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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Misha Moor (D)
From: Thurgau
To: Thurgau
Information: 1 year
Source: Link

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As the Leafs made their final preparations before taking the flight to Edmonton to begin a five-game road trip, Friday’s practice saw quite a lot happen.

First off, it sounds like Sheldon Keefe is going to make a line change that fans have been longing to see happen:

It’s been a tough start to the Jimmy Vesey era in Toronto and his lacklustre production combined with a consistent struggle to find a permanent spot in the lineup hasn’t helped either. Keefe told the media that while Vesey’s defensive abilities have kept him in the lineup, he has also had trouble making his mark and finding a role he can provide on a consistent basis. This could be interpreted as a challenge to get Vesey to step-up his game or be moved to the taxi squad.

While this may be due to Auston Matthews missing today’s practice (more on him later), perhaps sitting out Vesey for a game or two may give him the motivation to get his season back on track. Otherwise, it’s becoming more likely that he will need to sign with another team in the offseason.

A sign of hope for the injured goalies

The Leafs won’t have to wait much longer for their starter and backup goaltenders to make their returns:

Jack Campbell got injured during the Leafs’ tilt against the Calgary Flames back on January 24th and was able to finish the game despite being in noticeable discomfort. While Michael Hutchinson (who rocked an awesome new mask that pays homage to Felix Potvin) has played well in his past two starts, getting back Campbell is no doubt a huge boost to the lineup. Whether he actually gets the start tomorrow remains up in the air but he appears set to be activated off the injured reserve list in the coming days.

Frederik Andersen’s status is also to be determined, but Keefe did announce that he will be travelling with the team out west. He did skate prior to the start of practice and appears on track to make his return by next week at the earliest.

Either way, I’m sure Mer is extremely relieved about these latest developments.

Matthews out, Thornton and Muzzin in?

After colliding with the boards with his wrist midway through Wednesday’s win over the Flames, Matthews was absent at today’s practice and was listed as day-to-day. It likely was nothing more than a maintenance day, but Keefe said that the star centre will be a game-time decision.

Speaking of game-time decisions, it appears that Jake Muzzin and Joe Thornton will be making their returns to the lineup on Saturday. Muzzin skated with a face shield which will likely be in effect for the next few games until his broken bone is fully healed. Thornton, who had been skating for the past few days, told the meeting that he is “feeling really good” and looking forward to rejoining his team.

Here are the lines Toronto rolled with during today’s practice:

Alexander Barabanov played well in the two-game tilt against Calgary after being promoted to the top-six in the wake of Thornton missing time. He has earned another look and could soon translate that into offence should he carry over the momentum from Wednesday’s contest (he was put on the second power-play unit as the net-front presence). With Vesey likely being a healthy scratch, Nic Petan is projected to start the game on the fourth line in his place.

Alex Galchenyuk is still working with the Leafs development staff and Keefe said the team is in no rush to put him into the lineup. When he actually does get into game action is currently a mystery, but perhaps his Leaf debut might be around the corner.

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After earning a well-deserved three-day break, the Winnipeg Jets got back to work on Thursday night and were tasked with taking on the Dominique Ducharme-led Montreal Canadiens, which certainly proved to be an extremely competitive showdown.

While forward Joel Armia scored a pair of goals against his former team in the opening frame, Winnipeg bounced back and potted three goals of their own in the second period – including two goals from forward Kyle Connor – tying this game up at 3-3 heading into the final 20 minutes. But thanks to a trio of goals from Nate Thompson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele, this club held on to a three-goal advantage when the final horn sounded, earning them their third straight victory.

Here are three takeaways from the Jets’ 6-3 victory against the Canadiens:

1. Another Strong Showing From Pierre-Luc Dubois 

Coming off his strong return on Sunday night against the Vancouver Canucks, which resulted in two goals and three points, many people were wondering what Dubois would have instore for his encore and he certainly didn’t disappoint as the youngster enjoyed another two-point performance. Adding a goal and an assist, the 22-year-old ultimately put this game out of reach with his third goal in a Jets’ uniform and also created a pair of takeaways as well.

Though Dubois only registered one shot on net against the Canadiens, his lack of shots on net hasn’t prevented him from enjoying success in the offensive zone so far, as he’s scored on all three of his shots since joining his new team. As things currently stand, it’s unclear when coach Paul Maurice will move the former first-round pick back to center, although the top line of Blake Wheeler, Scheifele and Dubois has certainly been clicking over the last few games. So it might not be the worst idea to keep that trio together for a little bit longer.

2. Jets’ Second Line Creating Chemistry

With Wheeler, Scheifele and Dubois paired on the top line, Winnipeg’s second line currently consists of Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Stastny and Connor, which served as a pretty productive trio on Thursday against Montreal. Even though this line only created one goal, they displayed plenty of chemistry and several beautiful tape-to-tape passes, ultimately resulting in the club’s second goal of the game.

In particular, this success allowed Connor to create three separate scoring chances during five-on-five situations – including two scoring chances during the opening period. Considering this group has meshed extremely well together in such a short period of time, it seems they’ll be able to continue trending upwards as they gain further experience playing alongside each other.

3. Nathan Beaulieu Skating on Thin Ice?

Since defenseman Tucker Poolman was held out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury, teammate Nathan Beaulieu was bumped up to the top defensive pairing alongside Josh Morrissey, however, the 28-year-old blueliner didn’t exactly step up in a positive way during this matchup against the Canadiens. Despite receiving over 20 minutes of ice time, the veteran defenseman allowed a pair of goals – including one goal on the penalty kill – and nearly committed a delay of game penalty late in the second period.

Without question, the worst moment of Beaulieu’s performance was when he was caught in no man’s land attempting to hit forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, resulting in a two-on-one rush and allowed Tomas Tatar to score a power-play goal in the middle frame. While Maurice has been a fan of the left-hander’s game so far, which is certainly troubling, he’s become a liability in the defensive zone far too often this season and it’d make plenty of sense to swap him out of the lineup in favor of someone like Logan Stanley or perhaps Sami Niku.

Next Up:

The Jets are off on Friday and will be back in action on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at 9 pm CT, yes, it’s another late-night showdown.

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/27/2021
Player: Nik Holstein (D)
From: Arosa
To: Arosa
Source: Link

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The Toronto Marlies got a taste of their own medicine on Friday afternoon.

After destroying the temporarily-relocated Stockton Heat by 7-1 and 5-1 scores earlier this week in the first two AHL games played in the Scotiabank Saddledome this season, the Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Heat on Wednesday before being blown out on Friday.

In the final game of their lengthy home series against the Marlies, the Heat scored six goals by the time their opponents had mustered six shots. Fresh off his electric 36-save performance in Wednesday’s win, Heat goaltender Dustin Wolf had a quieter night in his crease. The 19-year-old WHL-bound keeper made 26 saves on 27 shots en route to his second professional victory.

Instead, Stockton’s big guns stole the show. Adam Ruzicka and the “Killer Ps”—Emilio Pettersen, Matthew Phillips, and Martin Pospisil—all had multiple points for the Heat, while rookie centre Mark Simpson chipped in the first two goals of his professional career.

The Heat ultimately took this one by an 8-1 score, a result that accurately represents their level of play in the game. Here’s how it all went down.

The rundown

The Heat went two-for-four on the power play on Wednesday and they received no shortage of opportunities to continue that trend on Friday.

Marlies forward Bobby McMann took a tripping penalty just 1:33 into regulation and, although the Heat couldn’t capitalize, the infraction set the tone for the rest of the game. After former Anaheim Duck and current Marlie forward Kalle Kossila got called for a hook at 6:07, the Heat went right back to work and converted.

First-year pro Emilio Pettersen opened the scoring with a tremendous display of hand-eye coordination, batting a puck into the net out of mid-air after a point shot by Alex Petrovic had bounced skyward off Marlies goaltender Andrew D’Agostini.

Pettersen’s goal gave the Heat their first 1-0 lead of the year, but it wouldn’t last. Just under four minutes later, Marlies defenseman Timothy Liljegren sent a wrister towards Wolf’s cage that beat the screened goaltender.

Pettersen continued to stand out after his goal on Friday, making active plays in both the offensive and defensive zones for Stockton. He was eventually named the third star of the game.

Stockton regained its one-goal lead late in the opening frame, and it came from an unlikely source. 25-year-old centre Mark Simpson, fresh off a four-year tenure with the U. of New Brunswick Reds, has been in and out of the Heat lineup to begin the season and has been deployed primarily in a defensive role.

Nevertheless, it was Simpson who managed to get a piece of a long shot by Zac Leslie, changing its direction enough to elude D’Agostini. Simpson’s first goal as a professional eventually would stand as the game-winner.

Just over a minute later, the Heat found some insurance. Check out the fancy footwork from Matthew Phillips to set up Adam Ruzicka for a back-door tap-in.

This goal was the third in just two games for the Ruzicka-Phillips combination, and there was more to come.

The Heat exited the first period leading 3-1 and up 10-3 on the shot clock. They quickly picked up where they left off after the intermission, with Luke Philp adding to the lead with a power play goal just 1:05 into the second frame.

Dmitry Zavgorodniy, jostling for position in front of D’Agostini, picked up his first professional point with a primary assist on Philp’s goal.

From there, it quickly turned into a rout. With Connor Zary and Kristians Rubins both in the box on offsetting penalties, the game moved to a four-on-four environment for two minutes and Ruzicka quickly took advantage.

Moments later, Ruzicka came inches away from getting his first hat trick as a professional. Despite the near miss, his line continued to apply pressure and controlled play for a whole minute in the Marlies’ zone.

Simpson then scored his second of the night (and as an AHLer) to make it a 6-1 game. Bonus points to Flames 2020 first rounder Zary for his amazing pass to find Simpson in the slot.

Just as a reminder, at this point, the game had yet to reach its halfway mark.

The Heat made it 7-1 at the 12:40 mark of the period when Martin Pospisil out-waited D’Agostini before placing a perfect wrister over the sprawled Marlies goaltender.

To cap things off in the middle period, Phillips made a ridiculous move to score a power play goal in the dying minutes. Surprise, surprise: Ruzicka assisted on the 8-1 tally.

With the game largely decided entering the third period, things began to heat up.

Pospisil completed his first AHL Gordie Howe hat-trick in the final 20, taking exception to a knee-on-knee hit thrown on Phillips by Marlies forward Colt Conrad. Phillips fell to the ice and Pospisil immediately lunged at Conrad to stick up for his team’s star.

The heavily-penalized incident ended Pospisil’s night but earned him the praise of his coach in the post-game press conference.

“[Pospisil] plays hard, he makes good offensive plays,” said Heat head coach Cail MacLean. “At the same time, at the drop of the hat, if someone threatens someone in his family, he’ll go right after them.”

The Marlies made a solid push in the third period, out-shooting Stockton by a count of 15-3, and Wolf had to be sharp to preserve his team’s seven-goal lead. He put his excellent reflexes on display to deny a goal from Kossila with his right pad.

Even with the result in no doubt, Zary kept competing until the final buzzer and was right in the thick of an inspired scrum behind the Marlies’ net after the end of regulation time.

With the big win, the Heat now possess a .500 points percentage on the year and sit in a tie with the Marlies for third in the Canadian Division. After being outscored 12-2 in the first two games of the year, the Heat have now scored 14 goals this season and have allowed 15.

Why the Heat won

They scored first and they scored often, remaining engaged physically and on the puck all day long. Wolf had another terrific performance despite allowing another early goal. The Marlies failed to convert on their two power plays while Stockton went three-for-five on theirs.

Phillips and Ruzicka were able to operate without much in the way of opposition or response from the Marlies. Simpson and Colton Beck provided depth scoring, both contributing two points. After being stymied by extremely impressive performances from D’Agostini, the Heat finally figured out the Toronto goaltender.

The hottest Heat

There are many, many candidates.

  • Martin Pospisil had a Gordie Howe hat-trick, skated well, and created a ton of space for his linemates;
  • Mark Simpson scored the first two goals of his AHL career;
  • Connor Zary was dangerous everywhere and made an outstanding play to set up Simpson’s second goal;
  • Zac Leslie had two primary assists and threaded the needle to find Pospisil for his goal;
  • Dustin Wolf was rock-solid after a quiet first period, posting a .963 save percentage in the game;
  • Adam Ruzicka posted his second-straight two-goal performance and could have had more;
  • Luke Philp helped keep Stockton’s momentum going by scoring his team-leading 21st goal since 2019-20 early in the second period;
  • Matthew Phillips had another multi-point night and was the most dynamic player on the ice for either team.

However, today’s distinction goes to Emilio Pettersen, who got the Heat on the board, showed some 200-foot responsibility, and put his impressive skating on display both with and without the puck. Pettersen now has three points in four games since turning pro.

Up next

The Heat are heading on the road! They’ll be back in action next week, doing battle with the Belleville Senators at the 4,365-seat CAA Arena on Mar. 3 at 5:00 p.m. MT. You can catch the game on AHL TV; I’ll be posting updates on Twitter at @miketgould.

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Through adversity, the Utica Comets have kicked off their AHL season and one player is drawing glowing reviews from head coach Trent Cull.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Lukas Jasek has been a long-term project pick for the Vancouver Canucks.

After coming over to North America for a seven-game run with the Comets at the end of the 2017-18 season, Jasek now comes into his third full year with the Canucks’ minor league affiliate. He is playing on both special teams units, has been playing at a point per game rate, and has now taken on being a full-time centre in the AHL.

The transition to centre has been a three-year process. He began seeing minutes as a centre early on in his time as a Comet. His coach Trent Cull remembered asking a lot of Jasek in his first AHL season, “I guess it was Lukas’ first full year and we had six or seven rookies forwards and it was a tough year,” said Cull. “There was not much insulation for those young guys and all those guys were at different peaks or non-peaks. With Lukas, we had him on the wall [playing winger]. He could skate well and we always knew he can make some plays but just couldn’t find that comfort. Then I thought we started to see that comfort last year and what ended up happening is we ended up making a move to centre. He said he had played centre in the past, back home and so that’s where I felt like it was a better niche for him, and then also for our group because we didn’t have many natural centremen. So, he’s done a good job.”

One of the positive storylines for the Comets has been Jasek’s play this season. He has always been a great skater, but this season he is looking like he understands his role as a centre in the North American game. He is also a crucial piece to both special teams groups.

Jasek has one power play goal on the season and has been a dominant force for the second unit, which has looked excellent over the past two weeks. He plays in the bumper position and shows poise with the puck even with defenders in his area. Jasek has been doing a great job of extending offensive zone time by chasing down loose pucks and forechecking penalty killers like a bat out of hell.

The second unit relies on slot shots from Jasek and right side rips from Carson Focht. The unit is very confident in Jonah Gadjovich as a net-front presence so they are constantly funnelling pucks and bodies to the net. You can see Jasek as one of those funnelling bodies in this clip as he tips in a point shot to score his only goal of the season.

He is not only being trusted as a power play contributor but is not one of the most used penalty-killing forwards for the Comets this season. “Most nights Lukas is leading our team in ice time as a forward,” said Cull. “He plays both special teams, and I just had a chat with Lukas on Tuesday and we talked about a small thing about some PK. I just said ‘Lukas, I think you’re doing a great job.’ He’s become a checked box for me. He’s a skilled player who plays at a high pace, and he makes other guys around him better. The thing is, his game is quiet, you have to watch Lukas play. He’s not going to overwhelm you or be over flashy but I’ve just liked his evolution. I like how his consistency has become one of his greatest assets game in and game out.”

One spot where he has definitely earned his coach’s respect is in the faceoff dot. From the eye test, Jasek appears to be the Comets’ best faceoff man early on this season and that’s a big reason why he is trusted to be the first centre on the ice for a penalty kill.

He’s been a long-term project, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that he could be the Canucks’ most NHL-ready centre prospect in the system right now. He is showing night in and night out that he can not only hang with but excel against AHL competition. He has the pace to keep up with the NHL game and does a fine job as a centre defensively.

Add in the ability to contribute as a penalty killer, and you are looking at a player who could help the Canucks’ fourth line and bring some youthful jump to a fourth line that just looks its age with Jay Beagle as its centre. We still have a lot of games left in the Canucks’ season, but with a two-week quarantine, Lukas Jasek may need to get a call sooner than later if the Canucks want to see him in a fourth-line role this season.

I think Marc Michaelis should get the first shot, as he earned that in training camp, and Tyler Graovac likely gets a run before Jasek as well. The only thing I’m saying is that Jasek’s name should not just be forgotten about just because he is down on the other side of the border.

This kid has looked good enough to stick out for the Comets this season. As Trent Cull said, he’s a “checked box” type of player where he does a lot of things right on a nightly basis. That should be rewarded for a guy who has been a part of this organization for five years.

We will just have to wait and see if the Canucks decide to give some of their budding prospects a chance to play in the NHL once they are eliminated from playoff contention.

That day is, unfortunately, coming soon.

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If there’s one thing we’ve seen over the years, it’s the NHL’s top players not getting paid anywhere near those of other pro league’s top players.

Connor McDavid, for example, makes the league’s highest salary this year at $14-million U.S. In the NFL, the league’s highest salary last year was Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who was paid $53-million U.S.

And in the MLB, it’s even higher. Mike Trout was paid just overall $55-million last season.

NHL Agent Kurt Overhardt, who represents players like Ryan Johansen, Jacob Trouba, John Gibson and Edmonton Oilers’ Kyle Turris, Mike Smith and Jujhar Khaira, recently suggested it’s time for the NHL to bring in a player exemption. Overhardt suggested it was time for the exemption on the PuckPedia’s Show Me The Money Podcast:

Let’s just have some type of opportunity where teams are allowed at their own volition voluntarily to exclude one player on their 23 man roster from the salary cap. And so it does a couple of things. One, if you’ve got it, if you’ve got a franchise player, you can pay that franchise player. If you own a team and you decide to play that franchise player outside the cap. And, you know, our top player in the league makes how much now? Close to 13 million. Right, guys. So if you have a top player, it’s up to the owner to make that decision. If that player is worth 15 million a year, if the players were 20 million a year or if the players worth 10 million a year, whatever your your cash situation is, that owner can make that decision, take that money outside the cap. So instead of 23 people, it’s 22 players that are subject to that. So there’s more money in the system for the players that are subject to the cap. And the marquee players get paid like they should get paid.

It would have massive implications in the NHL and allow teams the ability to help stretch their salary cap. Look at the Oilers, for example, who undoubtedly would use such an exemption on McDavid.

Allowing his $12.5-million cap hit to come off the Oilers books would allow them more flexibility than you could imagine when it comes to not only being able to acquire players in a trade, but also in free agency. There’s some implications that it would likely have, too, in driving up the average cost of players, but it would also allow more players to get paid what they probably deserve.

What do you think about a potential player exemption?

You can listen to the whole podcast here.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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Welcome to our new weekly column, focusing on the happenings in and around the Women’s Hockey (WoHo) World! We were so excited to launch our Toronto Six/NWHL coverage in the fall, that we decided to expand that and take a weekly look at the entire women’s hockey landscape. Growing the game and making women’s hockey a hit is a lofty goal, and we hope to contribute by shining a spotlight on all of the things going on.

While the NWHL season sadly ended early due to COVID concerns, WoHo is still happening, with PWHPA games!

These games are part of the Secret Dream Gap Tour 2021, with this upcoming weekend’s games hosted by the NY Rangers, and games the following weekend hosted by the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s awesome that they’re being televised by major sports networks in both the USA and Canada.

New partner, the Toronto Maple Leafs, will hopefully host some games in the future too!

Leafs’ Assistant Director of Player Development, Hayley Wickenheiser, spoke about the future of WoHo and the role of the PWHPA versus the NWHL in this week’s DFO Rundown Pod, which you can check out here:

Wickenheiser’s part starts around the 27 minute mark, in case you’re wondering.

She also discusses the roles women currently fill in the Leafs organization, the NHL in general, and what the future of that looks like, as well. Give it a listen!

The PWHPA also announced a very generous donation from the Mark Messier foundation, offering even more opportunities to grow the game:

Meanwhile, though they aren’t currently playing, the NWHL is continuing to highlight some of the amazing women’s hockey players. Take a peek at some of their Black History Month happenings:

In addition, the league’s former director of PR has moved on, but shared some touching reflections on his time with the league on Twitter:

And the absolutely inimitable Saroya Tinker wrote an incredible piece for The Player’s Tribune, highlighting the importance of Black Girls Hockey Club and their work:

The world of women’s hockey continues to grow and expand, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on it all. Check back every Thursday for more news and happenings in WoHo.

 

 

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Mats Rosseli Olsen (F)
From: Frölunda HC
To: Frölunda HC
Information: 3 years
Source: Link

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Ludvig Jansson (D)
From: Södertälje SK J20
To: Södertälje SK
Information: 2 years
Source: Link

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Misha Moor (D)
From: Thurgau
To: Thurgau
Information: 1 year
Source: Link

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As the Leafs made their final preparations before taking the flight to Edmonton to begin a five-game road trip, Friday’s practice saw quite a lot happen.

First off, it sounds like Sheldon Keefe is going to make a line change that fans have been longing to see happen:

It’s been a tough start to the Jimmy Vesey era in Toronto and his lacklustre production combined with a consistent struggle to find a permanent spot in the lineup hasn’t helped either. Keefe told the media that while Vesey’s defensive abilities have kept him in the lineup, he has also had trouble making his mark and finding a role he can provide on a consistent basis. This could be interpreted as a challenge to get Vesey to step-up his game or be moved to the taxi squad.

While this may be due to Auston Matthews missing today’s practice (more on him later), perhaps sitting out Vesey for a game or two may give him the motivation to get his season back on track. Otherwise, it’s becoming more likely that he will need to sign with another team in the offseason.

A sign of hope for the injured goalies

The Leafs won’t have to wait much longer for their starter and backup goaltenders to make their returns:

Jack Campbell got injured during the Leafs’ tilt against the Calgary Flames back on January 24th and was able to finish the game despite being in noticeable discomfort. While Michael Hutchinson (who rocked an awesome new mask that pays homage to Felix Potvin) has played well in his past two starts, getting back Campbell is no doubt a huge boost to the lineup. Whether he actually gets the start tomorrow remains up in the air but he appears set to be activated off the injured reserve list in the coming days.

Frederik Andersen’s status is also to be determined, but Keefe did announce that he will be travelling with the team out west. He did skate prior to the start of practice and appears on track to make his return by next week at the earliest.

Either way, I’m sure Mer is extremely relieved about these latest developments.

Matthews out, Thornton and Muzzin in?

After colliding with the boards with his wrist midway through Wednesday’s win over the Flames, Matthews was absent at today’s practice and was listed as day-to-day. It likely was nothing more than a maintenance day, but Keefe said that the star centre will be a game-time decision.

Speaking of game-time decisions, it appears that Jake Muzzin and Joe Thornton will be making their returns to the lineup on Saturday. Muzzin skated with a face shield which will likely be in effect for the next few games until his broken bone is fully healed. Thornton, who had been skating for the past few days, told the meeting that he is “feeling really good” and looking forward to rejoining his team.

Here are the lines Toronto rolled with during today’s practice:

Alexander Barabanov played well in the two-game tilt against Calgary after being promoted to the top-six in the wake of Thornton missing time. He has earned another look and could soon translate that into offence should he carry over the momentum from Wednesday’s contest (he was put on the second power-play unit as the net-front presence). With Vesey likely being a healthy scratch, Nic Petan is projected to start the game on the fourth line in his place.

Alex Galchenyuk is still working with the Leafs development staff and Keefe said the team is in no rush to put him into the lineup. When he actually does get into game action is currently a mystery, but perhaps his Leaf debut might be around the corner.

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After earning a well-deserved three-day break, the Winnipeg Jets got back to work on Thursday night and were tasked with taking on the Dominique Ducharme-led Montreal Canadiens, which certainly proved to be an extremely competitive showdown.

While forward Joel Armia scored a pair of goals against his former team in the opening frame, Winnipeg bounced back and potted three goals of their own in the second period – including two goals from forward Kyle Connor – tying this game up at 3-3 heading into the final 20 minutes. But thanks to a trio of goals from Nate Thompson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele, this club held on to a three-goal advantage when the final horn sounded, earning them their third straight victory.

Here are three takeaways from the Jets’ 6-3 victory against the Canadiens:

1. Another Strong Showing From Pierre-Luc Dubois 

Coming off his strong return on Sunday night against the Vancouver Canucks, which resulted in two goals and three points, many people were wondering what Dubois would have instore for his encore and he certainly didn’t disappoint as the youngster enjoyed another two-point performance. Adding a goal and an assist, the 22-year-old ultimately put this game out of reach with his third goal in a Jets’ uniform and also created a pair of takeaways as well.

Though Dubois only registered one shot on net against the Canadiens, his lack of shots on net hasn’t prevented him from enjoying success in the offensive zone so far, as he’s scored on all three of his shots since joining his new team. As things currently stand, it’s unclear when coach Paul Maurice will move the former first-round pick back to center, although the top line of Blake Wheeler, Scheifele and Dubois has certainly been clicking over the last few games. So it might not be the worst idea to keep that trio together for a little bit longer.

2. Jets’ Second Line Creating Chemistry

With Wheeler, Scheifele and Dubois paired on the top line, Winnipeg’s second line currently consists of Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Stastny and Connor, which served as a pretty productive trio on Thursday against Montreal. Even though this line only created one goal, they displayed plenty of chemistry and several beautiful tape-to-tape passes, ultimately resulting in the club’s second goal of the game.

In particular, this success allowed Connor to create three separate scoring chances during five-on-five situations – including two scoring chances during the opening period. Considering this group has meshed extremely well together in such a short period of time, it seems they’ll be able to continue trending upwards as they gain further experience playing alongside each other.

3. Nathan Beaulieu Skating on Thin Ice?

Since defenseman Tucker Poolman was held out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury, teammate Nathan Beaulieu was bumped up to the top defensive pairing alongside Josh Morrissey, however, the 28-year-old blueliner didn’t exactly step up in a positive way during this matchup against the Canadiens. Despite receiving over 20 minutes of ice time, the veteran defenseman allowed a pair of goals – including one goal on the penalty kill – and nearly committed a delay of game penalty late in the second period.

Without question, the worst moment of Beaulieu’s performance was when he was caught in no man’s land attempting to hit forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, resulting in a two-on-one rush and allowed Tomas Tatar to score a power-play goal in the middle frame. While Maurice has been a fan of the left-hander’s game so far, which is certainly troubling, he’s become a liability in the defensive zone far too often this season and it’d make plenty of sense to swap him out of the lineup in favor of someone like Logan Stanley or perhaps Sami Niku.

Next Up:

The Jets are off on Friday and will be back in action on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at 9 pm CT, yes, it’s another late-night showdown.

Rss

Status: Extension
Date: 02/27/2021
Player: Nik Holstein (D)
From: Arosa
To: Arosa
Source: Link

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The Toronto Marlies got a taste of their own medicine on Friday afternoon.

After destroying the temporarily-relocated Stockton Heat by 7-1 and 5-1 scores earlier this week in the first two AHL games played in the Scotiabank Saddledome this season, the Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Heat on Wednesday before being blown out on Friday.

In the final game of their lengthy home series against the Marlies, the Heat scored six goals by the time their opponents had mustered six shots. Fresh off his electric 36-save performance in Wednesday’s win, Heat goaltender Dustin Wolf had a quieter night in his crease. The 19-year-old WHL-bound keeper made 26 saves on 27 shots en route to his second professional victory.

Instead, Stockton’s big guns stole the show. Adam Ruzicka and the “Killer Ps”—Emilio Pettersen, Matthew Phillips, and Martin Pospisil—all had multiple points for the Heat, while rookie centre Mark Simpson chipped in the first two goals of his professional career.

The Heat ultimately took this one by an 8-1 score, a result that accurately represents their level of play in the game. Here’s how it all went down.

The rundown

The Heat went two-for-four on the power play on Wednesday and they received no shortage of opportunities to continue that trend on Friday.

Marlies forward Bobby McMann took a tripping penalty just 1:33 into regulation and, although the Heat couldn’t capitalize, the infraction set the tone for the rest of the game. After former Anaheim Duck and current Marlie forward Kalle Kossila got called for a hook at 6:07, the Heat went right back to work and converted.

First-year pro Emilio Pettersen opened the scoring with a tremendous display of hand-eye coordination, batting a puck into the net out of mid-air after a point shot by Alex Petrovic had bounced skyward off Marlies goaltender Andrew D’Agostini.

Pettersen’s goal gave the Heat their first 1-0 lead of the year, but it wouldn’t last. Just under four minutes later, Marlies defenseman Timothy Liljegren sent a wrister towards Wolf’s cage that beat the screened goaltender.

Pettersen continued to stand out after his goal on Friday, making active plays in both the offensive and defensive zones for Stockton. He was eventually named the third star of the game.

Stockton regained its one-goal lead late in the opening frame, and it came from an unlikely source. 25-year-old centre Mark Simpson, fresh off a four-year tenure with the U. of New Brunswick Reds, has been in and out of the Heat lineup to begin the season and has been deployed primarily in a defensive role.

Nevertheless, it was Simpson who managed to get a piece of a long shot by Zac Leslie, changing its direction enough to elude D’Agostini. Simpson’s first goal as a professional eventually would stand as the game-winner.

Just over a minute later, the Heat found some insurance. Check out the fancy footwork from Matthew Phillips to set up Adam Ruzicka for a back-door tap-in.

This goal was the third in just two games for the Ruzicka-Phillips combination, and there was more to come.

The Heat exited the first period leading 3-1 and up 10-3 on the shot clock. They quickly picked up where they left off after the intermission, with Luke Philp adding to the lead with a power play goal just 1:05 into the second frame.

Dmitry Zavgorodniy, jostling for position in front of D’Agostini, picked up his first professional point with a primary assist on Philp’s goal.

From there, it quickly turned into a rout. With Connor Zary and Kristians Rubins both in the box on offsetting penalties, the game moved to a four-on-four environment for two minutes and Ruzicka quickly took advantage.

Moments later, Ruzicka came inches away from getting his first hat trick as a professional. Despite the near miss, his line continued to apply pressure and controlled play for a whole minute in the Marlies’ zone.

Simpson then scored his second of the night (and as an AHLer) to make it a 6-1 game. Bonus points to Flames 2020 first rounder Zary for his amazing pass to find Simpson in the slot.

Just as a reminder, at this point, the game had yet to reach its halfway mark.

The Heat made it 7-1 at the 12:40 mark of the period when Martin Pospisil out-waited D’Agostini before placing a perfect wrister over the sprawled Marlies goaltender.

To cap things off in the middle period, Phillips made a ridiculous move to score a power play goal in the dying minutes. Surprise, surprise: Ruzicka assisted on the 8-1 tally.

With the game largely decided entering the third period, things began to heat up.

Pospisil completed his first AHL Gordie Howe hat-trick in the final 20, taking exception to a knee-on-knee hit thrown on Phillips by Marlies forward Colt Conrad. Phillips fell to the ice and Pospisil immediately lunged at Conrad to stick up for his team’s star.

The heavily-penalized incident ended Pospisil’s night but earned him the praise of his coach in the post-game press conference.

“[Pospisil] plays hard, he makes good offensive plays,” said Heat head coach Cail MacLean. “At the same time, at the drop of the hat, if someone threatens someone in his family, he’ll go right after them.”

The Marlies made a solid push in the third period, out-shooting Stockton by a count of 15-3, and Wolf had to be sharp to preserve his team’s seven-goal lead. He put his excellent reflexes on display to deny a goal from Kossila with his right pad.

Even with the result in no doubt, Zary kept competing until the final buzzer and was right in the thick of an inspired scrum behind the Marlies’ net after the end of regulation time.

With the big win, the Heat now possess a .500 points percentage on the year and sit in a tie with the Marlies for third in the Canadian Division. After being outscored 12-2 in the first two games of the year, the Heat have now scored 14 goals this season and have allowed 15.

Why the Heat won

They scored first and they scored often, remaining engaged physically and on the puck all day long. Wolf had another terrific performance despite allowing another early goal. The Marlies failed to convert on their two power plays while Stockton went three-for-five on theirs.

Phillips and Ruzicka were able to operate without much in the way of opposition or response from the Marlies. Simpson and Colton Beck provided depth scoring, both contributing two points. After being stymied by extremely impressive performances from D’Agostini, the Heat finally figured out the Toronto goaltender.

The hottest Heat

There are many, many candidates.

  • Martin Pospisil had a Gordie Howe hat-trick, skated well, and created a ton of space for his linemates;
  • Mark Simpson scored the first two goals of his AHL career;
  • Connor Zary was dangerous everywhere and made an outstanding play to set up Simpson’s second goal;
  • Zac Leslie had two primary assists and threaded the needle to find Pospisil for his goal;
  • Dustin Wolf was rock-solid after a quiet first period, posting a .963 save percentage in the game;
  • Adam Ruzicka posted his second-straight two-goal performance and could have had more;
  • Luke Philp helped keep Stockton’s momentum going by scoring his team-leading 21st goal since 2019-20 early in the second period;
  • Matthew Phillips had another multi-point night and was the most dynamic player on the ice for either team.

However, today’s distinction goes to Emilio Pettersen, who got the Heat on the board, showed some 200-foot responsibility, and put his impressive skating on display both with and without the puck. Pettersen now has three points in four games since turning pro.

Up next

The Heat are heading on the road! They’ll be back in action next week, doing battle with the Belleville Senators at the 4,365-seat CAA Arena on Mar. 3 at 5:00 p.m. MT. You can catch the game on AHL TV; I’ll be posting updates on Twitter at @miketgould.

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Through adversity, the Utica Comets have kicked off their AHL season and one player is drawing glowing reviews from head coach Trent Cull.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Lukas Jasek has been a long-term project pick for the Vancouver Canucks.

After coming over to North America for a seven-game run with the Comets at the end of the 2017-18 season, Jasek now comes into his third full year with the Canucks’ minor league affiliate. He is playing on both special teams units, has been playing at a point per game rate, and has now taken on being a full-time centre in the AHL.

The transition to centre has been a three-year process. He began seeing minutes as a centre early on in his time as a Comet. His coach Trent Cull remembered asking a lot of Jasek in his first AHL season, “I guess it was Lukas’ first full year and we had six or seven rookies forwards and it was a tough year,” said Cull. “There was not much insulation for those young guys and all those guys were at different peaks or non-peaks. With Lukas, we had him on the wall [playing winger]. He could skate well and we always knew he can make some plays but just couldn’t find that comfort. Then I thought we started to see that comfort last year and what ended up happening is we ended up making a move to centre. He said he had played centre in the past, back home and so that’s where I felt like it was a better niche for him, and then also for our group because we didn’t have many natural centremen. So, he’s done a good job.”

One of the positive storylines for the Comets has been Jasek’s play this season. He has always been a great skater, but this season he is looking like he understands his role as a centre in the North American game. He is also a crucial piece to both special teams groups.

Jasek has one power play goal on the season and has been a dominant force for the second unit, which has looked excellent over the past two weeks. He plays in the bumper position and shows poise with the puck even with defenders in his area. Jasek has been doing a great job of extending offensive zone time by chasing down loose pucks and forechecking penalty killers like a bat out of hell.

The second unit relies on slot shots from Jasek and right side rips from Carson Focht. The unit is very confident in Jonah Gadjovich as a net-front presence so they are constantly funnelling pucks and bodies to the net. You can see Jasek as one of those funnelling bodies in this clip as he tips in a point shot to score his only goal of the season.

He is not only being trusted as a power play contributor but is not one of the most used penalty-killing forwards for the Comets this season. “Most nights Lukas is leading our team in ice time as a forward,” said Cull. “He plays both special teams, and I just had a chat with Lukas on Tuesday and we talked about a small thing about some PK. I just said ‘Lukas, I think you’re doing a great job.’ He’s become a checked box for me. He’s a skilled player who plays at a high pace, and he makes other guys around him better. The thing is, his game is quiet, you have to watch Lukas play. He’s not going to overwhelm you or be over flashy but I’ve just liked his evolution. I like how his consistency has become one of his greatest assets game in and game out.”

One spot where he has definitely earned his coach’s respect is in the faceoff dot. From the eye test, Jasek appears to be the Comets’ best faceoff man early on this season and that’s a big reason why he is trusted to be the first centre on the ice for a penalty kill.

He’s been a long-term project, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that he could be the Canucks’ most NHL-ready centre prospect in the system right now. He is showing night in and night out that he can not only hang with but excel against AHL competition. He has the pace to keep up with the NHL game and does a fine job as a centre defensively.

Add in the ability to contribute as a penalty killer, and you are looking at a player who could help the Canucks’ fourth line and bring some youthful jump to a fourth line that just looks its age with Jay Beagle as its centre. We still have a lot of games left in the Canucks’ season, but with a two-week quarantine, Lukas Jasek may need to get a call sooner than later if the Canucks want to see him in a fourth-line role this season.

I think Marc Michaelis should get the first shot, as he earned that in training camp, and Tyler Graovac likely gets a run before Jasek as well. The only thing I’m saying is that Jasek’s name should not just be forgotten about just because he is down on the other side of the border.

This kid has looked good enough to stick out for the Comets this season. As Trent Cull said, he’s a “checked box” type of player where he does a lot of things right on a nightly basis. That should be rewarded for a guy who has been a part of this organization for five years.

We will just have to wait and see if the Canucks decide to give some of their budding prospects a chance to play in the NHL once they are eliminated from playoff contention.

That day is, unfortunately, coming soon.

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If there’s one thing we’ve seen over the years, it’s the NHL’s top players not getting paid anywhere near those of other pro league’s top players.

Connor McDavid, for example, makes the league’s highest salary this year at $14-million U.S. In the NFL, the league’s highest salary last year was Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who was paid $53-million U.S.

And in the MLB, it’s even higher. Mike Trout was paid just overall $55-million last season.

NHL Agent Kurt Overhardt, who represents players like Ryan Johansen, Jacob Trouba, John Gibson and Edmonton Oilers’ Kyle Turris, Mike Smith and Jujhar Khaira, recently suggested it’s time for the NHL to bring in a player exemption. Overhardt suggested it was time for the exemption on the PuckPedia’s Show Me The Money Podcast:

Let’s just have some type of opportunity where teams are allowed at their own volition voluntarily to exclude one player on their 23 man roster from the salary cap. And so it does a couple of things. One, if you’ve got it, if you’ve got a franchise player, you can pay that franchise player. If you own a team and you decide to play that franchise player outside the cap. And, you know, our top player in the league makes how much now? Close to 13 million. Right, guys. So if you have a top player, it’s up to the owner to make that decision. If that player is worth 15 million a year, if the players were 20 million a year or if the players worth 10 million a year, whatever your your cash situation is, that owner can make that decision, take that money outside the cap. So instead of 23 people, it’s 22 players that are subject to that. So there’s more money in the system for the players that are subject to the cap. And the marquee players get paid like they should get paid.

It would have massive implications in the NHL and allow teams the ability to help stretch their salary cap. Look at the Oilers, for example, who undoubtedly would use such an exemption on McDavid.

Allowing his $12.5-million cap hit to come off the Oilers books would allow them more flexibility than you could imagine when it comes to not only being able to acquire players in a trade, but also in free agency. There’s some implications that it would likely have, too, in driving up the average cost of players, but it would also allow more players to get paid what they probably deserve.

What do you think about a potential player exemption?

You can listen to the whole podcast here.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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Welcome to our new weekly column, focusing on the happenings in and around the Women’s Hockey (WoHo) World! We were so excited to launch our Toronto Six/NWHL coverage in the fall, that we decided to expand that and take a weekly look at the entire women’s hockey landscape. Growing the game and making women’s hockey a hit is a lofty goal, and we hope to contribute by shining a spotlight on all of the things going on.

While the NWHL season sadly ended early due to COVID concerns, WoHo is still happening, with PWHPA games!

These games are part of the Secret Dream Gap Tour 2021, with this upcoming weekend’s games hosted by the NY Rangers, and games the following weekend hosted by the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s awesome that they’re being televised by major sports networks in both the USA and Canada.

New partner, the Toronto Maple Leafs, will hopefully host some games in the future too!

Leafs’ Assistant Director of Player Development, Hayley Wickenheiser, spoke about the future of WoHo and the role of the PWHPA versus the NWHL in this week’s DFO Rundown Pod, which you can check out here:

Wickenheiser’s part starts around the 27 minute mark, in case you’re wondering.

She also discusses the roles women currently fill in the Leafs organization, the NHL in general, and what the future of that looks like, as well. Give it a listen!

The PWHPA also announced a very generous donation from the Mark Messier foundation, offering even more opportunities to grow the game:

Meanwhile, though they aren’t currently playing, the NWHL is continuing to highlight some of the amazing women’s hockey players. Take a peek at some of their Black History Month happenings:

In addition, the league’s former director of PR has moved on, but shared some touching reflections on his time with the league on Twitter:

And the absolutely inimitable Saroya Tinker wrote an incredible piece for The Player’s Tribune, highlighting the importance of Black Girls Hockey Club and their work:

The world of women’s hockey continues to grow and expand, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on it all. Check back every Thursday for more news and happenings in WoHo.

 

 

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Mats Rosseli Olsen (F)
From: Frölunda HC
To: Frölunda HC
Information: 3 years
Source: Link

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Status: Extension
Date: 02/26/2021
Player: Ludvig Jansson (D)
From: Södertälje SK J20
To: Södertälje SK
Information: 2 years
Source: Link


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