Author: Mike Halford

2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals

Contract stalemate continues between Columbus, prized prospect Reilly


Doesn’t appear as though there’s been much progress on a deal between the Blue Jackets and star University of Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly.

First, this report from the Columbus Dispatch:

Then this, from TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

“If he wants to, he can say I’m not going back for my final year [at Minnesota] and 30 days later or June 1st — whatever is later — he can declare himself an unrestricted free agent.

“Columbus thinks the world of this guy. He’s a Hobey Baker candidate, a mobile, puck-handling defenseman, but right now there’s no decision imminent on that front. What he’s going to do is finish his academic year at the University of Minnesota, so that means no decision on his future will be forthcoming until we get into May.”

Reilly, 21, was Columbus’ third-round pick (98th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A two-time All-American, he became the first d-man in nearly 20 years to lead the Golden Gophers in scoring and, as McKenzie noted above, is highly coveted by the Blue Jackets.

More on that, from the Dispatch:

[Jackets GM Jarmo] Kekalainen and company have tried hard to woo him.

Last spring, they played host to him at Nationwide Arena for the two home playoff games against Pittsburgh. When the Blue Jackets played in St. Paul, Minn., on Jan. 19, Reilly watched the morning skate with Davidson and Kekalainen. Last week, when the Blue Jackets traded defenseman James Wisniewski, Kekalainen mentioned Reilly as a player who has a clearer path to an NHL job.

“Mike Reilly is having a great year in Minnesota,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a prospect we believe in, and he’ll be stepping into some big shoes with our organization. We look forward to getting him signed.”

Should Reilly balk on signing with Columbus and go unrestricted, he’d be following in the footsteps of Kevin Hayes and Justin Schultz, who spurned the Blackhawks and Ducks to sign with the Rangers and Oilers, respectively.

It’s also worth noting that Reilly’s dad, also named Mike, is a minority owner of the Minnesota Wild, which has led to speculation that the younger Reilly could opt to sign with his hometown team.

Bettman shoots down idea of renaming NHL awards

2014 NHL Awards - Arrivals

The NHL won’t be altering its major trophies anytime soon.

That’s what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported after discussing the idea of renaming the NHL awards — Hart, Norris, Vezina, etc. etc. — with commissioner Gary Bettman.

From TSN’s Insider Trading:

[Bettman] made it clear it is a no-go for him and the league. Yes, we’ve talked about it before and there are people in hockey ops that like the idea, to honor some of these great players and change the names to names fans have more of a recognition with.

But from Gary Bettman’s perspective, you’re messing with history and why open that can of worms? So for him it is absolutely a no-go, even with the 100th anniversary of the league coming around.

The renaming movement — which has been floated on a number of occasions (see here and here and here) — would see a more modern spin on the awards; as TSN’s James Duthie suggested in the Insider Trading segment, the Hart Trophy for league MVP could be re-named the Gretzky (he has nine, more than any player in history) and the Norris Trophy could be renamed the Orr (he has eight, more than any other blueliner.)

Though it had laid dormant for a while, idea of changing up the award came up recently after the passing of Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau. In January, the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek suggested renaming the Lady Byng award after Le Gros Bill, based on the fact that Beliveau truly embodied “the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Goalie nods: Hamburglar goes for Ottawa

Andrew Hammond

All the latest from the blue paint…

Hammond over Anderson

Yesterday, the Ottawa Senators were mum on who’d start in goal for tonight’s key tilt against Detroit.

This morning, they made it official — Hamburglar gets the nod.

Andrew Hammond will return to the net for the first time since getting shellacked in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers last week; Craig Anderson, who started consecutive losses to Toronto and Florida over the weekend, will revert to backup status… for now.

It remains to be seen what head coach Dave Cameron will do for the remaining seven games of the regular season. Ottawa’s in a dogfight with Boston for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and, at least for now, he’s going with Hammond, who has just one regulation loss in 17 appearances this season.

For Detroit, Petr Mrazek will start tonight — a decision that’s equally as compelling as the one in Ottawa. For more on that, click here.


Panthers at Bruins: Roberto Luongo vs. Tuukka Rask

‘Canes at Caps: Cam Ward vs. Braden Holtby

Devils at Jackets: Cory Schneider vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Bolts at Leafs: Andrei Vasilevskiy (probable) vs. James Reimer

Canucks at Preds: Eddie Lack (apparently) vs. Pekka Rinne

Rangers at Jets: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Ondrej Pavelec

‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

There’s plenty at stake tonight when the Bruins host the Panthers at TD Garden.

Just ask Claude Julien.

“I don’t think you should be breathing easy and I don’t think anybody in there has been breathing easy,” the B’s head coach said, per CSNNE. “I think it’s just one of those things where we know where we’re at. We know what we have to do here we just have to stay with the task at hand here, and keep focusing on what we need to do.

“Dave [Krejci] said it, and we’re not denying that either: ‘It’s almost like a game seven tonight.’ A lot of stuff can happen one way or another here depending on the outcome.”

A loss tonight would be damaging for Boston, and virtually fatal for Florida. The Panthers head into tonight’s action four points back of the Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with just six games remaining in the regular season. But the Panthers also hold the benefit of playing the B’s twice more down the stretch — tonight, and again on Apr. 9.

To make that second chance worth something, though, Florida has to get a result this evening.

“We’re playing well and we’ve got to play well again tonight,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per the team’s website. “It’s going to be two hungry teams looking for the two points.”

Florida should have confidence heading into this tilt, having secured three of a possible four points from Boston in the first two matchups of the season. That includes a 2-1 shootout victory on Mar. 21, one in which Roberto Luongo stopped 26 of 27 shots and all three shootout attempts.

Luongo will draw back in tonight after sitting out Sunday’s win over Ottawa — veteran Dan Ellis got the victory — and look to continue his solid run of play against the Bruins this year, having posted a 1.40 GAA and .942 save percentage in just under 130 minutes of action.

Report: BC standout Matheson to sign with Panthers, forgo senior year

Frozen Fenway 2014: Notre Dame v Boston College
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Boston College captain and first-round draft pick Michael Matheson is reportedly passing on his senior season to sign with the Florida Panthers, per SB Nation.

Matheson, 21, was the 23rd overall selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the last three years at BC, emerging as one of the most talented d-men in the country. He finished tied for third on the team in scoring this year, with 25 points, and led the Eagles in assists, with 22.

Should he officially announce his departure from BC, he’ll leave behind a pretty impressive collegiate career. Matheson was named to the Hockey East rookie team in his freshman campaign and was an AHCA All-American last season.

The Panthers have to be excited about him coming aboard. Last summer, the club got a glimpse of what its future blueline would look like as Matheson and Aaron Ekblad played together in the club’s prospect development camp.