- The Stars could be a darkhorse candidate to land Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 (audio link). Dallas has limited cap space at the moment but with Martin Hanzal and Stephen Johns out for the year and Tyler Pitlick out for a while yet, they could transfer them to LTIR to open up enough room to make a significant splash on the trade market. Dallas is in a tie for third in the Central Division and could certainly use an offensive upgrade as they have the fewest goals of any team currently holding down a playoff spot in the league.
As is often the case, Saturday is a busy day on the schedule with 24 teams in action which means there should be plenty of roster movement throughout the day. We’ll keep track of those moves here.
- The Jets announced the recall of defenseman Sami Niku from AHL Manitoba. The 22-year-old has split the season between the NHL and AHL which has prevented him from really getting into a rhythm as of late. He has a dozen points in 20 games with the Moose plus a pair of assists in 11 contests with Winnipeg so far this season. With Joe Morrow suffering a lower-body injury that’s going to keep him out for two-to-three weeks, Niku, who has been part of trade speculation in recent weeks, may be in line for some more playing time. In a separate move, the team has also promoted blueliner Tucker Poolman from Manitoba. After playing 24 games with Winnipeg last year, he has yet to play with them this season while injuries have limited him to just 25 contests with the Moose.
- Dallas is giving a look to the top goal scorer in the AHL as center Joel L’Esperance has been brought up from Texas (AHL) per a team release. The 23-year-old is in his first full professional season and has already scored 27 goals in just 49 games. He signed with the Stars as an undrafted free agent last summer, a move that is certainly paying dividends already. This will be L’Esperance’s first look at the NHL level.
- The Islanders announced (Twitter link) that they have assigned winger Andrew Ladd and defenseman Thomas Hickey to Bridgeport of the AHL on conditioning stints. Ladd has been out for three months due to a leg injury while Hickey has been out of action with an upper-body issue for nearly two months. GM Lou Lamoriello told reporters, including Newsday’s Andrew Gross (Twitter links) that both players have been transferred to LTIR today and are pegged to play two games with the Sound Tigers before re-evaluating their progress.
- Defenseman Filip Hronek is back with the Red Wings after the team announced his promotion from AHL Grand Rapids. The 21-year-old has been quite productive in limited action at the minor league level, collecting 23 points in 28 games. He also has more than held his own with Detroit, logging over 18 minutes a night in 23 contests with the big club.
- Injuries on the back end for the Kings have provided an opportunity for Matt Roy to get a look with the big club as the team announced that he has been brought up from Ontario (AHL). Roy leads the Reign in scoring by a defenseman with 29 points in 45 games so far this season. His recall was required with Alec Martinez and Sean Walker are out with upper-body injuries.
- The Anaheim Ducks announced they have assigned winger Kevin Roy to the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. The 25-year-old has been on season-opening injured reserve after undergoing offseason wrist surgery. Roy played 25 games for the Ducks last season, putting up six goals and seven points. He will attempt to find his game after a long layoff with the Gulls, where he scored 14 goals and 37 points last season.
- The Philadelphia Flyers announced they have assigned forward Mikhail Vorobyev to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. The 22-year-old was recalled for a second stint with the team on Jan. 28, but has failed to produce offensively. He hasn’t register a point in eight games since that call-up. He has just one goal and two points in 15 games total this season, while receiving just 9:20 of ATOI.
- Ed Willies of The Province reports that injured winger Jake Virtanen has been moved to injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Virtanen took a big hit from Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf Wednesday, missed Thursday’s game and had an MRI this morning, prompting the team to place him on IR. The team will use that open roster spot to put newly acquired forward Ryan Spooner on the ice. Head coach Travis Green said the injury is not concussion-related. He is expected to miss at least a week.
- The St. Louis Blues announced they have placed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. The veteran defenseman has been out of the lineup since Feb. 5 and therefore can return whenever he is ready. The team has recalled forward Sammy Blais from the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. Blais has played 24 games for the Blues, but has just two goals and three points in that time.
While the Lightning, Islanders, and Capitals pulled off convincing wins last night, perhaps more impressive were the upsets by the Avalanche and Panthers over the top teams in the Western Conference. It will be a quieter night across the NHL this evening, with only four games on the docket, but not without it’s fair share of drama as the Sabres, Oilers, Hurricanes, and Wild all seek much-needed wins to stay afloat in their respective playoff races. Early indications are it could be a busy day for transactions, though. Keep track of all the activity here:
- Not only did the Detroit Red Wings bench young defenseman Dennis Cholowski on his own bobble-head night, but then they sent him down to the AHL right after the game. The team announced that both Cholowski and waived forward Martin Frk have been reassigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. This is the first demotion for both players this season, as the pair are desperately in need of ice time after frequently watching from the press box of late. Still, the Red Wings’ timing could have been better.
- The Anaheim Ducks have added some firepower up front. The Ducks announced that top prospect forward Troy Terry has been recalled from the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. Terry, in his first pro season, has been a point-per-game player for the Gulls, but has just two points in ten games with the Ducks. However, a player who starred at the collegiate, world junior, and Olympic levels before turning pro is bound to find his offense in the NHL eventually. In a corresponding move, Anaheim reassigned veteran checking forward Adam Cracknell in a swap of two drastically different players.
- Lee Stempniak has taken another step toward perhaps the most predictable free agent signing in NHL history. The veteran forward, who has been working out and practicing with the Boston Bruins since joining the team on a tryout basis in training camp, has been added to the roster of the AHL’s Providence Bruins on a PTO, reports The Providence Journal’s Mark Divver. Stempniak has been expected to sign with the Bruins for the stretch run since it was first noted back in October that he would continue practicing with the team rather than seek employment in the minors or overseas. The fact that he is now getting into actual game action means that signing is on the horizon.
- With Michael Bunting placed on waivers yesterday with a designation for the minors, the Arizona Coyotes were able to activate long-time forward Brad Richardson from the injured reserve. Richardson was a game-time decision last night, but ended up making his return to the lineup. The veteran had missed the past 13 games with an upper-body injury.
- The Dallas Stars have announced that forward Denis Gurianov has been reassigned to AHL Texas. The streaky winger has shown some promise in the NHL this season, but has little to show for it with four points in 19 games. Dallas continues to battle with what to do with Gurianov, the No. 12 pick in 2015. He has been better than a point-per-game this season in the minors, but at the same time the Stars didn’t feel he was worth a call-up once last season and he hasn’t done much with his opportunity this year. The scoring forward has been an enigma for the team and with this latest demotion the saga continues.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have called up homegrown forward Kole Sherwood on an emergency basis to fill the roster spot of Brandon Dubinksy, who they have moved to the injured reserve. Dubinsky has missed the past five games with a hip injury and it was only a matter of time before he landed on IR. Sherwood, who has been on fire in the AHL of late, is in his first pro season after being signed as an undrafted free agent while in juniors. An Ohio native, Sherwood hopes to make his NHL debut with his hometown team on this recall.
- The Stars announced that they’ve placed goaltender Ben Bishop on injured reserve retroactive to February 4th. This allows them to keep Landon Bow up with the team after he was brought up on an emergency basis. Fortunately for Dallas, Bishop isn’t expected to be out for much longer. While he’s ineligible to play on Saturday against Arizona, head coach Jim Montgomery acknowledged that the expectation is that the 32-year-old should be ready to play in their next game on Tuesday in Florida.
While the NBA sends players all over the league during their trade deadline, the NHL prepares for an extremely busy night on the ice. 28 of the league’s 31 teams will be in action tonight, with prime divisional matchups like Sharks-Flames and Predators-Stars highlighting the action. As always we’ll keep track of all the minor moves as teams prepare for tonight.
- The Colorado Avalanche have recalled A.J. Greer and Anton Lindholm from the minor leagues, giving the team 22 players for their trip to Washington. The Avalanche are trying to right the ship after plummeting out of the playoff race over the last few weeks. The team now sits in sixth place in the Central with a 22-22-8 record.
- Joel Eriksson Ek has been recalled by the Minnesota Wild after they lost Mikko Koivu for the rest of the season, and he will take up familiar residence as the team’s third-line center. Eriksson Ek is a talented young player, but will have big shoes to fill in Koivu’s absence.
- The Anaheim Ducks have recalled Andy Welinski from the minor leagues to take the roster spot of Korbinian Holzer who has left the team for personal reasons. Holzer has been moved to a non-roster designation, while Welinski will become the team’s seventh defenseman for the time being.
- With Ben Bishop banged up, the Dallas Stars have recalled Landon Bow under emergency conditions. Bow will serve as backup for Anton Khudobin until Bishop, who is listed as day-to-day, is ready to return.
The Dallas Stars will be without forward Tyler Pitlick for quite some time after he underwent surgery on his left wrist. Team reporter Mark Stepneski tweets that Pitlick’s status will be re-evaluated in eight weeks.
Pitlick, 27, is no stranger to major injuries having had several seasons in his short career end prematurely due to surgery. Last year saw him play 80 games for the Stars, a virtual miracle that resulted in a solid 14-goal, 27-point season. This year was supposed to be much of the same, but Pitlick could very well finish with just 43 games played and ten points. Eight weeks puts Pitlick out until almost the end of the season, at which point he would only be able to return if the Stars make the playoffs.
The fragile forward has one year remaining on his contract with a $1MM cap hit, but could find himself fighting for a job again next fall. The Stars need to find some more scoring from their bottom-six, and even with Pitlick’s physical contributions he just wasn’t putting the puck in the net often enough.
With talk of the Columbus Blue Jackets possibly trading away their star players Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky to avoid losing them for nothing has led other teams to reassess their teams in hopes of avoiding similar problems with their own stars.
One team that many are looking at are the New Jersey Devils and Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall. The 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season and with New Jersey’s struggles in the standings, there is concern that Hall may want to walk just like Panarin or Bobrovsky do in Columbus. There are some who believe that New Jersey may want to consider moving Hall now, despite the fact that he has been struggling with injuries this year and has just 11 goals in 33 games, could bring back a bigger return if a playoff team could have Hall for a playoff run this year and then an entire season in 2019-20 before he hit free agency. Hall’s $6MM salary would seem like a bargain for a former Hart Trophy winner, who tallied 39 goals and 93 points a year ago.
However last night, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Hockey Night in Canada that he spoke to New Jersey general manager Ray Shero who said that there was a “zero chance” the team will be trading Hall this season. That doesn’t rule out the team may consider making a big trade this summer in hopes of rejuvenating their team which currently stands 12 points out of a playoff spot with 31 games to go.
The Dallas Stars are expected to land free-agent prospect Tye Felhaber, according to The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro (subscription required), who reports that the two sides have finalized a deal that will be announced soon.
Felhaber, considered a late bloomer, has been playing as a 20-year-old with the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL and has been lighting it up there this year as he already has potted 51 goals in 50 games and is on pace to break the 70-goal mark, which hasn’t been done since John Tavares scored 72 goals in the 2006-07 season. Shapiro writes that Felhaber has said recently that he has received interest from 20 NHL teams this season.
The 6-foot, 183-pound forward scored 31 goals with Ottawa in the OHL last season and received a four-game tryout with the Laval Rocket of the AHL, but failed to register a point. Felhaber also attended training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was cut an early casualty. One reason for his recent success is his offseason dedication to his physical part or his game, as he spent the offseason working with Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
Dallas is well known for signing undrafted players as two of their top prospects include Joel L’Esperance and Ben Gleason, while Gavin Bayreuther has already appeared in 19 NHL games this season. Unless Ottawa goes on a deep playoff run in the OHL, Felhaber is expected to join the Texas Stars of the AHL this spring.
- While the Stars are holding onto a playoff spot for the time being, team owner Tom Gaglardi told Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he expects GM Jim Nill to bring in some scoring depth over the next three weeks. Dallas sits 29th in the league in scoring ahead of only Anaheim and Los Angeles and don’t have anyone outside of their top line in double digits when it comes to goals. Recent moves have pushed the team into using LTIR but with Stephen Johns unlikely to play this season, he can also be transferred there to free up some extra cap space to try to add an impact scorer.
Just two games are on the schedule tonight but one is a battle between Eastern Conference contenders. The Tampa Bay Lightning will travel to Pittsburgh to take on All-Star MVP Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in a game that could have dire consequences for the home team. While the Penguins are never a team to write off, they now sit just two points ahead of Buffalo and four points ahead of Carolina for the final wild card spot. Tampa Bay will be a tough task if they want to get back on the winning track.
- Denis Gurianov has been recalled by the Dallas Stars, a move that takes them to the full 23 man roster once again. Dallas will take on the Sabres tonight and could have their young forward in the lineup. Gurianov has been lighting up the AHL this season and seems to have turned a corner in his development. The 21-year old is a big part of the future for the Stars, and should get amply opportunity down the stretch.
- Mike McKenna has been loaned to the minor leagues on a conditioning stint by the Philadelphia Flyers, a move that will save them from putting him on waivers for a little while longer. The Flyers will go with Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz for the time being, with McKenna taking up residence with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
- Andrew Mangiapane is on his way back to the Calgary Flames, recalled today from the minor leagues. Mangiapane has played 13 games for the Flames this season, but is still looking for his first NHL goal.
- The Arizona Coyotes have recalled forward Michael Bunting from their AHL affiliate in Tuscon, the team announced. The 23-year-old scored a goal in his NHL debut earlier this season to kick off a four-game stint with the ’Yotes, but has otherwise remained with the Roadrunners. He has made the most of his season though, earning an AHL All-Star nod with 26 points in 29 games.
- In a flurry of moves, the Vegas Golden Knights have swapped goaltenders and are prepared to give a young defenseman his first NHL start. The Knights announced that Oscar Dansk is on his way back to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, with Maxime Lagace getting the call-up to replace sickness-struck backup Malcolm Subban. Lagace has yet to see any NHL action this year after making 16 appearances in Vegas’ inaugural season. Joining him for a possible debut of his own is defenseman Jake Bischoff, who could finally suit up for the Knights following an impressive campaign as a first-year pro last season.