This week in hockey was much calmer than the last few. Sadly, most of the news that was reported was negative and a bit depressing. But, I’ll still highlight one of the more surprising starts of a player on one of the league’s worst teams. Let me know what you think!
1. Sharks Fire DeBoerIt’s not quite yet the holiday season, but it is officially “Fire Your Coach” season in the NHL. Coaches aren’t typically fired mid-season due to performance. But, after the Blues fired Mike Yeo in November and went on to win the Stanley Cup last year, other GMs are hoping they can do the same. We saw the Devils do it earlier in the month, and now Doug Wilson, the Sharks GM, has given DeBoer the ax.
As of DeBoer’s firing, the Sharks sat in sixth place in the West with a 15-16-2 record. That’s not the start the organization was hoping for after signing Erik Karlsson to a monster contract and bringing back Joe Thornton and Kevin LeBanc with team-friendly deals. The Sharks were Stanley Cup or bust this year and that hasn’t changed.
I said before that I’m not a huge fan of firing a coach mid-season, but I think it’s a good move here. The Sharks are oozing with talent, more than St. Louis was. If the Blues can make a turnaround like they did, I’m certainly not counting out the Sharks to do the same.
2. Flyers’ Lindblom Diagnosed with Cancer
On Wednesday, Philadelphia Flyers forward, Oskar Lindblom, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. The team is not expecting him to play at all this season as he receives treatment.
First and foremost, this is gutting for Lindblom and his family, the Flyers community, and the NHL. Something like this is so much bigger than hockey and I’m rooting for Lindblom to make a full recovery. I wanted to include this to remind everyone that life is short, and we should be grateful for each day we’re here and healthy. I can’t wait to write about Lindblom’s first goal after beating cancer!
3. Casey Mittelstadt Demoted to AHL
Casey Mittelstadt broke into the NHL with a ton of hype. He was the eighth overall pick of the 2017draft and ripped it up at the 2018 World Junior Championships and at the University of Minnesota. On Sunday, he was assigned to the Rochester Americans in the AHL.
After breaking in with the Sabres, Mittelstadt registered four points in his first six games after leaving Minnesota following the end of his freshman year. Last year, Mittelstadt finished the season with 25 points in 77 games. This was supposed to be his breakout year. That hasn’t panned out so far. After 31 games, Mittelstadt has only scored nine points.
I’m fond of Mittelstadt. I had a chance to see him play in college and I’ve always liked his game. I’m hoping he can turn it around in Rochester and finish the year in the NHL.
4. Wings Trade Prospect Kaski to Carolina
Last week, the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes swapped AHL defensemen. The Wings traded Oliwer Kaski for Kyle Wood. The Wings signed Kaski over the summer as an international free agent after he tore up the Finnish league and was named its best defenseman. Wood was drafted by the ‘Canes with the 84th pick in the 2014 draft. Both players currently have only scored five points this season.
I was pumped for Kaski before the season started. He’s still fairly young and had a lot of hype coming in. I really thought he would be able to break the team at some point this year and develop to be an important piece for the Red Wings. I’m super-bummed that it’s not going to happen for him, at least not in Detroit.
I hadn’t heard of Wood before the trade, but his AHL resume is solid. He’s a former AHL All-Star had has two 30-plus point seasons in the AHL. To be honest, this trade will probably have little impact on both teams. I’m still hoping Stevie Y saw a diamond in the rough and pounced on it before the Hurricanes knew what they had. Best of luck to Kaski in his career in
5. Duclair Breaks Out
The Ottawa Senators aren’t usually the subjects of positive news. That isn’t the case today. Last weekend, Ottawa forward, Anthony Duclair, scored his third career hat trick. I took a look at his numbers and noticed he has 18 goals this season! That ties for ninth in the league in goals with a few guys you may have heard of: Brad Marchand, Patrick Kane, and Sebastian Aho. That’s good company.
Duclair has never seemed to gel during any of his stints around the league. He’s been traded midseason in each of the last two years and has had a difficult time finding his stride. So far this year, Duclair has really set in with the Sens. He leads the team in goals and points and even has a positive plus-minus rating. Let’s not forget Duclair is only 24-years-old and could still become a star in this league. ■