While there were a number of people that were shocked when the New Jersey Devils assigned Pavel Zacha to Binghamton of the AHL, head coach John Hynes felt that the team needed to do something that would have an impact on the 21-year-old first-rounder. Despite having already played 150 NHL games in his career, Zacha was pointless in 10 games and Hynes felt just scratching him wasn’t going to be enough to spark him, according to Chris Ryan of NJ.com.
“To scratch him one game and put him back in, we’re still not in a position right now where we could rely on him in key situations, and that’s what we need from him,” Hynes said. “We think it’s important that it’s not, ’Hey, sit in the stands for one game and watch.’ That is effective in some situations, but we need him to go down and play, and play a lot of minutes and play in situations and earn his confidence back and get his game back.”
The sixth-overall pick in 2015, Zacha hasn’t developed into the franchise player the team thought they were getting when they drafted him. He has so far only managed to total eight goals in two straight seasons, suggesting the team may have needed to give him time in the AHL before bringing him to the NHL. Zacha, who has played in just three AHL games in his career, needs to have time to regain his confidence while playing lots of minutes, something that he wasn’t going to get with the Devils.
- While there is no official word on the injury, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who was forced to leave Saturday’s game against Ottawa in the second period after taking a shot off his leg, is expected to travel with the team to New York, suggesting that his injury may not be too serious, according to the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington. There is swelling, which means the team won’t be able to determine his status until tomorrow, according to The Athletic’s Jon Vogl. The team plays the Rangers on Sunday.
- The Philadelphia Flyers announced that goaltender Michal Neuvirth has left the team and returned to Philadelphia to be checked out by doctors and could soon find himself back on injured reserve. The 30-year-old injury-prone goalie played in one game since being recalled from a conditioning stint on Oct. 25th, but allowed six goals in that lone start to the Islanders two days later, and now currently holds a .727 save percentage.
- Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that one interesting development in Philadelphia is the offensive improvement surrounding Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg. The 23-year-old sophomore currently leads all defenseman, including Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, with seven points (just two points shy of his totals last year). The scribe says that Hagg has seemed more comfortable joining the rush and going deeper into the offensive zone than he was willing last season.
- New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said fourth-line forward Matt Martin remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury, according to Newsday’s Andrew Gross. The 29-year-old has combined with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas to form an impressive energy line for the Islanders. Martin already has equaled last year’s goal total of three in just 11 games.