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.
Evan Oberg’s recall to Tampa Bay while they’ve got a healthy full house of defensemen has people wondering if a deal is on the way. (Tampa Tribune)
Jimmy Howard could be back in the Detroit net by the weekend? At this point you might as well have a lottery to see what date he returns with all the different speculation. (Detroit Free Press)
Jordan Eberle’s season in Edmonton is highly impressive as he’s on a pace to score more than 30 goals. (Edmonton Journal)
Best story of the day: Max Pacioretty’s presence helped a youngster fresh out of a coma say his first words. (Montreal Gazette)
Apparently Evander Kane was hurt a lot longer ago than previously thought and played through a concussion. Uh oh. (Winnipeg Sun)
Did George Parros turn down a chance to be in the shootout against Calgary the other night? Funny story: Parros has won the Ducks’ most accurate shooter competition the last two years. (OC Register)
If Lindy Ruff can’t give it a go behind the bench tonight (broken ribs), James Patrick will take his spot. (Buffalo News)
Zach Parise was almost the goat for the Devils last night. Almost. (Star-Ledger)
Finally, check out the incredible save by Roberto Luongo in Vancouver’s win over Nashville. (NHL)
Usually, the theme of most trade deadlines is “the rich get richer.” For the most part, this year’s deals seemed to focus more on contending teams taking a small step forward while cellar dwellers dumped salary as top contenders did very little.
While the top-ranked Vancouver Canucks didn’t make a splashy deal, they weren’t exactly idle either. The Canucks dealt both their 2011 and 2012 third round picks in separate deals to improve the consistency of their bottom six forward group, nabbing Chris Higgins from the Florida Panthers and Maxim Lapierre from the Anaheim Ducks. It looks like the Ducks will receive Joel Perreault and the ’11 pick while Florida will get the 2012 choice and defenseman Evan Oberg.
Both Higgins and Lapierre could make contributions and cause headaches in equal proportions for their new team. Higgins can skate like the wind and contribute a bit on offense (23 points in 48 games for the Panthers), but has also been described as inconsistent. Lapierre is a compliment Alexander Burrows, as he ranks as one of the league’s most obnoxious pests. He could be a nice fit in Vancouver because he is a reasonably efficient overall player (good skater, responsible defensively) but unlike Burrows, he won’t fill the net very often.
If nothing else, Higgins and Lapierre give the Canucks more options deeper in their lineup. Lapierre can also make a team that was already tough to play against downright unbearable.
Things are getting a bit out of hand for Vancouver now. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa will miss the next 2-3 weeks of action with a broken foot. You can add Bieksa to the Canucks defensive injured list that includes Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Alex Edler, Lee Sweatt, and Andrew Alberts. Getting to join the party from the AHL to take Bieksa’s place is Evan Oberg.
After an off-season that was filled with trade rumors for Bieksa, he’s emerged to be one of their best blue liners this year. With six goals and 13 assists and a ridiculous +26 plus/minus rating he’s been the rock they could count on with a constant cycle of guys in and out of the lineup. Now he goes on the shelf with three other starting defensemen leaving Vancouver a top six that is overrun with AHL players.
Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo, and Aaron Rome are their veteran guys while Oberg, Chris Tanev, and Yann Sauve make up their bottom three. Rome gets veteran status even though he wouldn’t be a fixture in the lineup if it weren’t for injuries. It’s a stunning array of “who’s that” players and yet through all of this the Canucks still maintain the best record in the NHL and have the most points with 83. To give you an idea of how inexperienced the trio of Oberg, Tanev, and Sauve are they have combined for 15 games played in the NHL and 12 of those belong to Tanev this season.
If the Canucks can maintain their dominance through all of this it will be one of the more impressive feats of the season and make them an even more dangerous team come playoff time when they get their lineup back to full health.