It’s the first weekend of the new year and the NHL is ready to roll out some marquee match-ups. Two cross-conference contests start the action, with matinees from the Flames and Flyers, as well as the Wild and Senators. Later, P.K. Subban and the Predators visit Shea Weber and the Canadiens, the division rival Sabres and Bruins battle it out for the final time this season, and some of the game’s biggest names clash when the Sharks host the Lightning. With nine games on the docket today and another seven tomorrow, teams are sure to be shuffling their rosters. Expect some movement today and keep track right here:
- Recently-named AHL All-Star Jacob Middleton has been recalled by the San Jose Sharks, CapFriendly reports. The 23-year-old defenseman has shown off his well-rounded game this season with the San Jose Barracuda, with 12 points and a team-leading +15 rating in just 26 games. At 6’3″, 210 lbs., Middleton has NHL size, but over the past year or so has begun to show NHL talent as well. The 2014 seventh-round pick is exceeding expectations for San Jose, becoming yet another capable option on their deep blue line. The only question now is whether he makes his debut on this recall and, if so, how he performs under the pressure. In confirming the recall, the Sharks also announced that Justin Braun has been placed on injured reserve, which may provide Middleton the opportunity to see some action.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced, somewhat unsurprisingly, that Kasimir Kaskisuo is on his way back up today, courtesy of an emergency recall. With starter Frederik Andersen still sidelined with a groin injury and backup Garret Sparks currently in the concussion protocol, the Leafs turned to newly-acquired Michael Hutchinson to start on Thursday and will apparently ask him to do so again tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. There was optimism that Sparks could be ready to at least dress as the backup tonight, but Kaskisuo’s call-up would indicate that won’t be happening. Toronto simply has to hope that Hutchinson can manage the game well enough, as Kaskisuo’s season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies has been nightmarish (.871 SV% and 3.82 GAA) and he should be nowhere near an NHL net right now, if possible.
- Another team to frequently swap their goalies around has done so again, as the AHL lists the St. Louis Blues as having recalled Jordan Binnington and reassigned first-year pro Evan Fitzpatrick to the San Antonio Rampage. Fitzpatrick, a 2016 second-round pick, earned his first NHL recall earlier in the week as the organization dealt with the losses of Chad Johnson (waivers) and Ville Husso (injury), but the green 20-year-old did not see any action. Following the acquisition of Jared Coreau, ironically from the same Anaheim Ducks that claimed Johnson, the Blues now have another veteran option in the AHL and apparently feel comfortable bringing Binnington back up. Binnington has enjoyed a strong season in the minors and is St. Louis’ best option behind starter Jake Allen, even if his limited NHL experience does leave a lot to be desired.
- After clearing waivers, Chicago Blackhawks forward Andreas Martinsen is headed to the AHL, the team announced. Joining him is rookie Dylan Sikura, who has struggled to produce with Chicago so far but is enjoying a fine season with the Rockford Ice Hogs alongside brother Tyler. As for Martinsen, he is no stranger to the minor leagues; the hulking Norwegian played in 64 games with the Ice Hogs last season compared to just nine with the Blackhawks. Martinsen has registered just four points in 24 games in Chicago this season, so the ’Hawks likely won’t be rushing to call him back up.