Mike Halford

Hunter Shinkaruk

Canucks trade ’13 first-rounder Shinkaruk to Flames for Granlund

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A rather curious move between two struggling Pacific Division clubs on Monday, as the Canucks sent former first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk to Calgary in exchange for forward Markus Granlund.

Granlund, 22, has a far more extensive NHL resume, with 86 games to his credit compared to Shinkaruk’s one. That said, Shinkaruk would appear — at least at first glace — to have more upside, given he only turned 21 in October, is a former first-round pick (24th overall, ’13) and has been very good in the American League this year, with 21 goals in 45 games.

Shinkaruk was also named to this year’s AHL All-Star Classic.

In Granlund, the Canucks get a center with four goals and seven points in 31 games this year. He’s been a healthy scratch on a few occasions by head coach Bob Hartley, and has also spent time with Calgary’s AHL affiliate in Stockton.

Upon being recalled in December, Granlund won the praise of Flames head coach Bob Hartley.

“If we look at his entire game, he’s strong, he’s solid defensively, he’s moving the puck well, he’s skating, and this guy can shoot the puck,” Hartley said, per the Herald. “He’s been big for us.”

Contractually, this trade is pretty interesting.

Granlund’s a pending RFA, in the final year of his entry-level deal. Shinkaruk, meanwhile, is in the first of his three-year ELC and is under contract through 2018.

The deal also brings Shinkaruk back to his hometown of Calgary.

Current road trip ‘make or break’ for Arizona’s playoff chances

Los Angeles Kings v Arizona Coyotes
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For most of the year, folks wondered if — or, when — the Arizona Coyotes would eventually fall out of playoff contention.

And now — as they’re about to embark on a five-game road swing through Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — the Coyotes are talking about it themselves.

“We’re looking at it as a huge part of the season,” Kevin Connauton said, per the Arizona Republic. “We gotta go on this road trip, and we gotta play some good hockey. We gotta grind out a couple of road wins because this is a key point in the season.

“This could really, at the end of the day, make or break things for us.”

The Coyotes are in a pretty curious spot.

Realistically, they’re probably not going to make the postseason. Heading into tonight’s game at Verizon, they’re five points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, and would need to leapfrog Minnesota to get there.

But the fact Arizona’s in this conversation at all is surprising.

Picked by many to be one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Coyotes have impressed, thanks in large part to the outstanding play of rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Throw in some surprisingly good netminding from another rookie, Louis Domingue, and the usual solid contributions from blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and the Coyotes have put together what has to be seen as a successful campaign — playoffs or no.

Which is why, regardless of how this trip goes, the club’s immediate future might already be decided.

While GM Don Maloney said there won’t be a purge similar to last year, it’s likely that Arizona will be a seller at the Feb. 29 deadline. There’s been a ton of rumored interesting around pending UFA Mikkel Boedker, while veteran free agents like Nicklas Grossmann and Boyd Gordon could also be flipped for picks.

Add it all up, and Connauton was right — this road trip could make or break the Coyotes’ playoff chances.

Yet it’s entirely possible those chances won’t be broken by wins or losses.

Goalie nods: Allen’s back, but Elliott remains Blues’ starter

St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) lunges to make a save against the Nashville Predators during the first period Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Sanford Myers)

Jake Allen has been activated from injured reserve and is ready to go.

He won’t, however, go this evening.

When the Blues host the Sharks at Scottrade, it’ll be Brian Elliott making his 18th consecutive start, looking to expand on a five-game winning streak over which he’s posted a 1.99 GAA and .931 save percentage.

Those numbers are a big part of the reason why he’s facing the Sharks.

Elliott has been a revelation since Allen went down to injury on Jan. 8. The Blues have gone 12-3-2 over their last 17 games, despite the fact the offense has sputtered — there was a five-game stretch from Jan. 20 to Feb. 4 in which the Blues only scored five times, and a three-game stretch from Feb. 14-18 in which they won three straight games by a 2-1 scoreline.

(With two of those wins coming in OT.)

For the Sharks, Martin Jones gets the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Joonas Korpisalo makes his 12th straight start for the Blue Jackets, who are in Boston. The B’s look as though they’ll give Tuukka Rask a rest, and start Jonas Gustavsson.

Louis Domingue, yanked in a loss to St. Louis over the weekend, is back in goal as the Coyotes play in Washington. Braden Holtby assumes his usual starter’s role for the Caps.

— It’s Pekka Rinne versus Mike Condon as the Preds take on the Habs in Montreal.

 

‘Pretty good chance that I’m going to get moved,’ says Weise

Dale Weise,
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Dale Weise can see the writing on the wall.

The Montreal winger is a pending UFA who 1) has produced well on a reasonable contract, 2) hasn’t had much discussion about a new contract and, 3) plays on a team outside the playoff picture.

Meaning, 4) he knows he’s a candidate to be traded.

“Obviously, you got to look at where we are, look at my contract status and we haven’t had a lot of talk,” Weise said over the weekend, per the Montreal Gazette. “So I think you would weigh a little more on the side that there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to get moved, but crazier things have happened.”

Weise, 27, would certainly be a fairly attractive pickup for a team seeking depth at forward. He’s on a very good contract — a $1.025M cap hit, which expires this summer — and has scored well this season, with 14 goals and 25 points in 55 games.

He’s also averaging a career-high 14:21 TOI per night and has some good playoff experience, with 34 career games split between Vancouver and Montreal.

Of course, Weise did say he’d like nothing more than to remain a Hab.

“I love Montreal,” he said. “This is where I want to stay.”

Jagr, Haula, Anderson named NHL’s three stars of the week

Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) reacts after a play during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, Minnesota’s Erik Haula and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 21, the league announced on Monday.

More:

Jagr scored three goals in three games to move into sole possession of third place in NHL history and help the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers (34-18-7, 75 points) pick up five out of a possible six standings points.

Haula shared first place in the NHL with 2-5—7 in four games to lead the Wild (27-22-10, 64 points) to a sweep of their four contests, including a victory in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

Anderson posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.58 goals-against average and .951 save percentage to backstop the Senators (28-26-6, 62 points) to three straight wins.

You can expect to see Jagr’s name in the news in the coming weeks as well. He’s just six points away from passing Gordie Howe for third all-time in NHL scoring (Jagr’s currently on 1,845 points; Howe has 1,850).

Jagr also recently passed Brett Hull for third all-time in goals, with 742.