Mike Halford

Viktor Tikhonov, Braydon Coburn

Welcome back: Coyotes claim Tikhonov off waivers from ‘Hawks

What’s old is new again in the desert.

On Sunday, the Arizona Coyotes claimed Viktor Tikhonov off waivers from Chicago (per Arizona Sports), bringing him back to the organization that selected him in the opening round of the 2008 Draft.

Tikhonov, 27, returned to the NHL this season after a four-year stint in the KHL. He signed a one-year, $1.04 million deal with the ‘Hawks but failed to make an impact, going scoreless in 11 games while sitting as a healthy scratch in 10 of the last 11 contests.

The move back to Arizona should be interesting.

Tikhonov, the 28th overall pick in ’08, spent most of his rookie campaign with the Coyotes, scoring eight goals and 16 points in 61 games. That was followed by a stint with AHL San Antonio, then his move to Russia.

Despite that move, it appeared Arizona always kept interest in Tikhonov– last May, GM Don Maloney reportedly reached out to him about an NHL return.

Looks like Bryan Bickell’s on his way back to Chicago

Bryan Bickell
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After 12 games, Bryan Bickell’s time in the American Hockey League appears to be over.

Bickell has left the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, per ex-ESPN Chicago scribe Scott Powers, and is expected to be available for selection when Chicago takes on the Jets today.

Bickell’s return comes after the ‘Hawks put Russian forward Viktor Tikhonov on waivers, for the purpose of sending him to the IceHogs.

The hope now, of course, is that Bickell’s time in the minors has kickstarted his game.

Carrying a hefty four-year, $16 million deal with a $4M average annual cap hit, Bickell struggled mightily over the first month of the NHL campaign, which led to Chicago demoting him in early November.

Over the last month, though, the big power forward looks to have rediscovered his offense. He has seven goals and 14 points in 12 games for Rockford.

“Putting it all together for Bicks is a challenge, but there are always some good parts to his game,” ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “He can skate, he can shoot, he can hit hard. So there are some good attributes there, and just putting them together in that consistent fashion is what we want to see.

“When he delivers it, it makes us a better team.”

After ‘really disappointing’ loss to Leafs, Blues make change on defense

Vladimir Tarasenko, Joel Edmundson
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Petteri Lindbohm is up, and Joel Edmundson‘s down.

That’s the news out of St. Louis this morning — following last night’s ugly 4-1 loss at home to the Leafs, the Blues made a change on defense by sending Edmundson to AHL Chicago in favor of Petteri Lindbohm, who’s yet to play in the NHL this season.

Lindbohm, 22, appeared in 23 games for the Blues last year, but has spent all of this season with the Wolves, where he has seven points in 20 games.

Edmundson, also 22, was — along with fellow rookie Colton Parayko — one of the two surprises to make the Blues roster out of training camp. A second-round pick in ’11, Edmundson has no goals and two points in 23 games this year, and had a rough outing against Toronto on Saturday, finishing minus-2 in just 11:58 TOI, the lowest among all Blues d-men.

Following last night’s loss, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock expressed frustration.

“It’s really disappointing to watch us have to go through this because it’s not the right way to play,” he said, per the Blues website. “The players know it in there, especially the veteran players, but I’m not sure what it’s going to take for us to get back to what we’re capable of but we’re not doing it on a consistent basis.

“That’s why we’re a .500 hockey club over the last little while. We’re .500 in our individual game and we’re .500 in our record because of it.”

Report: Jets, Trouba will wait until after season for extension talks

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Four
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Talented young Winnipeg d-man Jacob Trouba‘s name continues to be in the news.

Trouba, rumored to be an Islanders trade target for a potential Travis Hamonic move, is now reportedly going to table contract talks with the Jets until the end of the year, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

According to Friedman, neither the Jets nor Trouba’s camp would comment on the state of negotiations. Friedman did say, though, that he’s heard the decision to put off talks was “amicable.”

Trouba, 21, is in the last of his three-year, entry-level deal and a restricted free agent at season’s end.

The ninth overall pick in 2012, Trouba burst onto the scene during his rookie campaign in ’13-14 — scoring 10 goals and 29 points, finishing sixth in Calder voting — though his numbers are down a bit this year.

His TOI per game has dropped to 20:09, and he’s on pace for the lowest point total of his three-year career.

 

Goalie nods: Gibson starts (again) as Anaheim’s crease gets crowded (again)

John Gibson
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Oh, this again.

Prior to tonight’s tilt against the Sharks, Anaheim had an all-too-familiar look at the morning skate as three goalies — Frederik Andersen, John Gibson and Anton Khudobin — took to the playing surface.

While the Ducks later announced that Gibson would start (his fifth in a row), the real story was about the team’s crowded crease.

More: Khudobin gets second straight start, raising eyebrows in Anaheim

Andersen’s been out since Nov. 21 and was dealing with the flu all last week, which allowed Gibson to be recalled from AHL San Diego, then grasp hold of the starting job. Gibson has registered one shutout and stopped 104 of 112 shots for a .929 save percentage in four starts in Andersen’s absence.

Then, today — when asked about picking a starter for tonight’s big in-division rivalry game against San Jose — Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had some pretty interesting things to say.

“We’ve brought [Gibson] up in situations where he gets shutouts, in playoffs where he gets shutouts,” Boudreau said, per the O.C. Register. “He’s a big-game guy and this is a big game so hopefully he’ll come to the forefront tonight.”

It’s no secret Boudreau is a big Gibson fan. He had enough belief to start the then-untested rookie in the playoffs two years ago and, along with the rest of the Anaheim brass, recognizes Gibson is the organization’s goalie of the future.

It’s probably not coincidence, then, that on Thursday’s TSN Insider Trading, Darren Dreger said there’s belief Andersen or Khudobin could be made available via trade, adding “It’s based on the play of John Gibson.”

So yeah, it’ll be really interesting to see how Gibson does this evening.

For the Sharks, Martin Jones is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Mike Smith is back in goal for the Coyotes after getting hooked for three goals on 16 shots against Detroit Thursday night. He’ll be up against Chad Johnson in the Sabres’ net.

— It’s Michal Neuvirth versus Cory Schneider when the Flyers take on the Devils in New Jersey.

Al Montoya will give the red-hot Roberto Luongo the night off as the Panthers play Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky starts for the Jackets.

— Battle of the backups in Brooklyn: Brian Elliott for the Blues, Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— Looks as though Jonas Gustavsson will start for the Bruins in Calgary, while the Flames are once again riding Karri Ramo.

— No word yet on a Dallas starter after Kari Lehtonen beat the Canucks last night. We do know, however, that Anders Nilsson will be in for Edmonton.