The Department of Player Safety announced that Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie has been fined $4,121.86, the maximum-allowable fine under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman Christian Folin.
The hit (video here) came in the first period of Anaheim’s 8-2 victory Friday over Montreal in response to an earlier hit when Folin delivered a high hit on rookie Troy Terry earlier in the game. The 23-year-old was assessed a two-minute minor for interference for the hit. Ritchie has been in trouble before, getting suspended for one game back in 2017 after punching Chicago’s Michal Rozsival.
- Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg reports that Calgary Flames forward James Neal, who has been out since Feb. 14 with a lower-body injury, has begun skating again, although Flames head coach Bill Peters said that he still has a little way to go before returning. Despite the team being in first place and having a solid season, it’s been with little contribution from Neal, who the team signed to a five-year, $28.75MM free-agent deal this summer. Neal has struggled with injuries this year and hasn’t produced, posting just five goals and 15 points in 55 games in his first year with Calgary.
- The Vancouver Canucks announced that forward Jake Virtanen will return tonight against Vegas. The 22-year-old has been out with a fractured rib since Feb. 13. The 2014 sixth-overall pick has improved on his rookie campaign with 12 goals and 22 points in 58 games, while averaging a career-high 14:49 of ATOI. He won’t be eased into the lineup either as he is expected to join the Canucks’ top line right away as well as the team’s second-line power play unit.
- Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen writes the Los Angeles Kings forward Austin Wagner, who has been out for a week with a lower-body injury, may not be back soon. The 21-year-old rookie skated Friday in a track suit, but isn’t just ready to return to the lineup. “He’s probably more than a week out, I think,” head coach Willie Desjardins said. “Maybe close to a week, but when you’re not skating (in gear) right now, you’ve got to be skating to be close, and he’s not that close.” Wagner has nine goals and 16 points in 49 games.
I wonder if Neal ends up in Seattle. Flames would probably offer a mid round pick to get rid of him and he has experience leading an expansion team.
Mid round pick ain’t enough for Vegas to take that albatross off Calgary’s hands. That’s like saying Edmonton could get away with trading a 2nd or 3rd to Seattle to get rid of Lucic. 2 of the games worst contracts. Difference being Lucic has a better +/- (horrible stat I know) in more games, and 2 more points. Makes up for the 250k extra the Oilers are spending I guess. And extra year of term.