The transaction wire was busy today as teams sent down their eligible players to the American Hockey League for the duration of Olympic Break. Here’s a breakdown of who’s headed back to the farm for two weeks:
Tampa Bay: The Lightning sent forward Vladimir Namestnikov and goalie Kristers Gudlevskis back to AHL Syracuse. Namestnikov made his NHL debut against Detroit last night and Gudlevskis is off to Sochi where he’ll play goal for Latvia.
Phoenix: The Coyotes sent forward Tim Kennedy (pictured) and defenseman Connor Murphy back to Portland. Kennedy has two goals and eight points this season and Murphy has a goal and eight points himself.
New Jersey: The Devils sent 22-year-old defenseman Jon Merrill back to Albany. Merrill has impressed lately and scored the game-winning goal in overtime, his first career goal, on Friday against Edmonton. He and two other young blue liners have been the focus of some attention lately among Devils faithful.
Vancouver: The Canucks sent four players back to Utica in the AHL. Forwards Kellen Lain and Pascal Pelletier and defensemen Yann Sauve and Frank Corrado will spend Olympic break in Central New York after helping fill holes in the injury-riddled Canucks lineup of late.
Washington: The Capitals sent three players to Hershey. Forward Casey Wellman and defensemen Julien Brouillette and Patrick Wey were sent back to the AHL. For Brouillette, his brief stay in D.C. was a memorable one as he scored his first career NHL goal against New Jersey on Saturday.
The Phoenix Coyotes put forward Lauri Korpikoski on injured reserve Friday, calling up Tim Kennedy from AHL Portland in his place.
Korpikoski, 27, missed Thursday night’s 7-4 loss to Los Angeles with an upper-body injury. The Finnish forward — who signed a four-year, $10 million extension in July — is an important role player for the ‘Yotes, having notched two points in 10 games this year while averaging over 15 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-1, 205 pound winger has shown some major physicality this season as well. He sits second among all Phoenix skaters with 33 hits, 11th most in the NHL and ninth among all forwards (just eight back of teammate Martin Hanzal, who sits second with 41 hits).
It remains to be seen how much time Korpikoski will miss. The Coyotes play Saturday against Edmonton, Tuesday against Los Angeles and Thursday against Nashville, so the amount of games lost to injury will depend if his IR stint begins today, or if he was placed on there retroactively.
The aftermath of Phoenix’s consecutive blowout losses continues.
On Thursday, the club placed Chris Summers on waivers, potentially severing ties to the young defenseman it selected in the first round (29th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Summers, 25, has appeared in 29 career contests for the Coyotes. He’s shuttled back and forth between the parent club and its AHL affiliate in Portland for most of the last two seasons — this year, he made the Coyotes out of camp but had been a healthy scratch in all three games.
The move is just the latest in a flurry of action out of the desert.
On Wednesday, the club looked to “stabilize” its roster by shipping Lucas Lessio and Chris Brown to AHL Portland, recalling veterans Brandon Yip and Tim Kennedy.
Yip, 28, has 172 games of NHL experience on his resume and Kennedy, 27, has 125 — a far cry from the 20-year-old Lessio (three) and 22-year-old Brown (eight).
These moves came in the wake of back-to-back losses to San Jose and the New York Islanders, the latter a 6-1 whipping which was followed by the Coyotes holding a players-only meeting.
In explaining his roster moves, head coach Dave Tippett said his lineup needed more experience.
“Good efforts don’t win hockey games. You’ve got to finds ways to do things right to win hockey games,” he told the Coyotes website. “Both those young guys [Lessio and Brown] had good camps but the last couple games haven’t been as good.
“We’re just looking to stabilize right now with as many veteran guys as we can.”