New York Hockey: Jonathan Huberdeau

W2W4: Rangers vs. Panthers

March, 21, 2013
At a glance: Riding a two-game winning streak, the Rangers aim to make it three with a victory over the struggling Florida Panthers. The injury-ravaged Panthers, dead last in the Eastern Conference, have won only one game in their last seven heading into Thursday’s match at Madison Square Garden, the first meeting of the two clubs this season.

Back in action: Looking to bolster the offense, the Rangers recalled Chris Kreider from the AHL Wednesday. The 21-year-old rookie hasn’t been able to replicate the success he had last spring with a terrific NHL debut in the playoffs, but he recently registered six goals in eight games in the minors. Fourth-line tough guy Micheal Haley was sent down to the Connecticut Whale to make room for Kreider.

Rookie Race: With 12 goals and 7 assists, Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau is second among league rookies in scoring, only behind Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher, who has 22 points. Huberdeau scored a goal on his first shot of his first NHL game and ended up finishing with three points after adding a pair of assists as well.

Lundqvist “fine”: Although Henrik Lundqvist complained about headaches following a collision in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over New Jersey and did not practice with the Rangers during Wednesday’s optional skate, coach John Tortorella says the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is “fine.” Lundqvist went down in the crease after being clipped in the mask, although it was his own teammate, defenseman Dan Girardi, who knocked into him. Unfortunately for the Devils, New Jersey’s Travis Zajac was penalized on the play.

Stepan up: Centering the team’s “second” line -- which has played much more like a first -- Derek Stepan has elevated his game of late. The 22-year-old has registered a point in each of the last two games, although his play with linemates Carl Hagelin and captain Ryan Callahan extends beyond what is reflected on the scoresheet.

On the mend: Rangers team president and general manager Glen Sather will undergo surgery for prostate cancer in New York on Thursday, a source confirmed to In the interim, assistant GM Jeff Gorton will assume day-to-day operations of the team. Gorton represented the organization at the NHL’s GM meetings on Toronto on Wednesday.

Devils 'win' NHL draft lotto, Isles pick fifth

April, 12, 2011
Well, it turns out the Devils’ late-season tear up the standings didn’t hurt their draft position much at all. New Jersey “won” the NHL’s draft lottery Tuesday night, moving up from the No. 8 pick to the No. 4 pick, leapfrogging the New York Islanders in the process.

Under the league’s rules teams can only move up a maximum up five draft spots and fall just one slot. Thus, the Islanders, the odds-on favorite to pick fourth, will fall back to the No. 5 spot. And, depending on who you ask, that could end up being a very big difference.

To this point in the talent evaluation process, NHL scouts have consistently ear marked four prospects as the cream of the crop: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW Gabriel Landeskog, D Adam Larsson and C Sean Couturier. Those four have been thought of very highly and often fall into the can’t-miss category with few-to-no questions about their future development. After those four, there are still a number of highly talented players, but also a number of question marks.

For example, Saint John C Jonathan Huberdeau has been gaining momentum throughout the season and in fact blew past Sean Couturier and up to No. 3 in the most recent prospect rankings of North American skaters issued by the NHL Central Scouting Service. However, Huberdeau’s team is utterly and completely stacked with talent while Couturier’s squad is far from flush. So is Huberdeau a standalone talent or a product of the players around him?

While Huberdeau could certainly be the real deal, some scouts aren’t buying the Couturier falloff, so if he were to fall to No. 4 or 5, the Devils or Islanders could have a very nice steal.

Here's another positive for both clubs. Both the Devils and the Islanders could use a boost to their blueline. And there should be a number of top D prospects available by the time both teams pick. Ds Dougie Hamilton and Nathan Beaulieu rank No. 4 and 5 in the CSS North American rankings, though some scouts polled by the NHL Draft Blog have some reservations (Insider) and earlier this season Draft Blog writer Alvin Chang questioned the wisdom (Insider) of taking a top defenseman high in the draft.

Just some food for thought before the June 24 draft date in St. Paul, Minnesota.