Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Ducks waive Stoner, he of the $13 million contract

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One of Bob Murray’s most maligned contracts is up for grabs.

Per Sportsnet, the Ducks have waived veteran defenseman Clayton Stoner, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $13 million deal with a $3.25M average annual cap hit.

Stoner, 31, joined Anaheim on the opening day of free agency in 2014, after spending the first 10 years of his pro career with the Wild organization. Upon inking, Stoner told reporters the Ducks “made it known they were looking for more size,” adding “they like physical defenseman on the back-end.”

But things have changed since then.

Stoner missed 45 games over the last two years due to a variety of ailments — a hip flexor injury, among others — and occasionally sat as a healthy scratch. He was a non-factor in last year’s playoffs, appearing in just one contests during Anaheim’s opening-round loss to Nashville.

Stoner was also dealing with a legal situation involving an alleged unlawful grizzly bear hunt, which dragged on throughout his time in Anaheim.

It’s not really surprising the Ducks made this move. As we’ve previously reported, they’re in a financial bind — prized RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell remain unsigned, and reports suggest Murray’s been looking to move a substantial contract to clear cap space.

What’s more, head coach Randy Carlyle said the club is giving three of its brightest young d-men prospects — Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson — “every opportunity” to try and make the team this year.

As such, Stoner’s on the outs.

‘Canes drop Torres from PTO, send first-rounders Bean and Gauthier to junior

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Raffi Torres’ time as a Hurricane is over.

On Thursday, Carolina announced that the veteran forward has been released from his training camp tryout, after appearing in a handful of preseason games.

Torres, 34, did look as though he sufficiently recovered from a knee injury that’s cost him most of the last three seasons. Those knee problems, along with various suspensions, have limited him to just five regular season games since ’13-14.

But even with those problems solved, Torres didn’t show enough to stick with a Carolina club that’s got plenty of youth — and speed — at the forward position.

And speaking of youth, Carolina’s first two picks at this year’s draft — defenseman Jake Bean (13th overall) and forward Julien Gauthier (21st) — have been sent back to their junior teams in WHL Calgary and QMJHL Val d’Or.

Bean, 18, was the third defenseman off the board at the June draft, behind Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi and Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev. Gauthier, also 18, was one of the most physically imposing prospects taken this year — he stands 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and comes from a lineage of bodybuilders (both his dad and grandfather competed).

In addition to Bean and Gauthier, other touted prospects were sent packing from ‘Canes camp today as well. They include Aleksi Saarela (acquired in the Eric Staal-to-New York trade) and Valentin Zykov (acquired in the Kris Versteeg-to-L.A. trade).

Panthers lose Bjugstad (broken hand) for four weeks

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Florida will be missing a key piece of the lineup when it begins regular season play next Thursday.

Nick Bjugstad, the rangy center that led the team in goals two years ago, suffered a broken hand in an exhibition game against Dallas that will sideline him for a month, per the Miami Herald.

Bjugstad, 23, was a big part of Florida’s success last season. He had 15 goals and 34 points in 67 games — averaging more than 15 minutes per night — and was one of the team’s top faceoff men.

His biggest problem has been staying healthy.

Combined, the Minnesota native has missed 25 games to various ailments over the last two years, and was knocked out Florida’s opening-round playoff loss to the Isles with an upper-body injury. He’s also dealt with back issues, and underwent season-ending surgery to correct the problem near the finish of the ’14-15 campaign.

When healthy, though, Bjugstad is a vital contributor. His absence should be softened by the fact Florida has good depth down the middle — expect the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Derek MacKenzie to pick up additional responsibilities over the next month.

Florida releases veteran d-man Pardy from PTO

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Adam Pardy’s quest to crack the Panthers’ new-look defense is over.

Pardy, signed to a training camp PTO back in early September, was released on Thursday morning, the club announced.

Pardy, 32, split last season between Winnipeg and Edmonton after the Oilers picked him up off waivers in late February.

At 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Pardy’s always been a robust physical player that plays with an edge (something the Panthers lost in trading away Erik Gudbranson this summer).

His skating and offensive ability have been called into question, though — he’s never scored more than 10 points in a single season — and there are concerns about his ability to keep up.

Could be why he failed to crack the opening-night roster. Pardy’s release, along with yesterday’s waiving of Jakub Kindl, leaves nine defensemen left in the mix: Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, Steve Kampfer and OHL Owen Sound product Thomas Schemitsch.

Panthers, Lightning won’t make up game cancelled by Hurricane Matthew

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Yesterday, we passed along word that a Thursday preseason game between the Bolts and Panthers in Sunrise had been cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew.

Today, the two sides decided not to reschedule it.

The storm, expected to hit Florida either Thursday evening, strengthened yet again on Thursday as many residents evacuated the area.

More, from NBC News:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott pleaded with residents to follow evacuation orders.

“Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you,” he said at a press conference Thursday. “There is no reason not to leave.”

Scott activated 2,500 members of the National Guard to assist with the storm and warned Floridians that projected winds of 100 to 150 mph will destroy houses and “millions will lose power, possibly for a long period of time.”

“My goal is to make sure everyone is prepared,” he said, urging residents to fill up on gas and other supplies now. “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

The cancellation means Florida will play just one more exhibition game — on Saturday, Oct. 8 against the Devils — before opening the season against those same Devils on Thursday, Oct. 13.

The Lightning, meanwhile, will wrap their preseason on Saturday against Nashville, then open next Thursday at home against Detroit.