Mike Halford

Pavel Zacha, Auston Matthews

Agent: ‘No truth’ to rumor Matthews re-signs in Switzerland if he dislikes draft lottery winner


We’ve got a new rumbling to pass your way.

And with it, an emphatic refute.

Apparently, there’s a rumor going around that Auston Matthews, the consensus No. 1 overall pick at this June’s draft, could potentially re-sign with his current club — Zurich, of the Swiss League — if he’s not happy with the NHL club that wins the draft lottery.

What makes this rumor especially juicy?

Well, all seven Canadian teams will be in this year’s lottery, thereby increasing the odds that Matthews — an Arizona native, and the latest USA Hockey prodigy — lands north of the border.

Unlike Patrick Kane, who landed in Chicago.

Or Jack Eichel, who landed in Buffalo.

Insert foreboding music here.

To put this rumor to bed, though, here’s TSN Insider (and noted Canadian) Bob McKenzie:

Like most internet/Twitter rumours, there isn’t a shred of substance to it. But it has nevertheless created some angst amongst the fan bases of the seven Canadians teams.

The big centre from Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to play in the NHL next season, wants to be the No. 1 pick in the draft and isn’t going to jeopardize either of those for the sake of geography or appearing petulant.

Matthews’ agent Pat Brisson totally dismissed the rumour with a “really?” and a laugh.

“No truth,” Brisson said.

Matthews has long been tied to the Coyotes, who would no doubt love to market a franchise-type player that grew up in their back yard. But Arizona’s surprisingly solid campaign has diminished its chances of winning the No. 1 overall pick — per TSN, the Coyotes’ chances currently sit at just six percent.

As such, Coyotes GM Don Maloney and the rest of the hockey world will have to sit and wait on the next chapter of the Auston Matthews story — one that’s expected to occur this spring, when Matthews will reportedly be named to the U.S. team for the 2016 Worlds in Russia.

Goalie nods: Slumping Isles turn to Berube to stop skid

New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) misses the save on a goal scored by Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
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Jean-Francois Berube‘s last outing was pretty good — stopping 33 of 34 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh — and with Thomas Greiss having lost three straight, tonight seems like as good a night as any to get Berube back in the mix.

So that’s exactly what the Isles will do, as Berube starts against the Senators.

Berube, now New York’s backup with Greiss having replaced injured starter Jaroslav Halak, will look to build upon the solid numbers he’s posted in an admittedly small sample size this season: 1-1-1, 2.52 GAA and .924 save percentage.

The former L.A. Kings farmhand has a pretty good matchup this evening, all things considered. Berube will face an Ottawa team that lost 4-2 to Washington last night, but will be up against Andrew Hammond — who, in his last outing, posted a 30-save shutout against the Canadiens.

If Berube can help the Isles secure two points tonight, the club will be just one back of Pittsburgh for third in the Metropolitan Division.


— It’s a quiet night on the schedule with just two games. At MSG (and on NBCSN), Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers while it appears likely Tuukka Rask is in goal for the Bruins.

Pens-Flyers outdoor game moved to primetime

Winter Classic Hockey

The NHL has bumped the 2017 Stadium Series game between Philly and Pittsburgh by a week, in order to get the coveted primetime evening setting.

More, from the league:

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 as part of the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today.

The new date of the event allows for a night-time setting that will be broadcast in primetime on NBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada at 8 p.m. ET.

This will mark the second outdoor game to be played at Heinz, following the 2011 Winter Classic between the Penguins and Capitals.

As the NHL notes, the ’17 Stadium Series game will mark the first time that the Keystone State Rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philly will be played at the home of the Steelers.

Wild sign Hobey Baker finalist Petan

Michigan Tech forward Alex Petan (23) and Yale defenseman Ryan Obuchowski battle for the puck during the third period of an NCAA hockey college game at the Desert Hockey Classic tournament, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Alex Petan, the Michigan Tech senior that captured this year’s WCHA Player of the Year award, has inked an amateur tryout contract with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, per the Star-Tribune.

Petan, 23, is the older brother of Winnipeg forward Nic Petan, who made his NHL debut this season. The elder Petan is coming off a solid four-year career at Michigan Tech, which culminated with him being one of the top-10 finalists for this year’s Hobey Baker award.

A diminutive skater — listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds — Petan led the WCHA in numerous statistical categories this year, including goals (16), points (29), goals-per-game (0.59), points-per-game (1.07) and power-play points (13).

The Star-Tribune reports this ATO doesn’t come with an entry-level NHL contract, though that may still happen.


Subban (neck) returns to full practice, but still has ‘some symptoms’

P.K Subban injured
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Welcome sight at Habs practice on Wednesday, as P.K. Subban fully participated with teammates for the first time since being stretchered off against Buffalo on Mar. 10 — but while he’s back skating, he won’t return to game action tomorrow when Montreal takes on Detroit.

“I have to follow what the doctors say,” Subban said, per the Canadian Press. “I’ve still got some symptoms from the injury and they don’t want me back unless I’m at 100 per cent.”

Subban noted this is the first time in his career he’s missed time to injury, so he’s a bit unfamiliar with rehabbing to get back into action.

He’s missed six games all told with the neck ailment, but appears determined to get back into the Montreal lineup quickly — possibly on Saturday, when the club has a home date against the Rangers.