Mike Halford

Bolts suspend Drouin after failing to report for AHL game (Update: Agent responds)

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From the Lightning:

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin has been suspended indefinitely without pay by the team after his failure to report for tonight’s game between the Syracuse Crunch and the Toronto Marlies, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced this evening.

The team will make no further comment at this time.

Drouin’s absence from tonight’s game made quite a bit of noise on social media, as many suggested it could be a precursor to the trade he demanded weeks ago.

He was reportedly present at this morning’s skate and, per Sportsnet, is actually at the Marlies’ arena tonight with Syracuse’s other scratches:

The 20-year-old, taken third overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, had appeared in seven games for the Crunch since his contention demotion, scoring two goals and three points — and, according to head coach Rob Zettler, had been a good teammate thus far.

“He’s been fitting in well. Off the ice, he’s been great, doing a lot of stuff with his teammates,” Zettler said on Monday, per Syracuse.com. “The best part about Jo’s game, he’s really been aware of and working hard at defending down low, because he’s playing center and he’s getting a lot of minutes playing against some good guys. He’s done a real good job of that.”

UPDATE: Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, has issued the following statement…

walshdrouin

Video: Stralman, Tarasenko, Bennett star in Goals of the Week

A trio of deft individual efforts highlight the latest installment of Goals of the Week, punctuated by Sam Bennett‘s four-marker effort against the Panthers.

Enjoy.

Goalie nods: Detroit keeps rolling with red-hot Mrazek

Petr Mrazek
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No surprise, but the Red Wings will give Petr Mrazek yet another start tonight when they host the Blues at Joe Louis.

Mrazek, who’s wrestled Detroit’s No. 1 gig away from Jimmy Howard, will look to build upon a remarkable month of January, during which he’s gone 5-0-1 with a 1.31 GAA and .957 save percentage.

While those numbers might — nay, are — impossible to keep up, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill sees them as a sign of Mrazek’s arrival as a top-flight NHL netminder.

“His save percentage in January is phenomenal, [but] that can’t sustain itself,” said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, per ESPN. “I do think this is what he is as a goalie. I think he’s really, really growing into an elite goalie.”

At 16-8-4 on the year with a .931 save percentage and 2.10 GAA, Mrazek has worked himself into Vezina consideration. Though he lacks the workload of Braden Holtby, the consensus favorite right now, Mrazek has done a terrific job of not just beating Howard out for the No. 1 gig, but also keeping Detroit right in the thick of the Atlantic Division chase.

With a win tonight, the Red Wings would climb to within one point of Florida for top spot.

Mrazek and Co. will look to get those points against Brian Elliott, who’ll start for St. Louis.

Elsewhere…

Robin Lehner will make his second start since returning from injury when the Sabres take on the Avs in Colorado. Lehner allowed three goals on 30 shots in his first game, a loss to the Bruins. For Colorado, Semyon Varlamov‘s in goal.

John Gibson will keep his starting gig when the Ducks host the Wild. After a hot start, Gibson has plateaued a bit with a .902 save percentage in his last five starts. No word yet on a Minnesota starter.

Isles’ D takes another hit as Pelech (upper body) reportedly done for year

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Adam Pelech #50 of the New York Islanders skates against the Dallas Stars at the Barclays Center on January 3, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Stars 6-5.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Adam Pelech‘s rookie campaign could be over before it ever really got started.

On Wednesday, Newsday reported that Pelech’s upper-body injury is “almost surely season-ending,” which would limit the 21-year-old’s first NHL season to just seven games played.

It’s unclear right now what’s ailing Pelech, New York’s third-round pick at the ’12 draft.

Head coach Jack Capuano called it a “freak thing,” and it’s worth noting Pelech was held out of Sunday’s loss to the Canucks despite being classified as a gametime decision.

Whatever the case, his absence will hurt.

Pelech had two points in his first seven games, averaging 16:42 TOI. He’d previously impressed down with AHL Bridgeport, though his recall was partly due to the other injuries New York has suffered on defense — specifically, those to Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic.

As for updates on those two…

With Boychuk, Hamonic and Pelech out of the lineup on Sunday, the Isles were forced to ice a defense comprised of Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey, Marek Zidlicky, Brian Strait, Scott Mayfield and Calvin de Haan.

Leddy and Hickey both played over 25 minutes in the shootout defeat, while de Haan clocked in at 23:40.

McLellan laments Nugent-Hopkins loss: ‘For me, he’s like Joe Pavelski’

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
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If there was ever any doubt about how highly Todd McLellan thinks of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it was laid to rest this week.

“Nuge for me — and I’ve told Nuge this — he’s like Joe Pavelski,” McLellan told the Edmonton Sun, after Nugent-Hopkins was ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a broken hand. “I trust him in every situation. He’s real competitive.”

That McLellan used the Pavelski comparison is telling.

The two were side-by-side in San Jose for seven years and, under McLellan’s watch, Pavelski emerged as one of the league’s best goalscorers, potting a career-high 41 during the ’13-14 campaign.

Now, Pavelski is the Sharks’ captain.

McLellan’s comments are also noteworthy given RNH has been in trade talks for most of this season. With budding star center Connor McDavid in the fold and the emergence of Leon Draisaitl as a capable No. 2, there’s been chatter about Nugent-Hopkins being expendable.

Last week, those trade talks were further stoked when a Sportsnet report claimed the Oilers had offered Nugent-Hopkins to Nashville in exchange for Seth Jones, prior to Jones going to Columbus for Ryan Johansen.

Yet despite that, McLellan continued to go to bat for his young pivot.

“Nuge gets a bad rap for being soft,” he explained. “He’s the farthest thing from soft.”