Yesterday's FlightZone largely amounted to a lovefest for our three prospects invited to WJC selection camps. However, the list should not be limited to Sami Niku, Michael Spacek and Pavel Kraskovsky; there is another.
In an invitation both glaringly obvious and completely surprising, Team Denmark named Nikolaj Ehlers among 29 others for their preliminary roster. However, even the IIHF press release plays down the possibility of his actually attending: "The biggest question for the Danish team remains whether NHL forward Nikolaj Ehlers will be released ahead of the World Juniors. Since he plays in every game for the Winnipeg Jets at the moment, the Danish staff’s hopes are slim."
Winnipeg Sun reporter Paul Friesen spoke to both Ehlers and Jets head coach Paul Maurice, and the responses should end any speculation over whether he'll attend the WJC:
Will #NHLJets rookie Ehlers play for Denmark at WJHC? "I won't start that discussion. Not a player you're relying on to win games." Maurice— Paul Friesen (@friesensunmedia) December 9, 2015
I asked #NHLJets rookie N Ehlers if the Jets left the WJHC up to him, what would he do: "I don't think they're going to do that."— Paul Friesen (@friesensunmedia) December 9, 2015
Ehlers on if his confidence could use the boost of the WJHC. "You know what, I don't think I need that." #NHLJets.— Paul Friesen (@friesensunmedia) December 9, 2015
It's true that his point production has tapered off and he's now skating on the third line, but Ehlers is still an important cog for a forward corps which has questionable depth on the best of days. While one hates to deprive a kid of the chance to represent his country, he's an NHLer now, and with the NHL club he should stay.
And now, the evening news.
One Big Hockey Links Family
- This has to be my favourite story of the day. In short, Steven Stamkos, who was born in Markham and is thus destined to captain the Maple Leafs one day, liked a tweet. We're talking about this because the tweet he liked linked to a TSN video, one where the hockey panel discusses whether Toronto should pursue, you guessed it, Steven Stamkos. The fact that it was literally the only thing he had 'Liked' on his account just makes this all the better. He has of course subsequently unliked the tweet and said it was an accident, which still doesn't deprive me of the idea that he was watching the video in the first place. (CBS Sports)
Spoke briefly with Stamkos regarding the latest slip of the thumb incident on Twitter, said he never realized he hit "like'' on TSN story— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) December 9, 2015
- St. Louis Blues head coach and underrated evil genius Ken Hitchcock realizes that with the coach's challenge, timeouts are more important than ever. And so, rather than use a timeout in a moment of need, the Blues have twice now pulled their goalie to similar effect. From the outside looking in, it made for a bizarre moment Saturday when Jake Allen returned shortly after being pulled, but I wonder if this strategy might see greater adoption as time goes on. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- The lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome have forced defenceman Keith Ballard, veteran of 622 NHL games, into retirement. He's now a full-time student at the University of Minnesota, where he's working towards a degree in sports management. Watch out, Chuck Fletcher. (StarTribune)
- Barrie Colts goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood has been suspended eight games for his
attempted decapitation"stick incident" involving Sudbury Wolves forward Danny Desrochers. While Blackwood can play in IIHF pre-tournament games, he will miss the first two tilts of the 2016 World Junior Championship, and as a result Hockey Canada have added netminder Samuel Montembeault to their selection camp roster. (CBC)
Colts' Mackenzie Blackwood (Team Canada WJC Goalie) got a match penalty after a vicious slash in the OHL last night. pic.twitter.com/McconZOnoB— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) December 5, 2015
- Despite being on a regime which has worked for other NHLers in a similar position, blood clots have forced Pascal Dupuis to "step away from the game". The release effectively announced his retirement, though not technically; his contract will be placed on LTIR this year and next. Here's to his 968 NHL games played, 453 career points, and uncanny ability to play both all throughout the lineup and beside Sidney Crosby. (ProHockeyTalk)
- In case you missed it, the NHL has killed its draft pick compensation policy for coaches and executives. Regardless of what a mess you think this short-lived experiment may have been (and it was), kudos to the league for seeing a less-than-ideal approach and addressing it mid-season. (NHL)
- Winnipeg played host to the inaugural NHLPA Charity Fashion Show, and with the efforts of nineteen Jets players and their spouses, $200,000 was raised for
Ladd's contract extensionthe True North Foundation. (NHLPA)
- Even under new management, the Edmonton Oilers never cease to surprise folks. Today was no exception, as the club placed RHD Mark Fayne on waivers with the intention of sending him to the AHL's Bakersfield Condors. The Winnipeg Jets aren't exactly in need of a defenceman of his ilk; Arizona, on the other hand... (Copper & Blue)
- In the curious (and now on unconditional waivers heading towards a mutual contract termination) case of Alexander Semin, it was beauty killed the beast. And by beauty, I mean Sven Andrighetto. (Eyes on the Prize)
- Meet Akim Aliu, the KHL's Dustin Byfuglien. Okay, that proclamation may be a little premature, but the Chicago Blackhawks' 2nd round draft pick back in 2007 has been converted to defence by his club, Amur Khabarovsk. Who knows, maybe he's found his niche:
- After a start which didn't do now-former head coach Todd Richards any favours, Sergei Bobrovsky seems to have turned things around, with a 9-4-1 record and .943 SV% in his previous 14 games going into Tuesday. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, he's now day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury against LA. As a result, look for the Winnipeg Jets to face Curtis McElhinney tomorrow. (BlueJacketsXtra)
- Between their mediocre record, subpar play and ongoing Daniel Sprong saga, it should probably come as no surprise that Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston is on the hot seat. Crosby's had rather kind words for former Tampa Bay head honcho Guy Boucher in the past. Just saying. (TSN)
- Another day, another Jeff Skinner trade rumour. Bruce Garrioch reports that the Carolina Hurricanes "would even be willing to give a prospect as part of a package to get the contract off the books". Say, do you think Andrew Ladd enjoyed his time in Carolina? In other news, between Cam Ward's .893 SV% and Eddie Lack's phenomenally bad .863 SV%, Bill Peters must have one of if not the most miserable head coaching gig in the NHL. (Ottawa Sun)
- Speaking of Carolina, GM Ron Francis indicated that when it comes to Hurricanes captain and pending UFA Eric Staal, the timeline is that they will be "talking again sometime in the new year." I am becoming increasingly convinced that Carolina and Winnipeg are in fact the same franchise. #WhatDidFrancisDoToday (TSN)
- This just in: the Pacific Division is terrible. Example #1: "The Vancouver Canucks have won 10 games. No team in the entire NHL has won fewer games than that...The Vancouver Canucks are in third place in the Pacific Division." (ProHockeyTalk)
- Cory Schneider is a fantastic goaltender. To quantify that, he's tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the best save percentage over the last five seasons, at .926%. Why did I set Schneider up atop a pedestal just now? To make the point that bad goals happen to everyone, even the best:
- In what should come as a shock to absolutely no one, Dave Poulin was objectively wrong in his analysis of Nazem Kadri's game. Click, read, and despair that we live in a world where the former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager is a television analyst. (The Leafs Nation)
- And finally, I would like to give mad props to Arctic Ice Hockey community member Brohammed, for creating the Cojnor the Burninator GIF we all need in our lives. Second place goes to Managing Editor truck for providing the idea's genesis. Typos are a wonderful thing sometimes.
Thanks for reading!