It was a busy day across the NHL yesterday; 28 of 31 teams took the ice, with games in the early afternoon on the east coast to late night on the west coast, the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets clinched playoff spots, and the Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens won crucial games in their postseason push. There isn’t quite as much action today, with only five games on the docket, but the few match-ups are arguably even more important than any yesterday. After dropping the first game of a home-and-home, the Chicago Blackhawks will look to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Avalanche, while the Columbus Blue Jackets are also desperate for a win to get them back in the playoff picture, visiting the Vancouver Canucks. The Philadelphia Flyers cling to slim playoff hopes as they visit the Washington Capitals, as the Arizona Coyotes face a tough task of their own, also in dire need of ending their recent skid, as they go up against the New York Islanders on the road. Finally, the Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes could be jostling for wild card seeding when they face off in Raleigh tonight. With another slate of games that stretches all day long, it’s possible to watch each of these key match-ups today. While you’re doing so, follow along here to see what the teams are doing behind the scenes:
- The Anaheim Ducks announced a pair of moves last night, just prior to their game, calling up forwards Sam Steel and Kiefer Sherwood from the nearby San Diego Gulls of the AHL. The Ducks are headed toward a bottom-five finish in the league this season and are testing out their young players as they already look toward next year. Steel, 20, has five points in 17 games with Anaheim this season, while Sherwood, 23, has been a more regular contributor with ten points in 47 games. One would expect both young forwards to be given every chance to earn a starting role in 2019-20, beginning with an increased workload down the stretch.
- Arizona Coyotes prospect Dennis Busby has joined the organization on a tryout basis for the rest of the season. The AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners announced that the Flint Firebirds standout, who missed much of the past two seasons due to injury, has been added to the roster on an ATO. It is commonplace for junior prospects to get some pro experience in the AHL late in the season on tryouts, but there is a little more at stake for Busby. The 2018 fifth-round pick has yet to be tendered an entry-level contract and the Coyotes may have some concern after he played in just 29 OHL games combined in the last two years. The puck-moving, right-shot defender could be a valuable asset and a strong showing in Tuscon would go a long way in proving to the Coyotes that he is worth holding on to. The Roadrunners also signed a familiar name to a PTO yesterday, adding former second-round pick and fan favorite Akim Aliu to the roster on loan from the ECHL. Aliu, now 29, is hockey’s foremost Nigerian-Ukrainian-Canadian player and, at 6’4″, 225 lbs., plays an entertaining physical brand of hockey, whether he’s lined up at defense or forward.
- The Detroit Red Wings announced they have swapped emergency defensemen as the team has recalled Dylan McIlrath from the Grand Rapids Griffins and assigned Libor Sulak to the AHL. Sulak had been recalled Wednesday, but has been sidelined by an illness for the last two games, so the team opted to bring in McIlrath to replace him. The 26-year-old McIlrath was the 10th pick overall in the 2010 draft, but has appeared in just 43 NHL games since then and hasn’t played there since playing five games with the Florida Panthers in 2016-17. Since being acquired from Florida that same year, McIlrath has played exclusively for the Griffins since then.
- The Colorado Avalanche have recalled forward A.J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, according to CapFriendly. Greer, who has been going up and down several times already this season, was sent down on Thursday to the AHL. The 22-year-old has fared well in the AHL with 18 goals and 42 points in 48 games with the Eagles. He has a goal and an assist in 15 games with the Avalanche so far this year.
- The Buffalo Sabres announced they have recalled defenseman Lawrence Pilut from the Rochester Americans of the AHL. The blueliner has appeared in 25 games for the Sabres this year, but was sent to Rochester in late February to work on his skills. With injuries to Zach Bogosian and Matt Hunwick injured, the team needs Pilut to help out. The 23-year-old was almost a point-per-game defenseman with the Amerks with 26 points in 28 games. He has a goal and six points with the Sabres in his rookie campaign.
- The Los Angeles Kings announced they have recalled Michael Amadio from the Ontario Reign of the AHL and will go with the team on their upcoming three-game road trip. Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen adds the team will not take forward Brendan Leipsic on the road trip in favor of Amadio. The 22-year-old has played 37 games for L.A. this season with four goals and eight points, while posting six goals and 22 points in 24 games with the Reign.