- Detroit’s challenges with fielding a complete back end continue. Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings’ team site notes that Jonathan Ericsson has been ruled out of tonight’s game which will be his fifth straight game missed due to a lower-body injury while Trevor Daley has essentially been ruled out for the year. Meanwhile, Libor Sulak, who was recently recalled under emergency conditions, is sick and isn’t expected to suit up against Vegas either. There could be some good news on the horizon up front though as winger Evgeny Svechnikov, who has missed the entire season with a torn ACL, is skating with the team and is hoping to return where he’d likely suit up with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
Red Wings Rumors
Another week down in the NHL and a quiet night to finish things off. Just two games are on the schedule this evening, though they certainly mean a lot to the teams taking part. The Minnesota Wild will try to topple the Washington Capitals in a game that could be crucial in the Western Conference wild card race. Minnesota trails the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes by just one point, but have gone 3-4-3 in their last ten and need to find a way to get things back on track. Meanwhile the San Jose Sharks will try to stop their four-game losing streak when they take on the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose has slipped out of the race for first place in the Pacific Division, and need a win tonight to have any chance at catching the Calgary Flames.
- The Ottawa Senators have sent both Vitaly Abramov and Filip Chlapik back to the minor leagues, as Jean-Gabriel Pageau has completed his suspension and Chris Tierney is expected back. Abramov made his NHL debut last night and played just under 14 minutes, but was a -3 on the night and didn’t record a shot on goal. He’ll continue to polish his game in the minor leagues and wait for another chance.
- The Winnipeg Jets have recalled goaltender Eric Comrie under emergency conditions, as Laurent Brossoit left last night’s game with an injury. Comrie has been great once again for the Manitoba Moose, posting a 23-16-2 record and .916 save percentage this season. The 23-year old looks ready to take the next step, and will need to take advantage of any opportunity he gets in the Winnipeg net.
- Paul Carey has been sent back to the minor leagues by the Boston Bruins, a common occurrence for him recently. The veteran forward has been bounced up and down several times this month, and only played in two games with the team. He’ll continue to serve as an insurance policy for them whenever someone is dealing with a minor injury or illness.
- Nick DeSimone and Dylan Gambrell have been recalled by the San Jose Sharks, an interesting move given that DeSimone has never suited up in the NHL. The 24-year old defenseman has been outstanding this season in the minor leagues though, recording 39 points in 55 games.
- The Detroit Red Wings have recalled veteran winger Matt Puempel from the AHL. Puempel has had a stellar season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, second on the team in goals, assists, and points despite playing alongside several experienced AHL scorers. Yet, Puempel has not played for Detroit at all this season in year one of a two-year contract signed this past off-season. If he finally sees action on this call-up, he will try to show that he can make an impact at the NHL level and is deserving of a longer look in camp next fall.
Tomorrow night kicks off the final weekend of conference tournaments in the NCAA, with Selection Sunday setting the stage for the NCAA Tournament beginning next week. With the collegiate regular season a thing of the past, the conferences haves used the gathering of their top teams ahead of this weekend’s games as a chance to hold end of the year banquets and announce award winners. To no surprise, many notable NHL prospects were also among those honored.
Perhaps the top pro prospect in the NCAA and the favorite to win the Hobey Baker Award this year, it was predictable that Cale Makar (COL) would first be unanimously named the Hockey East Player of the Year. The dynamic defenseman was the No. 4 overall pick by the Avalanche two years ago and has lived up to the hype through two seasons at the University of Massachusetts. Makar was one of six UMass players to also be named all-league players, including Mario Ferraro (SJ) and John Leonard (SJ) and scoring champion Mitchell Chaffee. 2018 first-round pick Joel Farabee (PHI) was named Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year following a point-per-game freshman campaign for Boston University. Similarly impressive teenager Cayden Primeau (MTL) was named Goaltender of the Year, backstopping Northeastern University with a .935 save percentage and 2.02 GAA. Providence College’s Vincent Desharnais (EDM) and the University of Maine’s Chase Pearson (DET) were also honored as the Defensive Defenseman and Defensive Forward of the year, respectively.
In the Big Ten Conference, recent Red Wings signing Taro Hirose (DET) out of Michigan State University was named Player of the Year, as well as scoring champion as the NCAA’s leading point-getter. The University of Minnesota’s Sammy Walker (TB) was named Freshman of the Year after the seventh-round pick surprised many this season. Quinn Hughes (VAN) of the University of Michigan and Evan Barratt (CHI) of Penn State University were other notable Big Ten stars, earning first-team all-conference considerations.
Elsewhere, a trifecta of NHL hopefuls won both Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year for their conference. Adam Fox (CAR) is the most notable, as the Harvard University product enjoyed yet another dominant year in the ECAC and could be an impact player immediately once he joins the Hurricanes. Jimmy Schuldt hopes to do the same wherever he ends up, as the priority free agent from St. Cloud State University was named both Player of the Year and Defensive Defenseman of the Year for the NCHC and will push for a National Championship this year before turning his attention to the pros. Finally, Atlantic Hockey’s undisputed top player was Joe Duszak (TOR) of Mercyhurst University, who recently signed with the Maple Leafs after leading all NCAA defensemen in scoring.
Other awards of note include the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Scott Perunovich (STL) winning the NCHC’s Offensive Defenseman of the Year Award for the second year in a row and Cooper Zech (BOS) being named the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year despite already leaving Ferris State University after just one year for the AHL’s Providence Bruins. With the NCAA postseason still to come, there will be more honors on the way for college hockey’s top players, but the conference awards already show that the best of the collegiate ranks includes many NHL draft picks and free agent signings, who will hopefully go on to continue their strong play at the next level.
Red Wings center Jacob de la Rose was removed from Tuesday’s game against the Rangers due to a cardiac episode. Today, head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters, including Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, that while the youngster is doing okay now, he’s not expected to accompany the team as their road trip works its way out West. This is the second time this season that de la Rose has had this issue as it crept up at the end of training camp when he was still with Montreal which resulted in him opening up the year on injured reserve. Since joining the team via waivers, the 23-year-old has nine points in 60 games while winning just over 42% of his faceoffs.
The Detroit Red Wings have signed veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one-year extension. John Shannon of Sportsnet reports the deal will be for $4MM, and CapFriendly adds that he can earn up to $1.1MM in additional performance bonuses. Howard is eligible for performance bonuses as a 35+ player (as of the 26th) that is signing just a one-year deal. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the goaltender has been open about his willingness to keep signing one-year deals as long as they keep him in Detroit. The deal will include zero trade protection.
Howard, who will turn 35 next week, has posted a .908 save percentage this season through 48 games and remains a solid option in net for the Red Wings. In fact, he outplayed Jonathan Bernier this season and could very well enter next year still ready to make the majority of the starts. While he was a potential trade candidate at the deadline, both sides had expressed a desire to keep him in Detroit all season and with a one-year deal there is little risk for the Red Wings. The team can ride him until he’s no longer effective, and Howard can retire having only ever played for a single organization.
Selected in the second round back in 2003, Howard starred at the University of Maine—recording an incredible .956 save percentage in his sophomore season—before jumping into professional hockey with both feet. After a few seasons as the starter for the Grand Rapids Griffins, he took over as the full-time NHL starter in 2009 and never looked back. Though he has dealt with injury, Howard never posted a save percentage under .906 during his decade as the starter for Detroit and twice received votes as a Vezina candidate. He has an all-time record of 240-171-68 in 509 regular season starts with the team.
The Wings are finally climbing out of the salary cap troubles they put themselves in over the past few years, and signing Howard to a one-year deal will only give them even more flexibility going forward. Bernier carries just a $3MM cap hit for the next two seasons, meaning the combined tandem is still not prohibitively expensive.
The Detroit Red Wings have signed another college forward, this time inking Chase Pearson to a two-year entry-level contract. Pearson was Detroit’s fifth-round pick in 2015, and has played the last three seasons at the University of Maine. The deal will begin in the 2019-20 season, and Pearson will join the Grand Rapids Griffins on an amateur tryout for the rest of this year.
Pearson, 21, has been a Hobey Baker nominee in each of the last two years after solid seasons at Maine where he showed off his two-way ability and leadership abilities. Named captain as a sophomore, the 6’2″ center leaves school with 78 points in 107 games and will now try to continue his development at the AHL level. While there might not be huge offensive upside for Pearson, there is a real chance he could compete at the NHL level one day and be another piece of the rebuilding Red Wings.
Detroit currently sits at 49 contracts for this season after adding Taro Hirose and Ryan Kuffner, meaning they would have been completely tapped out if Pearson had signed for 2018-19. Instead, they can still add another college or international free agent down the stretch to burn a year of an entry-level contract. That leverage will only help them in whatever negotiations they are still involved in.
It looks like the Detroit Red Wings might have lost one of their veteran players as MLive’s Ansar Khan writes that Justin Abdelkader will likely miss the rest of the season after suffering a hairline fracture in his leg and will miss 3-4 weeks.
The 32-year-old Abdelkader was injured Thursday after blocking a shot during their game against Tampa Bay. The forward has struggled this season, although he did recently end his 40-game goal-scoring drought, but has just six goals and 19 points with a minus-14 rating in 71 games this season.
Abdelkader has one of the most frustrating contracts on a team full of them as he has seen his playing time shrink in each of the past three seasons and yet still is on the books for another four years at $4.25MM per year.
- Sticking with the Red Wings, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free-Press writes that defenseman Trevor Daley took warmups today before their 2-1 win over the Islanders, but wasn’t able to play due to a bad back. With a back injury, Daley could be a game-by-game decision for the rest of the season. “It might be one of those things where when he feels good, he can play,” Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill said. “When he doesn’t, he can’t. Might be in and out a little bit.”
- The Boston Bruins got some good news as they announced an update on star forward David Pastrnak who has been out of the lineup since Feb. 10 after undergoing thumb surgery. After skating at this morning’s skate, the team expects to join the Bruins’ full practice on Monday and should be ready to return to the lineup shortly thereafter. The 22-year-old has already hit 30 goals for the third-straight year, but is close to hitting career-highs if he can get back on the ice as he has just 31 goals and 66 points in 56 games.
- In an update on the development this season of Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson, The Athletic’s Joe Yerdon (subscription requried) writes that the team has made the 21-year-old forward eligible to play in the AHL playoffs for the Rochester Americans and it is expected the team will send him there when the playoffs start, but he likely won’t be assigned there until after the Sabres’ regular season ends. Thompson has struggled to show consistency this season, which is normal for young players, but the team hopes they can get the 6-foot-5 forward as developed as possible for next season.
The playoff picture received a shake-up last night. The Maple Leafs stormed back from down three to beat the Flyers, crushing Philadelphia’s postseason hopes in the process; the Blue Jackets blanked the Hurricanes to pull even in the wild card race; the Golden Knights held off the surging Stars, who had an opportunity to leapfrog the Blues in the Central race; and the Avalanche suffered an upset at the hands of the Ducks that may very well have wiped out their chances of a playoff run. We have entered the home stretch, as no team has more than a dozen games left on their regular season schedule. Each day’s slate of games will have more of an impact on the postseason placement than the next and today is no different, with match-ups like Blues-Penguins, Bruins-Blue Jackets, Flames-Jets, Capitals-Lightning, and Predators-Sharks that can cause four-point swings in playoff races. Even the smallest moves can be crucial the rest of the way, so keep up with all of those transactions here:
- Cody Goloubef’s stint with the Ottawa Senators lasted just one game this time around, as the team has announced that the veteran defender has been reassigned to AHL Belleville. Goloubef has played in five NHL games with the Senators this season, which is five more than he had played with the Boston Bruins prior to a mid-season trade.
- The Detroit Red Wings have made veteran defenseman Brian Lashoff an emergency recall, the team announced. The 28-year-old has not played in the NHL this season and in fact has just 17 games with Detroit to his credit since the end of the 2013-14 season, in which he started nearly every game for the team. Nevertheless, Lashoff – a leader for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins – earned a two-year extension this week and the Red Wings may be rewarding that commitment by giving the long-time defender another shot at the top level.
- Jacob Middleton’s shot at filling a gap on the Sharks’ blue line was short-lived. CapFriendly reports that the rookie defenseman has been returned to the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. Fortunately, that just means he’s down the hall in the other locker room, so Middleton can easily be used as needed down the stretch. With Radim Simek done for the year and Erik Karlsson still sidelined, the Sharks are thin on the back end and Middleton has been a consistent defensive asset for the Barracuda this season.
- The back-and-forth continues for Jordan Kyrou, who has been reassigned by the St. Louis Blues yet again in his fourth move in about 48 hours. This time, Kyrou’s roster spot has been lost to the return of David Perron. The Blues announced that Perron has been activated from the injured reserve and will re-join the lineup. The veteran winger has missed the past 24 games with an upper-body injury, but is finally ready to get back to work. St. Louis could use the help as their hot streak has faded some and the Dallas Stars are suddenly right on their heels.
- The Philadelphia Flyers announced they have recalled Justin Bailey from the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It his fourth recall in the last five weeks since Feb. 10. The team needs that extra forward with Mikhail Vorobyev injured Wednesday. Bailey has played seven games for the Flyers this season with no points.
- Despite a recall Friday, the New Jersey Devils have chosen to re-assign forward Nick Lappin to the Binghamton Devils of the AHL, according to CapFriendly. Lappin did not play Friday. The 26-year-old forward has 16 goals and 27 points in 45 games with Binghamton.
- The Boston Bruins have assigned forward Trent Frederic to the Providence Bruins of the AHL, according to Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont. Frederic was recalled Tuesday as an emergency call-up, but several player getting healthier, including the return of Jake Debrusk, the team can return him to Providence. The 21-year-old has appeared in 13 games for Boston, but has failed to register a point.
The Detroit Red Wings haven’t found a ton of success this season, but they’re not blaming the coaching staff. The rebuilding team is expected to begin extension negotiations with head coach Jeff Blashill at some point according to Bob McKenzie of TSN, as the front office is happy with the job he has done during the rebuilding year.
Blashill took over the Red Wings for the 2015-16 after former head coach Mike Babcock left for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and took them to a playoff appearance in his first year. After being eliminated in the first round in 2016, the team has now missed for three straight seasons while saying goodbye to franchise icons like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. With those legendary forwards out of the picture this season, the team has turned to a youth movement led by 22-year old Dylan Larkin. Larkin has taken over as the face of the Detroit franchise and is in the midst of a career season at both ends of the rink. His 62 points in 65 games easily leads the club, with second place Gustav Nyquist sold off at the trade deadline.
In fact, the Red Wings were active once again at the deadline as they look towards the future. Nyquist and Nick Jensen were both flipped for substantial assets, giving the Red Wings a loaded basket of draft picks and young players to build around. Blashill will be credited for getting the best out of Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, and will be tasked with the same shepherding of prospects like Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina and eventually Joe Veleno.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been bumps along the road. The Red Wings currently sit 30th in the league and have gone 1-9-3 in their last 13 games. While that may give them a better chance at the draft lottery next month, it certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in this group for next season. While Blashill may be credited with getting the best out of his young players in losing seasons, there will come a point where he must get some success in the standings as well.
CapFriendly lists Blashill as earning just $800K this season, the final of a four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2015. While he’ll likely get a raise from that if the Red Wings do reach an extension, it will be interesting to see just how long of a leash they give him this time around.
The Detroit Red Wings were true to their word today, sending Filip Zadina back to the minor leagues after his nine-game stint in the NHL. Zadina would have burned a year of his entry-level contract by playing in an additional game, and could have become eligible for the 2021 expansion draft if he stayed any longer than that. Instead, he’ll rejoin the Grand Rapids Griffins for the end of the season.
Zadina recorded one goal and three points during his short time in the NHL, and will likely be back there to start the 2019-20 season. It’s been an odd year to say the least for the top prospect, who struggled at first in the AHL and couldn’t find his rhythm at the World Junior tournament that he had previously dominated. Playing better in the second half, Zadina now returns to the Griffins with 31 points in 45 games and a chance to really help them down the stretch. Grand Rapids sits firmly in a playoff spot and if the sniper can find another level could be a dangerous opponent in their quest for a Calder Cup.
Dylan Larkin is expected to return to the lineup in Zadina’s place, two names that will surely be linked for the Red Wings moving forward. The elder Larkin is now the face of the franchise and the leader of the forward group, while Zadina represents the next wave of talent and could be a potential linemate down the road. His nine-game showcase was encouraging, and given the four high picks the Red Wings feature once again in this year’s draft, the future is starting to look quite bright in Detroit.