Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

With just four goals in their last three games, Sharks make interesting call-up


San Jose’s in a bit of a funk.

Mired in a three-game losing streak — during which they’ve only scored four times — the Sharks had arguably their worst game of the season on Saturday, a 5-0 drubbing at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So on Monday, they went calling to the farm.

Kevin Labanc, currently tied for the AHL Barracuda scoring lead with 10 points through six games, has been brought up to the big club.

It’s an interesting move.

Labanc, an undersized winger taken in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, has been a high-level point producer over the past few years. He scored 127 in 65 games in his final season with OHL Barrie, then racked up 26 more in just 15 playoff games.

He’s really impressed Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer this season, on the “Kid Line” with Nikolay Goldobin and Rourke Chartier.

From the Gackle Report:

[Goldobin is] benefiting from playing alongside a natural finisher in Labanc, who has the “hardest, most accurate shot,” Sommer has seen in almost two decades of coaching the franchise.

“I can score, too, but I’m always trying to find him because I know he has a really good shot,” Goldobin said, referring to Labanc.

That the Sharks are bringing in a sniper is telling.

In terms of possession and shot metrics, they’re faring well (see here and here), but there’s been an issue translating that into goals. The club sits 27th in the NHL in GPG, with forwards Joe Thornton, Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto having combined for a grand total of five tallies.

So maybe having a trigger man in the lineup will help.

Young get younger as Coyotes bring up DeAngelo, Gaudet


The kids are running the show in Arizona.

On Monday, John Chayka — at 27, the NHL’s youngest GM — announced the Coyotes had recalled 21-year-old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and 23-year-old forward Tyler Gaudet from AHL Tucson.

In corresponding moves, the Arizona Republic reports d-man Michael Stone and center Martin Hanzal have been placed on IR. Also, this:

DeAngelo and Gaudet will now join a Coyotes team featuring the likes of:

Jakob Chychrun (18 years old)

Lawson Crouse (19)

Dylan Strome (19)

Christian Dvorak (20)

Anthony Duclair (21)

Laurent Dauphin (21)

Max Domi (21)

Of the two recalls, DeAngelo — taken 19th overall by Tampa Bay at the 2014 draft — is the most intriguing.

At the time of selection, Lightning scouting director Al Murray called DeAngelo “the most skilled offensive defenseman in the draft,” saying he was a better passer and puck mover than the No. 1 overall pick — Aaron Ekblad.

“Ekblad’s a special player, but he doesn’t have the offensive ability that Anthony has at this point,” Murray said. “Aaron Ekblad’s a tremendous player. He’s physically strong enough to be in the NHL next year, he’s a shutdown defenseman that plays with a mean streak.

“But when it comes to his actual puck skills and offensive game, he makes a solid first pass and he’s got a bomb for a shot from the point — but we don’t see the same ability to move the puck around, have the same vision, make all the different passes in different zones that Anthony has.”

Last year, his first pro season with AHL Syracuse, DeAngelo produced well offensively — six goals and 43 points in 69 games.

The Coyotes acquired DeAngelo on Day 2 of this year’s draft, sending the 37th overall pick to the Lightning. It wasn’t clear if his history of character issues came into play, but Murray did refer to DeAngelo as a “one-dimensional” defenseman shortly after the trade was announced.

Blue Monday: Jackets lose Seth Jones (foot) for three weeks


It’s been a reasonably good start to the year in Columbus — 5-3-2 record, a historic 10-0 win over the Habs — but some luster was knocked off Monday, as the club announced Seth Jones would miss the next three weeks with a hairline fracture in his foot.

The loss is profound, without question.

Jones is the team’s anchor on the back end — nobody on the team plays more minutes, and he leads all blueliners in goals while sitting second in assists.

Up to this point, the 22-year-old has also been remarkably durable, and capable of shouldering a heavy workload. He’s appeared in 240 of a possible 246 games over his three-year career, and has seen his TOI and overall role spike since coming over from Nashville in last year’s Ryan Johansen blockbuster.

The three-week timetable would keep Jones out until Nov. 28, meaning he’s likely to miss Columbus’ next 10 games.

With him out of the lineup, look for the likes of Ryan Murray and Zach Werenski to see more ice time than usual. The club could look at recalling Cody Goloubef from AHL Cleveland.

‘Hawks sign OHL sniper DeBrincat to entry-level deal


Alex DeBrincat, the prolific junior scorer picked 39th overall by Chicago at this year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the ‘Hawks announced on Monday.

DeBrincat, 18, was one of the most intriguing prospects in Buffalo this past June. On numbers alone, he ranked as one of the most dynamic offensive talents available — he posted back-to-back 51-goal seasons with OHL Erie in ’14-15 and ’15-16, eclipsing the 100-point plateau in each campaign.

So, why did he fall all the way to No. 39 overall?

Measurables, primarily.

At 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, he lacks traditional NHL size. Of course, it’s done little to hold him back at the junior level, where he’s already established himself as a decorated skater (he captured both OHL and CHL rookie of the year honors in his freshman campaign).

This year, DeBrincat leads the Ontario League with 17 goals and 35 points through 14 games. Yeah, fourteen games.


Slumping Wings put Vanek (hip) on long-term injured reserve


Thomas Vanek‘s bright start in the Motor City has dimmed a bit.

On Monday, the Red Wings announced they’ve placed Vanek on long-term injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 25, and recalled Tyler Bertuzzi from AHL Grand Rapids. The retroactive designation means Vanek will be on LTIR for 10 games/24 days, minus the time already “served” — and he’s already “served” six games/13 days.

Per MLive, the earliest he can return is Nov. 18.

Vanek, currently dealing with a hip ailment, hasn’t played since a win over Carolina on the 25th, a game in which he scored his fourth goal of the season.

All told, the veteran winger had eight points through seven games as a Red Wing, and his scoring looked to be as dynamic as it was in the earlier parts of his career.

Which is why this injury is a tough break for Detroit.

The club is in a funk right now, having lost five straight after starting the year 6-2-0. Offense has been an issue — just nine goals scored during the losing skid — and, following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Oilers, Justin Abdelkader tried to pinpoint the club’s issues on offense.

“There are too many times where we are passing up shots and trying to take an extra pass,” Abdelkader said, per ESPN. “Sometimes, the best play in hockey is putting the puck on the net.”

On that note, worth pointing out that — despite his injury — Vanek still leads the Wings in goals.