The case for Henrik Sedin for the Hart Trophy

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Henrik.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Tonight: Henrik Sedin.

Why he deserves it: No
other player has made such a monstrous jump this season than Henrik
Sedin, and it’s tough to find another team that needs a player more than
the Canucks need him. Some worried that when brother Daniel went down
due to injury that Henrik would struggle, but amazingly the complete
opposite happened. Henrik became the lifeblood of the Canucks offense,
taking the team and placing them on his back. This season he’s taken
‘playmaker’ to a new level in Vancouver, with nearly 30 more points than
any other teammate not named Sedin. He has ten more asists (78) than
the next highest in the NHL and despite having “just” 29 goals has the
best shooting percentage of the top scorers in the league.

It’s
not just offense, but what his presence means to this team. Without his
playmaking ability there’s no question the Canucks would have struggled,
especially when Daniel was hurt. The way that Henrik stepped up and
elevated his game, not only improving himself and those around him are
the exact reasons why one would deserve to be named the NHL’s Most
Valuable Player.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: It’s
tough to say exactly why Henrik Sedin doesn’t deserve the Hart, but one
could point to his relatively low goal total. It’s a career high for a
him, yet when compared with others who he might be compared against
that’s one stat that will stand out. It’s a flimsy argument, however,
for a player leading the NHL in assists and points.

Why
he’ll get it:
A player who makes those around him better,
dishing out assist after assist while scoring 29 goals himself, five
game winners, and never misses a game? Hard to describe an MVP much
better than that.

Why he won’t get it: This is
harsh, but the sad reality that Sedin plays for Vancouver way out on the
West coast will work against him. There are some other players out on
the East coast, on more prominent teams, who get more attention.
Deserved or not.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.