Dallas Stars

Leafs claim Erixon, Ducks waive Bourque

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With the 2015 trade deadline rapidly approaching, it’s no surprise that NHL teams are using waivers to open up space (and occasionally grab low-risk players). Let’s take a quick look at recent announcements in that regard.

Claimed: The Toronto Maple Leafs claimed defenseman Tim Erixon (pictured) off of waivers. The Calgary Flames grabbed Dave Schlemko.

A little more on Erixon:

Here’s some added perspective on why the Flames made their move:

Cleared: Philadelphia Flyers goalie Rob Zepp, Washington Capitals tough guy Aaron Volpatti and Brandon McMillan of the Vancouver Canucks all cleared waivers.

Waived: Anaheim Ducks forward Rene Bourque headlines the latest batch of players who’ve been waived. Also on the list: Craig Cunningham (Boston Bruins), Keith Aulie (Edmonton Oilers), Paul Carey (Colorado Avalanche) and Tye McGinn (San Jose Sharks).

HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman lays out a few roster details after the trade deadline:

NHL on NBCSN: Ducks take on fading Stars

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Dallas Stars host the Anaheim Ducks at the American Airlines Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The middle of February got a little rocky for the Anaheim Ducks, but they’ve now won four of their last five games. They hope to start March off on a high note as they visit the Dallas Stars today.

While the Ducks have their feet back under them, the Stars continue to stumble with Tyler Seguin sidelined. Dallas has dropped six of seven contests (1-4-2) since Seguin suffered his injury, and things look pretty bleak right now for its playoff hopes, as Sports Club Stats gives the Stars just a 2.3 percent chance to make the postseason.

Anaheim isn’t that far removed from a mini-crisis of confidence, but the Stars almost seem like they’re falling apart, especially when it comes to Kari Lehtonen’s play.

(It looks like Jhonas Enroth will actually start against Anaheim, so Lehtonen won’t get a chance to prove himself tonight.)

In the grand scheme of things, the Ducks are in a comfortable spot, but this stands to be a challenging month.

To kick things off, they play five of seven games on the road. Only five of their 15 March contests take place at home. That may not be the kind of stretch that costs them a Pacific Division title, yet it could hurt Anaheim from a home-ice standpoint, at least if they stumble.

Dallas might be ailing at the moment, but the Stars are dangerous enough that the Ducks can’t just waddle into this one thinking that it will be an easy one.

Enjoy a final tune-up before the trade deadline on NBCSN tonight.

Five on waivers as trade deadline looms

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With the trade deadline just around the corner, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Rob Zepp, Dallas Stars defenseman David Schlemko, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Tim Erixon, Vancouver Canucks forward Brandon McMillan, and Washington Capitals forward Aaron Volpatti have all been placed on waivers, per TVA Sports Renaud Lavoie.

This is one case where the teams that are putting players on waivers is as noteworthy as the players themselves as some of them might not end up in the minors. However, by going this route, teams are gaining some extra roster flexibility should it be needed before the 3:00 p.m. ET trade deadline.

Zepp, 33, has a 5-2-0 record, 2.89 GAA, and .888 save percentage in 10 games this season. He comes with a $600,000 annual cap hit at the NHL level and his presence on this list means that there’s a rental backup goaltender available outside of the trade market should any team be interested.

Schlemko, 27, has a goal and four points in 25 games this season with Arizona and Dallas. He’s already been claimed once this season back on Jan. 3, but the Stars have barely used him since that date.

Erixon, 24, has a goal and six points in 27 games this season. In addition to Chicago, he’s also played for the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. He’s a former first round pick (24th overall, 2009) and was involved in the Jackets-Rangers Rick Nash trade back in 2012. It’s worth noting that Chicago added defenseman Kimmo Timonen on Friday.

McMillan, 24, has a goal and three points in 53 contests with Arizona and Vancouver in 2014-15. He’s a native of British Columbia and was claimed off of waivers by the Canucks on Feb. 12.

Volpatti, 29, has missed most of the season due to a neck injury. That being said, he’s been used sparingly since his return as he’s only played with Washington on Feb. 3 and Feb. 14 this season.

Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith

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San Jose forward Logan Couture has been fined $5,000 — the maximum allowable under the CBA — for slew-footing Detroit’s Brendan Smith on Thursday night, the NHL has announced.

The incident occurred at the 16:03 mark of the third period, as shown here:

Couture was given a tripping minor on the play while Smith was whistled for hooking.

Smith, who appeared to be shaken up after landing on the ice, didn’t play for the remainder of the contest. Wings GM Ken Holland later updated Smith’s status as “fine, day-to-day, nothing serious,” per MLive.

This is the third slew-footing offense the NHL has punished this season. Ryan Garbutt was suspended three games for his on Dustin Byfuglein back in early December, and Brad Marchand was suspended two games for his on Derick Brassard in mid-January.

Goalie nods: With Rask ill, B’s make emergency recall

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All the latest from the crease…

Boston facing questions in goal

Here’s the latest out of Bruins camp prior to tonight’s game against New Jersey: Tuukka Rask has fallen ill, head coach Claude Julien won’t say if backup Niklas Svedberg will get the start and, just a short while ago, the club made an emergency recall, bringing up Jeremy Smith from AHL Providence.

Smith, 25, got the call ahead of Malcolm Subban, the highly-touted prospect that struggled in his NHL debut against the Blues last week. A veteran of the American League circuit, Smith is 14-8-4 with Providence this year, posting a 2.08 GAA and .931 save percentage. He’s previously spent time in the Columbus and Nashville organizations, but has yet to make his NHL debut.

If we had to guess, Svedberg will get the start tonight — he was the only goalie present at this morning’s skate. For the Devils, Cory Schneider will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Flames at Isles: Karri Ramo vs. Jaroslav Halak

Caps at ‘Canes: Braden Holtby vs. Anton Khudobin

‘Hawks at Bolts: (No word on a Chicago starter) vs. Ben Bishop

Avs at Stars: Semyon Varlamov vs. Kari Lehtonen

Kings at Ducks: (No word on a Kings starter) vs. John Gibson