Oilers’ Darnell Nurse elevates his game as he makes bid for Olympics
Darnell Nurse is in the conversation to make the Canadian Olympic team as a left-shot defenceman. The competition is fierce, but the Edmonton Oilers blue-liner has made improvements to his game while enduring a heavy workload early in the season. The post Report: Bucks, Grayson Allen agree to two-year, $20M extension appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.“I’m working on it,” Tippett pleaded Monday, offering the standard retort after only two Edmonton Oilers games.
A top young pro is now available to the Edmonton blue line. The Oilers have announced that defenseman Dmitri Samorukov has been medically cleared and removed from the season-opening injured reserve. After breaking his jaw in development camp in September, Samorukov is actually ready for action a week ahead of his estimated recovery timeline. When he returns to action this week, it will be with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, but that may not last. © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Once Samorukov is back up to game speed, the rookie defender seems primed to finally crack the Edmonton roster at some point this season. Samorukov, 22, was a third-round pick of the Oilers in 2017 out of the OHL and he continued to boost his prospect stock in the years following with continual improvement at the junior level. He turned pro in 2019-20 and recorded 10 points in 47 AHL games. Last year, he spent the season on loan in the KHL and produced eight points and a plus-24 rating in 48 games.
Jets assign 2020 first-round pick Cole Perfetti to AHL
Perfetti played in 32 games with Manitoba last season when the OHL campaign was canceled and actually did quite well. Despite being younger than almost all of his opponents, the 2020 first-round pick racked up 26 points in 32 games for the Moose. Now he’ll get the chance to build on that performance and continue his professional career, instead of returning to the OHL where he had already proved his dominance. Perfetti made the Jets lineup out of camp but was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night as Winnipeg decided to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Minnesota Wild.
Everything has been leading to an NHL opportunity for the talented two-way defender, who will no longer be waiver-exempt beginning next season. Although the Oilers do have improved blue-line depth this season with the additions of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, Kris Russell and Slater Koekkoek are playing very limited roles early this season and could easily be supplanted in the starting lineup. While William Lagesson likely leads the AHL depth chart and Philip Broberg is the top prospect in Bakersfield, the former has had his shot in recent years and the latter is just 20 and can be afforded a slow development path. The time is now for a healthy Samorukov to get his chance.
Here are some more prospect notes from around the league...
Blues' Brandon Saad out vs. Kings due to COVID-19
The Blues have announced that forward Brandon Saad will be unavailable on Saturday due to COVID protocol. Saad, as well as the entire Blues roster, is vaccinated. With Saad sidelined and Pavel Buchnevich suspended, the Blues will be without their two major offseason additions for their home opener against the L.A. Kings. © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports St. Louis Blues left wing Brandon Saad The Blues have not revealed the cause of Saad’s entry into the COVID protocol. However, the fact that he has already been ruled out of a game that is 48 hours away would imply that he has tested positive.
- It’s been a bittersweet start to the year for the Dallas Stars in regard to prospect Albert Sjoberg. A 2021 seventh-round pick, Sjoberg should be as irrelevant to his NHL rights holder as a prospect can be as a last-round pick in the most recent draft. There are few expectations for seventh-rounder to make the NHL period, nevertheless show promise in their first year after being selected. However, Sjoberg is bucking the trend. The No. 207 pick of the draft recorded only one point in 17 games in the Allsvenkan last season, looking out of place in Sweden’s second-tier pro league. The same can’t be said for this season; Sjoberg earned a recall from the U-20 level after notching seven goals and 10 points in his first eight games and now has five points in eight games back in the Allsvenskan. This progress has to excite Dallas, but it has also inspired Sjoberg’s current club, Sodertalje SK, to make his pro status official. The team has announced a two-year contract for the budding scorer, which will keep him away from any move to North America through the 2022-23 season. The Stars will be happy to watch him continue to develop overseas but will then be clamoring to bring him over if he keeps improving at this rate.
- The London Knights are off to a 6-0-0 start, the last remaining undefeated team in the OHL. Well, the rich are about to get richer. The team has announced that Russian sniper Ruslan Gazizov has signed with the team and will join them immediately. Gazizov was the No. 12 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft this year, and his draft pedigree is far from complete. Gazizov is a potential first-round pick in the 2022 Draft and his stock could soar if he makes a clean adjustment to the North American game. The young scorer has put up big numbers in the Russian junior ranks and recently dominated the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and that could easily continue with the Knights.
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Mark Messier on Gretzky, hockey fights, the NHL's new stars, and stickhandling success
Hockey superstar Mark Messier discusses moments from his incredible career, and what makes a Hall of Famer."Our first National Hockey League game was in Chicago Stadium, and when they played the national anthem with that organ and the crowd going crazy, we looked at each other, we couldn't think — we looked at each other and said wow, welcome to the NHL," Messier told CBC News.
- Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews, Henrik Borgstrom added to COVID protocol
- Penguins star Sidney Crosby out Tuesday vs. Lightning
- The 'Edmonton Oilers Hall of Famers' quiz
Related slideshow: NHL awards preview for the 2021-22 season (Provided by Yardbarker)
NHL awards preview for the 2021-22 season
We get you ready for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season by previewing the potential awards winners for the MVP, Norris, Vezina, Jack Adams, and Calder Trophies. To keep up with all the NHL action this season, order ESPN+.
Hart Trophy (MVP): Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid is going to be at the top of this list every season for probably the next decade. He is coming off an unbelievable 2020-21 season that saw him top 100 points in a 56 game season and he is going to be the front-runner to win another scoring title. He is entering his age 25 season which is generally when offensive players really hit their peak production. So expect a massive year from him and another top-3 finish in the Hart Trophy voting. << Buy NHL on ESPN+ Now>>
Hart Trophy (MVP): Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche are still one of the best teams in the league and MacKinnon is one of the three best players in the world. That makes him an easy contender. He has been a finalist in three of the past four years and barring an injury he should be right there in the discussion again. The big question is whether or not the Avalanche can break through the Second Round ceiling in the playoffs and get the Stanley Cup.
Hart Trophy (MVP): Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Here is an interesting player to watch. The Panthers are coming into this season with major expectations and should have a team capable of competing for the Stanley Cup. Barkov is their best player and one of the best two-way players in the league, blending elite offense and shutdown defense. If the Panthers reach their potential (they should) and Barkov carries the same load he has in recent seasons (no reason to believe he will not) he is going to be in that discussion all year.
Hart Trophy (MVP): Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Hate him all you want but Marchand is one of the league's best players and a legitimate MVP candidate every season. That is what makes his other shenanigans so annoying -- he does not need to resort to that stuff to be effective. Either way, Marchand is an elite scorer, a tremendous defender, and one of the most dangerous penalty killers in the league. He impacts every game in every situation and in all three zones.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
There is going to come a time in the very near future where Makar is the best player on the Avalanche (yes, better than MacKinnon). We might be getting to that point. Makar has only played two full seasons in the league and is already on an elite level where he can control the game with ease. The Norris Trophy is in his future. Maybe multiple times. One of the rising superstars in the NHL.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Adam Fox, New York Rangers
The reigning Norris Trophy winner, Fox is part of that wave of defenders that includes Makar and Quinn Hughes that are starting to take over the league. He has quickly become the best and most impactful of New York's young talent and is going to be a franchise building block for years to come. An all situations defenseman that can be the focal point of a contending team.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman is starting to slow down a little bit, but he remains a top-tier talent and defender. He also still has a name that carries a ton of clout in these discussions and is always going to be a contender based on reputation. Still, that status is not unwarranted. He is the best all-around defenseman of his era and is still one of the best players in the world at his position.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
The Predators might not have many bright spots this season but Josi figures to be one of them. He is just one year removed from winning the Norris Trophy and is still one of the most productive defenders in the entire NHL. With Ryan Ellis gone he figures to take on even more importance this season as one of the few remaining impact players on the Nashville roster.
Vezina Trophy (Top goalie): Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy is a finalist every year now and is arguably the best goalie in hockey. That is almost unfair given the team he plays on, and it makes the Lightning an almost unstoppable force. But for as good as the Lightning roster is overall Vasilevskiy really is the game-changer here as they actually have a losing record (13-14-5) the past two seasons when he is not the goalie of record.
Vezina Trophy (Top goalie): Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck has become one of the NHL's best goalies and the Jets' most valuable players. He has helped mask an undermanned defense the past couple of seasons and kept them more competitive than anybody expected them to be. He is a true game-changer at the most important position on the ice. The Jets gave him a little bit of help this offseason and bolstered their defense a little and should only improve his overall play. He already has one Vezina Trophy on his resume and could definitely win another in his career.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie): Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators
Saros took over Nashville's net on a full-time basis this past season and had a sensational performance that saw him almost single-handedly drag the Predators to the playoffs. Can he do that again over a full 82-game season? That remains to be seen, but if he does he will certainly finish higher than seventh in the Vezina voting. Given Nashville's offseason changes it is going to need another huge year from him.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie): Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
You pretty much have to include the reigning winner, right? Fleury is playing some of the best hockey of his career the past couple of years and he was sensational during the 2020-21 season. Now he moves onto Chicago where he will be trying to help the Blackhawks return back to relevance. If they do make the playoffs they are going to need a massive year from Fleury given the state of their defense, and if he has that sort of year you can bet it will be a Vezina caliber season.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie): Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
The Rangers did not have to wait long to find another franchise goalie to replace Henrik Lundqvist. Shesterkin may not have a huge body of work to evaluate so far, but what we have seen has been fantastic. The pressure is on for the Rangers to take a step forward this season and get back to the playoffs and having a potentially top-tier goalie like Shesterkin will help them get back.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year): Spencer Knight, Florida Panthers
Knight is the top goalie prospect in the league and one of the top prospects overall. With the Sergei Bobrovsky experience not working out as planned in Florida, and Chris Driedger moving on to Seattle in the expansion draft, Knight is going to get an opportunity to play a big role on a Stanley Cup contender. If he lives up to his potential this season and helps the Panthers make a big leap in their development he is a no-brainer for this discussion.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year): Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings faced a lot of criticism when they drafted Seider with the No. 6 overall pick a couple of years ago but nobody is questioning it now. Seider is one of the top defensive prospects in hockey and is coming off of a massive year in Sweden where he was the top defenseman in the league. He is the type of defense prospect that, if he reaches his potential, can help change a franchise.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year): Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have one of the most talented farm systems in hockey and Byfield is the top prospect in the group. He is going to get a chance to play behind Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault to give the Kings some outstanding center depth and perhaps help make them a sleeper playoff team in a weak Pacific Division.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year): Vasili Podkolzin, Vancouver Canucks
Every year the Canucks seem to have another Calder Trophy candidate arrive on their roster. Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and now Podkolzin. He is an enormous talent and should help the Canucks improve their forward depth. He is a highly skilled player that should be a great addition to their young core. The Canucks have been patiently waiting for him to arrive, and how he is here.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year): Joel Quenneville, Florida Panthers
Quenneville is one of the league's top coaches and is behind the bench of a Panthers team that has a chance to be a Stanley Cup contender. Given Quenneville's success and reputation, as well as the fact he has been coaching for more than two decades, it is stunning he has only ever won this award once in his career. He should be in contention this season.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year): Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cooper has the disadvantage of coaching the league's best team, and if we know anything about Calder Trophy voting we know it goes to a coach of a team that exceeds expectations and has a hot goalie. But Cooper is the league's best coach and has his team in a position to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup. He will be in the running.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year): Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins
There was a strong argument for him to win this award a year ago given the Penguins' injury situation and the fact they won the East Division. Well, he is starting this season without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup due to offseason surgeries. He gets them back in the playoffs with that injury situation and a flawed roster he should get some major attention here.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year): Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings
Now here is the type of coach that wins the Calder Trophy: Team that has missed the playoffs in recent years, enters the season with low expectations, and then somehow makes the playoffs. The Kings play in a division where there is probably only one slam dunk playoff team and a bunch of mediocre/rebuilding teams around them. They made some big roster improvements this offseason and have a chance to sneak up on some people with a great farm system.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year): Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers
Gallant is arriving in New York tasked with speeding up the Rangers' rebuild. Management wants this team in the playoffs, and if they get there this season it will be hard to ignore the narrative of the coaching change impact. Gallant is a successful coach with a recent track record of success and he is taking over a team with an MVP candidate (Artemi Panarin), a Norris Trophy winner (Fox), and several high draft picks just waiting to break out.
Canucks recall veteran defenseman Travis Hamonic .
It’s unclear whether he will be inserted directly into the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the New York Rangers, but he is obviously an important part of the Canucks when healthy. In 38 games last season, Hamonic averaged more than 19 minutes a night with the vast majority of those coming next to Quinn Hughes. With the team struggling — Vancouver has just three wins in its first nine games — Hamonic will likely be a welcome addition whenever he is added to the lineup sheet.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports.