Carolina Hurricanes

Blues won’t extend Tarasenko ’til after season


St. Louis tried to get started on a new contract for Vladimir Tarasenko earlier this season, but is now resigned to the fact it’ll have to wait until the year is over.

That’s per Sportsnet, who on Wednesday reported that Blues GM Doug Armstrong said there’ll be no Tarasenko extension until after the season. What’s more, Sportsnet also reported the Blues are unlikely to give the pending RFA a “bridge deal” — a shorter-term contract (often two-year) that would bring him to unrestricted free agency.

So, time to start speculating!

The 22-year-old Russian is in the midst of a breakout campaign, having already eclipsed his career-high in goals (24 thus far) while emerging as a point-a-game scorer. He’s also heading to his first All-Star Game in Columbus this weekend.

The 16th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, it’s conceivable Tarasenko could get a contract similar to what fellow draft mates Taylor Hall got from Edmonton (seven years, $42 million) or Jeff Skinner got from Carolina (six years, $34.35 million). The rub there, of course, is that both those deals were signed shortly before the old collective bargaining agreement expired; under the new CBA, we’ve seen more bridge deals given to RFAs, including a contentious one hammered out between Columbus and the fourth overall pick in Tarasenko’s draft year — Ryan Johansen.

It’s also worth noting that St. Louis doesn’t have a ton of money being freed up at the end of the season. Barret Jackman and his $3.25M cap hit are done, but the Blues have to also re-up with another key RFA: Jake Allen, the club’s goalie of the future.

‘Canes, Sekera to renew contract negotiations


Teams interested in Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera will soon learn if he’ll be available at the trade deadline.

Sekera and the ‘Canes are expected to renew contract negotiations in the coming weeks, per ESPN. News of this decision comes with Carolina playing its best hockey of the season — the ‘Canes are 6-2-1 in January — and roughly six weeks prior to the annual trade deadline.

Sekera, 28, would be a highly coveted individual should he fail to reach an agreement with Carolina and become available. He’s coming off a career-high 44 points in 2013-14 and is averaging over 22 minutes a night this year for the ‘Canes.

Columnist: The improving ‘Canes are TOTALLY blowing it


We mentioned last week that the Carolina Hurricanes, after a terrible start to the season, were beginning to play some pretty good hockey. And that’s continued in the time since, with two more wins in Ottawa and Toronto improving their record to 6-2-1 in January.

That also has one columnist at Raleigh’s News & Observer wondering if the ‘Canes are, you know, totally blowing it.

Write Luke DeCock:

In the NHL, if you’re not going to be good, it’s far better to be very, very bad, especially in a year when there’s a generational prospect available with the No. 1 pick in the draft, which happens every three or four years or so. Connor McDavid may not be a household name yet for casual American hockey fans, but there’s a pretty good chance he will be for the next 15 years or so.

Since McDavid is available, with Jack Eichel not far behind in the No. 2 spot, it’s a really good year to be really bad, a far better time to be much worse than usual.

No one enjoys losing, and no one should, but a little short-term pain could pay huge long-term dividends for the Hurricanes. Anything else only leads to more of the same.

It’s worth noting that the ‘Canes, barring a miracle, still have a shot at winning the draft lottery. All they have to do is miss the playoffs.

But DeCock is right that their chances of landing McDavid or Eichel are growing worse. And unlike the Buffalo Sabres, who went on a run of their own in November and December, the ‘Canes, with Jordan Staal back in the lineup, are playing solid possession hockey, suggesting this may not just be a blip.

PHT Morning Skate: Laviolette loses it on referee Kevin Pollock


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette lost it on an official last month during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. His problem? He claims referee Kevin Pollock was winking at the Blackhawks bench. (Puck Daddy)

Remember the name Denis Godla? He was the goaltender named tournament MVP and the best goaltender while playing for Slovakia at the recent world junior hockey championship. Godla made his professional debut in his native Slovakia this month and made a couple highlight-reel saves in his first game. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Eric Staal wants to stick with Hurricanes. (ESPN)

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander is in Toronto now with the AHL’s Marlies and set to make his debut on Friday night. Chris Johnston writes there’s no need for the Leafs to rush the 2014 first-round pick. (Sportsnet)

Bo Didur is a 17-year-old junior hockey goalie with superstitions reminiscent of goaltenders such as Gump Worsley or Turk Broda. (The Vancouver Province)

Mississauga Steelheads owner receivd a note on his car that scared his children. (Steelheads)

Oilers’ Taylor Hall thinks this is the worst stretch of his career. (Jim Matheson)

Video: Leafs, Canes captains spar; Staal rockets empty-netter towards Phaneuf


Carolina’s Eric Staal took exception to a hit Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf delivered to Eric’s younger brother, Jordan Staal in the third period of the Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory tonight. The elder Staal was quick to challenge Phaneuf over it and the two team captains exchanged blows.

You can see that fight below:

That wasn’t the end of it though. With the game winding down, Eric Staal was given the opportunity to collect an empty-net goal with Phaneuf being the primary obstacle in his path. Staal rocketed the puck forward nearly hitting the Leafs blueliner in the process:

“I was ready,” Staal told PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban. “One of those plays where you just react and you’re into the emotion of the game, you’re into the energy and I knew I wanted to get it in so I made sure I got a hold of it.”

That was just Staal’s second NHL fight, per By comparison, Phaneuf has dropped the gloves four times in the 2014-15 campaign alone.