- Detroit has placed forward Michael Rasmussen on injured reserve, reports MLive’s Ansar Khan. The move was done to create a roster spot so the Red Wings could activate defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who returns after missing the last 19 games with a fractured wrist. Rasmussen last played on January 5th, meaning that he has already missed the required seven days from a back-dated IR placement so he’ll be eligible to be activated at any time.
Red Wings Rumors
We’re several months into the first post-draft season for the 2018 class and already several names have established themselves as full-time NHL players. The likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Brady Tkachuk will never really be considered prospects as they have already graduated to the highest level. The rest though were ranked today along with the rest of the NHL prospect landscape by various outlets including Corey Pronman at The Athletic (subscription required) and Craig Button at TSN.
Pronman is especially high on Vancouver draft pick Quinn Hughes, who will likely sign his entry-level contract after Michigan University’s season ends. There’s little doubt that Hughes will be an NHL player immediately, but his absolute ceiling is still yet to be determined. Button meanwhile has a much different view of Hughes, dropping the undersized defenseman to eighth on his board. A pair of Russian forwards lead the way as New York Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov and Florida Panthers pick Grigori Denisenko come in on top.
- Jimmy Howard’s name has been in the rumor mill for quite some time, with the Detroit Red Wings apparently asking for a first-round pick in exchange for the veteran goaltender. Speculation is likely to continue all the way up to the trade deadline, unless of course the team can come to an agreement in order to keep the pending free agent in town even longer. That’s what Howard is hoping for, as he told John Niyo of The Detroit News that it would be “an absolute honor” to finish his career with the Red Wings and that he feels like he and his family “belong” in Detroit.
- Elias Pettersson skated this morning and is now considered day-to-day, with Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green not ruling him out for Wednesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Pettersson hasn’t played since getting tangled up with Kotkaniemi in a game against Montreal nearly two weeks ago, but is also supposed to attend the All-Star game at the end of the month. The dazzling forward has 42 points in 38 games and was running away with the Calder Trophy when he went down.
For the third year in a row, the NHL has scheduled a mandated multi-day break for each team in the middle part of the season. Meant to give each team a rest, much like the bye week in the National Football League, this break also includes limits on practice, including several days in which all team activities are prohibited. A seven-day break this season, on paper an increase from the original five-day break, the “bye week” is actually less intrusive this season than it has been in the past despite the longer length. All 31 teams will take their break either right before or right after the upcoming All-Star Weekend, with those two days counting toward the seven and simply extending what has always been a short break for non-participants. Below are the lists of teams who will take leave on one side of All-Star festivities or the other:
Before All-Star Weekend (January 20 – 24)
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Tampa Bay Lightning
After All-Star Weekend (January 27 – 31)
Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights
How each team feels about taking an extended break in the middle of the season generally varies based on situational factors. While many players would enjoy getting to spend some time away with their families, others would rather keep the pedal to the metal mid-season. More specifically, a team that is playing well and stringing together wins would rather keep playing and not lose out on that momentum. Another team may be in a slump or struggling with injuries and desperately in need of a break. Either way, not every team will be in favor of the bye week each season.
There also remains some scheduling flaws with the mandated break, as most teams will only get the actual seven days or an eighth day off for travel, but others are set to go ten or eleven days without a contest. The “bye week” seems to be a move by the NHL that has enough support to continue in future seasons, but the league could work on sharpening the schedule so as to give teams as close to an even break as their competition as possible.
It’s another busy day in the NHL with 24 teams in action, including the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks who are battling for position in the Pacific Division. As teams prepare for tonight we’ll be right here keeping track of all the minor moves.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo once again, who will serve as backup for Michael Hutchinson tonight. Frederik Andersen is close to returning for Toronto but will be held out of at least one more contest as he continues to rehab from a groin injury. Kaskisuo played yesterday for the Toronto Marlies, and has still not received a single start in the NHL.
- Mackenzie MacEachern scored twice for the San Antonio Rampage last night and today he’s headed to the NHL. The St. Louis Blues have recalled the 24-year old forward for the first time this season. MacEachern is still waiting for his NHL debut, but has 15 points in 31 games for the Rampage this season.
- With Mike Green returning to the Detroit Red Wings lineup, the team has sent Brian Lashoff back to the minor leagues. Lashoff has been bouncing up and down, but is still waiting for his first chance to actually play in an NHL game this season.
- Brandon Pirri was returned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. However, hours later, he was recalled to Vegas, per the AHL’s Transactions Page. Pirri has scored seven goals and ten points in his eight appearances for the Golden Knights, but is in a tough situation as one of the only waiver-exempt players on the roster. Should Pirri play two more games with the Golden Knights he would become waiver eligible again.
- Troy Grosenick has been recalled under emergency conditions by the Nashville Predators. He’s taking the place of Juuse Saros who is day-to-day due to illness.
- Red Wings defenseman Mike Green has resumed skating but is still likely a week or more away from returning to the lineup, reports Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. The veteran has been quite productive in limited action this season with 16 points in just 23 games and Detroit has struggled considerably without him in the lineup. Following their loss to Washington today, the Wings are just 3-13-5 when Green doesn’t suit up. Meanwhile, MLive’s Ansar Khan adds (Twitter link) that rookie winger Michael Rasmussen, who missed today’s game with a lower-body injury, will not play Tuesday against Montreal but is expected to be available to return by the weekend.
At 22 years old, Detroit Red Wings’ 2015 sixth-round pick Patrick Holway has certainly taken the slow and steady approach to his development. However, after two strong seasons at the University of Maine, that plan changed when Holway stepped away from the program this year due to personal issues that forced him to move closer to his Boston-area home. Holway’s future had been a question mark ever since, but there is finally a next step on the horizon. The Providence Journal’s Mark Divver reports that Holway has committed to Merrimack College next season.
Divver adds that when exactly Holway will get started with the Warriors remains undecided. Generally, the NCAA requires a full year away from the game when transferring schools, especially within an athletic conference – like Holway moving from Maine to Hockey East rival Merrimack. This is why many collegiate players return to the USHL for a season after leaving a program, before jumping back into the college ranks. However, student-athletes may appeal the transfer rules and are frequently successful. Divver reports that Holway currently would not be eligible to suit up for Merrimack until this time next year, midway through the season. However, Holway will appeal to have his absence over the first half of this season count toward his transfer year, making him eligible to join the team next fall when the new season begins.
Either way, Merrimack will get a major boost from adding Holway, who still has two years of eligibility remaining. The 6’4″ blue liner plays a rugged style and can kill penalties and shut down opposing offenses. However, he also has more than a fair bit of finesse to his game and was a crucial piece of the Black Bears’ power play. Last season, Holway registered 19 points in 33 games to lead all Maine defensemen in per-game production. Talented in all three zones, Holway appeared to be trending toward being a capable pro player and the Red Wings hope that this gap year of sorts does not stymie that development. At this rate, Holway likely won’t be joining Detroit until the age of 24, but even as an older prospect should bring promise and could immediately step into a depth role for the organization if he continues to progress at Merrimack.
The Chicago Blackhawks have promoted Sheldon Brookbank to an NHL assistant, moving him from the AHL where he had previously been an assistant for Jeremy Colliton. Colliton of course took over head coaching duties of the Blackhawks earlier this season when Joel Quenneville was fired, but had not immediately brought Brookbank with him. Anders Sorensen, who had been serving as a development coach for the Rockford IceHogs, will take over as an assistant for the AHL club.
Many will remember the 38-year old Brookbank from his recent playing career, which ended in 2016-17 with the Cleveland Monsters. The physical defenseman actually ended his NHL career with the Blackhawks, and will return to that bench for the first time since 2013-14. The Blackhawks have obviously decided to move to a younger group of defensemen after moving out Jan Rutta and Brandon Manning recently (not to mention waiving Brandon Davidson), and with Brookbank’s promotion have given them another familiar face to help their development along.
- Filip Zadina is heading back to the Grand Rapids Griffins now that his World Junior tournament is over, but certainly didn’t get the experience he or the organization were hoping for. The 19-year old forward was supposed to “be the man” for the Czech team, but ended up with just a single assist in his five games. Going without a goal seemed impossible for a player who makes his living with his incredible shot and recorded seven goals in seven games during last year’s tournament at an even younger age. That lack of scoring is something that has plagued him at times in the minor leagues too, and will need to disappear if he’s to become the player the Detroit Red Wings are hoping for.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs will start Michael Hutchinson again on Saturday night after confirming that Garret Sparks did suffer a concussion earlier this week in practice. Frederik Andersen, who is getting closer to returning from a groin injury, admitted to reporters including Luke Fox of Sportsnet that it’s something he’s dealt with for a while this season. The injury apparently didn’t heal as well as the team had hoped over the holiday break, but shouldn’t keep him out much longer.
If there’s one team to watch in the Eastern Conference as the trade deadline approaches, it may very well be the Detroit Red Wings. After losing six straight—some in heartbreaking fashion—they’ve now fallen to seventh in the Atlantic Division and are just two points out of last place in the entire NHL. With that streak it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to climb back into the playoff race, meaning the focus will start to turn to the expiring assets on the roster. Of those, Detroit has many.
The Red Wings find themselves with six regular roster players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this summer, and one of them is reaching new heights in his career of late. In a deep feature on defenseman Nick Jensen, Max Bultman of The Athletic (subscription required) examines how the Red Wings are giving him a bigger opportunity with several players on the shelf with injury. Notably though, the piece ends by Bultman reporting that Detroit has not discussed an extension with Jensen and notes that a trade is an obvious possibility.
In face, a trade might be the best option for a Detroit team that is obvious still in need of additional young assets to really open their competitive window. After a long history of success over the past few decades, the team now finds themselves leaderless without Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg to guide them towards the playoffs. Dylan Larkin looks like he’ll be the next great Red Wings player—even if he isn’t their All-Star representative this season—but needs help up all throughout the roster to do any real damage.
Jensen’s play this season has been encouraging, especially when given more minutes and responsibility. He also represents that always elusive right-handed defenseman that teams are searching for every year. We recently examined how the rental market is relatively thin on impact defensemen this season, making a player like Jensen even more attractive. If that wasn’t enough, the 28-year old comes with just an $812K cap hit this year.
There’s a very real chance that the Red Wings are limited at the deadline given the no-trade clauses they’ve handed out like candy over the years, but that’s not the case with Jensen. If the team doesn’t decide to make contact and discuss a possible extension over the next month, you can bet his name will be brought up regularly in trade speculation.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
The Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs kick off a busy NHL schedule today with an afternoon game which will see Michael Hutchinson suit up with his new organization, while the Los Angeles Kings will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a David vs Goliath matchup to wrap things up. Six other games will be played around the league, and as teams prepare we’ll be right here keeping track of all the minor movement.
- Tomas Jurco has landed a one-year AHL contract with the Springfield Thunderbirds for the rest of this season, giving the minor league squad some extra firepower for the second half. It wasn’t so long ago that Jurco was an up-and-coming forward prospect with the Detroit Red Wings, and even last season he recorded 10 points in 29 games for the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Speaking of forward prospects, the Dallas Stars have sent Denis Gurianov back to the minor leagues after he played just 7:44 last night. Gurianov has looked like a completely different player this season in the AHL, but still can’t seem to establish himself at the NHL level.
- The St. Louis Blues have recalled Zach Sanford from San Antonio, but will play with seven defensemen tonight after activating Carl Gunnarsson. Sanford will sit out for now, but could get into some action if Vladimir Tarasenko misses any more time with the illness that will keep him out tonight.
- Stefan Elliott has been returned to the minor leagues by the Ottawa Senators, leaving them with just six active defensemen on the roster currently. The Senators don’t play again until Saturday, giving them a chance to activate another player or recall someone tomorrow.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a new schedule for all the special events happening in the 2019-20 season. While it was reported Monday that the 2020 Winter Classic will be in Dallas, Bettman also announced that the St. Louis Blues will host the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star game, Regina will host the 2019 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic between the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames, while Colorado will host the 2020 Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium.
There is no word yet on who the Dallas Stars will play next year at the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl. The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reports that the opponent will be determined by the Stars, NBC and the NHL in a group effort and will be made within the next few weeks. However, with no regional rival, there isn’t an obvious opponent, although some are already suggesting that the Minnesota Wild might be a good match. It’s not expected to be the Blackhawks, who played in the event this year and has already played in six outdoor games. This marks the first time that Dallas will play in an outdoor game.
Bettman said that other venues were considered and will continue to be considered. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports that Bettman said that there has been conversations between both Florida teams of a future night game on Jan. 1. The Athletic’s Joe McDonald adds that Bettman said the league will have discussions with the Bruins after their renovations at TD Gardens are complete about receiving another event.
The Blues will host the 2020 all-star game, which will be held on Jan. 24-2. It will be the first time that St. Louis has hosted an all-star game since 1988. It will be the third all-star game in the city as the team also hosted one in 1970. St. Louis hosted the Winter Classic two years ago, but its success only helped the Blues bring in another big event.
“St. Louis was a great host for us for the Winter Classic, and in the final analysis, the total circumstances including the substantial renovation that they’ve done of the Enterprise Center made it the right time to go back. We have no doubt it will be a huge success,” Bettman said (via The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford).
The Winnipeg Jets announced earlier today they will host the Heritage Classic, but the opponent hadn’t been announced. Bettman announced that the Calgary Flames will make their second appearance in the occasionally-held Canadian outdoor game which will be on Oct. 26, 2019.
The Avalanche will get a chance to host their second Stadium Series. They hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in 2016. It also marks the second time a game will be at a U.S. service academy. The Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Base in Annapolis, Maryland in March last year. Just as with the Winter Classic, an opponent has yet to be named and will be determined in a few weeks.