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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Desperate Stars get Spezza back from five-game absence

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Dallas needs wins, and in a major way.

So the club is no doubt pleased with today’s development — Jason Spezza, out since Feb. 2 with an upper-body injury, will return to the lineup when the Stars take on the Jets in Winnipeg.

Ironically enough, Spezza’s return comes against the same team that put him on the shelf. Two weeks ago, Jets forward Adam Lowry rocked the veteran center with this hit:

That put the 33-year-old on the shelf for five games, during which Dallas went 1-4-0. That includes Sunday’s disheartening loss in Nashville, in which the Stars blew a 3-0 lead.

Spezza’s one of the best setup men on the team, trailing only Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in assists, so it wasn’t surprising to see him take line rushes at center alongside Seguin at the morning skate.

The Stars are hoping his return provides a spark. They head into tonight’s game six points back of L.A. for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Parenteau acknowledges ‘there’s a chance I get moved’

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P.A. Parenteau’s been through this before.

Last year, he racked up a team-high 20 goals in Toronto. That led to predictions he’d be shipped out during the Maple Leafs’ deadline fire sale yet, when the smoke settled, Parenteau was still a Leaf.

This year, he’s continued to produce — 13 goals and 25 points through 53 games — and knows that if the Devils fall out of playoff contention, he could be subjected to another round of trade rumors.

“I went through it last year,” Parenteau said, per NorthJersey.com. “I was having a really good year and I didn’t get traded. Who knows? The market changes every year.

“I’m aware of my age, and when I sign a one-year deal like that, if the team is going to be out of playoff contention, there’s a chance I get moved.”

The 33-year-old joined the Devils after getting scooped off waivers from the Isles at the start of the campaign. There have been ups and downs in New Jersey, including a healthy scratch in mid-December, but Parenteau did said he “wants to stay” with the club, adding his priority is to “win games, and that’s the way I’m not going to get traded.”

One would think teams will kick the tires.

Parenteau carries a modest $1.3 million cap hit and Devils GM Ray Shero got out in front of the deadline last weekend, when he shipped Vern Fiddler to Nashville for a fourth-round pick.

Last year, Shero was active in selling assets for picks. He sent Lee Stempniak to Boston for a second- and fourth-rounder, then moved Eric Gelinas to Colorado for a third.

The Devils head into tonight’s action five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. But they’ve got to jump four teams to get there — the Flyers, Islanders, Panthers and Lightning — which is a tall order, to say the least.

With the Mar. 1 deadline just weeks away, Parenteau could become a popular name.

“I feel like I’m still a good player,” he said. “I feel like I have a lot to give. We’ll see where that takes me.”

Blues place Stastny on IR

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When Paul Stastny was hurt in last week’s win over Toronto, the Blues said they didn’t think the injury was long-term.

But now, it appears a little more serious than first thought.

St. Louis placed Stastny on IR Tuesday, after he sat out Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Habs. Head coach Mike Yeo acknowledged it’s a significant loss for the club, which is back in action tomorrow in a Rivalry Night game against Detroit (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“He’s usually the first guy over the boards for a power-play faceoff or the first guy over the boards for a penalty-kill faceoff, and those are key,” Yeo said, per the Blues website. “He’s a very important player for us. You don’t take out a top-line center from too many lineups where they don’t feel that.”

Stastny had been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games (in which the Blues went 4-1-0).

The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And given the Blues have already lost Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, they certainly didn’t want to be down the services another productive forward.

“We have more than capable players,” Yeo said. “Our focus is on the guys that are in the lineup and if we take care of our job, we give him a chance to get better and obviously we’ll be stronger when he gets back.”

 

Coyotes haven’t made extension offer to Hanzal

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“I haven’t got an offer yet from the Coyotes. We haven’t talked.”

That was Martin Hanzal to the Arizona Republic this week, updating where negotiations are between him and the the club regarding a new deal.

Hanzal, set to become a UFA this summer, already seemed likely to be moved by the Mar. 1 trade deadline — and that was before his latest update.

Now it feels like a near certainty.

“The bottom line is I don’t have a contract for next season, and we’re two weeks away from the deadline,” Hanzal continued. “So it’s going to happen one way or the other. Obviously, I’ll be happy with whatever happens because this is hockey and if they move me, I’ll probably have a chance to win a Stanley Cup.

“That’s another upside, right?”

As has been well-documented throughout this process, Hanzal is a very intriguing add for a number of playoff-bound teams.

Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.

At 6-foot-6, 226 pounds, Hanzal would provide an immense physical presence down the middle. And after missing some time to injury — health has been a concern for the 29-year-0ld — Hanzal seems to be peaking at the right time. He has seven points in his last eight games, including a goal in last night’s 4-0 win over Calgary.

The big question now, it seems, is what Coyotes GM John Chayka wants for Hanzal. Back in late January, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Chayka was looking to hit a grand slam, with an ask from Montreal that included prized prospect Michael McCarron and a first-round pick.

Hansen ‘made it very clear’ he wants to remain a Canuck

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Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen is fully aware that teams may want to trade for him ahead of the March 1 deadline.

The speedy winger is also aware that his limited no-trade clause (he can provide a list of eight teams he’d be willing to join) doesn’t give him full control of  the situation.

But for the record, he doesn’t want to be traded.

“If [Vancouver] comes to me, I give them my list and then it’s in their hands,” Hansen explained, per The Province. “I can’t veto a trade. If (Canucks GM Jim Benning) wants to trade me, he can trade me.”

Read more: Expansion draft complicates matters in Vancouver

On paper, Hansen would be a solid fit for a number of playoff-bound teams — something the Canucks aren’t, barring a major run down the stretch.

In the third year of a four-year, $10 million deal, Hansen carries a tidy $2.5 million cap hit. That’s good value for a 30-year-old who has tons of speed, the versatility to play up and down the lineup, and scored 22 goals last season.

Vancouver knows Hansen could fetch a nice return on the trade market. That, combined with the disaster of last year — Benning was pilloried for failing to flip Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata, assets that eventually walked away for nothing in free agency — has put major pressure on management to get this year right.

Hansen has even more value given he’s not purely a rental. The acquiring team would secure his services for next season as well. That, according to him, opens the door for more than the usual deadline suitors, in that Hansen’s eight teams don’t have to be guaranteed to make the playoffs.

He wants to remain a Canuck, though — so even if he’s asked for a list, he may not provide the easiest of trade options.

“I have another year on my contract, so maybe a team that’s not in the playoffs would want me for next year,” he explained. “It’s tough for me to figure out what’s going to happen. But I’ve made it very clear I’d prefer to stay here.”