Mike Halford

Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers

Panthers send $27.5M man Bolland to minors for ‘conditioning’ stint

Dave Bolland‘s nightmare campaign in Florida continues.

On Tuesday, the Panthers announced they demoted Bolland to their AHL affiliate in Portland on a conditioning assignment though, according to the Miami Herald, you might want to toss some air quotes around “conditioning.”

Bolland, 29, has been a major disappointment this season, and that disappointment’s been exacerbated by the fact that, at $5.5 million annually, he’s Florida’s highest-paid forward.

Head coach Gerard Gallant’s made Bolland a healthy scratch on a number of occasions this season, but insisted he wasn’t trying to send the veteran center a message.

Now, it appears the organization is doing exactly that.

“We need Dave to play more minutes and regain his confidence with the offensive side of his game, so that he can help us in the second half of the season,” Florida GM Dale Tallon explained, per Sportsnet.

Since Bolland wasn’t exposed to waivers and is going to Portland on a “conditioning” stint, his max stay in the AHL is two weeks. It’s not unlike what the Leafs did recently with goalie Jonathan Bernier.

On the year, Bolland has one goal and five points in 25 games, averaging just 14:06 TOI per game — his lowest since breaking in which Chicago as a rookie.

In a corresponding move to the Bolland demotion, the Panthers recalled Rocco Grimaldi.

Wild claim Stoll off waivers from Rangers

Jarret Stoll

Jarret Stoll has a new home.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild claimed Stoll off waivers from the Rangers, per Sportsnet.

It’s an interesting move from the Wild, a team looking to bolster its depth at center — and one, according to GM Chuck Fletcher, that made a run at Stoll this summer in free agency.

“So when we got a second chance at it, we just grabbed him,” Fletcher said, per the Star-Tribune. “Very good penalty killer, top faceoff guy, a guy that excels on the right side of the ice, which still has not been our strength in faceoffs, shoots the puck really well.”

Currently, the club has Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle and Eric Haula playing down the middle. Coyle, though, is a converted winger and Haula, while effecting manning the fourth line with Chris Porter and Ryan Carter, has never really been that strong of a faceoff guy, with a career winning percentage of just 47.5.

Stoll also brings playoff experience to the table, no small thing for a Wild club looking to get over the hump.

For the last three years, the club has been bounced by the Chicago Blackhawks — once in the opening round, twice in the second — so there’s likely hope that Stoll, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Kings, can provide veteran leadership and know-how in the postseason.

Stoll was also help Minnesota’s penalty kill, which heads into Tuesday’s game against Vancouver sitting a dismal 26th in the league (77.1 percent).

Stoll, 33, is on a one-year deal worth $800,000.

Getzlaf says he’s not ‘invincible’ to criticism


He’s on pace for one of the lowest point totals of his career, captaining what many consider to be the biggest disappointment in the league.

So yeah, Ryan Getzlaf knows there’s criticism.

And yeah, he hears it.

From the OC Register:

Criticism has been shot in Getzlaf’s direction this season, perhaps even more than in his subpar 11-goal, 57-point campaign in 2011-12. Former NHL general manager Craig Button, an analyst with TSN and the NHL Network, had him listed among his biggest flops of the early season.

Former NHL forward and prominent television analyst Ray Ferraro said Getzlaf “plays the most casual game of anyone in the NHL” and sharply criticized the late penalty he took in the Black Friday loss to Chicago during an interview with a Vancouver-based radio station late last month.

At the time, Getzlaf shrugged off Ferraro’s comments. But on Monday, the center said he’s not “invincible” and doesn’t ignore the harsh appraisals of his play.

Not helping Getzlaf’s reputation are incidents like this:

And as you’d expect from someone struggling so mightily, there’s just plain ol’ fashioned bad puck luck at play, too.

Like this:

There are also other factors at hand.

Getzlaf turned 30 in May. He was diagnosed with a sports hernia during last year’s playoffs. That ailment wasn’t surgically repaired, and there were concerns about it when he underwent an appendectomy in late October.

It’s also hard to pin all of Anaheim’s struggles solely on Getlzaf. Ryan Kesler, for example, has had an equally uninspired campaign.

But at the end of the day, Getzlaf is the captain.

And when the captain has just one goal in 25 games, and that one goal came into an empty net against Carolina nearly a month ago, well, it’s easy to see why everybody’s pointing the finger.

“I’m just as mad at myself,” he told the Register. “If not worse than anybody else.”

The big question now, of course, is if Getzlaf can turn this thing around.

Anaheim currently sits dead last in the Western Conference, and on the precipice of a really tough stretch.

Seven of the next eight games come on the road, including an upcoming four-game swing in which the Ducks play in Buffalo, New Jersey, Brooklyn and MSG in the span of six nights.

Related: Getzlaf rips his team for lack of professionalism

Kassian reinstated from NHL substance abuse program (Update: Waived)

Scott Darling, Zack Kassian

From the NHL:

The National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League announced today that forward Zack Kassian of the Montreal Canadiens has been returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

Kassian’s care continues to be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program.

Kassian, 24, was placed in Stage Two of the SABH program on Oct. 5, and was suspended without pay until clearance. This came just days after he was involved in an early morning car accident in Montreal, in which Kassian was a passenger in a SUV driven by a 20-year-old female.

Montreal police later confirmed that while speed didn’t play a factor in the collision, alcohol may have.

On Oct. 7, Vancouver GM Jim Benning — who traded Kassian to Montreal in exchange for Brandon Prust this summer — confirmed that Kassian went through Stage One of the SABH while with the Canucks.

Kassian has yet to appear in a regular-season contest with the Habs, and it remains to be seen how the team handles this situation moving forward.

Currently, the club is pretty thin at Kassian’s natural right wing position — Brendan Gallagher is out with a broken hand, and the Alex Semin experiment failed.

As a result, waiver claim Paul Byron has been moved up to first-line duty with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, while Dale Weise is manning the second line next to Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

Kassian, who did score a career-high 14 goals and 29 points with Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign, could slot into the lineup and possibly provide a scoring punch.

But it remains to be seen when — or, if — Kassian will get back into GM Marc Bergevin’s good graces.

“We are professionals and we have to behave like professionals,” Bergevin said following Kassian’s accident, per the Gazette. “You have to be respectful and you’re lucky to be a hockey player.

“I’m a firm believer in character and that’s really a lack of character and judgment on his part.”

Update: Didn’t take long for Montreal to make a decision, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the club has put Kassian on waivers.


Report: Rangers to recall prized d-man prospect Skjei


Looks as though waiving Jarret Stoll will usher in a new era for the Rangers.

Per ESPN, the Blueshirts are expected to recall Brady Skjei — their first-round pick (28th overall) in 2012 — once Stoll clears waivers this afternoon.

Skjei, 21, is a former University of Minnesota and U.S. World Junior team standout that’s in his first full professional season with AHL Hartford.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder appeared in some games for the Wolf Pack last season — including 15 Calder Cup playoff games — but really made his mark this year, scoring two goals and 11 points in 27 games, leading all Hartford d-men in scoring.

It’s not entirely surprising the Rangers want to reinforce their defense.

The club is coming off an ugly three-game stretch through Western Canada in which it lost three times, and surrendered 12 goals in defeats in Edmonton and Calgary.

The club is also currently without steady blueliner Kevin Klein (oblique), while Dan Girardi is dealing with a knee ailment.

All told, the Rangers have lost eight of their last 10.

Update: Skjei is in tonight…