Joseph Blandisi

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Devils, Ducks fill needs with Henrique-Vatanen swap

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The Anaheim Ducks need some help offensively and the New Jersey Devils were looking to boost their blue line, so it makes sense that the two consummated a deal Thursday morning, especially considering the trade history between Ray Shero and Bob Murray.

Heading to Anaheim is Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round pick, while the Devils acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional third-round pick in 2019 or 2020. Here are those conditions:

“In acquiring Sami, we bring on a right shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations,” said Devils general manager Ray Shero. “This move also gives us contract certainty on the back end for the next two-plus years. When acquiring a defenseman like Vatanen, you have to give back quality assets or players in return. That is the case in this situation with Adam and Joe. Adam has been a key member of our organization for nearly ten years since he was drafted. His contributions both on and off the ice will always be appreciated by our organization and fans. For Joe, this is a great opportunity with a quality organization like Anaheim and I am happy for him.”

Vatanen, who is signed for two more seasons and is averaging 21:06 per game, is a great pickup to a fill a need in New Jersey’s top-four. After missing out on Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency, Shero gets his highly-touted, puck-moving right shot defenseman. The 26-year-old’s possession numbers are down this season, but I think we can attribute a big part of that due to his pairing with Kevin Bieksa on the back end.

Look at the New Jersey blue line now and it’s one that can get the puck up ice fast and contribute offensively. The emergence up front of Nico Hischier, Brian Gibbons, Jesper Bratt and Miles Wood made Henrique expendable and allowed Shero to deal from an area of strength.

Given their injury woes, the Ducks have been sending Chris Wagner and Derek Grant over the boards to be their top two centers. A change was needed. Henrique’s addition is certainly an upgrade when you look at his 50 goals and 90 points over the last two season. If and when Anaheim gets back to full health, head coach Randy Caryle will have some decent depth to work with and this trade could help keep them afloat as they struggle to get back into playoff contention in the Western Conference.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Sharks sign ‘premier point producer’ Labanc to entry-level deal

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Kevin Labanc, who leads the OHL with 119 points in 59 games this year, has signed a standard, entry-level contract with the Sharks, the club announced on Wednesday.

“Kevin has become one of the premier point producers in the OHL and has elevated his game to new heights this season,” GM Doug Wilson said in a release. “His smart, crafty play with the puck has made him a dangerous offensive player, but with the help of Barrie’s Head Coach Dale Hawerchuk, his game has improved physically and in the defensive end as well. We’re excited to see his continued development with our organization.”

Labanc, 20, was taken in the sixth round of the ’14 draft. This marks the second straight year he’s racked up 100-plus points for Barrie — last season, Labanc racked up 107 in 68 games while playing alongside the likes of current Devils rookie Joseph Blandisi, and Winnipeg prospect Brendan Lemieux.

Two more Devils — Blandisi, Smith-Pelly — fined for diving

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The Devils have an embellishment problem.

On Thursday, two more New Jersey skaters — Joseph Blandisi and Devante Smith-Pelly — were fined for diving, making them the third and fourth members of the team this season to be punished for the infraction.

(Before you all start freaking out, yes, it is true that Smith-Pelly’s fine came as a result of his actions as a Canadien. Accordingly, the fine will be included in Montreal’s accumulation totals.)

From the league:

Blandisi was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 847 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 16. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident at 13:14 of the second period during NHL Game No. 893 against the New York Rangers on Feb. 23. Blandisi drew a minor penalty for interference to Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath and was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment on the play.

Smith-Pelly was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 512 at Minnesota on Dec. 22. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident at 6:16 of the second period during NHL Game No. 902 at Washington on Feb. 24. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom received a minor penalty for slashing on the play.

The Devils are going to be a really interesting team to watch moving forward, because bench boss John Hynes is now in danger of becoming the first coach to receive a fine for diving/embellishment since the citation program was brought into effect at the start of last season.

After the fourth player warning, coaches are subjected to a $2,000 fine. Blandisi is No. 3 — in December, Devils forward Jordin Tootoo was punished for diving/embellishment and, in January, fellow forward Bobby Farnham was dinged.

Stamkos and the Lightning are on a roll

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Steven Stamkos extended his goal-scoring streak to a season-high five games and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the fading New Jersey Devils 4-0 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.

Ben Bishop made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Matt Carle also scored as the Lightning sent the Devils to their second loss in as many nights and fifth in six games.

Stamkos’ goal-scoring streak is two games shy of his personal best, set in 2010.

Ryan Callahan had two assists for Tampa Bay, which moved to within three points of first-place Florida in the Atlantic Division.

Cory Schneider, who was lifted after giving up three goals in the first period of a 6-1 loss to Columbus on Thursday, had 32 saves for New Jersey.

The win was the first for the Lightning in New Jersey since 2013 – a span of three games – and only their fourth in the last 16 games (4-8-4).

This one wasn’t as one-sided as the score, but Tampa Bay was able to convert its chances while the Devils battled both the puck and Bishop.

Stamkos set up Killorn’s first-period with great strength in front and he extended his goal-scoring streak with a deflection of Anton Stralman‘s shot late in the second for a 3-0 lead.

Stamkos’ play on Killorn’s goal was impressive. With his back to the goal, he took a pass from the point by Callahan, spun and got a shot off that Schneider saved. The goaltender had no chance as Killorn put the rebound into an open net at 15:36 of the first period for his 11th of the season.

Bishop’s best saves were on Tyler Kennedy. He made a stacked pad stop on him in close midway through the second period and saved the shutout with a snapping glove stop on an open shot from low in the right circle with 10:43 to play.

Palat’s goal with 6:58 left in the second period came off a Devils mistake. Lee Stempniak turned over the puck behind his net and Tyler Johnson quickly found his linemate in front for his seventh goal of the season in what was a bang-bang play.

Stamkos got his 27th goal of the season with a deflection of Stalman’s shot over Schneider’s shoulder.

Carle scored on a third-period point shot for his second goal.

New Jersey had its chances, particularly Adam Henrique. He missed the net early in the first period after being set up by Joseph Blandisi and he could not control a rebound in front in the second with Bishop out of position.

NOTES: Stamkos’ assist gave him 244 with the Lightning, tying him with Vaclav Prospal for fourth in team history. He also played in his 553rd game, passing Brad Richards for fourth in Lightning history. … Devils LW Mike Cammalleri has had a setback with his right-hand injury and his status for the rest of the season is uncertain, coach John Hynes said. Cammalleri, whose 38 points are third on the team, has missed the last 13 games. … With Nikita Kucherov back in the Lightning’s lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury, Erik Condra sat for Tampa Bay. … Devils C Jacob Josefson was a late scratch because of illness. … Callahan has points in five of six games (3 goals, 5 assists).

Video: A perfect 10! Devils’ Blandisi called for embellishment

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The judges’ scores are in.

New Jersey Devils’ 21-year-old rookie forward Joseph Blandisi was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment for a rather obvious dive — he jumped into the air then fell to the ice after being slashed in the back of the leg — in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Andrew MacDonald was called for the two-handed slash to Blandisi, who then dramatically threw out his arms and fell to the ice.

For the first offence, a player receives a warning from the league before additional fines are issued to repeat offenders. The fines increase the more citations a player records.