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Most of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins‘ hockey life has been spent in Western Canada.
Growing up in Burnaby, B.C., he starred with the Burnaby Winter Club before moving one province over for junior hockey, and playing with WHL Red Deer.
Nugent-Hopkins didn’t have to move very far to begin his professional career. He was taken first overall at the 2011 draft by Edmonton, and has been a prominent fixture in the lineup ever since.
The 24-year-old still has ties to B.C., however. Specifically when it comes to reminiscing about his childhood heroes — fellow Burnaby native Joe Sakic, and North Vancouver’s Paul Karyia.
“Those two guys, obviously, had really great NHL careers,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Just really great hockey players, and it’s pretty cool to have those two guys as local heroes.”
Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers are back in action on Saturday, when they look to close out their opening-round playoff series against San Jose. You can catch all the action on NBCSN, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Carolina has agreed to terms with RFA defenseman Klas Dahlbeck on a one-year, $850,000 deal, the club announced on Friday.
Dahlbeck, 25, was acquired just prior to the start of last season, when ‘Canes GM Ron Francis plucked him off waivers from Arizona. Dahlbeck proceeded to appear in 43 games for Carolina, scoring six points, while also appearing in six contests for AHL Charlotte.
Chicago’s third-round pick (79th overall) at the ’11 draft, Dahlbeck has appeared in 137 career NHL contests, emerging as a serviceable depth blueliner.
That said, he did spend considerable time in the press box last season as a healthy scratch, and could platoon in and out of the lineup next season as the Hurricanes try to integrate prospects Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown into the defensive mix.
It’s also worth noting that, with this new deal, Dahlbeck is eligible to be exposed in June’s expansion draft.
Another big score for USA Hockey on Friday.
Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau — whose season ended earlier Wednesday with a playoff sweep at the hands of Anaheim — told reporters today he’d be joining Team USA for the upcoming World Championships in Germany and France.
Gaudreau’s announcement comes just days after another big name — Buffalo’s Jack Eichel — also agreed to join the squad.
All this makes for a pretty intriguing roster.
USA Hockey has adopted a youth movement, selecting collegiate players like Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen (a Buffalo draftee), Boston University forward Jordan Greenway (a Minnesota draftee), Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork (a Boston draftee) and Daniel Brickley, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State-Mankato.
In addition to those, some quality NHL youngsters are also in the mix: Noah Hanifin, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp and a pair of prized Arizona prospects — Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. Detroit sophomore Dylan Larkin will also suit up for the Americans.
The 2017 Worlds get underway on May 5.
New York added some defensive depth on Friday, agreeing to terms with Russian blueliner Alexei Bereglazov.
Bereglazov, 23, has spent the last few seasons with KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, including a ’16-17 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 60 games. He led all d-men aged 24 or younger in assists, with 18.
Despite being passed over at the draft, Bereglazov had a good junior career, highlighted by capturing bronze for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors. He finished with two points in seven games in the tourney, playing alongside the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ivan Barbashev and his new Rangers teammate, Pavel Buchnevich.
It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in New York next season. The club has seven blueliners under contract — Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer — with Brendan Smith a pending UFA, and Adam Clendening a pending RFA.
After appearing in all four of Boston’s playoff games thus far, Ryan Spooner is taking a seat for tonight’s potentially season-ending tilt in Ottawa.
Spooner is technically a healthy scratch, being replaced by Sean Kuraly. But the “healthy scratch” part wasn’t initially clear. In explaining the situation, B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy first told reporters Spooner isn’t feeling 100 percent, which led to speculation of an injury-related swap.
But then Cassidy explained Spooner is healthy enough to play. Which means the Kuraly move is a coach’s decision.
Watch Bruins vs Senators Game 5
Overall, Spooner’s numbers reflect a decent series. He has two points — one off the team lead — through four games, while averaging over 13 minutes per night. But he was a virtual non-factor in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss, going pointless with a minus-1 rating and just one shot on goal in 9:34 TOI.
Kuraly, who hasn’t played since Saturday’s 4-3 OT loss, skated on a line with Frank Vatrano and Tim Schaller this morning.
Boston is facing elimination tonight, so dropping Spooner from the lineup is a fairly significant message. The club’s second-round pick (45th overall) in 2010, Spooner has shown flashes of real offensive talent — including a career-high 49 points in ’15-16 — but has underwhelmed at times, and wasn’t a favorite of former head coach Claude Julien.
When Cassidy first took over, Spooner’s production spiked. But the 25-year-old struggled down the stretch, scoring just one point in his last eight regular-season games, and is now a healthy scratch.