Trending up: Cedric Paquette, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The 21-year-old forward, called up by the Lightning in October, notched his first NHL hat trick in the Bolts' 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, a game that Tampa head coach Jon Cooper eyed as a good measuring stick for his young club. Paquette has four goals in his past two games, a nice outburst following a 29-game slump that has dragged on since November.
Trending down: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Granted, Crosby is still the greatest player in the game. And yes, he’s coming back from a lower-body injury that he was likely battling through before getting some time off during the All-Star break. But No. 87 has been held off the score sheet for three straight games. What would be considered a minor blip for others is a more glaring lack of production for the prolific scorer. In Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Washington Capitals, Crosby also lost 17 of 24 faceoffs.
Surprise of the Week: Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Sharks -- The third-liner delivered a fine effort in the Sharks' decisive 6-3 effort against the league-leading Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, finishing with a goal and an assist, as well as four hits in 14:38 in ice time. Both Goodrow and linemate James Sheppard did some quality work for the Sharks, particularly in a five-goal second period that broke the Ducks’ willpower.
Trending up: John Klingberg, Dallas Stars -- Klingberg continues to be one of the most promising rookies to watch this season, as he continues to mature on Dallas’ blue line. The 22-year-old snapped a 3-3 draw with an unassisted goal in the third period after recording an assist on Jamie Benn's power-play goal earlier in the game. With 20 points in 34 games this season, Klingberg is second among rookie defensemen in scoring behind Florida's Aaron Ekblad.
Surprise of the week: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes -- There’s no surprise that the young Swede is among the top blueliners in the NHL, but his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Arizona Coyotes’ 3-1 win Thursday night earns him a spot in this category. Five seconds into the third period, Ekman-Larsson sailed an innocuous shot from his own blue line and caught Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier by surprise, knotting the game at 1 (shorthanded, no less) in the most Leafs-esque thing to happen this week.
Trending up: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens -- Price continues to assert his dominance against the New York Rangers, recording his sixth career shutout against the Blueshirts on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Price turned away all 24 shots faced in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals for his third shutout of the season. Makes you wonder how things might have worked out differently had Price been healthy for that series last spring ...
Trending down: Ilya Bryzgalov, Anaheim Ducks -- With so much to like about the way the league-leading Ducks are playing these days, goaltending remains a major concern, and Bryzgalov does not seem to be the answer. In his fourth start of the season, Bryz was pulled in the second period after coughing up six goals on 25 shots. That leaves him with a 1-3-0 record this season and an unsightly .832 save percentage and 4.68 goals-against average.
Surprise of the week: Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild -- We will admit that, like Bryzgalov in Anaheim, we have been skeptical that Dubnyk is the answer in net for the Minnesota Wild. But credit is due to the lanky netminder, who posted his second shutout since being acquired by general manager Chuck Fletcher. Most recently, Dubnyk blanked the Calgary Flames in Minny’s 1-0 victory, stopping all 30 shots he faced. If the Wild’s luck is going to turn, Dubnyk will have to continue playing a major role between the pipes.
Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and an abundance of other young phenoms all rose through the junior hockey ranks before becoming NHL stars, with league executives and scouts mining the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League for the best prospects in North America.
Recently, however, a collection of class-action lawsuits filed against the CHL in three Canadian provinces in which they have head offices, could threaten the top feeder league's very infrastructure with allegations that the CHL has violated labor laws in the treatment of its athletes.
The crux of the lawsuit, for which there is a class certification hearing in February, is that these players -- the vast majority of whom range from ages 16 to 20 years old -- are employees of their teams and deserve to be making a minimum wage. The CHL, however, contends that the players are instead "student athletes" who are guaranteed certain educational benefits and small weekly stipends.
According to the original complaint filed in October, obtained by ESPN.com, the suit alleges that the CHL contracts "violate the rights of the players under the Applicable Employment Standards Legislation with respect to minimum wages, vacation pay, holiday pay and overtime pay."
"The players are entitled to be compensated at statutory minimum hourly wage rates in the Province or State where the Player was employed for back wages, and back overtime pay, and back holiday pay and back vacation pay," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs, led by former junior hockey player Sam Berg, are seeking $160 million in damages in the suit.
"These kids devote 60-70 hours a week from [ages] 16-20 playing for these teams making somewhere around $50 a week,” said Toronto-based attorney Ted Charney, who is representing Berg and the plaintiffs in the case. "When the teams have revenues which can be in the millions of dollars in profits, lucrative television rights, corporate sponsorships with some of the biggest companies in Canada and the U.S., they are all in the business of making money. The only people not making wages are these kids playing hockey to make their dreams come true of making it to the NHL.”
And considering the small percentage of kids that actually do move on to the NHL, a lot of players get the short end of the deal, according to Charney.
"It all seems good to them while happening, but at the end of day, what do they have?" he asked. "These teams, we're not asking them to pay the kinds of salaries that pro hockey players earn, just minimum wage."
Berg, an 18-year-old college student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, became involved in the suit after a disappointing experience during his playing days in the OHL.
According to Berg, son of former NHLer Bill Berg, he played eight games with the Niagara IceDogs before being sent down to a junior B team, where he reaggravated a previous shoulder injury and was forced to stop playing.
Berg was shocked to find out that he'd be receiving only partial assistance with his college education. Berg said he was under the belief that he was contractually guaranteed to receive four years of tuition as part of the educational package he was promised.
Berg, who was born in New York City but hails from Beamsville, Ontario, feels he was taken advantage of and doesn't want other players to encounter a similar experience.
"I think a lot of that has to do with the culture," Berg told ESPN.com in a telephone conversation. "The culture is that players are lucky to get the opportunity, so everybody thinks they should just put their heads down and keep working. Players are always gonna do that -- I believe [hockey] players are among the most dedicated people in the world -- but those players should be protected from being exploited for their passion."
Berg is planning to transfer to Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, next year to study sports management. He knows his first semester at McMaster was paid for, but he's unsure if he will ever receive any additional reimbursement for his education.
Marty Williamson, head coach and general manager of the IceDogs, has a different understanding of how things went down between Berg and the lower-tier junior team he joined after what Williamson described as Berg's disappointment with playing time on the IceDogs.
"The only thing I know is he quit our hockey teams," Williamson told ESPN.com when reached by phone Thursday afternoon. "I don't know if it was because of injury or why he left, but it really was as simple as that."
Williamson said that Berg did not leave the IceDogs under bad terms -- he said the two shared a hug and a handshake in the parking lot after Berg made the decision to play elsewhere -- but Berg said the team was not sympathetic to his situation once he injured his shoulder playing for the lower-tier team. Berg said he told Niagara about the injury and the team subsequently cut off communication.
The commissioner of the CHL, David Branch, did not respond to several interview requests by ESPN.com, but a spokesman for the league did provide this statement on his behalf, made when the suit was originally filed:
"In terms of the class action that was filed today in Toronto, the CHL, our member leagues and teams will vigorously defend ourselves against this action which will not only have a negative effect on hockey in Canada but through all sports in which amateur student athletes are involved."
Though Charney would like to see the case consolidated and heard in Ontario, his legal team is prepared to go to Alberta and Quebec as well. This process could be a lengthy one, however. Class certifications can take more than a year to decide, and Charney hopes that issue is resolved within the year.
His lead client, Berg, just hopes to see players regain some of the rights he feels they have lost due to the league's institutional discrimination.
"I think this is a really good point to go forward from in changing a culture that is putting down the players," Berg said. "This lawsuit will help players gain more and more rights and we're hopeful that we can change it from a culture that is putting down the players to one that is raising players up."
The third option that lurks out there this offseason is a buyout, although a Kings source told ESPN.com that that is not in the plans; the team is looking for Richards to turn it around in Manchester.
Richards has $22 million over five seasons left on his deal after this season. The way the buyout works is that you take two-thirds of that amount, which would give you $14.67 million, and spread it out over twice the remaining term. So if my math is right, buying out Richards would ding the Kings' cap $1.467 million per season over 10 years.
If the Kings don’t buy him out, but Richards retires prematurely before the end of the deal, there are also cap recapture penalties headed L.A.'s way, which is another bowl of bad news for the Kings.
In the meantime, other teams still see value in the player. But it’s the contract that scares them away.
"I like the player, I still do, but just can’t take on that contract," said one NHL GM.
"Not at all," the veteran Devils general manager told ESPN.com Tuesday after Brodeur announced his retirement as a player. "It’ll give him a different perspective. He’ll find out if he likes that part of it."
Lamoriello is confident Brodeur will find his way back to New Jersey one day.
"There’s nothing negative here, especially if you know Marty," said Lamoriello. "Everyone knows the relationship him and I have and we’ll always have. You have to be careful how people interpret things. There’s no problem here whatsoever."
The way Lamoriello sees it, it’s Brodeur finishing off what he started this year in St. Louis, which shows his commitment.
"That goes to show you how he thinks," said Lamoriello. "I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. You can understand it when you think of it."
One source suggested that Brodeur wanted to pay the Blues back for giving him one last chance to play some games this season.
Brodeur, who has no firm work commitments for next season, will speak with the media on Thursday at a news conference in St. Louis.
It’s also possible that the Toronto Maple Leafs have an offer for Johansson on Franson at some point soon, but I would highly doubt it’s going to match the parameters in terms of dollars and seasons of what Franson and his camp believe they can get on the open market on July 1. And they’re probably right.
It goes without saying that, if there’s no chance of getting a deal done, the Leafs will shop Franson ahead of the March 2 trade deadline. And believe me a right-handed, top-four blueliner will garner big-time interest.
The Canucks were open to trading Markstrom earlier this season, but word is now they've decided to keep him given how impressive his development has been this season.
Markstrom, who turns 25 on Saturday, has a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in 18 games this season. There are some in the Canucks organization who believe he could be the next Ben Bishop in terms of being a late bloomer.
But what we’re hearing is that general manager Steve Yzerman first wants to see how his younger blueliners answer the call.
Carle is expected back in early March and Gudas near the end of the regular season, so if the youngsters perform well enough, Tampa may be able to hang in without being forced to make a move.
- three-time Stanley Cup champion (1995, 2000, 2003)
- member of two gold-medal-winning Canadian Olympic hockey teams (2002, 2010)
- 1994 Calder Trophy winner (rookie of the year)
- our-time (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008) Vezina Trophy winner (top goaltender)
- five-time (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2010) Jennings Trophy winner (goaltender or team of goaltenders with fewest goals allowed)
- led NHL goalies in wins during regular season nine times
- played in nine NHL All-Star Games
- scored three goals (two in regular season and one in playoffs)
- second in career regular-season points by a goaltender with two goals and 45 assists (Tom Barrasso had 48 points)
Save percentage: .912
Goals-against average: 2.24
Playoff wins: 113
Stanley Cups: 3
Vezina Trophies: 4
* most in NHL history
Most career regular-season wins
Martin Brodeur: 691
Patrick Roy: 551
Ed Belfour: 484
Most career regular-season shutouts
Martin Brodeur: 125
Terry Sawchuk: 103
George Hainsworth: 94
Most career playoff wins
Patrick Roy: 151
Martin Brodeur: 113
Grant Fuhr: 92
Most career playoff shutouts
Martin Brodeur: 24
Patrick Roy: 23
Curtis Joseph: 16
JOHANSEN, KARLSSON AND PARISE NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Jan. 26, 2015) – Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 25.
FIRST STAR – RYAN JOHANSEN, C, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Capping a weekend that celebrated the sport and the fans, Johansen was named the MVP – via Twitter vote – of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game. The 22-year-old Vancouver, B.C., native led Team Foligno(captained by Blue Jackets linemate Nick Foligno) with 2-2—4, including a pair of goals in the opening period, in a 17-12 loss to Team Toews Jan. 25. He also was the top pick in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings Jan. 23 and the winner of the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge Jan. 24. The Blue Jackets’ leading scorer in 2014-15, Johansen was held without a point in each of team’s two outings earlier in the week – a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild Jan. 19 and a 4-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Jan. 21. That snapped his point streak at 13 games (8-8—16), a franchise record, career high and the longest in the NHL this season. Johansen paces the Blue Jackets (20-22-3, 43 points) with 26 assists and 43 points in 45 outings in 2014-15. He also is the only player in the NHL with two point streaks of at least 10 games this season (also Oct. 9-31: 5-8—13 in 10 GP).
SECOND STAR – ERIK KARLSSON, D, OTTAWA SENATORS
Karlsson tied for first among all players with three goals/points in two contests, helping the Senators (19-18-9, 47 points) pick up three out of a possible four standings points. He scored his ninth goal of the season in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers Jan. 20. Karlsson then found the back of the net twice, including the game-winning tally, in a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 21. It marked Karlsson’s seventh career multi-goal game and first since Nov. 5, 2013 (2-0—2 at CBJ). Since entering the NHL in 2009-10, only Shea Weber (9) and Mike Green (8) have more multi-goal performances among defensemen. A 24-year-old Landsbro, Sweden, native, Karlsson shares first on the Senators with 11-22—33 in 46 appearances this season. His 33 points also rank sixth among all defensemen in 2014-15.
THIRD STAR – ZACH PARISE, LW, MINNESOTA WILD
Parise also tied for first among all skaters with three goals/points in two outings for the Wild (20-20-6, 46 points). He notched his 17th goal of the season in a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Jan. 19. Parise then recorded two markers, helping the Wild rally from a three-goal, third-period deficit in an eventual 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 20. The 30-year-old Minneapolis, Minn., native has found the back of the net in four consecutive games (5-1—6), his longest scoring streak since Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2012 (5-1—6 in 4 GP). Parise leads the Wild with 19 goals in 39 contests this season and also ranks second on the club with 36 points despite missing seven games.
- Team Toews: With Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews at the helm, Team Toews topped Team Foligno 17-12 in the highest-scoring All-Star Game in NHL history. A triumph in goaltending and defense it was not, but the offensive affair was enough to keep hockey fans entertained for a night of fun among the game’s biggest stars.
- Winnipeg Jets: The Jets took a five-game winning streak into the All-Star break after a 4-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, a win that has them trailing the Blackhawks by a mere two points in the Central Division standings. Coach Paul Maurice and his charges resume their schedule with a road trip to Pennsylvania that features stops in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
- Anaheim Ducks: The Jets are not the only team rolling in the West, but it's hardly anything new for the league-leading Ducks. The Ducks have also rattled off five consecutive victories, outscoring opponents 23-10 during that span. And we already know how much Anaheim thrives in tight games: the Ducks have a dazzling 22-0-6 record in one-goal games this season.
- Los Angeles Kings: Winners in just two of their last 10 games, the defending Stanley Cup champions are looking less and less like the team that we saw last spring. Discipline seems to be one apparent issue, with the Kings surrendering two power-play goals to the San Jose Sharks in their most recent loss before the break and a struggling penalty kill that ranks 25th with a 77.8 percent success rate.
- Arizona Coyotes: Definitely a team that deserves a spot in the Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel conversation for the No. 1 overall draft pick, it’s a wonder that the fire sale has not yet begun for a downtrodden group that dropped six straight heading into this weekend's festivities. How much farther can the Yotes slide down the standings? A five-game road trip coming up should give us a good idea.
- Johnson to sit: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson will be forced to sit out Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators, per league rules following his absence from the All-Star Game in Columbus this past weekend. Because Johnson played in the Avs' shootout win against the Bruins before the break, he is not eligible to return until the Avs’ complete a home-and-home set against the Preds on Friday.
- Kuemper getting close: With the Minnesota Wild’s abundance of goaltending issues, there is at least some solace in the fact that Darcy Kuemper is on the mend. Though Wild coach Mike Yeo was considering a conditioning stint for the 24-year-old netminder, Kuemper was thrown into action when recently acquired Devan Dubnyk struggled against the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday.
- Nashville nets: While Vezina Trophy front-runner Pekka Rinne remains out with a sprained knee, it will be up to Carter Hutton to take the reins for the Predators in his absence. Nashville is perched atop the Central Division standings with a three-point lead over the second-place Blues, but the two teams square off head-to-head on Thursday in St. Louis.
- Hitting the road: Blackhawks fans are hoping their team got plenty of rest over the weekend -- at least those players who were not selected to take part in the activities -- because the Hawks open with a daunting six-game trip Wednesday in Los Angeles. The grueling jaunt also features stops in Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota, Winnipeg and St. Louis.
- O’Reilly's future: As the trade deadline approaches, expect to be hearing Ryan O'Reilly's name much more often as teams inquire about his availability. O’Reilly and Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle could be among the big names in play in the West with teams looking to upgrade before the playoffs.
- City of Columbus: By all accounts, the 2015 NHL All-Star Game festivities could not have been done any better than by the hospitality of Columbus, Ohio, as its host city (OK, actually, it sounds as if we could have all done without that damn cannon). What a great way to celebrate what has become a burgeoning hockey market and one of the league’s most rowdy, raucous fan bases. Considering what a buzz we saw with the Blue Jackets’ crowds in the playoffs last spring, it’s nice to know they’ll at least have this past weekend to savor in the (likely) event Columbus misses out on a postseason berth this year.
- John Tavares, New York Islanders: One of the game’s brightest young stars continues to wow with his talent and skill and, man, do I wish Team Custrang would’ve drafted the Islanders phenom in our writers' fantasy draft. Tavares led all players with four goals in the All-Star Game, fueling Team Toews to a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno and becoming the sixth player in NHL history to record such a performance. In doing so, Tavares joined the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux -- pretty good company, to say the least.
- Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers: Let's also not overlook the contributions of Voracek, who had a rather historic night at the All-Star Game with a spectacular six-point performance that included a hat trick and three assists. Fitting that it came in Columbus, where Voracek was drafted and played from 2008-11 before being traded to the Flyers. Voracek’s big night highlights what has been a sensational first half of the season for the Czech winger, who leads the league in scoring with 56 points.
- Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: Why do goaltenders even want to play in All-Star Games? I mean, honestly. Poor Fleury was lit up for seven goals in the second period for Team Foligno. Though he has been terrific this season for the Penguins, he was hung out to dry and told reporters afterward that it felt like the longest 20 minutes of his career.
- Chances of Isles-Rangers playing: Though the Islanders are set to host the rival New York Rangers in a bitter divisional clash Tuesday, it's pretty likely that game will be postponed by a monumental blizzard threatening to dump up to three feet of snow on the New York area over the next few days. A league spokesperson told ESPN.com early Monday morning that no decision had been made yet about the fate of the game.
- Pens reeling: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missed the All-Star Game with injuries, and the former will be required to miss Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, per league rules. And while Crosby is expected to return at some point this week, his team's health continues to be an issue with Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta both done for the season and Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Blake Comeau and Simon Despres all ailing.
- Bob’s out: Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne were not the only goaltenders who required injury replacements this past weekend. Former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky was forced from the Blue Jackets' 4-0 blanking Wednesday, which prevented him from playing in his adopted hometown’s big showcase. Bobrovsky could miss significant time with the reported groin injury, just another costly blow in what has been a disastrous season healthwise for the Blue Jackets.
- Rangers rising: With the Pens ailing and the Blueshirts riding a three-game winning streak, New York has a chance to gain ground this week in the Metropolitan Division standings. Rick Nash is rolling with 28 goals -- he’s tied with the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin for the league lead -- and it doesn't hurt that the Rangers play the next five games in New York, either.
- Toronto tailspin: Expect the level of hysteria and histrionics to only intensify if the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to stumble out of the All-Star break. A coaching change has yielded a more structured, defensively sound playing style under Peter Horachek, but that hasn't translated into wins as the Leafs are teetering dangerously close to falling off the proverbial cliff and missing out on the playoffs once again.
Team LeBrunside beat Team Custrang 47-36
It's Team LeBrunside (Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside) going against Team Custrang (Craig Custance and Katie Strang).
Our writers drafted their own All-Star rosters, and now we will see whose team is better.
The scoring will be based on how their players perform in Sunday's All-Star game: Two points for a goal, one point for an assist, minus one point for a goal against your goalie, and two points if your goalie earns the win.
Who built the better team?
Final score: Team Toews 17, Team Foligno 12
Today’s NHL All-Star Game has had a record 27 goals, breaking the mark of 26 set in 2001— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2015
The linesman should win the MVP for calling that offside with 5 mins left....— Strombone (@strombone1) January 26, 2015
After goals from Nash (Toews) and Patrick Kane (Foligno), Tavares pots his fourth of the game for #TeamToews, who lead, 13-9, in the third.— New Jersey Devils (@NHLDevils) January 26, 2015
The canon has to go @BlueJacketsNHL— Strombone (@strombone1) January 26, 2015
I think I saw Patrice Bergeron move as though to backcheck. Must be in the DNA. Some guys just can't help who they are.— Scott Burnside (@ESPN_Burnside) January 26, 2015
Guys don't tell anyone but I'm currently deflating a few pucks for the breakaway relay.... #NHLAllStarWeekend— Strombone (@strombone1) January 25, 2015
Who put that crossbar there?— Bobby Ryan (@b_ryan9) January 25, 2015
"When's the penalty kill meeting?" pic.twitter.com/GGq8DImsI6— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 24, 2015