<span class="vcard">Mike Halford</span>

Canada v Belarus - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Quarter Final

Jackets sign towering d-man prospect Yevenko


Columbus made an interesting move on Thursday, agreeing to a one-year, two-way deal for Belarusian defenseman Oleg Yevenko.

Yevenko’s calling card is his size: 6-foot-7, 230 pounds.

“Oleg has worked extremely hard on and off the ice and he performed well at both the prospects tournament in Traverse City and at our main training camp,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He certainly has earned this contract and we look forward to seeing him develop his game even more throughout the upcoming season.”

After playing four years of college hockey at UMass-Ahmerst, Yevenko briefly caught on with the Flames’ AHL affiliate in Adirondack last year before moving to the Columbus organization.

He’s certainly an intriguing prospect, even though he turns 25 in January. Yevenko has represented Belarus internationally on a handful of occasions, including the 2015 Worlds, and should get his first full taste of professional hockey this season in AHL Lake Erie.

Wild claim Parise’s buddy, Chris Porter, off waivers from Philly

Brayden Schenn, Christopher Gibson, Chris Porter
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Chris Porter‘s stay in the Flyers organization was a short one.

The Minnesota Wild have claimed Porter off waivers, per Sportsnet. The move comes just one day after Philly waived Porter and fellow veteran forward Colin McDonald; Porter had signed with the Flyers this summer after spending the last eight years with the Blues organization.

A University of North Dakota product — where he played for four years under new Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol — Porter is close friends with Wild captain Zach Parise. The two were collegiate teammates; Parise was the best man at Porter’s wedding, and Porter was a groomsman at Parise’s.

“He’s a really, really hardworking guy on and off the ice,” Parise told the Star-Tribune in April, prior to facing Porter and the Blues in the playoffs. “He’s a guy that understands what he’s supposed to do. He knows that he’s supposed to go out there and be tough to play against.

“Just watch, he’s physical on our D all the time, he can skate, he’s fast. To me, he’s a really effective player.”

Porter, 31, has 173 games of NHL experience, all with the Blues. He’s spent most of his career shuttling between the bigs and the American League; his best NHL campaign came in 2011-12, when he appeared in a career-high 47 games, scoring four goals and seven points.

The waiver claim isn’t just about reuniting Parise with his BFF, of course. The Wild are dealing with injuries up front, specifically those to Justin Fontaine, Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder.

Porter is on a one-year, two-way deal worth $575,000 at the NHL level.

After getting cut by Florida, Booth says ‘I’m still a great player’

Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins

Say this about David Booth — he’s not lacking confidence.

The soon-to-be-31-year-old, who on Wednesday was released from his PTO with Florida, insisted that he’s more than capable of playing at the NHL level.

“I feel I’m still a great player,” he said, per the Miami Herald. “This place felt comfortable and like a place I could do some of the things I’ve done before.

“But this is a business, and sometimes you’re just a number.”

Getting cut wasn’t the storybook ending Booth envisioned upon arriving in Florida.

The best moments of his career came with the Panthers, from getting picked 53rd overall at the ’04 draft, to making his NHL debut, to scoring a career-high 31 goals in ’08-09.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon said Booth was essentially competing with another veteran on a PTO — Martin Halvat — and promising youngster Connor Brickely. Both Havlat and Brickley remain in camp, and Tallon went on to explain it was “hard to fit” Booth into a roster spot.

Really, none of this came as a major surprise.

Booth’s last two seasons, in Vancouver and Toronto, weren’t especially compelling; he scored just 16 goals in 125 games and, with the Leafs last year, averaged only 11:56 TOI per night.

It’s also worth noting that, league-wide, several veterans that went to camps on PTOs left without contracts: Curtis Glencross, Devin Setoguchi, Dan Paille, Jan Hejda, Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter, Lubomir Visnovsky and Tom Sestito, to name a few.

Booth went on to say he “believes he’s better than” taking an AHL gig.

Zajac’s agent shoots down trade rumors

Los Angeles Kings v New Jersey Devils

Travis Zajac isn’t getting shipped to Toronto.

At least according to his agent, anyway.

On Thursday, Kurt Overhardt told TSN’s Darren Dreger there’s “absolutely no truth” to reports of his client getting traded.

The denial comes just days after Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that “there’s more than one NHL exec” who thinks new Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello would “love” to acquire Zajac.

It didn’t take long for people to start connecting dots.

Lamoriello, of course, was the GM in New Jersey that signed Zajac to an eight-year, $46 million extension in 2013.

“I think anytime you have a core player and the type of player he is, he’s developed himself into all-situation, complete player,” Lamoriello said at the time. “And he’s one of our core leaders and has been since Day 1.”

LouLam’s affinity for Zajac dates back to the 2004 draft. The Devils scouted Zajac quite thoroughly prior to the event, then traded up to the No. 20 overall pick to select him.

A two-time 60-point guy, Zajac’s production has dropped in recent years, bottoming out with just 11 goals and 25 points in 74 games last season.

That, combined with the fact he turns 31 in May, had many Leafs fans puzzled about a potential deal, given the club’s in the midst of a rebuild.

Glencross: ‘Kind of a shock’ to get cut by Leafs

Travis Ewanyk Curtis Glencross

To hear Curtis Glencross explain it, getting axed from Toronto’s training camp came as a surprise.

“It was kind of a shock,” Glencross explained, per the Calgary Sun. “They told me Sunday they had too many guys filling the same roles in the same spots.

“Instead of stringing me along, they let me go, so there was a chance someone else could get me.”

Now in Avs camp on a PTO, Glencross isn’t spending much time trying to figure out what went wrong in Toronto. It could be argued he never got a legitimate shot — playing just two exhibition games, never skating on anything higher than the third line — and that might raise some questions, given what transpired in Toronto on Monday.

Following a listless 4-0 loss to Buffalo, new head coach Mike Babcock criticized his veteran forward group.

“We’ve got to get our veterans playing the right way,” Babcock said, per TSN. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to get them playing. We can talk about kids; that’s a nice sideline story in exhibition but you’ve got to get your players to play.”

It’s fair to say Glencross, a 32-year-old veteran with over 500 games of NHL experience, did things the right way in his brief cameo.

In Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Montreal, he led all Leafs forwards with 5:03 of shorthanded ice time, and the team went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.

Now with that said, it’s worth noting Babcock’s biggest criticism was with Toronto’s top veteran forwards, saying “our good players were good enough, not even close.”

Glencross wasn’t ever in that group.