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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NHL releases schedule, here are five key takeaways


Following yesterday’s home openers reveal, the NHL on Tuesday announced its full 1,230-game regular season schedule for the 2016-17 campaign.

Click here for full details

Five key takeaways from today’s announcement:

1. It’s condensed, and tightly-packed

September’s World Cup of Hockey will result in a later-than-usual start to the regular season, and the implementation of “bye weeks” — see more on those here — makes for some pretty compressed parts of the schedule.

2. The celebratory stuff

The Maple Leafs are celebrating their 100th season by hosting the first-ever NHL Centennial Classic, an outdoor game on Jan. 1 at BMO Field against the Red Wings.

Speaking of those Red Wings, they’ll be commemorating their final season at Joe Louis Arena with 18 home dates against Original Six opponents.

The Kings are celebrating their 50th anniversary by hosting the 2017 NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center, while the Blues are celebrating their 50th by hosting the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium against the Blackhawks.

The Penguins and Flyers are also heading into their respective 50th anniversary seasons, and will face off in a Stadium Series game at Heinz Field on Saturday, Feb. 25.

3. Noteworthy contests

— Stanley Cup Final rematch between the Penguins and Sharks will go on Thursday, Oct. 20 from Consol.

— The Heritage Classic between the Jets and Oilers, to be played outdoors at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, is on Sunday, Oct. 23.

— Edmonton’s first game at its new rink, Rogers Place, will be against provincial rival Calgary on opening night (Wednesday, Oct. 12).

— Detroit’s last-ever regular season game at the Joe will be against the Devils on Sunday, Apr. 9.

4. Dates and breaks

Opening night is Oct. 12, and the final day of the regular season is Apr. 9.

Christmas Break is from Dec. 24-26, and the All-Star Break is from Jan.27-30.

The trade deadline, per Cap Friendly, is Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. ET.

The league’s annual “Black Friday” showcase is loaded up, an 11-game slate including matinees between the Rangers-Flyers, Penguins-Wild, ‘Hawks-Ducks and Isles-Sharks.

5. Reunions

— New Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau returns to Anaheim for the first since being fired on Jan. 8, when the Wild take on the Ducks at Honda.

— Old Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo, now the Blues’ bench-boss-in-waiting, returns to Xcel for the first time since being fired on Nov. 26, when St. Louis takes on the Wild.

— Randy Carlyle goes back to Toronto on Monday, Dec. 19 when the Ducks take on the Leafs at the ACC.

Related: Penguins to raise Stanley Cup banner against Ovi and the Caps

Agent: All quiet on Ben Bishop trade front

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Allain Roy, the agent for Vezina-nominated netminder Ben Bishop, told the Tampa Bay times on Tuesday everything is “quiet” with regards to trade rumblings about his client.

If you’re asking “wait, how did we get to this point?” — allow PHT to explain.

Tuesday morning, a reporter from Tampa’s Fox13 tweeted this:

Nobody was sure what these reports were or where to find them, but hockey insider Bob McKenzie had a theory.

From his appearance on TSN 1040, by way of Today’s Slapshot:

“Somebody asked me about what will Calgary do now that they didn’t get Freddie Andersen, they were after Freddie Andersen from Anaheim. The Leafs got him and signed him. What’s their next move. And I said obviously they need a goaltender. They have talked, or they will talk, to the Tampa Bay Lightning about Ben Bishop. That was it. That’s all I said. The same as they’ve talked to Pittsburgh about Marc-Andre Fleury.

“Is it possible the Tampa Bay Lightning could trade netminder Ben Bishop? Yeah, absolutely it’s possible. I would have told you that during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’ve got a cap crunch coming in Tampa, with or without Stamkos. Ben Bishop is a year away from unrestricted free agency. They’ve got a tremendous goaltender, a young goaltender in Vasilevskiy, who played very well in the playoffs. They’d be foolish not to explore their options. That’s not a news story. That’s not a flash.

“Now apparently some dim bulb in Tampa has started to say that ‘there’s reports out of Canada that Calgary has a deal in place for Ben Bishop,’ which, if they do, it’s news to me. I certainly didn’t say that, and I’m not aware of anybody else who did either.”

Bishop’s heading into the last of a two-year, $11.9 million deal with a $5.95M average annual cap hit. He turns 30 in November and while he’s been spectacular for the Bolts over the last two years, he is quite injury prone.

There’s also the Lightning cap situation to consider. Bishop wouldn’t be the only key player staring at free agency next summer — Victor Hedman, set to go unrestricted, will need a new deal, as will prized RFAs Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.

Update: For what it’s worth, Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times that he expects to stay with the Lightning … but he’s not stressing out about it either way.

“I expect to be back,” Bishop said. “It’s never really crossed my mind going somewhere else. As far as I’m concerned, I have another year here and I fully expect to be back. If I’m not, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But I’m not going to sit here and worry about the ‘what ifs.’ It’s a waste of time.”

Get to know a draft pick — Max Jones

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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Max Jones (LW)

Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 203 pounds Shoots: Left

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: U.S.

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 14 North American skater

Kennedy says: “The son of former NHLer Brad Jones, Max is a superb athlete and a real load to handle on the ice. A power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards, Jones was part of the juggernaut London team that stomped through the OHL playoffs and then went undefeated at the Memorial Cup.

“Jones, unfortunately, missed most of the post-season due to a 12-game suspension he caught for a head shot on an unsuspecting Owen Sound player in the first round and his aggressive play will see him flirt with line-stepping as his career progresses. ”

Related: Jones named to All-American prospects game

Click here for all the 2016 NHL Draft profiles.

Get to know a draft pick — Clayton Keller

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THN Banner

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Clayton Keller (C)

Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 168 pounds Shoots: Left

Team: U.S. Under-18 team (USHL)

Country: U.S.

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 8 North American skater

Kennedy says: “Keller is this year’s candidate for ‘player most likely to force GMs to think about size bias.’

“The top-10 has not been kind to players under 5-foot-11, but Keller was a dynamo for Team USA this season and had some of his best games against bigger, stronger college competition. A Boston University commit, Keller has high-end skill, great hockey smarts and most importantly, excellent consistency.

“The big battle for him will come later this summer, as his junior rights are held by the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. Keller’s best bud, Logan Brown, plays for the Spits and Windsor hosts the Memorial Cup next year, so they’ll make a huge push to win his services.”

Related: Could the Blue Jackets really trade the third overall pick?

Click here for all the 2016 NHL Draft profiles.

Jets re-sign Hutchinson — two years, $2.3 million


The Winnipeg Jets re-upped with RFA goalie Michael Hutchinson on Tuesday, signing him to a two-year, $2.3 million extension with a $1.15M average annual cap hit.

Hutchinson, 26, gets a tidy raise with the deal — he made $575,000 annually on his last one — despite struggling through a sophomore slump in 2015-16. He went 9-15-3 with a .907 save percentage and 2.84 GAA, numbers well off his rookie totals — though, to be fair, the Jets struggled across the board last season, and that may have been slightly reflective in Hutchinson’s numbers.

This deal will certainly make for an interesting dynamic in Winnipeg this season. Ondrej Pavelec is heading into the last of his lengthy deal (at $3.9M per) while Connor Hellebuyck, the club’s goalie of the future, got a taste of the NHL last season and could be back for another.

There’s a legitimate all three could compete for starts this season, which could be something to monitor. Rarely do three-headed goalie situations work — or last long — and there remains the possibility of Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff buying out Pavelec, and going with Hutchinson and Hellebuyck.