As they prepare to square off tonight, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are also on the board with some minor moves already. The Atlantic Division battle between likely first round opponents highlights a busy twelve-game Saturday slate. The Metropolitan Division gets the action started, with marquee matinee match-ups between the Rangers and Islanders and the Devils and Flyers. Other notable games later on include the Avalanche and Canadiens, both fighting to stay in the playoff picture in their respective conferences, the Blue Jackets and Capitals, two of the teams jockeying for position at the top of the Metro, and the Senators and Sharks, as Erik Karlsson faces his former team in his new home. With lots of action across the league, including some high stakes contests, expect some maneuvering to be made on several rosters. Keep up with all of the transactions here:
- Urho Vaakanainen made his return to the AHL’s Providence Bruins lineup last night, indicating that he had been sent down, despite a formal announcement. Vaakanainen had been on the Boston Bruins’ injured reserve in December and was loaned directly from there to Team Finland for the World Junior Championship, a venture that ended in a gold medal. With the Bruins in enough of a roster crunch as is, it makes sense that the promising rookie would head back to the AHL, where he can continue to develop while also serving as the next man up on the Boston blue line.
- In what has become a daily occurrence over the last several weeks, the Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo on an emergency loan from the AHL Marlies, the team announced. There was hope that starter Frederik Andersen may be able to return from injury for tonight’s game, but he has added a bout with the flu to his list of ongoing issues and will remain sidelined. Michael Hutchinson will instead make his fifth straight start, with Kaskisuo again suiting up as the backup. The struggling minor league keeper has yet to see any game action in the NHL.
- The New Jersey Devils have returned goalie Cam Johnson to their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Devils, in response to activating MacKenzie Blackwood from the injured reserve, who will get the start today for New Jersey. Johnson did not make an appearance in net for the team on his recall, which comes as little surprise given his struggles in the AHL this season. Johnson, who has also spent time in the ECHL, was a standout at the University of North Dakota, but is still adjusting to the pro game in his first season. The Devils also announced that injury-prone forward Marcus Johansson has been activated from the IR as well. If the Devils have any chance of getting back into the playoff picture, Johansson will need to be at the top of his game the rest of the way. Worst case scenario, they can flip the impending free agent before the trade deadline.
- With Ryan Murray out sick, the Columbus Blue Jackets needed an extra defenseman and have elected to recall Gabriel Carlsson. Carlsson, a first-round pick back in 2015, has only played in one game with Columbus this season and has struggled to carve out a role for himself with the NHL club. The big stay-at-home defender will use this latest recall to try to prove he’s worthy or more play time.
- The Arizona Coyotes have reassigned forward Michael Bunting to the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunner, per a team release. Following the acquisition of Jordan Weal and the return of Josh Archibald, the team had a surplus of forwards and Bunting is the man tabbed to head back to the minors. Bunting scored in his debut with the team and played in four games overall on the recall.
- After being sent to the San Jose Barracuda Friday, the San Jose Sharks have recalled forward Rourke Chartier from the AHL once again, according to CapFriendly. The 22-year-old has split his season evenly between the Barracuda and the Sharks. He’s played 12 games in the AHL with three goals and 10 points, while struggling a bit more with the Sharks as he has one goal in 13 appearances so far this season.