The NHL released their three stars for last week, and leading the way was Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues. After starting the season in the conversation for the Norris trophy, Pietrangelo’s point production dropped off a bit in the middle of the season and the Blues’ record suffered because of it (and other things). Now, with the team surging into the playoff picture once again, Pietrangelo has been front and center with 11 points in his last five games. Back in the top ten in points from defensemen, the Blues captain is now just two away from setting a new career high.
Rounding out the stars are Nathan MacKinnon and Curtis McElhinney, two players at opposite ends of their careers. MacKinnon is just hitting his stride and becoming the superstar everyone expected him to be, while McElhinney is showing there is still some fight left in a 34-year old goaltender. The Maple Leafs netminder was forced into the starting role when Frederik Andersen went down, and now leads the NHL in save percentage at .935.
- The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that Noah Hanifin suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely, likely meaning his season is finished. Hanifin had another solid season in Carolina, posting 29 points in 71 games, but still wasn’t given the responsibility of a top pairing defenseman. The fifth-overall pick is a very interesting case to watch this summer, as he’s a restricted free agent and will be one of the first and most important negotiations of whoever takes the Hurricanes’ GM job. There has been talk over the last few years that perhaps Hanifin would be dangled as bait for a star forward, but the Hurricanes need to be careful they don’t trade away a budding #1 defenseman as he’s still just 21 years old.
- Speaking of good young defensemen, the Winnipeg Jets will know more about Jacob Trouba’s condition over the next few days after he took a crushing hit from Jamie Benn on the weekend. Trouba left the game in the third period and saw specialists today while under the concussion protocol. Luckily, if you can call it that, the Jets may get Dmitry Kulikov back sooner than expected, as the defenseman has elected not to have back surgery just yet. Kulikov was originally ruled out eight weeks, but could be back in three or four according to the team. With the Jets looking like Stanley Cup contenders for the first time, they can use all the help they can get.