Ruff calls out Stars for playing ‘pond hockey’

Carolina Hurricanes v Dallas Stars

After allowing the fourth-most goals in the league last year, the Dallas Stars made a bunch of offseason moves designed to keep pucks out of their net.

But if the preseason has been any indication, they’re not exactly working.

“It was disappointing,” head coach Lindy Ruff said after a 4-1 exhibition loss to St. Louis on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning-News. “We didn’t compete hard enough. I thought some guys did, but they won the puck battles, we threw some pucks away and I thought our power play played pond hockey. That was frustrating.”

(If that pond hockey line sounds familiar, it should.)

Dallas has allowed 20 goals through five preseason games. You can take those numbers with a grain of salt — they’re called exhibition games for a reason — but it still has to be an alarming trend for Ruff and GM Jim Nill, who spent a lot of money this summer on defensive reinforcements (like Johnny Oduya for $7.5 million) and goaltending depth (Antti Niemi, $13.5M).

Also alarming? The fact the same issues keep creeping up.

Niemi allowed four goals on 28 shots against the Blues, finishing with an .857 save percentage. That’s been a problem in Dallas, especially last year when the Stars finished with the NHL’s second-worst save percentage (only Edmonton’s was lower.)

Then there’s the pond hockey thing, which is clearly going to be the knock on Dallas until it shows otherwise.

After Preds buyout, Stalberg impressing in New York

Viktor Stalberg, Brandon Burlon
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Viktor Stalberg‘s stock was pretty low this summer after Nashville bought him out of the final two years of his four-year, $12 million contract.

Now, it’s pretty high.

“As a coach sometimes, and as an organization, you catch players at the right time,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Post. “And him, with what happened last year in Nashville, I’m catching him at a time where if he’s not hungry and he doesn’t play well, he’s not going to be very long in this league, so I think he knows that. He understands that and he’s come here to play.”

Vigneault said Stalberg’s been one of the Rangers’ most impressive players at this year’s camp, showing the form that saw him score a career-high 22 goals with Chicago during the 2011-12 campaign.

That production played a role in scoring a fairly lucrative deal from Nashville. Stalberg’s time in the Music City, though, was largely a disappointment — he scored just 10 goals in 95 games over two seasons, missing a boatload of time last year to injury.

Following his buyout, Stalberg signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Rangers. It didn’t take long for his best attribute — skating — to mesh with Vigneault’s system; last game out, he got a look on a strong skating line next to Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast.

Stalberg could eventually replace some of the speed lost when New York traded Carl Hagelin to Anaheim at the draft.