With World Junior camps opening, many expected a handful of NHLers such as Shane Wright, Brandt Clarke and Dylan Guenther to leave their NHL teams for a short time to compete for gold. All three of those players will join their native Canada, making an already formidable squad just that much better. Although Wright and Clarke struggled to find consistent playing time and production with their NHL teams, both ultimately sent to the AHL on conditioning loans, the same cannot be said for Guenther. The 19-year-old, who was selected by the Arizona Coyotes ninth-overall in 2021, has 11 points in 21 games already, playing just over 12 minutes per game.
While Guenther’s loan to Team Canada wasn’t exactly shocking news, it also wasn’t the lock that Clarke and Wright’s loans appeared to be. PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan had a chance to discuss Guenther with Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, who said he wanted to see how prospects performed “under fire.” Armstrong continued, “[y]ou like to see them in those pressure situations because you find out a lot about them and they really tend to grow for them.” The GM cited two of his former St. Louis Blues players, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, who were sent to the World Juniors, and the impact the experience had on their development.
- After it was reported yesterday that Aleksander Barkov was expected to return today from a bout with pneumonia, the Florida Panthers confirmed their captain would play tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. Adding the superstar back into the lineup will no doubt give Florida, who went 2-3-2 in his absence, a big boost. Still, illness will continue to hold them back. The team announced that goaltender Spencer Knight and forward Anton Lundell are both missing tonight’s game with non-COVID illnesses.
- NHL.com’s Mark Divver wonders if the Boston Bruins termination of Victor Berglund’s contract could pave the way to an NHL contract for forward Luke Toporowski. As Divver points out, this will leave the Bruins with 47 contracts, perhaps enough flexibility to add one back in that of Toporowski. NHL teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 50 contracts within the organization, but generally prefer to stay away from having 50, or even 49, in order to give them flexibility in certain situations. Divver adds there is interest from other teams in Toporowski, but Boston has exclusive rights with him until January 1st, and even thereafter can match any other offer Toporowski accepts. A product of both the WHL and USHL, Toporowski went undrafted but signed on with the Providence Bruins this offseason after scoring 35 goals in just 49 games between the Spokane Chiefs and Kamloops Blazers last season. The 21-year-old has 17 points in 21 AHL games so far this season.
Meh, as far as Berglund goes. A guy who sat around ninth on PROVIDENCE’s depth chart at defense, had as much chance of making the Bruins as I do.