Prospect Ramblings: Ups and downs, ins and outs (Oct. 28)

by Mark Allan on October 29, 2016

Outstanding blueline prospect Shea Theodore is back in the AHL after Anaheim managed to fit Hampus Lindholm under the salary cap.

 

 

The fortunes of NHL prospects rise or fall during any NHL week, and this past week was no exception.

 

Signings

 

Anaheim GM Bob Murray finally found a way to lock up RFA Hampus Lindholm, signing the all-around Swedish blueliner to a six-year contract believed to be worth $31.5 million with an average annual value cap hit of $5.25 million.

 

A serious injury to fellow D-man and former high-rated prospect Simon Depres allowed Murray to place him on long-term IR, which gave the Ducks exactly the wriggle room they needed to get the 22-year-old Lindholm under contract and barely under the team cap limit.

 

As a result, outstanding prospect Shea Theodore was shuffled off to San Diego to get some AHL ice time. In three NHL games so far, Theodore has an assist and is plus-2. He could be forgiven for some frustration with trying to stick with Anaheim’s deep blueline corps. His day will come. Be patient. Watch for the signs.

 

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Goalie Kevin Poulin, a former Islander prospect, signed with Barys Astana of the KHL, where he will undoubtedly run into mammoth Finn Mikko Koskinen, another former NYI hopeful, who is making a good name for himself in Russia as a netminder.

 

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With Jonathan Quick out for a period of time measured by a calendar and fellow netminder (and hockey's oldest prospect) Jeff Zatkoff joining him on the sidelines with a groin injury, the Kings signed former prospect Anders Lindback to a professional tryout contract and assigned him to the Ontario Reign of the AHL to play himself into game shape. A Band-Aid solution at best, the Swede had an unimpressive 5-7-1 record a 3.11 GAA with Arizona last season, although the Coyotes were admittedly a bad team. Lindback has bounced around five NHL teams in six seasons and might play a mix of AHL and NHL games until Quick returns.

 

In a nightmare scenario for GM Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter, journeyman Peter Budaj is L.A.’s de-facto starter. He’s backed up by prospect-turned-suspect Jack Campbell, who began the season with Budaj in the AHL.

 

Ups and downs

 

The Senators need Chris Driedger to play this well while Craig Anderson is dealing with personal issues and Andrew Hammond has a lower-body injury.

 

Just before the Senators left Vancouver on Thursday morning, the club recalled goaltender Chris Driedger from its AHL affiliate in Binghamton to dress Friday night as the backup against the Calgary Flames after Anderson was granted a leave of absence for what the Sens called personal reasons at home. It's the second time this season he's had to leave the team for that reason.

 

Plan B (Driedger backing up Andrew Hammond lasted exactly one period because the Hamburglar suffered a lower-body injury and couldn't continue. Driedger, who entered with a 2-1 lead, transformed it into a 5-2 loss. There's no word yet about what the Senators' Plan C might be. Driedger might be worth picking up if your goaltending is in shambles like Ottawa's, but don't get your hopes up.

 

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Speaking of young prospect netminders, 22-year-old Malcolm Subban was probably called up to the NHL too soon after Boston netminders fell on hard times. With Tuukka Rask experiencing general body soreness and Anton Khudobin going on IR with an upper-body injury, the Bruins were desperate. After Subban (a 2012 24th-overall pick, and brother of Nashville lightning rod P.K. Subban) was pulled in each of his first two NHL starts, the Bruins’ are frantic.

 

The solution? Call up Zane McIntyre from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on an emergency basis. Since there's no cap on what NHL teams spend for A-535, Tiger Balm or arnica cream, the Bruins should splurge and apply as much as necessary to relieve Rask’s soreness. Boston already has enough challenges on its blueline without springing leaks between the pipes, too.

 

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It's difficult to decide which is more surprising: Dylan McIlrath being waived by the blueline-challenged Rangers or the hulking defenseman not being claimed by another NHL team. Drafted 10th overall by the Blueshirts in 2010, the 6-5, 220-pounder has played in just 38 NHL games. He's recorded a mere two goals and two assists, although offense is not his game.

 

The former Moose Jaw Warrior is a real battler who racked up 102, 169, 153, 127, 125, 165 and 165 PIMs in a succession of junior and AHL campaigns. His skating is sub-par, though, and it's likely that he and the Rangers are victims of a New Age NHL that increasingly emphasizes speed and skill. His cap hit is affordable at $800,000 but he needs to play 41 more NHL games to avoid becoming a UFA at the end of the season. At 24, McIlrath is approaching a crossroads. His NHL fantasy value, always limited to PIMs, hits and blocks, is at an all-time low.

 

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Thrown to the Wolves? After once-promising Oilers' winger Magnus Paajarvi was waived through the league, the Blues assigned him to the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Unless he can make the most of any future NHL callups, Paajarvi might be spending a lot more time in the AHL than he wants to.

 

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Promising young blueline prospect Steve Santini has been demoted to the AHL's Albany Devils after he couldn't crack the lineup of the parent New Jersey Devils. With good size, a powerful shot and a mean streak, Santini will be back to stay in the NHL at some point.

 

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With Carter Hutton established as the backup to St. Louis No. 1 goalie Jake Allen, the Blues dispatched Ville Husso to the Missouri Mavericks. Husso likely has an NHL future, but he has to work his way back up from the ECHL.

 

Until next Saturday…

 

Mark Allan