2014 NHL Draft - Portraits

Flames return Bennett to junior

The Calgary Flames returned forward Sam Bennett to the Ontario Hockey League’s Kinston Frontenacs the club announced Saturday.

Bennett, who hasn’t played this season, was in Calgary recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum.

“After the fourth month it gets a little annoying,” Bennett told the Flames website. “Wherever I play I’m ready to go. I don’t feel hesitant at all out there. I guess it’s just a matter of getting my confidence back up again.

The 18-year-old was finally cleared for contact last weekend and spent the week practicing with the Flames prior to Saturday’s decision.

Bennett had 36 goals and 91 points in 57 games before the Flames selected him fourth overall last June.

He has not played a meaningful game since April 1 when his Frontenacs were bounced from the first round of the OHL playoffs.

Once his OHL season is over, Bennett will be eligible to re-join the Flames or their AHL affiliate in Adirondack.

Saturday’s move allows Calgary to hold on to the first year of Bennett’s entry-level contract.

U.S. bounced from World Juniors by Russia for second straight year

Igor Shestyorkin

For the second time in as many years, the United States found itself opposite Russia in the World Juniors’ quarterfinals. Once again, it was the Russians that came out on top.

New York Rangers prospect Igor Shestyorkin stood tall Friday afternoon, turning aside 39 of 41 American shots to hand Russia a 3-2 victory. That brought him up to a .949 save percentage in the tournament. It helped that his teammates Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Sharov each found the back of the net in the first period to give Russia an early 2-0 lead.

The United States was never able to even things after falling behind early, although Lightning prospect Anthony DeAngelo and Zach Werenski each scored for the United States to keep the game close. Sergei Tolchinski chipped in what proved to be the game-winner on a power-play at 1:27 of the third period.

Russia will take on the winner of Finland vs. Sweden. The fact that the Russians are playing in the semifinals will help salvage what was shaping up to be a rough tournament for them after they went to a shootout with Denmark and lost to the Czech Republic and Sweden.

The United States went 2-1-0-1 in the Preliminary round, including a shootout win against Finland and a 5-3 loss to Canada on New Year’s Eve.

Pastrnak building on experience with the Bruins at world juniors

David Pastrnak: Georg Sorensen

David Pastrnak setup three goals Wednesday night at the world junior hockey championship as the Czech Republic defeated Russia 4-1 in a must-win game.

The Bruins’ prospect now has a team-leading seven points (one goal and six assists) heading into Friday’s quarterfinals against Slovakia.

Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick at last June’s draft, appeared in five regular season games with Boston to start the season before being assigned to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. The 18-year-old says his experience in the NHL is helping him even at the international level.

“It helps me a lot,” he said. “I played on the team with stars in the NHL so I picked up a lot of experience. I tried to learn as much as I can. (World juniors) is very different hockey than the NHL, but the experience has helped me a lot and I’m trying to get better every day.”

Entering Wednesday’s game Pastrnak said the team has been feeling pressure from the Czech Republic after being out-scored 10-4 in preliminary round losses to Sweden and Switzerland. The Czechs used overtime to edge the Danes 4-3 prior to Wednesday’s win which secured them a berth in the final four.

“We felt some pressure from back home,” said Pastrnak. “When you get to this situation, you feel you don’t play for yourself, you play for all of your country. All you want is to make your country proud of you. That’s what we said to each other, we have to play as one (unit) and do it for our country.”

A native of Havirov in the Czech Republic, Pastrnak had 10 goals and 27 points in 23 AHL games prior to joining the Under-20 team.

Pastrnak knows what to expect from the Slovaks on Friday.

“They are our neighbours so we have to get ready,” he said. “They beat us in a training game, but that doesn’t matter (now). It’s going to be about one game, the quarterfinals and we have to play our game.

“They’ve got a good power play, they play really simple hockey, but they skate well.”

The winner of the Czech and Slovakia quarterfinal will meet either Canada or Denmark in the semifinals on Sunday.

Report: Oilers to return Draisaitl to junior

Anaheim Ducks v Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers recalled center Anton Lander from the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons on Thursday night.

According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, the club is expected to return center Leon Draisaitl to the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders.

Draisaitl, who has already burned the first year of his entry-level contract, has two goals and nine points in 37 games this season.

The 19-year-old was the third overall pick in last June’s draft.

Lander leads the Barons with 31 points in 29 games this season.

The 23-year-old has appeared in one game with the Oilers this season.

In 95 career NHL games, all with Edmonton, Lander has two goals and eight points.

McDavid (hand) cleared for contact ahead of World Juniors

Canada Training Sessions - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship

Connor McDavid took a big step towards his recovery from a broken hand when he was cleared for contact on Monday.

“It’s kind of been the plan for a while now,” McDavid told the Canadian Press. “The last checkup was a couple Tuesdays ago, and that’s kind of been the plan from Day One was to start contact on this date. Just kind of following the plan.”

He sustained the injury on Nov. 11 during a fight with Bryson Cianfrone. If all goes well, the 17-year-old forward will be available to play with Team Canada when the nation starts its 2015 World Junior Championship schedule with a contest versus Slovakia on Dec. 26.

“I’ve been almost bag-skating for three weeks. My legs feel great, the legs aren’t too much of an issue at all,” McDavid said. “Obviously still getting the hands back is coming along, getting a little better. The only thing that’s going to come is timing. The only way to do that is through competition and through contact and all that. That’s going to take a little time to get back.”

McDavid is regarded as a potential franchise cornerstone and he’s often projected to be selected with the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to getting hurt, he had 16 goals and 51 points in 18 contests with the OHL Erie Otters.


We’re curious — are Sabres fans happy or frustrated about the 9-3-0 stretch