Mike Halford

Report: Rangers to recall prized d-man prospect Skjei

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Looks as though waiving Jarret Stoll will usher in a new era for the Rangers.

Per ESPN, the Blueshirts are expected to recall Brady Skjei — their first-round pick (28th overall) in 2012 — once Stoll clears waivers this afternoon.

Skjei, 21, is a former University of Minnesota and U.S. World Junior team standout that’s in his first full professional season with AHL Hartford.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder appeared in some games for the Wolf Pack last season — including 15 Calder Cup playoff games — but really made his mark this year, scoring two goals and 11 points in 27 games, leading all Hartford d-men in scoring.

It’s not entirely surprising the Rangers want to reinforce their defense.

The club is coming off an ugly three-game stretch through Western Canada in which it lost three times, and surrendered 12 goals in defeats in Edmonton and Calgary.

The club is also currently without steady blueliner Kevin Klein (oblique), while Dan Girardi is dealing with a knee ailment.

All told, the Rangers have lost eight of their last 10.

Update: Skjei is in tonight…

Shero: Schneider isn’t just Devils’ MVP, he ‘could be in the MVP voting for the league’

Sergey Kalinin, Cory Schneider
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The Devils are off to a surprising start — 15-11-4, 34 points, holding the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference — and while the club’s had a number of key contributors this season, one’s stood out above the rest:

Cory Schneider.

The 29-year-old netminder has been New Jersey’s best player through the first 30 games of the season, making 25 appearances for a 13-8-4 record, .924 save percentage, 2.14 GAA and one shutout.

(And one ugly outing in which he got pulled against the Isles last game out. But we won’t dwell on that.)

Recently, Devils GM Ray Shero spoke with PHT about Schneider’s contributions, suggesting team MVP isn’t the only hardware the goalie should be in contention for.

“Yeah, I’d say so,” Shero said when asked if Schneider was the team’s most valuable player. “Cory could be in the MVP voting for the league.”

By now, most know Schneider’s story.

But if you don’t….

Drafted 26th overall by Vancouver in 2004, Schneider — a former Boston College and U.S. World Junior standout — rose through the ranks with the Canucks, only to eventually find himself mired in a contentious goalie duel with the incumbent No. 1, Roberto Luongo.

After six years with the organization, one Stanley Cup final and more drama than an episode of Empire, Schneider was dealt to the Devils in a draft-day stunner.

The Devils, set to pick ninth overall in ’13, flipped the selection to Vancouver in front of the Prudential Center faithful. As the deal was consummated, those in attendance realized what was happening — Martin Brodeur’s eventual replacement had been acquired.

Brodeur two-point-oh is exactly what former GM Lou Lamoriello saw Schneider as — “that’s what he envisioned, [Schneider] one day taking over,” Shero explained — and now, in his third season in New Jersey, Schneider’s carrying the club, not unlike what No. 30 used to do back in the day.

“He’s a really good teammate,” Shero explained. “If he lets in a bad goal or mishandles a puck or there’s a screen, or a bad goal goes in or there’s a deflection, has he ever looked at a defenseman or throw his arms up? Never.

“That’s a part of leadership for him – not making excuses for the team, for himself. It’s a good leadership trait to have.”

This season, Schneider’s needed all the leadership qualities he can muster.

The Devils don’t often provide him with a ton of ammo — they sit dead last in the NHL in shots per game, with 25.8, and have the NHL’s 21st-ranked offense (2.40 goals per game). New Jersey’s also out-shot by three per game on average, and there was a stretch from Nov. 17 to Dec. 11 where they surrendered an average of over 30 per night.

Yet despite that, they kept churning along, grinding out results, largely thanks to Schneider’s play.

Shero won’t make excuses for his star goalie stealing some results.

“He’s part of the team,” Shero said of Schneider. “If Corey makes 36 saves and we get out-shot, you know what? That’s fantastic. Who’s going to apologize for that?

“If Carey Price stands on his head, he’s part of the team in Montreal. That’s part of the fabric they have.”

Looks like it’s part of the fabric in New Jersey, too.

Banged-up Kings put Lewis, Clifford on IR

Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford
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The Kings further dipped into their AHL affiliate in Ontario on Monday, calling up veteran d-man Jeff Schultz and prospect Nick Ebert.

In a corresponding move, the club placed forwards Trevor Lewis and forward Kyle Clifford on injured reserve.

Clifford has been out since last week with an upper-body injury following a high hit from Bolts d-man Victor Hedman. Lewis hasn’t dressed since a Dec. 1 win over Vancouver, and is still in L.A. recuperating.

That said, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said he’s hopeful Lewis will join the team on its current road swing.

L.A. will be tested with these two on the shelf, especially since Matt Greene and Dwight King were already out injured.

The injuries have forced Sutter into some makeshift lineups. In Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss in Buffalo, the Kings gave another Ontario recall — rookie Michael Mersch — his NHL debut, and he played alongside fellow farmhands Andy Andreoff and Jordan Weal.

Related: Sending a message? Sutter not happy Kings opened lengthy trip with just 12 forwards

Detroit’s AHL affiliate is on a pretty impressive streak of its own

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The Red Wings are on a terrific run right now, having secured at least a point 13 straight games (8-0-5).

Yet, amazingly, they might not even be the hottest team within their own organization.

That distinction belongs to the club’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. Last night, the Griffins matched a franchise record with their 11th straight victory, a 4-3 OT win over Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena.

More, from MLive:

This winning streak ties the franchise record set during the 2005-06 campaign (March 5-31, 2006) under Greg Ireland. The Griffins have a chance to break the record on Wendesday against the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena at 7 p.m.

Trailing 3-0 with less than six minutes remaining in the second period, Mitch Callahan’s eighth of the season put the Griffins (13-8-0-1) on the scoresheet, while Martin Frk and Mark Zengerle each scored in the final 2:19 of regulation to force the extra session.

As the 11 consecutive Ws suggest, many of the Griffins are playing well, and you’ll probably recognize some of the names currently doing the business:

— Xavier Ouellet, who scored the OT winner against Iowa. The 22-year-old d-man has appeared in 25 career games for the Red Wings (though none this year).

— Journeyman Eric Tangradi, who’s appeared in 143 career NHL contests. The former Penguin, Jet and Canadien leads the Griffins with 12 goals and 20 points in 22 games.

— Former Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele, who joined the organization last year. Miele has a team-high 14 assists thus far.

— Youngsters Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha, the latter being Detroit’s first-round pick (20th overall) at the ’13 draft.

As for the future of said streaks?

Detroit looks to get a point in its 14th straight game when it hosts the Sabres tonight. Grand Rapids next plays on Wednesday, at Lake Erie.

Ducks’ Thompson suspended three games for ‘unnecessarily’ hitting Faulk in head

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The NHL has come down on Anaheim forward Nate Thompson for his headshot on Carolina d-man Justin Faulk — on Monday, the league suspended Thompson for the next three games.

“Rather that hitting squarely through his opponent’s body, Thompson extends his body unnecessarily, and makes Faulk’s head the main point of contact,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “While Faulk is low to the ice as he steps up, he does not materially change the position of his head just prior to, or simultaneous with contact.”

The hit, which happened early in the first period of Carolina’s 5-1 win on Friday, earned Thompson a five-minute elbowing major and game misconduct.

Faulk was briefly shaken up but uninjured, and went on to finish the game with 26:22 TOI.

In explaining its ruling, the DoPS noted it has a history with Thompson. In 2013, while playing for Tampa Bay, he was suspended two games for an illegal check to the head of then-Devils forward Matt D’Agostini.

Thompson will now sit out the first three games of Anaheim’s upcoming road trip — Thursday in Buffalo, Saturday in New Jersey and Monday in Brooklyn. He’s eligible to return on Dec. 22, when the Ducks take on the Rangers at MSG.

Thompson will also forfeit $25,806.45 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.