Dallas is about to see what it’s got in Esa Lindell.
After putting Jordie Benn on IR and sending Jamie Oleksiak to the AHL on a conditioning stint, the Stars had an opportunity to bring a new d-man into the mix — so, enter Lindell, the 21-year-old Finn that’s made a name for himself over the last couple of seasons.
A third-round pick in 2012, Lindell first raised eyebrows as part of the Finnish team that captured gold at the 2014 World Juniors, finishing third on the team in scoring while leading the team’s blueline in points, with five.
Last year, he left his SM-liiga club to play for Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas.
This year, he’s been arguably Texas’ best player.
Lindell has 25 points in 42 games and was named to the annual All-Star Classic, though it’s unclear now if he’ll be able to participate.
There’s an opportunity in Dallas for some serious minutes — Benn was averaging just under 16 per night, and the bottom pairing hasn’t really been solidified all season long, as the likes of Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka have rotated in and out.
Related: Dallas has ‘deepest bench of defense prospects in the league,’ says owner
Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Calgary’s Sam Bennett and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 17, the league announced on Monday.
Kane tied for the League lead in points with seven (4-3—7) as the Blackhawks (31-13-4, 66 points) won all four starts to move into first place in the Central Division.
Bennett led the League with six goals (6-0—6) in three games as the Flames (20-20-3, 43 points) gained three of a possible six standings points.
Kopitar tied for the League lead with seven points (2-5—7) in three games as the Pacific Division-leading Kings (28-13-3, 59 points) gained four of a possible six standings points.
Another huge performance from Kane, who continues to strengthen his Hart Trophy candidacy on a weekly basis. Kane now leads the NHL in goals (29), assists (40) and points (69). He’s on pace to smash his career-high in points — 88, scored during the 2009-10 campaign — and, at this current rate, could flirt with the 120-point plateau.
The last player to score 120 or more in a season? Sidney Crosby, in 2006-07.
There were no takers for Steve Downie, which means he’s headed to the American League for the first time in nearly eight years.
Downie, who was waived yesterday by the Coyotes, went unclaimed and will now be assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield, per GM Don Maloney.
It’s the latest in what’s been a tough year for the 28-year-old. Downie only played in two games this month, which included a 7:12 stint in a 2-0 loss to the Devils on Saturday. He’s been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions recently and, prior to that, had missed a fairly significant period of time with an upper-body injury.
Signed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal this summer, Downie was expected to bring his trademark grit and energy to the Coyotes, but it didn’t really materialize.
Now, he’s off to the AHL — a league he hasn’t played in since the 2008-09 campaign, when he split time between the Tampa Bay and Philadelphia organizations.
The stage is set for tonight’s Oilers-Panthers game at BB&T.
Yes, it seems weird hyping a Monday nighter between Florida and Edmonton, hardly the fiercest of rivals, but this one is different — today, the Panthers ruled out star defenseman Aaron Ekblad for another two games, as he continues to deal with the ramifications from a hit from Edmonton forward Matt Hendricks.
Hendricks, of course, is eligible to return tonight… from his three-game suspension for boarding Ekblad.
It’ll be interesting to see how Florida handles the situation. The club is in a bit of a funk, having followed up its impressive 12-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid, during which it’s only managed to score three goals.
There’s a chance head coach Gerard Gallant — who, as the above video shows, was livid with Hendricks’ hit — instructs his players to focus on the game, the two points at stake, and all those other terrific cliches.
But it’s hard to see the Panthers not engaging the Oilers and/or Hendricks at some point.
Shawn Thornton is confirmed to be playing tonight, per play-by-play man Steve Goldstein. He leads the team in fights this year, with four, trailed by fellow forwards Derek McKenzie and Alex Petrovic.
Petrovic, it should be noted, is one of two Panthers that fought Hendricks in game Ekblad got hurt. Logan Shaw was the other.
Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski has avoided supplementary discipline for his hit on Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin on Sunday — per an NHL spokesman, no disciplinary hearing has been scheduled.
Grabovski was tossed in the first period of the Canucks’ eventual 2-1 shootout win for boarding Sedin from behind. Sedin appeared to be in serious discomfort, and was treated by trainers both on the ice and bench before exiting the game for good.
Vancouver players weren’t happy with Grabovski’s actions.
“It was a pretty dirty play,” Ryan Miller said, per The Province.
Sedin wouldn’t say what kind of injury he sustained, only saying “I couldn’t go (back in) and it was impossible and it doesn’t happen very often — it’s not a good feeling.”
It’s unclear what his availability will be for the remainder of Vancouver’s current road trip. Yesterday’s tilt was game three of six, with contests still to come against the Rangers, Bruins and Penguins.