Mike Halford

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

Prized Habs prospect Sergachev survives another round of cuts

Yet another feather in the cap for Mikhail Sergachev.

Sergachev, taken ninth overall by Montreal at June’s draft, survived yet another round of cuts on Monday as the Habs trimmed their roster down to 27 players.

Today’s transactions leaves Montreal with nine blueliners: Sergachev, Mark Barberio, Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Greg Pateryn, Jeff Petry, Zach Redmond and Shea Weber.

Sergachev, still just 18 years old, has been tantalizing onlookers in Montreal since becoming the second d-man selected in this year’s draft (Vancouver took Olli Juolevi four spots earlier). He starred at prospects camp, and impressed in his preseason debut against Ottawa.

“He played a great first game,” head coach Michel Therrien told the CP of Sergachev’s debut, in which the Russian rearguard played nearly 20 minutes. “He played with a lot of confidence for a young player. He was composed with the puck, never got rid of it for no reason.

“He was poised, he’s a good skater and he’s strong. He’s a heck of a hockey player.”

At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Sergachev probably has the size to compete in the NHL right away — even if a return to OHL Windsor is the most likely move.

Sergachev’s chances of sticking around could be bolstered if Habs GM Marc Bergevin pulls the deal on a Beaulieu trade, a rumor that’s been making the rounds since early September, when Bergevin admitted he’s been receiving calls on the former first-round pick.

Impressive Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly


If Travis Konecny doesn’t make the Flyers to start the regular season, it won’t be for a lack of opportunity.

Konecny, the 24th overall pick at the 2015 draft, has been gifted the chance to play alongside some of Philly’s top forwards during the preseason — Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl — and has fared well, impressing a number of onlookers.

“I’ve watched all the kids and he’s played good out there,” fellow forward Matt Read said, per CSN Philly. “He’s doing well. Young kid in the right spots, creating offense. He’s playing good hockey.”

Konecny, 19, is familiar with showing well during the exhibition campaign. He basically did the same at Flyers training camp last year, earning equally high praise from former Philly center Vincent Lecavalier.

“He’s fast,” Lecavaier said of the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Konecny. “He’s turning one way, turning the other way. I don’t know him that much, but on that one shift, I was just kind of watching him, mesmerized by what he was doing.

“Nobody could catch up. Kind of like [Tyler] Johnson in Tampa. He reminds me of him a little bit.”

Though he played very well for the Flyers’ brass last year, Konecny — then just 18 years old — was returned to OHL Sarnia and was strong, scoring 56 points in 31 games. He also racked up a pair of points for Canada at the World Juniors.

But for all the good Konecny’s done, he still looks like he’s on the outside of the opening night roster.

The Flyers are pretty deep at forward and there just aren’t a ton of spots available, and it’s tough to envision a scenario where GM Ron Hextall opts to keep Konecny playing limited minutes (or games) at the NHL level, rather than have him playing regularly in junior.

Hextall could, however, keep Konecny up for a nine-game cameo to start the year, before making the decision to send him home.

This is similar to what the club did back in 2013 with former first-rounder Scott Laughton, though it’s important to remember that Paul Holmgren was the GM at that time, not Hextall.

Contract coming? Rakell’s agent negotiating ‘frequently’ with Anaheim


More updates from Anaheim, the land of contractual impasses…

Rickard Rakell, the still-unsigned RFA forward, sounds as though he’s closer to an extension with the Ducks than teammate Hampus Lindholm, who’s working out in Sweden.

From the O.C. Register:

Rakell has yet to resume his training after being unable to play for his homeland in the World Cup of Hockey. But it is believed that while the Ducks would prefer to stay lower than Rakell’s six-year, $24 million asking price, they’ve made more headway with the center’s agent, Peter Wallen.

In an e-mail to the Register, Wallen confirmed as much while saying Rakell has slowly started to work out again and will need “a couple of weeks” to get back in top shape. “Back negotiating,” Wallen said. “More frequently now.”

Rakell finished fourth on the Ducks in scoring last year, with 20 goals and 43 points, and led the team in game-winning markers. His emergence over the last two seasons — he had 31 points in 73 contests in ’14-15 — his age (only turned 23 in May) and his versatility (can play center or right wing) are the big reasons why he’s angling for a significant payday.

For Anaheim, it’s one of those problems teams wish they had.

Though they’re stretched thin financially, the Ducks have an arsenal of good young talent up front that will eventually replace the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. Rakell is chief among them, and he’ll soon be followed by the likes of Nick Ritchie, Nick Sorensen, Julius Nattinen and both of the club’s first-round picks at this year’s draft — Max Jones and Sam Steel.

The key, of course, is keeping all those young guys in the fold.

And that starts with Rakell.

Related: Lindholm seeking eight-year deal from ducks, at least $6M per

Columbus giving prized rookie Werenski ‘every opportunity to run the power play’


The Blue Jackets aren’t easing Zach Werenski into his freshman campaign.

Werenski, the highly touted blueline prospect, has been tasked with running the Columbus power play during the exhibition campaign — often as the lone defenseman with four forwards — and it looks like a role he might reprise throughout the regular season.

Even though he’s yet to play an NHL game.

“I want to give him every opportunity to run the power play,” head coach John Tortorella said after an OT win over Nashville, per the Blue Jackets website. “He certainly did a good job of that tonight. We’ll keep on giving him opportunities and we’ll see where we go.”

More: Looking to make the leap: Zach Werenski

The Werenski hype train has been full steam for just over a year now. The eighth overall pick in 2015, Werenski spent two highly decorated years at the University of Michigan before turning pro at the end of last season.

Dispatched to Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, the 19-year-old had a fantastic professional debut. He was a major catalyst on the Monsters’ defense, scoring 14 points in 17 playoff games en route to the Calder Cup championship.

“The skill set he has — his size, strength and poise with the puck, he’s a complete player,” said Monsters coach Jared Bednar (now the head coach in Colorado). “To be able to step into our lineup in intense games and get the job done, it’s impressive especially for his age and that’s why everyone’s so excited about him.”

All signs point to a very talented — and young — Columbus defense this year. It was already assumed 21-year-old Seth Jones and 23-year-old Ryan Murray were going to play major roles, and now it sounds like Werenski will be leaned on just as heavily.

Which means it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the vets.

Jack Johnson averaged over 24 minutes per game last year, a figure that will undoubtedly decrease. It’ll also be curious to see what happens to David Savard, who was playing more than 23 minutes a night — do remember that, at the start of last season, the Jackets gave Savard a hefty five-year, $21.25 million extension.

More bad news in Dallas: Janmark (knee surgery) out 5-6 months


Earlier this week, we passed along word that Stars forward Mattias Janmark was spotted on crutches at the team’s practice facility.

Now we know why.

Janmark suffered a knee injury that requires surgery, GM Jim Nill said on Thursday. The procedure is expected to sideline the Swedish forward for 5-6 months, putting his return in the neighborhood of February-March of next year.

It’s a big blow for the Stars.

After surprising onlookers by making the team out of camp last year — a “great story,” according to GM Jim Nill — Janmark, 23, went on to have a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

Today’s news compounds what’s been a lousy September in Dallas. The club previously lost Tyler Seguin (heel), Cody Eakin (knee) and Ales Hemsky (groin) to injuries, and saw Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin sign in the KHL.

Looking at the schedule, Janmark projects to miss anywhere between 60-70 games this season, assuming the 5-6 month timeline is accurate. That’s a big chunk of man power to replace.