Burns, Karlsson, Hedman named Norris Trophy finalists

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The three nominees for this year’s Norris Trophy are in.

San Jose’s Brent Burns, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman are the finalists, the NHL announced on Friday. The news came as little surprise, as the trio finished as the top three scoring defensemen in the league this year — Burns finished with 76 points (and 29 goals, by far the most from a blueliner), Hedman with 72, and Karlsson with 71.

This marks the fourth time Karlsson has been a finalist, having won the award in 2012 and again in 2015. Burns was a nominee last year, finishing third in voting, while Hedman made the final three for the first time in his career, having never finished higher than seventh.

Most expect this to be a two-horse race, between Burns and Karlsson. The former, as mentioned above, had a terrific offensive campaign, and became the first defenseman to post back-to-back 75-point campaigns since Brian Leetch did it 20 years ago.

Karlsson had an equally stellar year, and got some push for Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP.

“With what he’s done this year, the way he’s done it, I can’t imagine better,” head coach Guy Boucher said, per CBC. “Right now it’s absolutely sublime, it really is.”

 

 

Rangers sign KHL d-man Bereglazov

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New York added some defensive depth on Friday, agreeing to terms with Russian blueliner Alexei Bereglazov.

Bereglazov, 23, has spent the last few seasons with KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, including a ’16-17 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 60 games. He led all d-men aged 24 or younger in assists, with 18.

Despite being passed over at the draft, Bereglazov had a good junior career, highlighted by capturing bronze for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors. He finished with two points in seven games in the tourney, playing alongside the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ivan Barbashev and his new Rangers teammate, Pavel Buchnevich.

It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in New York next season. The club has seven blueliners under contract — Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer — with Brendan Smith a pending UFA, and Adam Clendening a pending RFA.

 

2017 Calder Trophy finalists: Patrik Laine, Auston Matthews, Zach Werenski

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The NHL has announced the finalists for the 2017 Calder Trophy, given to the league’s top rookie.

Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets were named finalists for the award.

Laine and Matthews were obvious choices given their exciting penchant for scoring, but there were several young players — William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Sebastian Aho to name a few — that could’ve easily been named the third finalist. Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted their votes at the end of the regular season.

Matthews and Laine went No. 1 and No. 2 overall in last year’s draft, prompting incredible anticipation around the league for what they could accomplish this season. And they didn’t disappoint.

Matthews, 19, led all rookies in scoring, with 40 goals and 69 points, helping the Maple Leafs to a playoff position. His NHL career began with a record-setting debut and he continued to delight from there. He finished tied for second overall in goal scoring alongside Nikita Kucherov. Matthews ended the season only four goals behind Sidney Crosby, this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy winner.

Laine, who just turned 19 years old on Wednesday, finished fifth in overall goal scoring and second in rookie goal scoring. He tallied 36 goals, showing off an incredibly accurate and quick wrist shot. He also had 64 points, second behind Matthews in the rookie race.

Werenski, also 19 years old, had an impressive rookie season on defense for the Blue Jackets. He had 47 points in 78 games, averaging almost 21 minutes of ice time per game. His freshman campaign bodes well for the future in Columbus, especially since he plays such a difficult position for younger players in the league. Not only did he play, but he often excelled. Unfortunately, he suffered a facial fracture in Game 3 of the Blue Jackets’ first-round series with Pittsburgh, ending his season.

The winner will be announced June 21 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Video: Tanner Glass (!) scores first goal of 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs

If you expected Tanner Glass to score the first goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs … your name might be Alain Vigneault.

Seriously, more than a few jaws dropped as the enforcer scored a stunning – and stunningly nice – goal against Carey Price to give the New York Rangers a 1-0 lead against the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s only his second postseason tally and Glass only had one goal in 2016-17. His inclusion in the Rangers lineup is almost always the source of derision among stats-minded fans … so this is likely to prompt some amusing banter on Twitter.

Watch Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

Watch the goal in the video above.

Check it out in GIF form, too:

This actually breaks a pattern of fairly well-known players scoring a postseason’s first goal. Nikita Kucherov started the fun last year and Brock Nelson notched the first tally of 2015. Remarkably, neither player is even in the 2017 postseason.

Things got a little chippy to start Rangers – Canadiens, by the way.

Evgeni Malkin is ready to go for Game 1

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Some more good news for the Pittsburgh Penguins on the injury front.

After getting defensemen Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta back in the lineup toward the end of the regular season, they will be getting an even bigger piece of their team back on Wednesday night when they open their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Evgeni Malkin, sidelined since March 15, said on Tuesday that he will back in the lineup for the start of the series.

He skated on a line with Phil Kessel and Bryan Rust on Tuesday at practice.

Watch Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

It is obviously a huge addition to the lineup because it gives the Penguins that dominant center duo (along with Sidney Crosby) that is so difficult for teams to shut down. In 62 games during the regular season Malkin recorded 72 points (33 goals, 39 assists) and finished in the top-15 in scoring even though he missed 20 games. His 1.16 point per game average was fourth best in the NHL behind only Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Steven Stamkos (who only appeared in 17 games).

In other injury news for the Penguins, coach Mike Sullivan said it is possible that Carl Hagelin could also return before the end of the first-round and that he is currently considered day-to-day.

Even though the injury to Kris Letang is a huge factor for the Penguins’ defense, significantly weakening the group, they actually have a chance to put together a forward group that is stronger than the one they used in the playoffs a year ago (the Jake Guentzel for Eric Fehr trade off) if they can get Hagelin back in the lineup.

Sullivan also announced that goalie Matt Murray is good to go for Game 1. There was some concern when the Penguins did not send Tristin Jarry back down to the American Hockey League at the conclusion of the regular season, especially after Murray made an awkward save on a breakaway against New Jersey and was slow to get up.