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Clarkson 'over the moon' to join Blue Jackets

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 9:04 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets traded injured forward Nathan Horton to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday for David Clarkson, a power forward they hope can bounce back from a disappointing season-plus in Toronto.

Clarkson had 15 goals in 115 games with the Maple Leafs after signing a seven-year, $36.75 million contract in July 2013. He scored 30 goals in 2011-12 and 15 in 48 games during the shortened 2012-13 season with the New Jersey Devils.

"If you look at his years in Toronto, he wasn't at his best. That's no secret," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "Things didn't work out for him in Toronto. We think he can get back to his game.

"Now we're going to get him in a different situation with a different group of guys with him. We hope and believe he'll get his game back to where it was before."

Clarkson is eager to attempt to rejuvenate his career, but said he does not question his decision to sign with his hometown team.

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Jaromir Jagr traded to Panthers by Devils

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 7:31 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

Jaromir Jagr was acquired by the Florida Panthers on Thursday in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.

The 43-year-old forward had 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games for the Devils this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

New Jersey will receive Florida's second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in 2016.

The Panthers are two points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Florida, which has made the playoffs once since 2000 (in 2012), hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday; Jagr will not play.

"Hopefully [he'll bring] some offense, stability and leadership," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "It's a good opportunity for him to mentor some of our young guys and show them how hard they have to work to get to his level. It brings stability to our young team and gives us an opportunity in the next 20 games to make a good run to make the playoffs."

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Blackhawks acquire forward Abbott from Maple Leafs

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 4:43 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

ChicagoBlackhawks.com

The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they have acquired forward Spencer Abbott from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman T.J. Brennan. Abbott will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Abbott, 26, has recorded 127 points (37G, 90A) in 168 career AHL games over portions of four seasons with the Toronto Marlies. The Hamilton, Ont., native was tied for third on the Marlies with 24 points (7G, 17A) this season. Abbott made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 5, 2013.

Previously, Abbott tallied 146 points (54G, 92A) in 151 games over four seasons at the University of Maine. Abbott was named Hockey East Player of the Year and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award after contributing 62 points (21G, 41a) during his senior campaign in 2011-12.

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Blues acquire forward Cracknell from Blue Jackets

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 4:00 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The St. Louis Blues acquired forward Adam Cracknell from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday for future considerations.

The Blues assigned Cracknell to Peoria of the American Hockey League.

Cracknell had one assist and a minus-8 rating in 17 games with the Blue Jackets this season; he has three goals and seven points in 18 games with Springfield of the AHL.

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Fleury saves day for Penguins with breakaway stop

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 12:20 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins successfully averted a season sweep by the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 win Wednesday at Verizon Center. The victory was sweet given the fact the Capitals had outscored the Penguins 10-1 in the previous three games. It also earned Pittsburgh its third straight win and a three-point lead over the Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves, including a huge stop on Joel Ward on a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway in the second period to preserve a 3-1 lead.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Canucks' Lack gets job done

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Whatever problems the Vancouver Canucks have encountered the past few seasons, they've always had a very strong backup plan when it comes to their goaltending situation.

In fact, in some cases "Plan B" was, even in smaller sample sizes, outperforming the starter.

So while the Canucks stand to lose a veteran goalie in Ryan Miller for the next 4-6 weeks, their crease will be just fine with Eddie Lack and the recently recalled Jacob Markstrom.

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Unmasked: For Bruins' Rask, the defense can't rest

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

For the Boston Bruins to hold on to the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, goaltender Tuukka Rask is probably going to need to play like the Vezina Trophy winner he was last season.

For that to happen, Rask will probably need the Bruins defense to revert, and stick, to its signature stingy ways.

Well into his worst season statistically since becoming Boston's No. 1 goaltender, Rask is honest about how his game suffered early this season. The frank Finn talks openly about the link between his poor start and a defense that lost Johnny Boychuk to trade on the eve of the season, captain Zdeno Chara to a knee injury for 19 games three weeks after the season started, and Adam McQuaid to a finger injury from mid-November to the New Year.

Rask didn't excuse his own role in the early stumbles, saying he felt good but the Bruins needed more and he "just wasn't able to be great out there." Like most things surrounding goaltending, Rask's performance through January did not exist in a vacuum.

"I've always played my best when I am aggressive and challenging," Rask told NHL.com. "But when you have new guys on the back end trying to find their game and comfort zone, it makes the goalie's job different too. You can't be as aggressive as you normally are because you have to be ready for passes to the backdoor and loose pucks that normally get cleared. There's been a lot of that."

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Wild's Scandella credits playoff series for growth

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

The turning point of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella's NHL career isn't hard to find.

After spending all but six games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in the American Hockey League, Scandella was recalled by the Wild in time to play against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

An injury forced coach Mike Yeo to put Scandella in the lineup for Game 1 despite him not having played a game with the Wild in nearly three months. He responded with a goal in Game 2 and an assist in Game 5.

After spending three seasons shuttling back and forth between the Houston Aeros of the AHL and the Wild, Scandella finally had arrived. He hasn't left since, developing into a key part of the Wild defense heading into their game Thursday at the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Merkley getting ahead by watching, listening to others

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

Nicholas Merkley is months away from hearing his name called at the 2015 NHL Draft. But he's already seen what it will take to be a National Hockey League player.

Spending his summers training alongside Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, the 17-year-old has a good understanding about what it's going to take for him to get to the next level.

"It's pretty cool seeing them in the gym every day," Merkley said. "Obviously you're star-struck but you're trying to focus on your workout and things like that. It's good to see how hard they work on the gym and on the ice.

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Kings acquire defenseman Sekera from Hurricanes

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 11:50 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for a first-round draft pick and a prospect.

Sekera, 28, has 19 points in 57 games this season and was second on the Hurricanes in average ice time at 22:46. Last season he set career highs with 11 goals and 44 points.

The Kings are playing without two defensemen, injured Alec Martinez (concussion symptoms) and suspended Slava Voynov.

"I think it's the one area of the team that we felt was the one area that could be targeted in terms of an upgrade," Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi said, according to LA Kings Insider. "… I think the thing about [Sekera], No. 1, he's a competitive guy. We have no issues as far as him fitting in here with this group. No question he’s going to be hungry. I think whenever you look at your back end, it's a mix-type thing, and I think [there are] things he can bring to us. … He's very mobile, and even though he's not big (6 feet, 201 pounds), he certainly competes. He's a smart player."

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Quote of the Day

I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday