Ray Emery deserves a lot of credit for attempting to come back from the same type of hip injury that cut Bo Jackson’s multi-sport career short, but it seems like he’s still a stride or two short of being ready to start in the NHL. The Anaheim Ducks demoted Emery to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch so he can get some playing time and try to get into playing form in the future.
The team recalled J.P. Levasseur to take his place behind Dan Ellis. Ellis will likely play a big chunk of the Ducks’ games in the near future, unless Jonas Hiller’s disturbing vertigo-like issues subside.
Emery never actually played for the Ducks despite dressing for games, but he did go 2-1-0 for the Crunch, posting an impressive 92.5 save percentage and 2.62 goals against average in three AHL games. It would be a great story to see Emery make it back, but we’ll have to wait a while – probably until next season – for that to possibly come to fruition.
While his -20 rating indicated that maybe he wasn’t excelling in every area, New York Rangers defenseman Michael del Zotto exceeded most – if not all – expectations as a rookie in the 2009-10 season. He scored nine goals and 28 assists for 37 points in 80 lat season, putting up the kind of numbers that above average veteran offensive defenseman tend to generate.
But much like Calder Trophy winning Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, Del Zotto hasn’t been able to match his rookie year with an equal encore performance. His offensive game is stagnating a bit (two goals and seven assists for nine points and -1 rating in 35 contests), but the real problems seem to be his defensive play and maybe even his conditioning.
Some people think that the Rangers might have rushed the 20-year-old blueliner into the NHL after hearing news that the team demoted him to the AHL in exchange for 21-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News reports that Rangers coach John Tortorella said that there is no timetable regarding Del Zotto’s stay in the AHL, saying that the team hopes to see an improvement in his preparation for games along with his in-game performance.
It sounds like Del Zotto wasn’t very happy with the demotion, but at his young age, he has plenty of time to improve his overall game.
In a conference call just now, Tortorella said that there is no timetable for Del Zotto’s stay in the AHL, as “we want to see the improvement in him, and that will give him the opportunity to get back here. … It’s seeing improvement, in mindset and play on the ice. Him understanding how to think the game, and think preparation, and also bring it to within his game as far as the minutes he gets there.”
In addition to the mental part of Del Zotto’s game needing work, Tortorella expressed some concern over his conditioning, as one of the games Del Zotto was scratched for was officially as a result of a groin injury after the Christmas break.
It might be too simple to call what has happened to Del Zotto a “sophomore slump,” but really, isn’t that what it is? He came into the league at 19 last season and exceeded expectations. This season, the expectations were much higher as a result, and he has wound up struggling, which can then feed on itself a bit.
“I think Michael understands this is part of the process,” Tortorella said. “Sometimes players might not agree with it, but it’s not up to the player. My conference call with (Glen Sather, Jim Schoenfeld) and myself today, we talked about what’s best for Michael and what’s best for the team. We wanted to give him a chance (last night), and see how he responded. I just don’t think he’s right. … This is a 20-year-old kid, and sometimes they don’t see it there right now, but eventually he’s going to realize this is good for him. It’s going to be good for him as a player and good for us as an organization.”
Although only one of them will probably play against the Montreal Canadiens tonight, the Edmonton Oilers should have two important players suit up for them for the first time in a while tonight. Playmaking winger Ales Hemsky will play after missing three games due to a groin injury while Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is planning on suiting up but Devan Dubnyk is expected to start, according to NHL.com.
As is often the case when a player comes off the injured reserve, someone needs to go. That would be goalie Martin Gerber, who has been demoted to the AHL even though he went 2-0 with a 95 save percentage.
Arpon Basu reports that Hemsky will skate on a line with Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi, but coach Tom Renney said he will manage the talented passer’s ice time.
Apparently, when your team allows a bajillion (OK, seven) goals in one game, it might be time to make at least some changes.
That’s the way it goes with the St. Louis Blues, who made some minor alterations to their lineup today. Let’s break down the Blues’ moves in these easy to read bullet points.
- They placed forward David Perron on the injured reserve because of his concussion issues. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t on the IR already.
- The Blues called up solidly named player Stefan Della Rovere as well as forward Dave Scatchard from Peoria.
- Of course, aside from cases of injury, when players are called up others must be demoted. T.J. Hensick and Chris Porter were demoted to the minor league level to make room for Della Rovere and Scatchard.
Ultimately, these are minor moves made by a team that’s a little banged up and might benefit from the cliched injection of a new blood.
After surprising much of the hockey world with a rousing 4-0-1 start, reality is slapping the poorly designed Toronto Maple Leafs in constant, embarrassing swipes. They’ve gone a pitiful 1-7-2 since earning nine out of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season, scoring only 15 goals in that 10-game stretch of futility. Only the New Jersey Devils scored less (29) goals than the Leafs (32) so far this season.
Some might think it’s a sign that Brian Burke & Co. are pushing the panic button, but however you slice it, there is big news out of Toronto. After flopping a bit during the preseason and finding himself demoted for the first month-plus of the 2010-11 season, 2009 first round draft pick Nazem Kadri is back with the team after being recalled with Keith Aulie.
Those two prospects were recalled while Korbinian Holzer and Christian Hanson were sent to the minors, according to TSN.
When you play in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto, you have to expect some scrutiny … especially when you’re a rare first round pick in an era in which the team hasn’t made the playoffs since before the lockout. That’s the situation Kadri finds himself in; every misstep will be over-analyzed as if the young pivot is the Prime Minister of Hockey.
To his credit, Kadri has been doing well in the minors. He’s averaging a point per game with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, with five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 14 games.
Of course, it’s often a big jump from the AHL to the NHL and many wonder if this move will stunt the prospect’s growth. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, as Kadri will make his 2010-11 NHL premiere tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.