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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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

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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

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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.

Impressive Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly

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If Travis Konecny doesn’t make the Flyers to start the regular season, it won’t be for a lack of opportunity.

Konecny, the 24th overall pick at the 2015 draft, has been gifted the chance to play alongside some of Philly’s top forwards during the preseason — Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl — and has fared well, impressing a number of onlookers.

“I’ve watched all the kids and he’s played good out there,” fellow forward Matt Read said, per CSN Philly. “He’s doing well. Young kid in the right spots, creating offense. He’s playing good hockey.”

Konecny, 19, is familiar with showing well during the exhibition campaign. He basically did the same at Flyers training camp last year, earning equally high praise from former Philly center Vincent Lecavalier.

“He’s fast,” Lecavaier said of the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Konecny. “He’s turning one way, turning the other way. I don’t know him that much, but on that one shift, I was just kind of watching him, mesmerized by what he was doing.

“Nobody could catch up. Kind of like [Tyler] Johnson in Tampa. He reminds me of him a little bit.”

Though he played very well for the Flyers’ brass last year, Konecny — then just 18 years old — was returned to OHL Sarnia and was strong, scoring 56 points in 31 games. He also racked up a pair of points for Canada at the World Juniors.

But for all the good Konecny’s done, he still looks like he’s on the outside of the opening night roster.

The Flyers are pretty deep at forward and there just aren’t a ton of spots available, and it’s tough to envision a scenario where GM Ron Hextall opts to keep Konecny playing limited minutes (or games) at the NHL level, rather than have him playing regularly in junior.

Hextall could, however, keep Konecny up for a nine-game cameo to start the year, before making the decision to send him home.

This is similar to what the club did back in 2013 with former first-rounder Scott Laughton, though it’s important to remember that Paul Holmgren was the GM at that time, not Hextall.

Contract coming? Rakell’s agent negotiating ‘frequently’ with Anaheim

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More updates from Anaheim, the land of contractual impasses…

Rickard Rakell, the still-unsigned RFA forward, sounds as though he’s closer to an extension with the Ducks than teammate Hampus Lindholm, who’s working out in Sweden.

From the O.C. Register:

Rakell has yet to resume his training after being unable to play for his homeland in the World Cup of Hockey. But it is believed that while the Ducks would prefer to stay lower than Rakell’s six-year, $24 million asking price, they’ve made more headway with the center’s agent, Peter Wallen.

In an e-mail to the Register, Wallen confirmed as much while saying Rakell has slowly started to work out again and will need “a couple of weeks” to get back in top shape. “Back negotiating,” Wallen said. “More frequently now.”

Rakell finished fourth on the Ducks in scoring last year, with 20 goals and 43 points, and led the team in game-winning markers. His emergence over the last two seasons — he had 31 points in 73 contests in ’14-15 — his age (only turned 23 in May) and his versatility (can play center or right wing) are the big reasons why he’s angling for a significant payday.

For Anaheim, it’s one of those problems teams wish they had.

Though they’re stretched thin financially, the Ducks have an arsenal of good young talent up front that will eventually replace the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. Rakell is chief among them, and he’ll soon be followed by the likes of Nick Ritchie, Nick Sorensen, Julius Nattinen and both of the club’s first-round picks at this year’s draft — Max Jones and Sam Steel.

The key, of course, is keeping all those young guys in the fold.

And that starts with Rakell.

Related: Lindholm seeking eight-year deal from ducks, at least $6M per