After scoring 16 points in 15 games, Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January.
Palat edged out fellow Bolts rookie Tyler Johnson, who finished with 14 points in 15 games.
The 22-year-old Palat, the youngest player named to the Czech Olympic team, had a tremendous January, opening with a five-game point streak that saw him set a franchise record for longest scoring streak by a rookie (eight games). Just for good measure, Palat finished off the month with a five-game point streak as well.
Palat wasn’t without strong competition for the award, though. Johnson had a tremendous month, as did Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (seven goals, 14 points). A pair of goalies — Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper and Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen — also played extremely well.
With the win, Palat joins Tomas Hertl (October), Marek Mazanec (November) and Martin Jones/Antti Raanta (December co-winners) as this season’s rookie of the month winners.
The Nashville Predators summoned Marek Mazanec in early November to compete with Carter Hutton for the starting job while Pekka Rinne focused on recovering from his hip injury.
Although Mazanec got off to a hot start, both netminders have been inconsistent and with Rinne still out indefinitely, the Predators decided to acquire Devan Dubnyk from Edmonton on Wednesday. The Predators didn’t immediately decide which goalie should be demoted as a result, but they eventually settled on sending Mazanec to AHL Milwaukee.
It looks like age was a determining factor as Mazanec is 22 while Hutton is 28.
“Maz is probably a little bit larger and more athletic, but he is the least experienced,” Predators coach Barry Trotz told the Tennessean. “I think the decision is to get him in the right seat in our organization so that he can become the player that he can become.”
Trotz was referring to professional hockey experience in general, given that Mazanec actually has played in a few more NHL games than Hutton.
Meanwhile, Dubnyk is waiting to make his Nashville debut. That might happen today, but Trotz cautioned that they want to “slowly get him acclimatized to the way we play.”
Following Wednesday’s Devan Dubnyk-for-Matt Hendricks trade, Nashville GM David Poile addressed speculation that Dubnyk’s acquisition was related to the health of injured No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne.
And by addressing, we mean shooting it down:
Rinne, 31, underwent major hip surgery during the summer and returned to play just nine games before being hit with a serious bacterial infection, which has sidelined him indefinitely.
The Preds have been extremely cautious with his rehabilitation, pushing back a number of timetables and set dates to ensure the hip recovers fully and without issue. That said, the Preds announced last week that Rinne was cleared for the next stage in his recovery — weight-bearing exercises — and that they were “encouraged” by his progress.
Rinne wasn’t selected to represent Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, meaning he’ll have the Feb. 9-25 break as time to rehab without missing any games. Nashville has 11 games remaining until the break, and Poile said they’ll soon decide which goalie — Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec — will serve as Dubnyk’s backup.