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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Weise ‘certainly a better player than he’s shown,’ says Hextall

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Ron Hextall became Flyers GM three years ago and, over that time, he’s been praised for a number of his moves.

The Dale Weise contract? Yeah, that’s not one of them.

Weise — signed to a four-year, $9.4 million deal last summer — has been a huge disappointment thus far. He’s had repeat trips to the press box as a healthy scratch, lost three games to suspension and, all told, has just four goals and eight points in 53 games played.

Yesterday, Hextall addressed the Weise signing (among other topics), and confirmed the obvious: Weise has fallen way short of expectations.

“If you’re evaluating right now, you’d probably say he hasn’t put up the type of numbers that we hoped,” Hextall said, per Philly.com. “He’s playing pretty well lately. He’s certainly a better player than he’s shown over the course of the year.

“I think at the time we added depth to our lineup and we expected 12 to 15 goals and he’s nowhere near there. In a nutshell, we all know Dale can play better.”

Hextall was clearly hoping Weise could regain the form shown in Montreal. The 28-year-old had 14 goals and 26 points in 56 games for the Habs in ’15-16 (this after scoring 10 goals and 29 points in ’14-15).

But there were warning signs his statistical outburst was an anomaly, rather than the start of something big. Weise’s time in Chicago following a deadline deal from Montreal was, as he put it, a “disaster.” He went scoreless with just one point in 15 regular-season games, and was a non-factor in the playoffs.

Looking ahead, one wonders how big an albatross Weise’s contract could become. He turns 29 in August, and is owed $2.35 million annually through 2020. It’s not a crippling cap hit or anything, but for a guy that’s only found the back of the net four times this season, it’s a significant chunk of change.

Pre-game reading: Wild prospect, NCAA star Kunin wrestling with decision to turn pro

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— Minnesota has a bunch of quality young prospects (Joel Eriksson-Ek, Jordan Greenway, Alex Tuch, Kirill Kaprizov) in the pipleline. But right now, one is garnering more interest than the rest: University of Wisconsin star Luke Kunin, the 15th overall pick at last year’s draft.

Kunin, 19, just wrapped his sophomore campaign for the Badgers, and it was a good one. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, with four points in seven games.

Kunin does have some unfinished business at Wisconsin — the club fell short of qualifying for the NCAA championships this year — but according to the Star-Trubine’s Mike Russo, most expect him to forgo the rest of his eligibility and turn pro.

For more on what Badgers head coach Tony Granato had to say, click here.

— More players have weighed in on the NHL’s Olympic participation (or, lack thereof). This time, it’s Bruins captain Zdeno Chara speaking out. From ESPN:

“Any time there’s some sort of interference, it looks bad on the sport and it looks bad on the people making the decisions. We are at a point where people need to really sit down behind one table and find a solution, instead of always kind of being defensive I would say, or finding ways not to find solutions. That’s what I’m hoping for and believe that it will eventually happen. Things will find a way and fall into place for the Olympics, for the sport and for the history of all the nations being in the same place; come together and we will see the best hockey players for their countries at the Olympics.”

Chara’s comments came after Philly forward Jakub Voracek said it’s “absolutely ridiculous” there’s no Olympic deal yet.

— Nick Paccione is 12 years old. Earlier this season, he won a contest to do play-by-play of the first period for the Devils radio broadcast and, on Sunday, was on the call for New Jersey’s home game against Columbus.

So, how’d he do?

“He did a good job and handled the pace well,” Devils play-by-play voice Matt Loughlin said. “He had excellent energy and his goal calls were spot on. What a way to begin a career. A shorthanded penalty shot, another shorthanded goal and a power-play goal. That’s not easy.”

Hear some of Paccione’s call here.

Lake Superior leading scorer Hults turns pro, signs with Ducks

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Mitch Hults, the sophomore that led Lake Superior State in scoring this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

Hults, 22, went undrafted out of the USHL but made a name for himself over the course of two NCAA campaigns. He finished this year with 11 goals and 34 points in 36 games, and was named to the WCHA’s All-Second Team.

Hults will take the path of many an undrafted college free agent, and immediately join an AHL club (in this case, Anaheim’s minor-league affiliate in San Diego) on an amateur tryout. That means his entry-level deal will kick in next season.

Goalie nods: Rask faces Andersen in crucial Bruins-Leafs tilt

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Plenty at stake tonight at the ACC so, unsurprisingly, both the Bruins and Leafs are rolling with their No. 1s.

Tuukka Rask will get the call for Boston, his first action since getting yanked after allowing five goals on 17 shots in a loss to Edmonton on Thursday. Getting Rask out of the Oilers game might’ve been more precautionary than anything — it’s believed head coach Bruce Cassidy will go with the Finnish ‘tender both tonight and tomorrow, when the B’s host the Sens at TD Garden.

As playing Rask in back-to-backs would suggest, points are at a premium right now. Boston heads into tonight’s action just three points up on the Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.

Speaking of the Leafs, they’ll stick with Frederik Andersen after a solid effort on Saturday — the Dane allowed two goals on 39 shots in a OT loss to the ‘Hawks, continuing his recent run of fine play. Andersen has been great in March, posting a 1.99 GAA and .940 save percentage, and tonight will look to remain undefeated against the Bruins this season (he’s 3-0-0).

Elsewhere…

Robin Lehner returns as Buffalo’s starter after sitting out Friday night. He’ll be up against Petr Mrazek, who gets another shot in goal for the host Red Wings after Jimmy Howard played over the weekend.

Pekka Rinne, who got a rest on Saturday (Juuse Saros got the call), will be in net when the Preds host the Coyotes in Nashville. No word yet on an Arizona starter.

— The Sharks have given backup Aaron Dell a bunch of work down the stretch, and that trend continues tonight in Dallas. The Stars will counter with Kari Lehtonen, who was yanked against San Jose earlier this month after giving up three goals on eight shots.

— Ever the workhorse, Cam Talbot will make yet another start after posting a 33-save shutout against Vancouver on Saturday. No word yet on who starts for the visiting Kings, after Jonathan Quick got the hook in last night’s loss to Calgary.

Going pro? Ottawa wasted no time contacting prospect White

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Colin White, the Boston College sophomore taken 21st overall by Ottawa at the ’15 draft, had his collegiate season end over the weekend with a loss to UMass Lowell.

And the Sens got right down to business.

From the Citizen:

Senators assistant GM Randy Lee, who is handling the talks, reached out to White’s camp after the loss and the club is weighing its options to try to determine the best route.

White was a standout for Team USA at the world junior championships but that doesn’t mean he’s NHL-ready, which is why Ottawa wants to do what’s best for both sides.

White, 20, has had a terrific last couple of years. He’s been a point-per-game player at BC and, as mentioned above, was a major catalyst at the world juniors. He finished second in the tournament in goals, with seven in seven games, and was a force in the U.S.’s gold medal win over Canada.

According to the Citizen’s Bruce Garrioch, “it doesn’t sound like either White or the Senators” are interested in him returning to school for his junior season. Which leaves two landing options: Ottawa, on an entry-level contract (and the potential for White’s NHL debut) or AHL Binghamton, on an amateur tryout (the Sens don’t lose a year off his ELC this way).

White could leverage going back to school to get Ottawa to sign him to an ELC. He would be no doubt thrilled at the prospect of making playing in the NHL — especially for a team that looks playoff-bound — but the Sens still have much to play for, and might not have the luxury of getting White into the mix.