FOXBOROUGH — An otherwise ordinary transaction might have big ramifications for this year’s outdoor game at Gillette Stadium.
On Thursday, Montreal demoted forward Sven Andrighetto to its AHL affiliate in St. John’s — a sign that, potentially, Brendan Gallagher will make his return from a broken hand at Friday’s Winter Classic.
Gallagher has on IR since Nov. 22, and has missed Montreal’s last 17 games. The team has struggled in his absence, going 5-11-1 while falling out of top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Prior to getting hurt, Gallagher was starring on the club’s top line alongside Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, scoring 19 points in 22 games. His 0.86 points-per-game average is a career best.
Gallagher is set to practice with the Habs this afternoon at Gillette.
Cap constraints have forced yet another longtime NHLer down to the Flyers’ minor-league team in Lehigh Valley.
On Wednesday, GM Ron Hextall announced that Sam Gagner has been loaned to the Phantoms after clearing waivers — meaning that he, along with part of his $4.8 million cap hit, will be in the AHL for the next while.
(To be clear, Philly will carry $2.25M of Gagner’s hit at the NHL level. They can “bury” $950,000 in the American League, while Tampa Bay is retaining $1.6M from an earlier deal.)
Along with Andrew MacDonald — who’s making $5M annually — the Flyers now have a remarkable amount of money playing for their minor-league club.
The Gagner move was related to veteran d-man Mark Streit coming off LTIR, and the Flyers needing the requisite cap space to activate him. The club didn’t want to send down rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere.
“Any decision we made at this point wasn’t going to be easy,” Hextall said, per Philly.com
James Reimer will make his first start for the Maple Leafs since Dec. 3 tonight in Pittsburgh.
Update: No he won’t. Not long before puck drop, head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer woke up with tightness today, and the Leafs decided to shut him down immediately. So it’ll be Jonathan Bernier tonight instead, with Antoine Bibeau backing up on an emergency recall basis.
Reimer, who’s been sidelined for most of the month with an undisclosed injury, gets back into the starter’s role after Bernier was torched for six goals on 15 shots in Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders. Reimer came on in relief of Bernier and fared well, stopping all six shots faced.
Prior to getting hurt, Reimer was playing some of the best hockey of his career — the 27-year-old was 7-4-4 with a 1.96 GAA and .936 save percentage.
For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray will get the start in goal again.
— Braden Holtby will be in goal for the Caps after shutting out the Sabres on Monday. Buffalo will go with a different netminder in the rematch: Chad Johnson, who allowed three goals on 33 shots in a win over Boston on Saturday.
— Cory Schneider‘s in for the Devils tonight, while Ottawa counters with Andrew Hammond.
— Ben Bishop will start when the Bolts host the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. No word yet on a New York nod; head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to make an announcement within the next hour.
— Martin Jones goes for the Sharks against Philly tonight. No word yet on a Flyers starter.
Scott Gomez‘s time with the St. Louis Blues appears to be coming to an end.
The veteran center, who went unclaimed on waivers yesterday, has now been placed on unconditional waivers — “a vehicle to grant Gomez his unconditional release from the team,” the club announced on Wednesday.
Gomez, 36, appeared in 21 games for the Blues, posting eight points (one goal, seven assists) and four penalty minutes. He converted a training camp PTO into a one-year, two-way deal in early October but, with a number of St. Louis’ injured forwards having returned or nearing a return, Gomez became the odd man out.
He’s only played in five games this month, the last coming in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Dallas.
It remains to be seen what the future has in store for Gomez. He could try to catch on with another club, possibly go the AHL route or try his hand overseas.
Good news, bad news sort of day in Columbus.
The good is that, after missing the last 10 games, No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been activated off IR and will be ready to play when the Jackets host Washington on Saturday.
The bad news? Matt Calvert suffered a lower-body injury after scoring in last night’s win over Dallas, and is out “indefinitely.” He’s been placed on IR.
But since things have gone so poorly in Columbus this year, let’s focus on the positive.
Getting Bobrovsky back will be a huge boon; without him, the club has been forced to rely on Curtis McElhinney and minor-league recall Joonas Korpisalo, and the results haven’t been great.
Columbus has allowed 39 goals over its last 10 games, going 3-6-1. Prior to getting hurt, Bobrovsky was playing some of his best hockey of the year:
As for Calvert, he plays around 15 minutes a night and chips in with the occasional goal — six in 39 games so far — meaning he will be missed.
Jared Boll and David Clarkson were both scratched against Dallas on Tuesday, so either could draw in as a replacement.