- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce has returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury nearly three weeks ago, Walt Ruff of the team’s official site reports. Sporting a no-contact sweater, Pesce is almost two weeks into his recovery from surgery undergone on October 24. His return to the lineup is not imminent, but he does appear on track to return in the two-to-four-week window following the surgery as initially expected. Pesce, 28, had two points in five games this season and is a pending UFA.
- Sticking with Carolina, 24-year-old netminder Pyotr Kochetkov is expected to rejoin the team from his loan to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch before tomorrow’s contest against Buffalo, Cory Lavalette of the North State Journal relays. Starter Frederik Andersen is not expected to be available as he is dealing with an undisclosed medical issue, and veteran Jaroslav Halák is not eligible to suit up while on a professional tryout, which he signed with the team this morning. Kochetkov, who has a 0-3-0 record and .836 SV% with the Hurricanes this season, will likely back up Antti Raanta in tomorrow’s contest.
The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that Jaroslav Halak has joined the team via a free-agent try-out in response to Frederik Andersen facing a medical issue. The team shared that Andersen is undergoing further evaluations but provided no further update.
Andersen has played in six games this season, setting a 4-1-0 record and a .894 save percentage. It’s a slow start for a goaltender who has been otherwise stellar in his time with the Hurricanes. Through a combined 92 games with the Hurricanes over the last three seasons, Andersen has recorded a .914 save percentage and a 60-26-4 record. That ties Andersen with Anton Khudobin for the second-highest save percentage in Hurricanes history, among goalies with 50 or more games with the club. Trevor Kidd leads the pack, with a .916 through his 72 games with Carolina. Andersen’s 92 games are also the 10th-most in Canes history.
In lieu of Andersen, Carolina will now turn to another veteran in Halak. The 38-year-old goaltender has continued to find his way into NHL lineups, most recently playing 25 games with the New York Rangers last season. He set a .903 save percentage in those games, contributing towards the career .915 save percentage that Halak has set in 581 career games.
But despite ample experience, it’s been a while since Halak served as a starter, with the last season that he played in over half of his team’s games coming in 2017-18 with the New York Islanders. Halak was unsurprisingly stout in the Islanders net that season, setting a .908 save percentage and 20-26-6 record through 54 games. Halak hasn’t recorded a save percentage below .900 since the lockout year of 2012-13, when he tallied a .899 through 16 games with the St. Louis Blues. He is a reliable, veteran goaltender that should add some consistency to a Carolina goaltending room that’s now without its starter.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have sent defenseman Haydn Fleury to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch on a conditioning assignment. Fleury has only played in two NHL games this season, serving as a healthy scratch seven times.
Fleury has recorded one assist in his two games with Tampa this year, matching the scoring totals that he reached in 29 games with the club last year. In fact, Fleury has scored fewer than five points in each of the 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 seasons despite playing in at least 29 games in each season. The low scoring has represented a fall from grace for the 2014 seventh-overall selection, who was taken one pick ahead of star winger William Nylander. This AHL assignment will provide Fleury with the first AHL games he’s played since the 2018-19 season when he scored 10 points in 28 minor league games with the Charlotte Checkers. The 27-year-old defender has totaled 246 career NHL games and 33 career points since making his NHL debut in 2017-18.
Other notes from around the league:
- The Columbus Blue Jackets are healthy-scratching forward Mathieu Olivier, replacing him with Kirill Marchenko. The duo are alternating nights in the lineup versus the press box, although Columbus will need to be mindful in icing Marchenko, as he loses his waiver exemption status with four more NHL games.
- The Carolina Hurricanes have removed Vasily Ponomarev from season-opening injured reserve and assigned him to the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners. Carolina remains without an AHL affiliate, meaning their assignments are scattered around the league. That’s why Ponomarev will join the Arizona Coyotes’ affiliate, after appearing in his rookie AHL season last year – scoring 46 points in 64 games with the Chicago Wolves, a mark that ranked second on the team. Ponomarev has looked strong in his North American play since coming over in 2021-22 and will look to continue working his way into the NHL lineup now that he’s healthy.
New Jersey Devils reporter Amanda Stein tweeted today that Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald doesn’t think that center Nico Hischier will be travelling with the team on their upcoming four-game road trip. Fitzgerald has reportedly talked with New Jersey’s medical staff and Hischier is being evaluated on a day-to-day basis. The ailment is being called an upper-body issue at this time and could it keep Hischier out of action for the next four games. That would mean that his earliest return date would be November 10th against the Washington Capitals.
The former first-overall pick is off to a slow start this season with just two goals in his first seven games after putting up 31 goals and 49 assists in 81 games last season. His lack of offense hasn’t hurt the Devils thus far as the team is off to a 5-2-1 start and currently sits third in the Metropolitan Division. If Hischier is sidelined for some time it is possible that former NHL regular Chris Tierney could fill in during his absence.
In other Metropolitan notes:
- Columbus Dispatch reporter Brian Hedger tweeted today that Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson has again missed practice. This is the second day in a row that the Ottawa, Ontario native did not skate after playing in Monday night’s game against the Dallas Stars. The 31-year-old was questionable for that game after taking a puck to the foot against the New York Islanders on Saturday night but did play in the 5-3 loss. Gudbranson has no points in nine games thus far this season but has averaged over three blocked shots a game.
- Carolina Hurricanes reporter Walt Ruff tweeted today that Vasily Ponomarev and Ryan Suzuki are both very close to returning to action and will likely be assigned to the AHL shortly after they do. Ponomarev suffered a knee injury in September and started the season on the injured reserve. Last season he played for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL posting 24 goals and 22 assists in 64 games. Suzuki on the other hand has been dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him off the ice. He also spent last year with the Wolves in the AHL posting 13 goals and 19 assists in 50 games. Carolina doesn’t currently have an AHL affiliate now meaning that both players could find themselves on different teams once they are assigned to the AHL.
Free agent forward Paul Stastny has confirmed his retirement from the NHL after a 17-season, 1,145-game career in an interview Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic published Tuesday.
The 37-year-old was a key two-way center for most of his career. Drafted in the second round by Colorado back in 2005, Stastny went on to play in eight seasons with the Avs where he made an immediate impact offensively, averaging nearly a point per game in his rookie season, finishing second in Calder Trophy voting. By the time his tenure with Colorado wrapped up, he was more of a defensive threat than an offensive one but that didn’t stop him from having a long career.
Stastny signed with St. Louis in time for the 2014-15 season where he spent parts of four seasons before being traded to Winnipeg as a rental at the trade deadline in 2018. After a two-year stop in Vegas in 2018-19 and 2019-20, he went back to Winnipeg for two more seasons before joining Carolina last season where he was down to 22 points in 73 games while playing exclusively in their bottom six.
Stastny acknowledged to LeBrun that there was some interest in him during the summer but he decided he wanted to wait it out for a bit to see how he felt. Then, as time progressed, he felt that retirement was the right choice for him. It wasn’t his intention to make his decision public, telling LeBrun that “I kind of came into the league quietly and I’m leaving the league quietly. That’s the way I like it.” He hasn’t ruled out returning to hockey in some sort of front office capacity down the road but that’s not on the immediate horizon.
Stastny hangs up his skates after 1,195 career NHL games where he had 293 goals and 529 assists. His 822 points put him in 20th place among U.S.-born players in league history.
The Hurricanes have made a roster move, announcing that they’ve assigned defenseman Dylan Coghlan to Springfield of the AHL. As Carolina doesn’t have its own affiliate, they’ve loaned him back to St. Louis’.
The 25-year-old showed some upside a couple of years ago with Vegas, eventually making him the incentive that Carolina received for taking on the final year of Max Pacioretty’s contract back in July 2022. However, Coghlan didn’t play much last season, suiting up just 17 times while being a healthy scratch the rest of the way. That likely played a role in him clearing waivers earlier this month.
Coghlan had been recalled earlier in the week when Brett Pesce went down but he still didn’t see any action with the Hurricanes. He has suited up five times for the Thunderbirds so far, picking up a goal and an assist, and will now have a chance to add to those numbers.
For the time being, Carolina has just six healthy defensemen on the roster which is unlikely to be the case for too long. However, they’re now off until Monday night so they can wait until then to announce a recall whether it’s Coghlan or someone else. In the meantime, clearing Coghlan’s $850K off the books – even if it’s just for a couple of days – will give Carolina a little bit of extra cap flexibility to work with.
The Carolina Hurricanes have announced the return of top scorer Andrei Svechnikov, who received surgery on his ACL in March. Svechnikov shed the no-contact jersey at the team’s Monday practice and is now in line to return to the lineup, with Carolina slated to play the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
The return of Svechnikov has been highly anticipated and should have very interesting on-ice effects. The Hurricanes currently rank second in the league in goals-for, and now add a former 30-goal-scorer back into the fold. His 30-goal season came in 2021-22, when Svechnikov recorded 69 points in 78 games, and was one of four seasons where the 23-year-old Svechnikov has scored 20 or more goals. But more interestingly, Svechnikov tallied the third-worst xGA/60 (expected goals-against per-60) of any Canes forward, per Natural Stat Trick. This will be an area of improvement for Svechnikov, who is rejoining a Carolina team that’s allowed more goals than any other team in the league through their first eight games.
Michael Bunting has been performing well in Svechnikov’s role, scoring two goals and six points operating alongside Martin Necas and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Canes have also stuck with the trio of Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho, and Seth Jarvis as their top line. The seemingly locked-in top-six could spell for a bit of a logjam with Svechnikov returning, who has spent nearly all of the last two seasons alongside one of Necas, Aho, or Jarvis. Having high-scoring wingers sprinkled throughout the lineup is certainly a good issue to have, but how Carolina decides to utilize Svechnikov will be worth watching closely.
3:24 p.m.: Pesce underwent surgery yesterday to correct the lower-body injury, the team announced. The surgery carries a recovery timeline of two to four weeks, more in line with a week-to-week diagnosis and much less severe than what Brind’Amour alluded to earlier today.
12:46 p.m.: Carolina Hurricanes beat reporter Walt Ruff is reporting that head coach Rod Brind’Amour has told the media that defenseman Brett Pesce’s lower-body injury is worse than originally thought, and the 28-year-old could be out long term. Brind’Amour’s exact words, when asked by reporters, were that the injury was bad and could keep Pesce out way longer than week to week.
At this time, little is known about how long Pesce could be unable to play. He has already missed two games with the ailment, which Brind’Amour had hoped would only cause him to miss a couple of games. However, after being re-evaluated today, the prognosis for Pesce is not good.
What exactly is ailing Pesce is also unclear, but for the Hurricanes, it compounds the issues the team has dealt with in what has been a bad start to the season. Carolina has struggled defensively, and losing Pesce will certainly add to those woes. He and Brady Skjei have logged more minutes at even strength than any of the Hurricanes’ other defensive pairings and have been the most effective. The duo has been on for five even-strength goals scored and just two against this season.
The situation must be especially frustrating for Pesce, who is not only sidelined from playing but also missing time during a contract season. The native of Tarrytown, New York, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is in line to get a lucrative long-term deal next summer. How lucrative that contract will be remains to be seen, but Pesce was no doubt hoping to maximize his earnings with a solid year in Carolina, but now it appears he could miss a substantial portion of the season.
The Hurricanes are inducting longtime winger Justin Williams into their club Hall of Fame this season, per a team announcement. Williams retired as a Hurricane after wrapping up a 19-year, 1,264-game career in 2020 and could be a longshot candidate for induction into the overall Hockey Hall of Fame down the road after winning three Stanley Cup championships.
The first of those three wins came as a Hurricane in 2006, which remains the franchise’s only championship to date. After exploding for a then-career-high 31 goals and 76 points in the regular season, Williams averaged over 21 minutes per game in the playoffs and logged 18 points in 25 games as the Hurricanes defeated the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final. He would go on to play a major role in the Los Angeles Kings’ two Stanley Cup wins in 2012 and 2014, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the latter after scoring 25 points in 26 games and leading the team with a +13 rating. After a later stint with the Capitals, Williams returned to the Hurricanes in 2017 and helped the team’s young core of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and others make the postseason in 2019 after a decade-long drought. His 15 career points in Game 7s are the NHL all-time record, and he’s remained with the Hurricanes post-retirement in an advisory role to GM Don Waddell.
With defenseman Brett Pesce still dealing with a lower-body injury, the addition of Coghlan gives head coach Rod Brind’Amour an additional option as he formulates his defensive lineup for tonight’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Coghlan, 25, is an undrafted defenseman who arrived in Carolina as part of the Max Pacioretty trade from the summer of 2022. A late bloomer, Coghlan had authored an impressive rookie season as a professional player. He turned himself into a full-time NHLer with the Vegas Golden Knights by 2020-21, only two years removed from when he was playing in the WHL.
Coghlan hasn’t been able to make as much of a dent in Carolina’s defensive depth chart as he’s struggled with injuries. Coghlan played in a total of just 22 games last season, 17 in the NHL and five in the AHL. So far this season, Coghlan has played exclusively in the AHL and registered two points in five games.
The six-foot-two right-shot blueliner isn’t likely to draw into the Hurricanes’ regular lineup. That being said, Tony DeAngelo has struggled so far this season, with his pairing alongside Dmitry Orlov looking particularly dreadful at times. The Hurricanes have let in far more goals to start the season than anyone could have expected them to.
DeAngelo, who turned 28 today, is an exceptional offensive defenseman. But he tends to struggle immensely with the defensive side of the game, and his deficiencies in that area have been exposed paired with Orlov so far this season.
Should the Hurricanes want to offer Orlov (whom they paid a $7.75MM AAV this past summer) some additional insulation and defensive support, it’s possible they call on Coghlan to replace DeAngelo in the lineup.