2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

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


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

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.

Welcome back, Wild Thing: Vancouver hires ex-Canuck Walker

Guelph Storm v London Knights

The “Wild Thing” has returned to the West Coast.

Scott Walker, who spent four of his 16 NHL seasons with the Canucks, has been hired by Vancouver as a player development consultant, the club announced on Friday.

Walker joins the Canucks after a successful four-year stint as head coach of OHL Guelph, and as an assistant on Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2015 World Juniors.

During his playing days, Walker — who was drafted by the Canucks in ’93 — earned a reputation (and the nickname) as an undersized yet fierce competitor that was unafraid to fight, or throw his 185-pound frame around. In his final two seasons with Vancouver, Walker racked up 296 PIM and scrapped a combined 22 times.

Walker has been out of coaching since January, when he resigned his post with Guelph due to personal reasons.

Flyers return first-rounders Provorov, Sanheim, Konecny to junior, Morin to AHL

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

Philly’s collection of young prospects was on display in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers but, on Wednesday, a bunch of ’em were sent packing.

Defenseman Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, along with forward Travis Konecny, were all returned to their junior clubs today. It’s a fairly high-profile round of cuts; Provorov was the seventh overall pick at this year’s draft, Konecny the 24th, and Sanheim was taken 17th overall at last year’s draft.

All three had fared reasonably well against the Rangers last night, too.

Provorov had an assist in 21:25 of ice time, while Konecny notched his second point in as many games (this after Vincent Lecavalier said Konecny reminded him of Tyler Johnson.)

Sanheim made his preseason debut last night and had 24 shifts for 18:56 of ice time.

Despite these good showings, it’s not entirely surprising the three dropped from training camp — especially Provorov and Sanheim.

They were trying to crack a defense that has eight guys on one-way NHL contractsMark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz, Evgeni Medvedev, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning — with fellow prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg still in the mix.

Update: The Flyers made additional reductions later on Wednesday, with Morin being the most noteworthy player who was sent to the AHL.

First, here are the list of “players under NHL contracts” who were loaned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms:

RW Brandon Alderson
D Mark Alt
C Cole Bardreau
LW Tyrell Goulbourne
D Maxim Lamarche
LW Taylor Leier
LW Danick Martel
RW Derek Mathers
D Sam Morin
D Jesper Pettersson
G Anthony Stolarz
RW Petr Straka

Finally, here are players who just under AHL contracts who were sent back to the Phantoms:

G Connor Knapp
D Nick Luukko
G Martin Ouellette
RW Pavel Padakin
RW Michael Parks
D Logan Pyett
LW Jay Rosehill

There are now 35 players on the Flyers’ training camp roster. Click here for a PDF with that updated group.