David Pastrnak

Boston could release Pastrnak for World Juniors

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Sounds like David Pastrnak could participate in his second straight World Junior Hockey Championship.

Per CSNNE, Pastrnak — Boston’s 19-year-old talent that scored scored 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games as a rookie last season — could be loaned out for this year’s tournament, like he was last December.

Pastrnak played exceptionally well for his native Czech Republic at the ’15 tourney, scoring seven points in five games.

Currently sidelined with a fractured left foot — he’s missed the last 20 games, dating back to Oct. 31 — Pastrnak’s recovery could coincide with the start of this year’s World Juniors, which is being held in Helsinki.

“The next part is the conditioning element to this, and what’s best to get him back to full speed,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney explained. “The World Juniors are a component to this, but we’re looking at all options as to what’s available between now and when we would have to make a drop-dead decision based on the holiday roster freeze.

“That will happen over the next day or so.”

Pastrnak has appeared in 10 games for Boston this year, scoring two goals and four points.

Report: Buffalo wins ’18 World Juniors bid

Terry Pegula
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The World Junior Hockey Championships are reportedly coming to Buffalo.

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA Hockey will announce that Buffalo has been chosen as the host site for the 2018 Worlds, beating out finalists Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the process.

Update: USA Hockey has all but let the cat out of the bag, announcing a press conference on Friday at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

It won’t come as a huge surprise that Buffalo got the nod. Since the Terry Pegula-backed HarborCenter opened last year, the site — along with the connected First Niagara Center, home of the Sabres — has become a hotbed of hockey activity.

Buffalo was host to the 2015 daft combine and will host again in ’16, along with the NHL Entry Draft. It’s also home to NCAA outfit Canisius, the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League and, this past spring, hosted the ’15 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships.

As for the World Juniors chronology, the ’16 event will be held in Helsinki, Finland, followed by the ’17 tournament in the shared sites of Montreal and Toronto.

Buffalo last hosted the tournament in 2011, when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko led the Russians to gold.

Update: 

Pegula, of course, owns both the Sabres and the NFL’s Bills.

Report: Penguins still have no plans to send Sprong to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Penguins still have no plans to send Daniel Sprong back to junior, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper cited a club official “speaking on the condition of anonymity” for that tidbit.

Of course, GM Jim Rutherford said pretty much the same thing last week, that Sprong, 18, had done enough to stick with the Pens past the nine-game mark.

The difference between now and last week is that Sprong, the youngest player in the NHL, is coming off a healthy scratching Saturday in Toronto, and he could be in the press box again tonight in Vancouver.

Sprong has played eight games in total. He has one goal and no assists, and his average ice time is 10:04.

Which is to say, he hasn’t been all that vital to his team.

Granted, what he has given the Penguins is a cap hit of just $692,500. And that’s important, because the Pens don’t have much cap space to work with.

Not to imply that Sprong is only being kept up for salary-cap reasons; however, it’s worth noting that Rutherford admitted in April that Beau Bennett was rushed into the NHL.

“We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise,” Rutherford said. “I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt we should have sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot.”

Sprong is not eligible to go to the AHL, only back to junior, where he’s already proven he can score. So perhaps Rutherford feels Sprong has a better opportunity to grow in the NHL, even if it means playing limited minutes.

The key question, though, is whether Rutherford still believes that Sprong “can help our team.”

Based on today’s report, he still does. But until Sprong plays his 10th game, Rutherford will maintain the option to change his mind.

Related: Blame the Canadian dollar for ‘cap squeeze’

Banged-up Blues get Fabbri (concussion) back after six-game absence

Robby Fabbri, Mattias Janmark-Nylen

ST. LOUIS (AP) — In the St. Louis Blues’ first game without top forwards Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, it took players a while to adjust.

Coach Ken Hitchcock pointed out that his players have no choice.

Stastny is out at least another month with a broken right foot and Schwartz will be re-evaluated in three months after surgery for a fractured left ankle sustained in a freak practice accident on Friday. Schwartz had 63 points last season and Stastny had 46 points, and had five points in five games this season.

A third forward, Patrik Berglund, isn’t expected back until January after shoulder surgery.

Some help is on the way. The Blues anticipate activating All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (groin) and promising rookie Robby Fabbri (concussion) in time for Tuesday night’s game against Tampa Bay. The 19-year-old Fabbri was a first-round pick in 2014 and has been a high scorer in juniors.

Still, it’s going to take a group effort to compensate for all of that lost offense.

The Blues turned up the intensity across the board on Saturday, erasing a two-goal third-period deficit before losing 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders. They outshot New York 15-2 in the third.

“I think we’re going to have to get a little creative with what we do with our roster, and we’re going to have to get more from certain people,” Hitchcock said. “But if we keep up with our work ethic, we keep our spirit up, we’re going to get through this thing and hopefully come out better.”

The malaise was evident at the start of the Islanders game when the Blues won just 5 of 15 of face-offs in the first period. Hitchcock noted a lack of aggressive checking.

“We weren’t sharp off the bat,” goalie Brian Elliott said. “We did a great job just kind of settling down and kind of taking over the game.”

The bottom line is that they salvaged something, and that’s important right now.

“To lose in overtime is a disappointment but you have to be happy with the one point and kind of move on from it and learn from that start,” Elliott said. “We had a lot of good things so you can’t hang your head too much.”

Besides Shattenkirk and Fabbri, the Blues will lean heavier on young Dmitrij Jaskin. They can give increased roles to veterans Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall, too. Both made the team as tryouts.

“We’ve got to manufacture points, we’ve got to manufacture goals,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not going to come as smooth and as easy as it once did.”

Upshall was supposed to be in the lineup Saturday but became ill about an hour before game-time.

“We know we’re anticipating that Shattenkirk and Fabbri will be back in on Tuesday,” Hitchcock said. “I’m sure Upshall will be back in, so we’re going to get a little bit of stability.”

Rookie defenseman Colton Parayko has stepped in from the start, showing a knack for offense along with solid play on the back line. He had a goal and assist in the Saturday surge. The Blues can always lean on strong net-minding with Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties.

“It’s just about guys stepping up and filling roles,” Elliott said. “We lost some big-time players and now it’s opportunities.”

Ducks send Shea Theodore back to AHL

Shea Theodore
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Shea Theodore’s NHL debut will have to wait. The 20-year-old defenseman was returned to AHL San Diego today by the Anaheim Ducks.

Theodore was called up Saturday, along with defenseman Korbinian Holzer, when d-men Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner were placed on injured reserve.

Holzer remains on the NHL roster after dressing in the Ducks’ 4-1 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

Anaheim doesn’t play again until Thursday in Nashville. No word if Despres or Stoner are close to returning.

Theodore was drafted 26th overall in 2013. He was a prolific scorer during his time in junior with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and is just now getting his feet wet as a pro.