Mike Halford

Michal Neuvirth
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Goalie nods: Mason hurt, Neuvirth to face ex-Caps ‘mates

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Michal Neuvirth will make his second straight start — and first against his former team — when Philly takes on Washington at Verizon tonight.

Neuvirth is getting the nod ahead of Steve Mason, who was held out of the contest due to a lower-body ailment. The injury was severe enough to keep Mason from backing up, as the Flyers recalled veteran Jason LaBarbera from AHL Lehigh Valley to serve as the No. 2.

“I just have great memories,” Neuvirth said of his six years in Washington, per NHL.com. “Really liked it here, but it’s the past and now I’m playing for the Flyers. I’m going to do my best tonight for the Flyers.”

Neuvirth, 27, is enjoying a really solid campaign in Philly, posting a 10-6-2 record with a .934 save percentage and 2.10 GAA. He’s coming off a 3-2 loss to Boston in which he made 28 saves.

For the Caps, Braden Holtby will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

— One night after James Reimer was torched by the Panthers, Jonathan Bernier goes for the Leafs. He’ll be up against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who will give Ben Bishop the night off in Tampa Bay.

Karri Ramo will start for Calgary when the Flames host the Preds. No word yet on who Nashville will start, but it could be a Carter Hutton game after Pekka Rinne played extremely well in the Preds’ 2-1 win over Vancouver on Tuesday.

— No definitive starters from either the Kings or Avs as the two prep to do battle in L.A. Calvin Pickard got the hook last night against the Sharks, so the team could go with AHLer Roman Will tonight. L.A. is likely to start Jonathan Quick.

‘Hawks want to extend Panarin this summer

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The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t messing around with keeping Artemi Panarin in the fold.

Per the Sun-Times, ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman said the plan is to work on a contract extension with Panarin this summer — even though the Russian rookie’s entry-level deal has one more year on it, and won’t expire until July 2017.

Patrick Kane would be pretty upset if we didn’t,” Bowman said.

Bowman’s remarks are in reference to the Panarin-Kane-Artem Anisimov line, which has been virtually unstoppable for most of this season. Kane leads the NHL in points, with 73, while Panarin leads all rookie skaters with 46.

(In both instances, Kane and Panarin are way out in front — Jamie Benn sits second in NHL scoring with 58 points, while Jack Eichel is second among rookies with 34).

It’ll be really interesting to see the financials on Panarin’s next deal.

His current ELC is a complex one, laden with performance bonuses (see here for more). The important thing for Chicago is that it only carries a $812,500 cap hit — but that’s unlikely to be the case with his second deal.

Panarin will be 25 next season and will probably be looking to cash in — he got a late start to his NHL career, after spending his first seven professional seasons in the KHL.

That said, he’s still an RFA at the expiration of his current deal, meaning Bowman and the ‘Hawks have some control over the situation.

 

Oilers claim Clendening off waivers from Ducks

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on October 10, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
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Edmonton made a move to bolster its blueline on Wednesday, picking up d-man Adam Clendening off waivers from Anaheim.

Clendening, 23, is now with his fifth organization in just over a year. Taken 36th overall by Chicago in 2011, he’s spent time with the Blackhawks, Canucks, Penguins and Ducks — though he failed to appear in a single game for Anaheim before getting waived.

A right-handed shot with some good offensive upside — he had 12 goals and 59 points in 74 games in his last full AHL campaign — Clendening was always likely to be picked up on waivers. He’s still relatively young and carries a mere $761,250 cap hit.

Clendening should be in line for minutes in Edmonton. Brandon Davidson was placed on IR prior to the All-Star break with an undisclosed ailment, and the Oilers have rotated in a number of bottom-pairing guys throughout the season.

Report: Anaheim’s Stoner expected to plead guilty to grizzly bear hunting charges

Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks - Game One
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The long, drawn-out saga involving Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner and a controversial grizzly bear hunt he participated in three years ago could soon be coming to a close.

Per CBC, Stoner is expected to plead guilty to some of the charges brought against him. He’s been charged with two counts of knowingly making a false statement to obtain a hunting license, and individual counts of hunting out of season, hunting without a license and unlawfully possessing dead wildlife.

CBC reports it’s unclear which charges he’ll plead to.

Charges against Stoner were initially filed last September, nearly two years after pictures of him hoisting a grizzly’s severed head first appeared online.

Stoner, who at the time of the hunt was playing with the Minnesota Wild, identified himself as an avid outdoorsman that “grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia.”

In a statement released by the Wild’s PR team, Stoner said he conducted himself in a legal manner.

“I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my license while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May,” he explained. “I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.”

But authorities had a different take.

From the Vancouver Sun:

The legal argument is that Stoner did not meet those conditions due to living out of the province as a professional hockey player. At the time of the hunt, Stoner played for the Minnesota Wild but joined Anaheim as a free agent in 2014.

“All five charges are directly related to the residency requirement,” [conservation office Detective-Sergeant Cynthia] Mann said.

Stoner came under fire in the weeks since the charges were filed. In mid-October, a group of animal activists protested outside a Ducks home game at the Honda Center.

Richards’ possession trial adjourned to late February

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17:  Mike Richards #10 of the Washington Capitals looks on during a stoppage in play against the New York Rangers in the third period at Verizon Center on January 17, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Mike Richards’ legal battle will go on longer than expected.

Richards, who signed with the Caps earlier this month and has appeared in three games, had his trial for possession of a controlled substance adjourned to Feb. 25 — after it had already been adjourned to Jan. 28.

More from CP 24:

Toronto-based lawyer David M. Humphrey said in an email to The Associated Press that government officials asked to push back Richards’ court date because it is awaiting the results of an investigation that was requested by the defense.

Richards is facing charges from an incident last June at a Manitoba border crossing, in which he was alleged to have brought oxycodone from the U.S. into Canada.

That incident led his former team, Los Angeles, to terminate his contract for a “material breach.” The Kings announced in late October they’d reached a settlement with Richards, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Richards, 30, inked a one-year, $1 million deal with the Caps on Jan. 6.