The NHL has just one playoff spot left to determine, and it’s going to come down to the wire. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are tied at 94 points but the former has a chance to punch their ticket tonight. The Blue Jackets are ahead on the regulation+overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker meaning if they win tonight the Canadiens won’t be able to catch them. As they and the rest of the NHL prepare for the last weekend of the regular season, we’ll be here keeping track of all the minor moves.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins have returned Adam Johnson to the minor leagues after six games, giving their minor league affiliate a huge boost for the final few games of the AHL season. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are just three points out of a playoff spot in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, and Johnson is one of their best offensive players with 40 points in 63 games this season.
- Chris Thorburn has been recalled by the St. Louis Blues, a veteran addition as they head into the playoffs. Thorburn has played in just a single game for the Blues this season, instead spending the majority of the year at the minor league level for the first time since 2005-06. The 35-year old forward can provide a physical presence if required, but isn’t likely to make a huge impact in the playoffs.
- The Arizona Coyotes have returned Adin Hill to the minor leagues now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs. Hill was recalled to give them some insurance after Darcy Kuemper suffered a minor injury, but wasn’t needed after all.
- The Anaheim Ducks have sent Andy Welinski back to the minor leagues and are expected to assign more players to the San Diego Gulls in the coming days. The Ducks won’t be heading for the playoffs this season, but they can at least help the Gulls on their pursuit of a Calder Cup.
- Christian Wolanin and Rudolfs Balcers are on their way back to the Belleville Senators, as Mark Borowiecki and Bobby Ryan may return tomorrow for the Ottawa Senators. Wolanin and Balcers will help a Belleville team that is battling hard for a playoff spot against the Cleveland Monsters.
- The exodus has begun in Florida, where the Panthers have sent Jayce Hawryluk, Dryden Hunt and Sam Montembeault back to the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds are technically still alive in the playoff chase, but would need an awful lot of things to go right over the last few games.
- Nathan Walker has been recalled by the Washington Capitals, likely meaning that a handful of forwards will be getting tomorrow night’s game off. The 25-year old has played three games with the team this season, but spent the majority of it in the minor leagues once again. Walker became the first Australian player (though he was actually born in Wales) to suit up in an NHL game last season, and has 34 points in 54 games this year with the Hershey Bears.
- The Edmonton Oilers have finally sent Josh Currie back to the AHL after the veteran minor leaguer enjoyed an unexpectedly long stretch at the top level in his first career NHL call-up. Currie scored two goals and five points in 21 games with the Oilers since joining the team in mid-February. He’ll now join the Bakersfield Condors, who lead the AHL’s Pacific Division and are preparing for a deep playoff run.