It’s been a difficult last few days in Carolina, as the club traded away captain Eric Staal, veterans John-Michael Liles and Kris Versteeg, and lost Andrej Nestrasil to a season-ending vertebra injury.
So, it’s an appropriate time for a feel-good story.
That’s exactly what the ‘Canes will get tonight as Derek Ryan, 29, will play his first-ever NHL game — just one day after getting his first-ever NHL recall.
A former standout with WHL Spokane — where he played under ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters — Ryan has been all over the place over the last nine years. There was a stop in Kalamazoo (of the now-defunct United Hockey League), a four-year stint at the University of Alberta, three years in the Austrian League and, last season, a terrific campaign in Sweden.
With Orebro, Ryan scored a whopping 80 points in 55 games en route to capturing SHL Forward of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. He parlayed that into a one-year, two-way deal with the ‘Canes this summer and, after being assigned to AHL Charlotte to begin this season, has enjoyed a very solid AHL campaign, leading the Checkers in scoring with 42 points.
(It should be mentioned this is Ryan’s first-ever AHL campaign, too.)
Per ‘Canes Country, Ryan skated on a line with Brock McGinn and Chris Terry during this morning’s skate.
Edmonton freshman Connor McDavid has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for February, the league announced on Monday.
McDavid, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, registered at least one point in 10 of his 14 February appearances. That included 1-2—3 in his return from a 37-game absence Feb. 2 vs. CBJ and 2-3—5 – career highs for assists and points – Feb. 11 vs. TOR.
At 19 years, 29 days, McDavid became the ninth-youngest player in NHL history to record a five-point game and just the third rookie in Oilers history to accomplish that feat (also Dave Lumley and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins).
An impressive month, though McDavid was hardly the runaway winner. Flyers d-man Shayne Gostisbehere had a terrific February, with 13 points in 15 games, while likely Calder winner Artemi Panarin continued his stellar season with 11 points in nine games.
Another rookie worth mentioning is Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who finished with a 7-3-2 record, 2.46 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
Nashville continued its string of smaller, low-level extensions on Tuesday when it agreed to a two-year, $1.225M deal with pending RFA forward Miikka Salomaki.
Salomaki, 22, is in his first full season with the Preds, scoring four goals and seven points in 45 games. A second-round pick at the 2011 draft, he’s spent most of the last three years with Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
Perhaps best known as “the guy that hit Dennis Wideman before Wideman hit the linesman,” Salomaki will now carry a $612,500 average annual cap hit through 2018 (his entry-level deal expires this July).
The contract also comes on the heels Nashville giving similarly-priced extensions to Anthony Bitetto (see here) and Colton Sissions (see here).
Related: The Preds stood pat on deadline day because they didn’t want to ‘give away Vesey’s position on our team’
Another member of Florida’s ’14 draft class is now in the fold.
Jayce Hawryluk, taken 31 spots after the club selected Aaron Ekblad No. 1 overall, has agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal with the club, the Panthers announced on Tuesday.
Hawryluk, 20, is in his fourth year with WHL Brandon, where he’s emerged as a quality scorer — he sits second on the team in goals (30) and points (79), trailing only Nolan Patrick, who’s widely predicted to be one of the top picks at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
An invitee to Team Canada’s World Junior evaluation camp this past December, Hawryluk was cut from the final roster.
Having traded away the likes of Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles, the Carolina Hurricanes were going to be undermanned for the remainder of this season.
Now, they’ll be even more undermanned.
On Tuesday, ‘Canes GM Ron Francis announced that forward Andrej Nestrasil would miss the remainder of the season with an apparent back injury.
Updated: Fractured vertebra, per the club.
Nestrasil has been out of the Carolina lineup since taking a nasty check into the boards from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri last week. Not long after, an update posted to his Facebook page suggested he would be lost for the year.
Acquired off waivers from Detroit last season, Nestrasil has enjoyed a relatively successful campaign in Carolina, registering career highs in games played (55), goals (nine), assists (14) and points (23).
Earlier this year, the 25-year-old signed a two-year, $1.825M extension with the ‘Canes, one that carries through the 2016-17 campaign.