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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Giroux shoots down trade rumblings: ‘I’m not leaving’

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Claude Giroux was drafted by the Flyers in 2006, made his debut a year later, went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 and was named team captain in 2013.

As far as recent Philly athletes go, he’s had some legit success over a pretty long tenure.

But that hasn’t made him immune from trade speculation.

This week, Giroux was asked about the possibility of being shipped out of Philly, after the club missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. The 29-year-old wasn’t much for entertaining the idea.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said, per CSN Philly. “I’ve been in Philly for nine years and I don’t plan on leaving.

“Like I said, it’s not for me to make those decisions and I’m not leaving.

According to CSN Philly sources, GM Ron Hextall has “no intention” of trading Giroux or any of the team’s core members (Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn were the players mentioned).

Furthermore, Giroux has five years left on an eight-year, $66.2 million deal — one that carries a hefty $8.275M cap hit — and is armed with a no-movement clause.

Which begs the question — why is this question being asked?

Well, one has to wonder if Philly’s a tad concerned about Giroux moving forward. He turns 30 next season, and his offensive production has declined in four consecutive seasons. It’s also fair to say the Flyers’ future lies with a promising young core of Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Scott Laughton, Robert Hagg — all of whom are still on their entry-level deals.

Provorov, Gostisbehere and Konecny have emerged as full-time NHLers already. When the rest do, it may be time to signal a changing of the guard — and there’s no telling where Giroux’s trade value would be at that point.

But that conversation might just be that — conversation. Because it sure doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere soon.

Jackets recall d-man prospect Carlsson

First Linkoping, then Cleveland, now Columbus.

That’s the path Gabriel Carlsson has taken over the last few weeks — on Friday, the Blue Jackets announced they’ve recalled Carlsson from the AHL Monsters, the latest in what’s been a whirlwind trip.

In late March, Columbus brought Carlsson — the 29th overall pick in 2015 — over from Swedish League club Linkopings, where he’d spent the majority of the season.

Carlsson, 20, scored two goals and two assists for four points with six penalty minutes in 40 SHL games. Once his year was done, he immediately joined Cleveland.

With the Monsters, Carlsson posted one assist in three games.

Per the Dispatch, the recall comes as Columbus needed a seventh defenseman for a back-to-back series that’ll close the regular season. The Blue Jackets play on Saturday in Philly, then on Sunday in Toronto.

In other CBJ prospect news, the club has sent Vitaly Abramov to the Monsters. The club’s third-round pick last year, Abramov is coming off a terrific season with QMJHL Gatineau, winning both the league’s scoring title and MVP.

Sobotka returns to Blues, adds three-year, $10.5M extension

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Update: The St. Louis Blues made it official; Vlaidmir Sobotka will “fulfill his obligation” for the remainder of 2016-17. He’ll also stick around for a while, as the team also confirmed that he signed a three-year, $10.5 million extension that will begin in 2017-18.

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The on-again, off-again relationship between Vladimir Sobotka at the St. Louis Blues appears to be back on.

Per the Post-Dispatch, Sobotka’s contract with KHL Avangard has been terminated and according to Victor Shalev — the club’s GM — Sobotka is on his way back to the NHL.

Given he owes the Blues one year on his current contract — a $2.725M deal awarded in arbitration back in 2014 — Sobotka could be playing for St. Louis in the very near future. He’s playoff eligible, and could (theoretically) suit up for one of the Blues’ three remaining regular-season games:

Tonight in Florida, Saturday in Carolina or Sunday at home against the Avalanche.

There are two key dynamics at play here. The first? What the 29-year-old would bring to the table for the playoffs. Though he hasn’t faced NHL competition in three years, he has been a steady, consistent scorer in the KHL — 51 points in 53 games in his first season, then 34 in 44 and 30 in 41 in his second and third.

Prior to bolting St. Louis, Sobotka developed a reputation as a solid defensive forward and penalty killer, one that can win faceoffs. So on that alone, he’s a nice option to have come postseason time. It’s also the equivalent of getting a trade deadline acquisition for nothing.

The second dynamic at play? Sobotka might be around for longer than just this season.

From the Dispatch:

That figure [$2.275 million] would be pro-rated for the little that remains left in the regular season. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Blues had seemed reluctant in recent years to allow Sobotka to play a partial season and then become UFA. But if the club and the forward can agree on a multi-year contract extension, which is likely, then it would make sense to add him to the roster at this time. That appears to be where the situation is headed, and finally, the Sobotka saga will be over.

If Sobotka does join the club, the Blues’ roster will be pretty solid come playoff time. Jori Lehtera recently returned from a concussion, Carl Gunnarsson has come back from a lower-body injury and Paul Statsny (lower body as well) has been upgraded to day-to-day.

Goalie nods: Prospects Comrie, Gillies make NHL debuts

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The future will be on display tonight for Calgary and Winnipeg.

Let’s start with the Jets, who will give Eric Comrie his first NHL start in Columbus. Comrie, 21, was Winnipeg’s second-round pick in 2013 — 59th overall, the fourth goalie off the board — and is currently in his second full season with AHL Manitoba.

Though he’s thought of highly within the organization, chances are Comrie isn’t quite ready to make the leap to the NHL full-time. The Jets got burned this year going with a relatively inexperienced combo in Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson and, while both will (presumably) be back next year, it’s safe to think GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might bring in a veteran to stabilize the position.

Still, this is a good opportunity for Comrie to show he is, in fact, a future No. 1.

Now, over to the Flames.

As mentioned yesterday, John Gillies was recalled after an injury to backup netminder Chad Johnson. Calgary isn’t wasting any time in seeing what they’ve got in Gillies, as he’ll get the call tonight in Los Angeles.

Gillies, 23, is a former Providence College standout taken by Calgary in the third round (75th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. Like Comrie in Winnipeg, he’s considered to be the club’s potential goalie of the future.

As for Johnson, there’s been no update on his status, so it’s unclear how long Gillies will be in the bigs.

And as for the opposing goalies? Comrie faces Joonas Korpisalo, while Gillies takes on Ben Bishop.

Elsewhere…

— After making 22 saves in a win over Nashville on Tuesday, Jaroslav Halak goes back in for the Isles. The host ‘Canes are going with Eddie Lack, who makes his second start since suffering that scary neck injury against Detroit in late March.

Matt Murray makes his fourth straight start as the Pens take on the Devils in New Jersey. Cory Schneider gets back in after Keith Kinkaid shut out the Flyers on Tuesday.

— Big matchup in Boston tonight, and both the Bruins and visiting Senators will start their No. 1s: Craig Anderson and Tuukka Rask.

— Equally big game in Toronto, where the Bolts look to keep their season alive. They’ll go with Andrei Vasilevskiy, while the Leafs will counter with Frederik Andersen.

— Looks to be Jake Allen against James Reimer as the Blues visit the Panthers.

— In Dallas, Juuse Saros appears to be the Nashville starter, while Antti Niemi will go for the Stars.

John Gibson, who we wrote about earlier, makes his second consecutive start as the Ducks look to clinch the Pacific Division tonight. The visiting ‘Hawks will go with Corey Crawford.

— It’s Devan Dubnyk in goal for the Wild, who visit Colorado. No word yet on who the Avs will start.

Louis Domingue, who has played well down the stretch (rebounding from a difficult start in the process), gets another start as the Coyotes host the Canucks. Vancouver has yet to name a starter, but Ryan Miller appears likely.

— Finally, yet another big game as the Sharks and Oilers do battle in San Jose. Second place in the Pacific is up for grabs, and the home-ice advantage that comes with it, so both No. 1s will go: Cam Talbot for Edmonton, Martin Jones for the Sharks.

Gibson weighs in on Anaheim’s playoff starter debate

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Last week, we addressed the Ducks’ simmering goalie controversy — the one in which Jonathan Bernier‘s play, teamed with John Gibson‘s injury, led to the annual “who’s your playoff starter?” conversation.

At the time, Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle classified it as a “1A and 1B” situation. Bernier catapulted himself into contention with a brilliant month of March, going 10-1-2 with a .941 save percentage.

Gibson, meanwhile, only made one appearance over a 14-game stretch due to a lingering lower-body ailment.

But then the calendar turned to April, and Gibson returned to health. He’s started two of three games this month and looked terrific, stopping 60 of 64 shots for a .938 save percentage.

He also had some things to say about the playoff starter debate.

“I didn’t forget how to play, right?” Gibson said, per the O.C. Register. “Just had an injury.”

When asked if he felt there was competition with Bernier to be the Game 1 starter, Gibson re-iterated his point.

“You’d have to ask Randy what he thinks,” he explained. “I’ve been here for the whole year. I got hurt for a month.”

Logic suggests Gibson will be the guy. It certainly appears to be trending that way. The Ducks are giving him a second consecutive nod tonight against Chicago, in a relatively important game — they can clinch top spot in the Pacific with a win and an Edmonton loss in San Jose.

If Gibson shows well again, it’ll silence any doubts about his readiness or rust accumulation.

But Bernier’s emergence over the last few weeks will make things intriguing, regardless of who opens as starter. Remember, Gibson was anointed Anaheim’s No. 1 in last year’s opening-round series against Nashville, only to lose that gig to Frederik Andersen after Game 2.