Mike Halford

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

PHT Morning Skate: Is Las Vegas the big winner from free agency?


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Interesting idea here — in the aftermath of all the moves made in free agency, did the expansion Las Vegas team make out the best? (Sportsnet)

Longtime NHL defenseman Jason Smith, formerly an assistant coach in Ottawa, has taken the head job for WHL Kelowna. (Edmonton Journal)

Detroit GM Ken Holland would still “love to get a top three defenseman,” but doesn’t know “if one is ever going to be available via trade.” (Detroit News)

Sabres prospect Justin Bailey is trying to “show them something they haven’t seen” at development camp. (WKBW)

Columbus has signed undrafted OHL London blueliner Jacob Graves to an entry-level deal. (Blue Jackets)

Should Dallas make a play for Marc-Andre Fleury? The club’s most prominent beat writer says it would be a bad idea. (Morning-News)

After starring at prospects camp, Sergachev aiming to make Habs

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When Montreal took Mikhail Sergachev ninth overall at the draft, few figured he’d have a shot of making the team this year.

Sergachev, however, was not one of those people.

“Obviously it’s better if I stay here and play for Montreal,” Sergachev said, per NHL.com. “Because I want to play as soon as possible.”

The second defenseman off the board in Buffalo — OHL London’s Olli Juolevi was the first, at No. 5 to Vancouver — Sergachev is considered a major longshot to stick in the NHL this fall.

But his eye-popping efforts at prospects camp seems to have opened the door — ever so slightly.

The 18-year-old wowed onlookers with his skill set and puck control abilities, and finished the scrimmage portion with three goals. Praise for Sergachev quickly carried over to social media, where folks began wondering if he had a shot of cracking the opening night roster.

Exciting stuff, sure. But still a major uphill battle.

For one, Sergachev is still 18 years old. While he’s got NHL-caliber size — 6-foot-2, 221 pounds — he’s played strictly junior hockey over the last two years, first in Russia’s MHL and with OHL Windsor last season.

The Montreal blueline is also pretty deep. Eight guys — Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Mark Barberio and Zach Redmond — are under contract for next season, with prospects like ’15 first-rounder Noah Juulsen still in the system.

Al that said, it’s clear Montreal is high on Sergachev.

GM Marc Bergevin wasted little time inking him to an entry-level deal, and the club felt fortunate that Sergachev was available with the ninth overall selection.

Now, he’s ready to try and make his mark immediately, rather than wait for the future.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make the Canadiens but if I don’t I’ll go back to Windsor,” Sergachev said, per the Gazette. “We’ll have a good team there and we have a chance to win the Memorial Cup.”

Ray Bourque apologizes in drunken driving case, gets probation


LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) Former Boston Bruins star Ray Bourque has apologized to his family, friends and fans for driving drunk last month.

Bourque apologized in a statement Wednesday after admitting in Lawrence District Court that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him of driving under the influence when he rear-ended a minivan in Andover on June 24.

Bourque’s “admission to sufficient facts” plea will resolve the case without a guilty finding if he successfully completes a year of probation. A judge also suspended Bourque’s driver’s license for 45 days.

Police said Bourque had a blood-alcohol level of 0.249, three times the state’s legal limit to drive. In his statement, Bourque said he takes full responsibility for his actions.

Bourque played for the Bruins for 21 seasons, then helped the Colorado Avalanche win a Stanley Cup in 2001 before retiring.

Staal ready to ‘hit the refresh button’ after disappointing stint in New York


Upon signing Eric Staal to a three-year, $10.5 million deal on the opening day of free agency, the Wild said they needed him to be “the Eric Staal that he was in the past.”

That, apparently, includes Staal playing the position he did in the past — center.

There’s a good chance he’ll reprise that role in Minnesota on the top line between Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle, ditching the move to left wing he underwent with the Rangers last year.

“A lot of things just went wrong,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said, per the club website. “I don’t think he liked playing left wing. I think he’s the kind of the guy that wants the puck in the middle and wants to handle it and play with it.

“He wants to be the guy.”

Staal was less direct about his desire to play the middle. But he did suggest the chance to start anew in Minnesota, and revive himself as a top-line center, was something he relished.

“It’s an opportunity for me hopefully to hit the refresh button, and go out there and enjoy playing the game,” Staal said. “For me, the first time going through the free agent process, it was more or less about looking for the opportunity to play an important role on a good team.

“Minnesota is a good team, and I felt like there were some spots I could fit to help make a difference.”

The 31-year-old will be one to watch this season. Minnesota’s lack of depth at center has been well documented — former winger Thomas Vanek had a pretty telling take on it, prior to getting bought out — and rather than make a big splash via trade or a more expensive upgrade in free agency, GM Chuck Fletcher saw Staal as a potential reclamation project.

The biggest plus from adding Staal might be the domino effect. As mentioned above, it could allow Charlie Coyle to play in a top-six winger role, and it could allow Fletcher hold onto the “trade a defenseman” card until the beginning or middle of the season, should the club need a boost.

Of course, there is the age issue. Staal joins the likes of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Devan Dubnyk as core guys on the wrong side of 30, at a time where Wild fans are clamoring for the team to get younger and faster.

Related: With an aging core, the Wild could be Boudreau’s biggest challenge yet

Detroit files for arbitration with Mrazek

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On Tuesday, Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek opted not to file for salary arbitration.

On Wednesday, his team decided to.

Per MLive:

The sides will continue negotiations on a new contract in an effort to avoid the hearing in Toronto. Arbitration hearings take place between July 20 and Aug. 4.

If the sides go to arbitration, Mrazek can ask for a one- or two-year contract.

If they agree to a deal before the hearing it likely will be two or four years, possibly for between $4 million and $5 million a season.

Mrazek played last year on a $737,500 deal and, given what he accomplished, figures to be in line for a pretty hefty raise.

The 24-year-old supplanted Jimmy Howard as the club’s No. 1 netminder and, for a time, was in conversation for a Vezina nomination.

Though he did struggle down the stretch and briefly relinquished the starting gig to Howard, Mrazek ended the year as Detroit’s No. 1 and finished with good numbers — 27-16-3 record, .921 save percentage, 2.33 GAA and four shutouts.

Mrazek has some pretty good leverage in negotiations. He’s clearly the team’s goalie of the future, and GM Ken Holland could be forced to deal Howard (and his $5.29 million cap hit) sooner rather than later.

If that happens, Detroit would be left with just Mrazek and Jared Coreau in goal, and Coreau is completely untested at the NHL level.