As is customary over the NHL’s All-Star weekend, many teams have begun the day with sending waivers-exempt players down to the minors for some salary cap savings over the next few days. No team has been as enthusiastic to move some bodies as the New Jersey Devils, who announced that nearly half of their defensive corps will take a short trip to Albany to visit the AHL Devils. Joining the recently demoted Yohann Auvitu this weekend will be Steve Santini, Seth Helgeson, and Karl Stollery. Although the trio has only played in a combined 26 games in 2016-17, Santini and Stollery have formed the bottom pair for the Devils of late with Auvitu, Andy Greene, and John Moore sidelined with injuries. Helgeson has generally been the seventh defenseman this season, spending most games in the press box, but getting to see the ice in five contests. The 29-year-old journeyman Stollery has played in just eight games, but is already having the best season of his NHL career, recording his first big-league points and playing about 16 minutes per night.The rookie Santini has shown promise so far in the first half, skating in 13 games and scoring two goals and three assists while playing a sound defensive game as well. Expect Santini and at least one of Stollery and Helgeson to be back up in New Jersey after a brief break.
Elsewhere in minor moves:
- Another Metropolitan team has moved a majority of one position down to the AHL, but it should come as welcome news to the fans. The Carolina Hurricanes announced that, after a long hiatus dealing with concussion symptoms, goalie Eddie Lack has been activated from the injured reserve and has been assigned to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers for a rehab stint. With Cam Ward having played in 41 of 48 games for the ’Canes, including 22 of the last 24, he, the organization, and the fans will be happy to have Lack back in the fold as soon as possible. Joining him in the minors will be his recent replacement, veteran Michael Leighton, whose demotion could be more of the permanent variety this time around. However, Leighton, who is the AHL’s all-time leading goalie in games played, will at least get to participate in the AHL All-Star Game upon his return.
- The Washington Capitals have reassigned forward Chandler Stephenson to the Hershey Bears of the AHL for the time being. Unlike his last call-up to the Caps, Stephenson got to see some game action during this last trip. Though the young center was held scoreless and is still looking for his first NHL point through 11 games, Stephenson played confidently in the past two contests and has earned another promotion in the near future.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have again returned forward Markus Hannikainen to the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. The big Finnish winger, playing in just his second season in North America, scored his first NHL goal in the Jackets’ 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday, his only game action on this trip to Columbus.
- The Buffalo Sabres announced that defenseman Casey Nelson has been assigned to the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Nelson has done his best to help Buffalo out with their rash of blue line injuries this season, but has struggled to make much of a difference in nine scoreless games.
- After his recent NHL debut and first career goal, the Arizona Coyotes’ Christian Fischer gets to continue his highlight-reel week by heading to the AHL All-Star Game. The Coyotes announced his demotion, but more than anything the move allows the AHL to honor the league’s top rookie in the first half of the season before he likely heads back to the NHL for the second half.
- In addition to placing Michael Bournival and Gabriel Dumont on waivers, the Tampa Bay Lightning have demoted forward Erik Condra to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, which has become common this season. The bottom-six groupings are set to change drastically following the All-Star break.
- The Ottawa Senators have activated Andrew Hammond from the injured reserve, and in a corresponding move and have sent down Chris Driedger to the Binghampton Senators of the AHL. However, this only partially helps the Sens’ logjam in net. Mike Condon has taken over as the starter with Hammond out and Craig Anderson on leave since early December, but with both soon back in the fold, Ottawa will still be carrying three goalies. Expect another move sooner rather than later.
- The San Jose Sharks are using All-Star weekend to get a whole group of guys some play time. The team announced that Barclay Goodrow, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and Tim Heed have all be reassigned to the AHL Barracuda and will join the team in Michigan tonight for a game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
- After just recalling Ivan Barbashev to replace the injured Kyle Brodziak, the St. Louis Blues have returns the AHL All-Star to the Chicago Wolves for this weekend. Expect he, or fellow All-Star Kenny Agostino, or possibly both, to be right back with the Blue after the break.
- The Boston Bruins have recalled goalie Anton Khudobin from the Providence Bruins and reassigned rookie keeper Zane McIntyre to the AHL. While McIntyre’s demotion was expected, as he has been the best goalie in the AHL this year and a highlight of the AHL All-Star Game, the subsequent recall of Khudobin could signal that the Bruins are ready to return to the veteran as their backup to begin the second half of the season.
- The Winnipeg Jets returned Brian Strait to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, one day after recalling the six-year veteran defenseman from the minors, the team announced via Twitter. Strait was a healthy scratch last night as the Jets took a 5-3 decision from Chicago. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound blue liner has yet to see action in the NHL this season but has appeared in 182 regular season contests over parts of six seasons with the Pittsburgh and New York Islanders organizations.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to flip-flop backup goalies, sending Joonas Korpisalo to Cleveland of the AHL and recalling Anton Forsberg from the same affiliate. The team announced the corresponding transactions via Twitter. Forsberg has made just one appearance this season for Columbus, allowing four goals on 27 shots in a 5-3 loss to Carolina. Korpisalo has won two of his three starts and has appeared in four games overall.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins have sent Carter Rowney back to the AHL after just a day with the big club. The forward came up last night with Evgeni Malkin out, but didn’t make it into the game against the Boston Bruins. Rowney will need to wait for his next shot with the big club.
- The Anaheim Ducks have signed some depth between the pipes, inking ECHL netminder Ryan Faragher to a one-year deal. The 26-year old Faragher has been in their system since 2014, but wasn’t under a pro-deal until now. He’ll earn $575K if he should ever make it to the NHL (which he most likely will not, unless something drastic happens in Anaheim) and $50K in the AHL.