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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Pat Cannone, 30, will play his first-ever NHL game on Tuesday

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Tomorrow night’s game at Xcel will be a special one for Pat Cannone.

Cannone, the 30-year-old AHL journeyman, will make his long-awaited NHL debut when the Wild host the Avs in Minnesota, per the Star-Tribune.

What’s more, the debut comes after his first-ever NHL recall.

A former Miami (Ohio) University forward, Cannone went undrafted but transitioned quickly to the pro game, making his American League debut with Binghamton in ’10-11. He spent a few years with the Sens organization before getting traded to the Blues, then spent a few more years playing for St. Louis’ AHL affiliate in Chicago.

This past summer, Cannone signed with the Wild and was dispatched to the minors during the preseason.

Along the way, he’s become a pretty good scorer. He netted a career-high 20 goals and 52 points last season for the Wolves — in addition to serving as team captain, he was also named the AHL All-Star Game MVP — and this year, has 16 points in 29 games for Iowa.

It’s fitting that his debut comes under Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.

An AHL legend — he’s still one of the top goalscorers in league history — Boudreau spent considerable time as a minor league coach before making the jump to the bigs. He spent 17 seasons in the IHL, ECHL and AHL before scoring the Caps gig in 2007, when he was 52 years old.

Huberdeau ‘right on schedule’ for February return

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It’s been a very tumultuous season in Florida, and you can point to the Panthers losing Jonathan Huberdeau on the eve of the regular season as the incident that kicked everything off.

But now, some good news on that front. Huberdeau traveled with the team last week, and has returned to both the ice and the gym — significant steps in his recovery from a torn Achilles.

According to head coach Tom Rowe, everything is pointing towards a February return for the former Calder winner.

“He’s right on schedule, but he feels real good,” Rowe said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The fact he could spend as much time in the weight room getting stronger and getting in better shape because of the injury is all good.

“He’s an elite level player and it will be good for us when he is back; it makes us a stronger, deeper team.”

Huberdeau, 23, is coming off a career-best 20 goals and 59 points last season, one in which he further developed chemistry with No. 1 linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr. Florida has spent much of the first two months of the season trying to fill Huberdeau’s spot on the top line, with mixed results, and it’s become clear the organization is both anxious and excited about the prospect of getting him back.

Given the timing, it will almost be like a deadline pickup for the Panthers (this season’s deadline is on Feb. 28).

Florida made a big investment in Huberdeau with his six-year, $35.4 million extension, which kicks in next season. So there’s no doubt the club is more than ready to see him back in action.

 

 

Coyotes prospect Strome to captain Canada at World Juniors

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Canada’s world junior team features three players that played in the NHL this season.

On Monday, those three were named to the club’s leadership group.

Arizona’s Dylan Strome, who appeared in seven games this season and scored his first NHL point, has been named captain for the tournament, Hockey Canada announced.

Islanders forward Matthew Barzal — who played two games before getting sent back to WHL Seattle — is one of the alternates, along with Ottawa d-man Thomas Chabot, who played in one game this year prior to returning to the QMJHL.

This figures to be a big tournament for Strome, who was part of the disappointing Canadian team that lost in the quarterfinals to Finland last year.

Strome finished tied with Mitch Marner for the team lead in scoring, with six points in five games, and will now have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Curtis Lazar, the last player to captain Team Canada to gold on home soil (Lazar was the leader of a dynamic ’15 team that went undefeated en route to gold in Montreal and Toronto).

 

B’s waste no time in recalling Vatrano, who’s already back to scoring goals

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When Boston lost sophomore forward Frank Vatrano to torn foot ligaments during offseason training, it was a big blow. The 22-year-old — coming off eight goals and 11 points in 39 games as a rookie — was being counted on to replace some of the goalscoring that departed when Loui Eriksson signed in Vancouver.

Now, he’s back.

Vatrano, sent down to AHL Providence three days ago, has been recalled to Boston after a brief two-game rehab stint over the weekend. During that stint — which represented his first game action of the season — he quickly got back to doing what he does:

Scoring goals.

Vatrano found the back of the net in each of his two games in Providence, a trend that carried over from last year — in ’15-16, he scored 36 times in 36 games en route to capturing the AHL’s goalscoring title, wildly impressive given it was essentially his first full professional campaign.

The Bruins next play on Tuesday, when they take on the Islanders. Vatrano will be available for selection, and could be again counted on to replace some missing scoring — another exciting young sniper, 20-year-old David Pastrnak, will miss the next few games following elbow surgery.

Pastrnak currently leads Boston with 19 goals through 27 games.

Leafs recall first-rounder Gauthier

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Frederik Gauthier, the 6-foot-5 center taken 21st overall in 2013, has been recalled by Toronto from the AHL Marlies, the club announced on Monday.

Gauthier, 21, has four points through 16 American League games this season, this after scoring 18 in 56 games with the Marlies a year ago. The former QMJHL Rimouski standout also appeared in nine Calder Cup playoff games in ’15-16.

Gauthier made his NHL debut last season, appearing in seven contests.

With this recall, Toronto now boasts a roster featuring all five of its last first-round picks: Gauthier, Auston Matthews (1st overall, ’16), Mitch Marner (4th overall, ’15), William Nylander (8th overall, ’14) and Morgan Rielly (5th overall, ’12).