Mike Halford

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

Matt Puempel has a new home.

After being waived by Ottawa on Sunday, Puempel — the 24th overall pick at the 2011 draft — has been claimed by the New York Rangers, per Sportsnet.

Puempel, 23, has appeared in 13 games this year for the Sens, going scoreless with a minus-5 rating. In 52 career NHL contests, he’s scored just four goals and six points.

A former OHL standout, Puempel was a quality goalscoring winger in junior, and carried that over to the American League. In his first full year with AHL Binghamton, he found the back of the net 30 times in 74 games — but that form hasn’t translated to the big league level.

Regardless, there will be eyeballs on Puempel now.

Largely because of who claimed him.

Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has a keen eye for reclamation projects and diamonds in the rough. His offseason acquisitions included getting Brandon Pirri and Michael Grabner on the cheap, and all they’ve done since joining the Rangers is combine to score 16 goals and 24 points through 19 games this season.

Puempel will also give the team some depth at forward after center Mika Zibanejad suffered a broken leg over the weekend. Zibanejad is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with the injury.

Kunitz (lower body) week-to-week, placed on IR

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Chris Kunitz, off to a nice start this year with 11 points through 18 games, will be out on a week-to-week basis with his lower body injury, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed on Monday.

In a related move, the Pens placed Kunitz on IR and recalled Jake Guentzel from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Kunitz, 37, was originally hurt in last Wednesday’s blowout loss to Washington, but returned to play this weekend — and actually picked up three assists in games against the Isles and Sabres. The club hasn’t revealed the nature or severity of the injury, but the IR and week-to-week designation suggest it’s more than simply being banged up.

With Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist out — the latter is dealing with a concussion, also suffered in the aforementioned Caps game — the Pens had a decidedly new look up front at Monday’s practice.

Conor Sheary jumped to first line duties with Sidney Crosby and Carl Hagelin, while Guentzel moved onto the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

The Pens are back in action tonight, when they host the Rangers at PPG Paints.

More good news for Columbus, as Jones comes off IR

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Everything is coming up Torts.

The Blue Jackets — 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, and off to the best start in franchise history — got some terrific news on Monday, as Seth Jones was activated from injured reserve after missing the last six games with a hairline fracture in his foot.

Getting the 22-year-old back will be huge. Jones is the team’s anchor on defense — nobody on the team plays more minutes and, at the time of his injury, he lead all blueliners in goals while sitting second in assists.

Columbus is in action tonight (hosting Colorado), so it’ll be curious to see if Jones jumps right back into the mix. His original three-week recovery window was supposed to stretch until Nov. 28, meaning he’s a bit ahead of schedule.

For now, it looks as though the Jackets will carry extra blueliners. To make room for Jones, the club sent left winger Markus Hannikainen down to AHL Cleveland, meaning there’s still a glut of defensemen on the active roster.

Banged-up Bolts recall Condra

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A rash of injuries at forward has forced Tampa Bay to recall veteran Erik Condra from AHL Syracuse, the club announced on Monday.

“What I like about Erik is he’s a pro,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said, per BoltsProspects. “Every day he’s one of our best players on the ice. Whether it’s a game or practice, he is showing the way. I can’t say enough about him.

Signed to a three-year, $3.75 million deal on the opening day of free agency in 2015, Condra was a disappointment last season, with just 11 points in 54 games, and appeared to be in a battle for a roster spot throughout the preseason.

Just prior to the start of the campaign, the Bolts waived the 30-year-old.

A veteran of over 350 NHL contests, Condra has fared well in the AHL this year, scoring three goals and nine points in 13 games. And this recall could be a huge opportunity for him.

As mentioned above, the Bolts are dealing with major health concerns right now. Captain Steve Stamkos is out at least four months following knee surgery, while Jonathan Drouin — who only recently returned from an upper-body injury — took a shot to the head against the Flyers on Saturday.

Brian Boyle missed the Philly game entirely due to his upper-body injury, while veteran Bolts beat writer Erik Erlendsson notes that Cedric Paquette has taken a series of big hits lately, too.

‘Canes send trade target Murphy to AHL on conditioning stint

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Last week, we welcomed Carolina d-man Ryan Murphy to the trade rumor mill.

Today, another development on the Murphy front — he’s been sent to AHL Charlotte on a conditioning stint.

The 12th overall pick in 2011, Murphy missed the start of the year with a lower-body injury and made his season debut on Nov. 1. From there, he played in just three more games — for a grand total of four — and hasn’t suited up since going minus-3 in a 4-2 loss to Anaheim 11 days ago.

All told, Murphy is averaging just over 13 minutes per night, and has scored just a single point. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Murphy “doesn’t seem to be a fit for Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters,” adding the 23-year-old blueliner “will likely be on the move.”

The former OHL standout could have some value across the league. He’s a right-handed shot, which is vital, and a good skater with nice passing vision. Injuries have been a problem throughout his four-year career, though, and he’s never played more than 48 games in a single season.

Heading to Charlotte shouldn’t be a huge shock for Murphy. He’s spent considerable time there in the past, including 32 games last year.