Mike Halford

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

Amid trade rumblings, Ducks giving young d-men ‘every opportunity’ to make team


Let’s piece some things together in Anaheim, shall we?

— Prized young d-man Hampus Lindholm, still without a contract, hasn’t reported to camp and is training in his native Sweden. The RFA blueliner is reportedly seeking an eight-year extension from the club, at a minimum of $6 million annually.

— Last week, NBC’s Pierre McGuire told TSN 1040 the Ducks are in trade talks with an Eastern Conference team “to unload a significant contract,” which would help them sign Lindholm and fellow unsigned RFA Rickard Rakell.

— Over the weekend, the Ducks iced three of their youngest (and brightest) d-man prospects: Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson, with head coach Randy Carlyle offering the following (per the O.C. Register):

“Those kids are all vying for a longer look and they’re going to cut their teeth in the NHL at some point,” Carlyle said. “It’s our job as an organization to make sure we don’t push people too quickly ahead. When they earn it, they get the opportunity.

“In today’s game, it’s a real luxury to have that quality of young player coming along. And we’re going to make sure that we give them every opportunity to prove to us that they can play in the league and hopefully they can continue to make these decisions tough ones.”

Interesting stuff.

Financially speaking, the Ducks are in a tough situation on defense. In June, they made Sami Vatanen their highest-paid blueliner — four years, $19.5 million, a $4.875M cap hit — putting him ahead of the likes of Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa ($4M per each, through 2018), Simon Despres ($3.7M through 2021) and Clayton Stoner ($3.25M though 2018).

Lindholm is expected to sign, and will undoubtedly surpass Vatanen as the club’s most expensive rearguard.

Which means a d-man could be on the move.

Fowler’s name has come up on several occasions. Earlier this summer, the 24-year-old said he was surprised he hadn’t been traded already, this after his name was tied to both the Red Wings and Canadiens.

Despres’ contract kicks in this year, and he doesn’t have a no-movement clause. Same with Stoner, who’s been a disappointment since coming over from Minnesota.

Bieksa would be tougher to trade, given he’s armed with a NMC and is starting to wear down with age, having turned 35 in June.

The bright spot for the Ducks is that they’ve got flexibility — and it’s on the cheap. Theodore, the 26th overall pick in 2013, made his big league debut last season and fared well, scoring eight points in 19 games while playing 14 minutes a night during the playoffs.

Theodore is still on his entry-level deal.

Mountour, 22, has yet to make his NHL debut but is also thought of highly, and is also on his ELC. Larsson, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, was signed to his ELC in May and, despite being just 19 years old, has good pro experience, having spent the last two years with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.

Add it all up, and the Ducks look primed to make a move.

Dan Boyle expected to announce retirement


Dan Boyle is ready to call it a career.

The Sharks have announced a press conference for Wednesday, in which the veteran defenseman is expected to announce his retirement.

Boyle, 40, spent six of his 17 NHL seasons in the Bay Area, where he enjoyed some of the finest moments of his career. He captured gold with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and helped the Sharks advance to consecutive Western Conference finals.

Undrafted out of Miami (OH) University, Boyle broke in with the Panthers during the ’98-99 campaign and went on to compile a very impressive career. He captured a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, played in a pair of All-Star Games and was named to two NHL second All-Star teams.

All told, he finished with 605 points in 1093 contests and, in his prime, was one of the league’s better offensive defensemen.

Boyle finished his playing days with the Rangers. Last year, he scored 10 goals and 24 points in 74 contests for the Blueshirts and went out with a bang, infamously calling out a pair of New York reporters during his end-of-year media availability.

Blues release Nystrom, Porter from PTOs


St. Louis continued to part ways with veteran training camp participants on Monday, releasing forwards Eric Nystrom and Chris Porter from their professional tryouts.

The news comes just one day after another veteran forward, T.J. Galiardi, was dropped from his PTO.

Nystrom, 33, caught on with the Blues after Nashville bought out the final year of his contract this summer. Nystrom arrived in camp with a great deal of experience, having played nearly 600 games for four different NHL clubs.

Porter, 32, rejoined the Blues after playing 200 games with the club over an eight-year span.

His PTO came after a whirlwind ’15-16 campaign. After he and the Blues were eliminated in the opening playoff round, Porter left and signed a one-year deal with Philly, but never played a single game for the Flyers.

Minnesota claimed him off waivers just prior to the start of the regular season, reuniting him with good buddy (and former UND teammate) Zach Parise.

With the Wild, Porter had a fairly effective campaign in a defensive forward/checking role — four goals and seven points in 61 games, appearing in all six of Minnesota’s opening-round playoff games.

In other moves today, the Blues sent Tommy Vannelli, Chris Butler and Pheonix Copley to AHL Chicago.

Chicago shakes up defense — Pokka cut, Svedberg waived


The Blackhawks made a pair of significant moves on defense Monday, sending d-man Ville Pokka to the club’s AHL affiliate in Rockford while waiving towering blueliner Viktor Svedberg.

Pokka, 22, comes as something of a surprise. Acquired from the Isles in the Nick Leddy trade, he’s pretty decorated and held in high regard, considering he’s yet to make his NHL debut.

Pokka was named to the AHL All-Rookie team in 2015, finished fifth in the league in d-man scoring last year and secured a spot on Team Finland at the recently completed World Cup of Hockey.

(That said, Pokka didn’t exactly light it up for the Finns.)

Svedberg, 25, is coming off a rookie campaign in Chicago in which he made 27 appearances, scoring four points while averaging 15:45 TOI per night.

Known largely for his size — listed at 6-foot-8, 238 pounds — Svedberg also made his playoff debut last season, appearing in three games in an opening-round loss to St. Louis.

Today’s moves could mean that Swedish prospect Gustav Forsling is closer to the NHL than ever before. From TSN:

[Forsling has] been impressive so far, showing poise and maturity far beyond his years. He was named the top player in Swedish junior hockey last season but even early NHL pre-season games are a huge step up in competition.

By all accounts, he has handled it masterfully, looking poised and calm in all situations. He’s done a good job reading plays both with and without the puck. His gap control has been strong and to say that head coach Joel Quenneville, amongst others, has been mightily impressed is something of an understatement.

All that said, there are still things to sort out on defense. Chicago has eight guys currently in the mix — Forsling, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival and Trevor van Riemsdyk — and it remains to be seen what the club will do with Svedberg, should he clear waivers.

In other d-man news, Cameron Schilling was also placed on waivers while Erik Gustafsson — who made 41 appearances last year — was sent to Rockford along with Pokka.

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.