Jean-Francois Berube, who starts for the Islanders today, will get more playing time with Jaroslav Halak in the AHL, and could get even more starts depending on who will coach the team.
Interim head coach Doug Weight didn’t shake up the Islanders’ faltering lineup in his first game after replacing the fired Jack Capuano, although the coaching change could affect the short-term fate of some young, little-used players.
After the Isles burned a season of winger Anthony Beauvillier’s entry-level deal by playing him more than nine games, his production tailed off after a good start. Capuano often made the undersized yet dynamic 2015 first-rounder a healthy scratch recently, stalling him at four goals and seven assists in 30 games.
In his first game with Weight calling the shots, Beauvillier had just 14 shifts totaling 11:28, although he did get 58 seconds of PP time in a 3-0 win over the visiting Dallas Stars. Those 58 seconds might be deceiving because Dallas killed penalties for almost 13 minutes, allowing 18 SOGs.
In one game under Weight, Beauvillier played 35 seconds fewer than his average under Capuano, although he previously averaged just 15 seconds of PP time. He’ll be a contributor to the Isles for a long time but, barring a deadline deal to free some icetime, expect him to see limited action the rest of the season because the team has an abundance of NHL-caliber forwards albeit a critical shortage of stars.
Although Thomas Greiss is coming off two straight shutout victories, over the Bruins and Stars, rookie NHL goalie Jean-Francois Berube starts for the Islanders today against the visiting Kings in the first of back-to-back home games in Brooklyn. Berube’s stats of 0-2-1, 3.14 and .904 do not inspire confidence but he’s still trying to shake rust off after rotting in the press box most of the past two seasons while the NYIs carried three netminders on their NHL roster.
They did that because they thought enough of Berube to not want to lose him on waivers if they tried to send him to the AHL. Now, with former starter Jaroslav Halak banished to the AHL with a GAA even higher than Berube’s, Berube will surely get more starts than he was regardless of who the coach is.
That’s important because the Islanders approached Gerard Gallant after he was unceremoniously sacked as head coach by Florida – while Capuano was still coaching in Brooklyn. Gallant, a former assistant coach with the Isles, would be a good choice if the team decides to not wait until the off-season to officially replace Capuano.
Claude Julien is apparently skating on thin ice with the Bruins, so Islanders’ GM Garth Snow and the team’s relatively new owners might not be able to restrain themselves if the veteran Boston coach became available.
Regardless, Berube merits monitoring for fantasy GMs if not high short-term expectations. After all, if Greiss keeps pitching shutouts he’s going to be tough to replace between the pipes.
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Speaking of a young puck-stopper getting an NHL start today, Pheonix Copley was called up Friday by the Blues from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and is the St. Louis backstop today in Winnipeg.
Jake Allen, anointed the St. Louis starter when the Blues traded Brian Elliott to Calgary, has been sieve-like recently. Reeling mentally, Allen surrendered four goals on just 10 Washington shots Thursday in a 7-3 drubbing and was yanked by head coach Ken Hitchcock for the third consecutive time and the fourth time in six games.
To pile onto his humiliation, Allen was pulled twice Thursday. That’s because former Predator Carter Hutton is failing miserably as the backup in the first season of a two-year contract. With Allen left at home for a road trip to think pacifying thoughts and Hutton’s numbers cratering at 2.80 and .892, that opens the door for Copley to try to halt the Blues’ slide and play better than his parents can spell.
Although Ville Husso has a higher ceiling, let’s see how Copley, an undrafted 25-year-old, handles the pressure.
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In other transactions this week:
Arizona Coyotes demote C Laurent Dauphin and recall RW Christian Fischer. The latter, AHL Player of the Week for Jan. 9 to 15, earned his first shot at NHL action with 16 goals and as many assists in 31 games with the Tucson Roadrunners as an AHL rookie. The 6-2, 212-pound power forward had 90 points in his 66-game final WHL season and is unmistakably a part of the Coyotes’ future, and perhaps their present. Speed demon Dauphin, meanwhile, has 11 points in as many AHL games this season but will have to improve on only three points in 24 NHL games when he gets his next opportunity.
Dallas Stars place D Johnny Oduya on IR (ankle) and recall D Julius Honka. The 21-year-old Finn, who had three assists in eight earlier NHL games, earned the promotion with 21 points in 30 games with Texas. Second on the AHL squad in assists and fourth in points, the 2014 first-rounder improved his stats last season from his AHL rookie campaign and was on pace for better numbers again. Honka could find a niche as a second righthand shot offensive blueliner behind John Klingberg, who’s under contract for another five years. Honka’s a good bet to get some second-unit PP ice while he’s up. Oduya is expected to miss two to four weeks.
Nashville Predators activate D P.K. Subban from IR and assign D Alexandre Carrier to AHL. An intriguing combination of offensive creativity and defensive acumen in a mobile yet modestly sized package, Carrier bears watching for future NHL appearances. He has no points in limited action in two NHL games but earlier posted 22 points in 35 games as an AHL rookie. His biggest challenge will be carving out some playing time on a team that has fellow righthand shots Subban, Ryan Ellis and Dante Fabbro on the back end.
Toronto Maple Leafs claim RW Seth Griffith on waivers from Florida Panthers and assign him to Toronto Marlies (AHL). Now on his third NHL organization in two seasons, Griffith will always be remembered for his spectacular, single-handed goal-scoring effort in 2014 for Boston against the Devils.
However, the 5-9 fifth-rounder in 2012 doesn’t skate exceptionally well, isn’t physical and has a mere six goals and 10 assists in 58 NHL games. He’s beginning to look like a high-scoring career minor-leaguer.
Arizona Coyotes activate RW Ryan White from IR and demote RW Anthony Duclair to Tucson Roadrunners (AHL). Not that White, who missed 11 games with a lower-body injury, is going to single-handedly salvage the Coyotes’ lost season, but neither was Duclair.
After an 18-game, seven-point NHL baptism with the Rangers in 2014-15 straight out of the QMJHL, the skilled winger posted a promising 20-goal, 44-point NHL campaign after being acquired by Arizona. However, he’s floundering with the rest of the Coyotes this season with a mere nine points and minus-8 in 41 games. The team is going nowhere at the moment, so the Coyotes might just leave him in nearby Tucson for the next few months to regain his confidence. If so, watch him closely at the start of next season especially if he’s on the opposite wing to junior linemate Max Domi.
Vancouver Canucks place RW Anton Rodin on IR (knee). Touted as a badly needed source of goals for the offensively challenged Canucks, Rodin continues to experience complications from surgery on his left knee before Vancouver signed him to a one-year free-agent deal. Originally drafted by the Canucks in 2009’s second round before going back to Sweden, the skilled winger aggravated the wonky hinge when he fell on it Jan. 6 against the Flames.
He has one assist each in three NHL and AHL games this season, and might not get much more because the ongoing injury is robbing him of the elite speed that helped to make him so dangerous. Until or unless the knee heals and he regains his velocity and mobility, Rodin’s NHL output is questionable, as is his NHL future.
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If you want an edge for your fantasy NHL team(s) down the stretch, you need Dobber's Mid-Season Guide. For an idea about what’s included, check out a recent Prospect Ramblings column by my savvy fellow writer Hayden Soboleski.
Until next Saturday…