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Weekly Primer

Panthers prove with moves they're in it to win it

Florida upgrades at forward, ready to make Stanley Cup Playoff run

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon believes they are on the verge of something special, and he wasn't about to let the NHL Trade Deadline come and go without making a splash.

With hopes of accelerating his rebuild and sending the Panthers on a long run in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tallon acquired forward Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft on Saturday. He then traded a 2016 third-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Teddy Purcell, and a 2016 sixth-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Jakub Kindl.

The Panthers visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; FS-F, TSN3, NHL.TV).

"We identified what we wanted to build on," Tallon told the Panthers website. "We needed a presence on the power play, we needed experience, we wanted a good puck-moving defenseman. We also thought that we needed to give ourselves three really good scoring lines.

"We're ahead of schedule. These guys give us solid experience, good playmaking ability, good hockey sense. It just completes our team a little bit more."

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Tuesday, March 1: Edmonton Oilers at Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m. ET; SNW, MSG-B, NHL.TV) -- It's the first time Oilers center Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, faces Sabres forward Jack Eichel, the No. 2 selection, in the NHL. McDavid missed the first game on Dec. 6 at Rexall Place with a fractured clavicle. "I'm sure it's going to be pretty well-covered [by media], I think everyone expects that," McDavid said. "I think, for the both of us, it's just another game."

Tuesday, March 1: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV) -- Forward Mikkel Boedker will likely make his Avalanche debut after being acquired in a multiplayer trade with the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. Boedker had 39 points in 62 games. "I think there's so much skill and so much talent in that lineup all the way through," Boedker told Sportsnet. "Just being able to work with them and see how creative they are and see their hands and skill. Obviously even with Jarome Iginla, there's a guy right there you can learn a lot from. Going into that lineup will be a tremendous opportunity and hopefully I can make the best of it."

Wednesday, March 2: Montreal Canadiens at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; RDS, SNE, FS-W, NHL.TV) -- Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf has a point in 11 straight games, the longest active point streak in the NHL. His success has coincided with Anaheim's; the Ducks went 12-1-1 in February and have won eight in a row. They acquired forwards Brandon Pirri (Florida) and Jamie McGinn (Buffalo) on Monday.

Thursday, March 3: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, NESN, NHL.TV) -- Bruins forward Loui Eriksson will participate in this Original Six matchup at TD Garden after GM Don Sweeney decided against trading him with Boston in playoff position. Eriksson has 23 goals in 63 games. "Loui Eriksson's an important part of what we're doing now, to be in the position we're in," Sweeney said. "It could be also for an extended period of time if we do find a deal. It works in conjunction with the bigger outlook of our organization going forward and what we're trying to do here."

Saturday, March 5: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (4 p.m. ET; PRIME, FS-SD, FS-W, NHL.TV) -- It's the second time the Southern California rivals play each other in six days; the Ducks won 4-2 at Honda Center on Sunday to move within two points of Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. "It's right there," forward Corey Perry told the Ducks website. "We can see it in our sights. It's getting closer, but we have to keep playing our style of game."

Sunday, March 6: New York Islanders at New York Rangers (5 p.m. ET; MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV) -- Forward Eric Staal will get his first taste of the Rangers-Islanders rivalry at Madison Square Garden. Staal made his Rangers debut in a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday and centered Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes. "With the group of talented forwards they have here, I'll fit wherever they want me to fit and I'll make it work," Staal said. "I think with my skating and stride, being in the middle gets me up the ice a little more. I'm looking forward to playing with these guys."


Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators -- Forsberg was named the NHL First Star of the Week on Monday after scoring six goals in four games, on two natural hat tricks. He's the first player in Predators history to have two natural hat tricks in the same season.

Forsberg did it in the same week.

"It's certainly up there with some of the best hockey that he's played," coach Peter Laviolette told the Predators website. "He's consistent right now. When he plays with pace and he does things fast with the puck, it becomes really difficult to defend. He plays the off-wing so he moves it in and out of the ice surface and just creates things. He gets his shot off and makes a play to somebody else. He's got a lot of confidence; he's in a stretch right now where he is playing really good hockey."

Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins -- The offensive-minded defenseman is pleased to get a fresh start after being traded by the Oilers to the Penguins for a third-round draft pick last Saturday.

Schultz had three goals, seven assists and a minus-22 rating in 45 games with Edmonton.

"It's crazy, the turnaround," Schultz told the Penguins website. "It's going to be awesome to get there and finish the regular season off, and hopefully go on a Cup run. I haven't been in the playoffs in a while being [in Edmonton], so it's exciting. You don't want to have those long summers. You want to keep playing hockey as long as you can. Hopefully, we go long this year."

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Lightning captain had a six-game goal scoring streak end Monday, a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Stamkos leads Tampa Bay with 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) in 63 games. The Lightning have won seven in a row.

"He's playing great hockey," right wing Ryan Callahan told the Lightning website. "When you're playing with him and he's playing like that, it's a lot of fun."


Teuvo Te.ravainen, Chicago Blackhawks -- An influx of forwards forced Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to shuffle his lines a bit, and Tervainen found himself with Andrew Desjardins and newcomer Tomas Fleischmann on Sunday against the Washington Capitals. Teravainen had an assist in a 3-2 victory at United Center.

"He has that ability to do a good job in different situations," Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune. "We'll likely keep him at center and see how that works out. ... He creates offense for a line that all of a sudden looks like it's going to be responsible defensively but has some upside offensively."

Sam Gagner, Philadelphia Flyers -- Gagner was promoted to the second line after Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced Monday that Jakub Voracek would miss two weeks because of a lower-body injury. It's a big opportunity for Gagner, who has five goals and five assists in 32 games. Gagner skated with Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl in a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Quinton Howden, Florida Panthers -- Howden has gone seven straight games without a goal, but he skated with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr in a 3-1 loss at the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Howden did not have a point in 11:14 of ice time.


Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman did not trade left wing Jonathan Drouin before the deadline Monday, nor did he rule out a reunion. "Jonathan is suspended. If he wants to come back, the door is open," Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times. "That's up to him." Drouin was suspended by the Lightning after failing to report to an American Hockey League game Jan. 20. … St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen was 0-5-1 in his previous seven games before a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. … The Ottawa Senators announced Monday that forward Kyle Turris will be shut down because of a lower-body injury. He did not have a point in his past 15 games.

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