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.
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.
Good news Islanders fans, your ESPN 30 for 30 documentary is due to premiere on October 22. The bad news? It’s about criminal former owner John Spano. It’s all right though, it’s directed by big Isles fan, Entourage star Kevin Connolly (pictured with Bryan Berard). (Islanders Point Blank)
Vancouver re-signed defenseman Yann Sauve to a new deal. Hooray depth! (Canucks)
Is Wayne Gretzky that much closer to joining MLSE? A former Maple Leafs beat guy thinks so. (Howard Berger via Twitter)
A surprising upside to Detroit signing Daniel Alfredsson? Him being a right-handed shot. (Detroit Free Press)
Heads up stat nerds: Check out these zone entry numbers from last season. Know who’s pretty good? Anze Kopitar. (Shutdown Line)
Last night’s Canucks loss to St. Louis proved to be costly in a way that Vancouver is getting a bit too used to these days. During the game, the team lost defenseman Andrew Alberts with a broken wrist putting him on the shelf for a few weeks. This puts Alberts on the injured list along with Alex Edler, Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis, and Lee Sweatt at the moment. If you’re keeping track, that’s three starters, an occasional starter, and one rookie all out of the lineup right now.
To replace Alberts, the team called up Yann Sauve. Sauve has the significance of being Vancouver’s 12th defenseman they’ve used this year. To say the Canucks have persevered in the face of trouble would be an understatement. Vancouver still sits atop the Western Conference standings with 81 points, seven more than second place Detroit. The Canucks also lead their division by 15 points over Calgary.
Vancouver’s ability to dominate in the West where the playoff race is so tight a short losing streak can send you tumbling down the standings is incredible. Having so many guys get hurt can usually break a team or at least make them fall off for a bit, but Vancouver has continued to march through their season and have the best record in the NHL. What it says about the job coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis are doing this season is incredible. We’ve said plenty here about saying the Canucks are looking tough to beat but they’ve been doing it shorthanded virtually all season long. It’s frightening to think what they’d be capable of with a fully healthy roster to run with.