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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Reeling Preds make pair of noteworthy roster moves — including one in goal

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At 3-5-2, Nashville is one of the biggest early disappointments of the season. The Preds look nothing like the Cup contenders many predicted they’d be, and the list of individuals struggling to find their form is lengthy.

To say the least.

In addressing that last bit, the Preds made a pair of fairly significant roster moves on Tuesday.

Kevin Fiala, the 11th overall pick in 2014 — who has just two points in 10 games this year — has been sent down to Milwaukee while Juuse Saros, the Finnish netminding prospect that’s lighting up the American League, has been recalled.

Fiala will be replaced by Pontus Aberg, who leads the Admirals in scoring this season with nine points in nine games.

Saros’ promotion comes at the expense of Marek Mazanec, who’s really struggled as Pekka Rinne‘s backup — Mazanec has allowed seven goals on 36 shots this year, for an ugly .806 save percentage.

Saros, 6-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .929 save percentage in Milwaukee, will be an interesting guy to watch moving forward. Though he’s played well lately, Rinne’s been subjected to heavy criticism this year, including some from his GM.

“Pekka’s not escaping criticism,” David Poile said, per The Tennessean. “We need and he needs to be part of the solution to get us out of this. Higher save percentage, the save at the right time.

“Do I think he’s playing good? Yes, I do. Do I think he can play better? We need him to play better, just like the same thing I’d say with the forwards and defensemen.”

As for the Fiala-Aberg swap, the hope is for Aberg to give the club a boost offensively. The 23-year-old Swede was a surprise recall during last year’s postseason, making his NHL debut in Round 2 against the Sharks.

Nashville hosts Ottawa tonight.

Vegas to unveil name, logo on Nov. 22

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OK, it’s official — we’re going to find out what the Las Vegas team is called.

And what it’ll look like.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the franchise will unveil its name and logo at T-Mobile Arena, in an “exciting event” that will feature NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, owner Bill Foley and GM George McPhee.

The announcement has been a long time coming.

For months, reports have leaked about the name and logo, most of them connected to Foley’s long-standing desire for “Knights” to be incorporated.

Back in late August, the Vegas group confirmed it had trademarks on Desert Knights, Golden Knights and Silver Knights; two weeks later, the franchise said it had a name, but vowed to keep it secret.

Not long after, Foley said the club was pushing the announcement back to November.

 

Goalie nods: Red-hot Lehner back in for Buffalo

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Maybe the illness was needed.

After missing a few games while feeling under the weather, Buffalo netminder Robin Lehner has returned with aplomb, and now carries his hot streak into Boston tonight to take on the Bruins.

Lehner is 3-1-0 in four consecutive starts since Oct. 30, posting a 1.26 GAA and .961 save percentage. His “worst” outing of the four was a 2-1 loss to the Leafs, in which he made 27 saves.

The big Swede’s play couldn’t have come at a better time. Goals have been come to hard by for the Sabres — largely due to the Jack Eichel and Evander Kane injuries — but Lehner has been terrific in keeping pucks out, allowing Buffalo to secure points from low-scoring games.

For the B’s, Tuukka Rask is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Ryan Miller, fresh off a 6-3 loss (and fight with Matt Martin) in Toronto on Saturday, is back in goal for the Canucks. He’ll be up against Jaroslav Halak, who starts for the Isles.

— Good matchup in the Battle of Florida: Ben Bishop and the Bolts take on Roberto Luongo and the Panthers, in Sunrise.

Jet, landed: Winnipeg signs Trouba to two-year, $6M deal

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Jacob Trouba‘s contract squabble with the Winnipeg Jets is over.

On Monday, the Jets inked the RFA defenseman to a two-year, $6 million deal with a $3M AAV — one that pays $2.5 million in the first year, and $3.5 million in the second.

Trouba, who requested a trade out of Winnipeg last month, hasn’t played at all this season, and needed to sign before Dec. 1 if he wanted to.

So, that piece of business is out of the way.

Now we get to see how much damage was done to the relationship.

In September, agent Kurt Overhardt, insisted the trade request had nothing to do with money and everything to do with “the opportunity to realize [Trouba’s] potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.”

The Jets already have two veteran right-shot defenseman under contract. Dustin Byfuglien recently signed a five-year extension, Tyler Myers has three years left on his deal.

On the surface, Overhardt’s comments about the money appear to ring true. Last December, reports suggested Trouba’s initial ask was big money, big term — $56 million over eight years, per the Free Press.

Instead, the 22-year-old has opted for a bridge deal with a significantly lower AAV.

Which is awfully familiar.

Back in 2011, another Overhardt client — Kyle Turris — was in a similar boat to Trouba. Turris, then a member of the Coyotes, was a restricted free agent that missed the early part of the season embroiled in a contract negotiation, only to sign a two-year bridge deal and return to the desert.

Less than a month after signing, Turris was traded to Ottawa.

Trouba’s new contract would certainly make him easy to move. Any acquiring team knows they’ve got him for at least two years on very friendly cap hit, and the former ninth overall pick is considered to be one of the brightest young d-man prospects around.

But the Jets know this too, and certainly sound like a team that wants Trouba in the mix. In mid-October, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said they “believe that Jacob is a big part of this organization,” and for all the talk of a fractured relationship, do remember that Jonathan Drouin made it work in Tampa Bay.

If reconciliation can occur after what Drouin went through with the Bolts, it can probably occur with Trouba and the Jets.

With just four goals in their last three games, Sharks make interesting call-up

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San Jose’s in a bit of a funk.

Mired in a three-game losing streak — during which they’ve only scored four times — the Sharks had arguably their worst game of the season on Saturday, a 5-0 drubbing at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So on Monday, they went calling to the farm.

Kevin Labanc, currently tied for the AHL Barracuda scoring lead with 10 points through six games, has been brought up to the big club.

It’s an interesting move.

Labanc, an undersized winger taken in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, has been a high-level point producer over the past few years. He scored 127 in 65 games in his final season with OHL Barrie, then racked up 26 more in just 15 playoff games.

He’s really impressed Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer this season, on the “Kid Line” with Nikolay Goldobin and Rourke Chartier.

From the Gackle Report:

[Goldobin is] benefiting from playing alongside a natural finisher in Labanc, who has the “hardest, most accurate shot,” Sommer has seen in almost two decades of coaching the franchise.

“I can score, too, but I’m always trying to find him because I know he has a really good shot,” Goldobin said, referring to Labanc.

That the Sharks are bringing in a sniper is telling.

In terms of possession and shot metrics, they’re faring well (see here and here), but there’s been an issue translating that into goals. The club sits 27th in the NHL in GPG, with forwards Joe Thornton, Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto having combined for a grand total of five tallies.

So maybe having a trigger man in the lineup will help.