The Winnipeg Jets may have called up Michael Hutchinson on paper, but they weren’t actually able to get him on the roster in time for their game tonight against the New Jersey Devils. According to the team, Hutchison’s flight into New York was delayed and he was unable to arrive to the game in time. As a result, the Jets were forced to sign an emergency backup to a tryout deal. The man behind Connor Hellebuyck tonight will be Zane Kalemba, a New Jersey native and a friend of Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler. Kalemba played junior hockey with Wheeler for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and went on to star for Princeton University. Kalemba only retired from hockey in 2016, having spent time in the ECHL, CHL, and several European leagues. An experienced keeper who, most importantly, was nearby, will have to do for the Jets tonight.
- A goalie in the tri-state area with a little more experience than Kalemba is New York Rangers superstar Henrik Lundqvist. In fact, when Lundqvist takes the ice tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he will tie former Tampa goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for the most NHL starts by a foreign-born goalie. The Rangers report that Lundqvist’s appearance, his 799th, is enough to share the top mark. When the Swedish keeper makes his next start, which could be as early as Saturday, he will not only reach a benchmark 800th appearance, but will also become the most experienced foreign keeper in NHL history.
- Another Swede setting records is Vancouver Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson. Pettersson, who was selected fifth overall last year by Vancouver, has been playing in the top Swedish pro league, the SHL, this season. After a four-point outburst today, the Canucks pointed out that Pettersson’s 55 points on the year set a new record for the most points by a player under 20 in SHL history. The Vaxjo Lakers forward snapped a 42-year-old record while also taking over the league scoring lead. That’s not too shabby for a young player who looks to be an absolute stud-in-the-making for the Canucks.
- Some other young players looking to make an impact in the pros is the 2018 crop of college free agents. While Zach Whitecloud’s deal with Vegas today was the first NHL deal so far, a few other NCAA prospects have already hooked up with AHL teams for contracts and tryout agreements for the remainder of the season and could earn big-league deals if they impress. These transactions include Whitecloud’s Bemidji State teammate Kyle Bauman joining the Ontario Reign (LAK), the San Jose Barracuda (SJS) inking Alaska-Fairbanks’ Zach Frye, Yale’s Ryan Hitchcock going nearby to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI), the Chicago Wolves (VGK) adding Wisconsin’s Ryan Wagner, and both Derian Plouffe of Niagara and Josh Kestner of Alabama-Huntsville signing with the Toronto Marlies (TOR).