Blackhawks scratch Gustafsson vs. Predators, no trade reportedly imminent

With the trade deadline around the corner, the Chicago Blackhawks made defenseman Erik Gustafsson a healthy scratch for Friday's contest versus the Nashville Predators.

There is no imminent trade involving the blue-liner, but the Blackhawks do have "options with Gustafsson," according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. He adds the team is protecting its asset in case a deal materializes.

Gustafsson had a breakout season in 2018-19, posting 60 points in 79 games. He's struggled to match that production this year, though, accruing just 26 points in 59 contests so far.

Still, as a 27-year-old pending unrestricted free agent counting for just $1.2 million against the salary cap, Gustafsson could garner interest leading up to Monday's deadline.

After a midseason charge, the Blackhawks are now likely to be deadline sellers. Chicago entered Friday's game eight points back of a wild-card spot with just one win in its last 10 contests.

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Report: Jets to acquire Cody Eakin from Golden Knights

The Winnipeg Jets are finalizing a deal to acquire forward Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a conditional 2021 fourth-round pick, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The draft pick will become a third-rounder if Eakin re-signs with the Jets or if they make the playoffs, Dreger adds.

Eakin is in the final year of his contract, which carries an average annual value of $3.85 million. The Winnipeg native has appeared in 41 games with the Golden Knights this season, recording four goals and six assists.

The 28-year-old produced a career year last campaign with Vegas, setting personal highs in goals (22) and points (41) over 78 games.

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Bobby Ryan ‘doing great’ in recovery from alcohol issue after seeking help

Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan opened up about his recovery from alcohol on Friday while meeting with the media for the first time since entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in November.

After trying to deal with the issue on his own, Ryan said his decision to reach out for help spearheaded his journey to recovery.

"I was trying to white knuckle things and doing things the wrong way," Ryan told reporters, per the team. "I'd have 20 days of nothing and one real bad one and you just can't get better without (help). There's a stigma around asking for help and I was trying to do it.

"I just had never had a period in my life where people were around me to kind of help me really stop and it took going somewhere to figure that out and getting myself I guess a dry period to start, that was very beneficial for me."

The 32-year-old said his issue with alcohol is something he's been dealing with for a long time. Ryan knew if he didn't get help, his troubles would only continue to spiral.

"I had a lot of times where I woke up in the mornings overridden with guilt, shame, and saying I would do it and do it for 12 days and then messing up again. It had no good end."

When asked if his story could serve as inspiration for those in need, Ryan offered an important message.

"If there's anybody that I guess hears it in some sense and can recognize something and kind of find a way to ask for help, hopefully less publicly, then I urge them to do it and I guess there's some silver lining there."

Ryan, who hasn't played since Nov. 16, returned from the player assistance program on Feb. 5 and said he hopes to get into a game within the next two weeks.

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Bruins acquire Ondrej Kase from Ducks

The Boston Bruins have acquired forward Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson, and a 2020 first-round pick, the team announced Friday.

Boston will retain 25% of Backes' salary as part of the agreement. His contract is valued at $6 million annually, and there's one more year left on the deal after this season.

The Ducks selected Kase in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. The 24-year-old has appeared in 198 NHL games, amassing 43 goals and 96 points. The winger notched seven goals and 16 assists in 49 contests with Anaheim this season.

Backes, 35, has struggled to find his way into Boston's lineup in 2019-20. He's appeared in 16 games while tallying one goal and two assists. He was demoted in January, but Backes hasn't played in an AHL game despite being healthy since then.

The Bruins selected Andersson in the second round of the 2018 draft. The 20-year-old defenseman has recorded two goals and 22 points in 41 QMJHL games this campaign.

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NHL weekend betting preview: Unpacking a loaded schedule

Find line reports, best bets, and subscribe to push notifications in the Betting News section.

Sometimes a game plays out in such disheartening fashion that you can't help but swear off betting a team for a while.

That's what happened Thursday when the Columbus Blue Jackets played so well for 30 minutes against the Philadelphia Flyers to build a seemingly impenetrable 3-1 lead before utterly collapsing and completing the debacle in overtime. All this on home ice, with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance.

That relegated us to a 1-2 finish, leaving some ground to make up heading into the weekend.

GOATs and scapegoats

Frederik Andersen had a nice bounce-back effort last night in shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Matt Murray did his part to help our cause. At least one game went our way.

The Blue Jackets are a lock for our scapegoats. That was the last time we'll bet on them in this space for at least a couple of weeks - screenshot this if you wish.

Friday notes

The New York Rangers' six-game road winning streak (1.7 goals allowed) will be on the line Friday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes, who've won four of their last five contests in Raleigh. The Rangers are playing strong defensive hockey and three of their previous four games in Carolina have gone under, as well as four of their last five meetings overall.

Offense has been hard to come by for the New York Islanders, who've scored just two goals in their last four games. However, they return home from their road trip in a great spot to break out against the Detroit Red Wings, whom they've scored 22 goals against in their last four meetings at home. The previous five contests between these teams on the Island have gone over, averaging 9.8 goals.

The Chicago Blackhawks have scored just 10 goals in their last seven games at home against the Nashville Predators, tasting defeat in five of them. The Calgary Flames snapped a five-game home losing skid Monday and are well-rested as they prepare to welcome the streaking Boston Bruins. The Minnesota Wild will aim to build on their impressive record in Edmonton, having won 14 of their last 17 road contests against the Oilers. Similarly, but not to the same extent, the Anaheim Ducks have had the Colorado Avalanche's number of late, with the Avs losing four of their previous five visits to Anaheim and eight of their last 11 against the Ducks overall.

Friday bets:

  • New York Rangers/Carolina Hurricanes under 6.5
  • Detroit Red Wings/New York Islanders over 5.5
  • Islanders' team total over 3.5
  • Calgary Flames

Saturday notes

Saturday's festivities begin with a matinee as the Winnipeg Jets aim to snap a seven-game losing skid in Philadelphia, during which they've averaged less than two goals per contest. The Flyers will hope to keep cruising, having won five of their last six on home ice while limiting opponents to one goal or fewer in four of those.

The Hurricanes will dress for a second game in as many nights when they visit Scotiabank Arena, where the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a 10-1 run against opponents playing on no rest. Heading east in Ontario, the Ottawa Senators host the Montreal Canadiens having lost five of their last six to the Habs and scoring two or fewer goals each time.

The Predators host the Blue Jackets on the second night of a back-to-back. Nashville has won two straight on no rest but was defeated in eight of nine in this spot before that, but if you think I'm playing Columbus again, you've lost your mind. I could be talked into betting the Vancouver Canucks, who have, uncharacteristically, lost two in a row at home. They've won seven of their last 10 over the Bruins in Vancouver, though, and Boston will be coming into this game having played Friday in Calgary.

Saturday bets:

  • Philadelphia Flyers -1.5
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Montreal Canadiens/Ottawa Senators under 6
  • Vancouver Canucks

Sunday notes

A massive Metropolitan Division showdown is set for Sunday as the Penguins visit the Washington Capitals, each having played Saturday as well. Excluding games against the lowly Red Wings, Pittsburgh is on a 2-7 run in road games on no rest, while the Capitals are 5-3 in the second leg of back-to-backs this season.

Speaking of back-to-backs, the Jets are a modest 4-4 in second legs this season, but that's a massive step up from the Buffalo Sabres, who've lost 10 of their last 13 home games on no rest. Winnipeg visits Buffalo on Sunday.

The Vegas Golden Knights travel to Anaheim, having won four of five all-time visits there and posting a 9-2 record against the Ducks overall. But that doesn't hold a candle to what the Los Angeles Kings have managed to do against the Oilers in California, as Edmonton has lost 15 of its last 16 games in L.A.

Sunday bets:

  • Washington Capitals
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Los Angeles Kings

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Report: Sabres to place Bogosian on waivers to terminate contract

The Buffalo Sabres will place defenseman Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers Friday for the purpose of terminating his contract as he doesn't intend to report to the AHL's Rochester Americans, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

If Bogosian clears, he will be free to sign with another club. Buffalo tried to trade the defenseman and was willing to retain 50% of his contract, Dreger reports.

Bogosian, 29, is in the final year of a seven-year, $36-million contract he signed in 2013. He's carried an average annual value of $5.14 million.

The veteran blue-liner has been a healthy scratch numerous times this season. He's appeared in just 19 games, recording one goal and five points. He reportedly requested a trade out of Buffalo earlier in the campaign.

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Maurice describes DeMelo’s Jets debut as ‘coach’s porn’

Winnipeg Jets newcomer Dylan DeMelo appears to have made a good first impression on head coach Paul Maurice.

The Jets bench boss used a rather suggestive analogy to convey how he felt about DeMelo's game in the defenseman's debut with the club following Thursday night's 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

"His stick so many times knocked things down, his passes were on the tape," Maurice told reporters, per the team. "That was a pure kinda of, I don't know if you could call it 'coach's porn,' but when you're watching hockey video, you know that's pretty darn good."

Winnipeg acquired DeMelo from the Senators on Tuesday in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020. The 6-foot blue-liner recorded three blocked shots while logging 18:36 of ice time, including 3:18 on the penalty kill.

"Coaches love those kind of games," Maurice continued. "It's not flashy, but his consistency with his stick, his reads, and then his passes ... the ones he needed to snap hard he did and the ones he could feather and touch in there he did."

The Jets will look to DeMelo to help give them a much-needed defensive boost in the midst of a tight Western Conference playoff race. Winnipeg ranks last in the league in both share of expected goals for and high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five.

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