Sharks cleared to return to SAP Center on Feb. 13

The San Jose Sharks can finally return home.

San Jose started the season training and playing in Glendale, Arizona, due to COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County. The ban on contact sports has since been lifted, paving the way for the club to return to the SAP Center.

The Sharks have yet to play a home game as they were scheduled to play eight straight road contests to open the season. The team's upcoming two games against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 1 and 3 will still be played in Arizona as previously scheduled.

"While we are pleased to have received permission for the team to return to Santa Clara County, there are numerous health and safety issues - both from the county and league level - that need to be implemented to ensure the safety of the returning players and staff," the team announced, according to NBC Sports' Brodie Brazil.

The Sharks' first game at SAP Center will be on Feb. 13 against the Anaheim Ducks. Due to local restrictions, fans won't be allowed to attend.

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Senators trade Jaros to Sharks

The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Christian Jaros to the San Jose Sharks for forward Jack Kopacka and a 2022 seventh-round pick, the team announced Wednesday.

Jaros, a fifth-round pick in 2015, has tallied 13 points in 76 career NHL games while averaging 13:32 per contest. He's right-handed and brings significant size at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.

Kopacka has yet to appear in an NHL game. A fourth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2016, he tallied 15 points in 37 games with the AHL's San Diego Gulls a year ago. The left-winger stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 199 pounds.

The Sharks acquired Kopacka from the Ducks earlier on Wednesday in exchange for defenseman Trevor Carrick.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and Sharks GM Doug Wilson appear to have a good relationship. The two executives have made four trades with each other, per CapFriendly - most notably the Erik Karlsson blockbuster in 2018.

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Jim Rutherford resigns as Penguins GM for personal reasons

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford resigned from his position, citing personal reasons, the team announced Wednesday.

Assistant GM Patrik Allvin will take over responsibilities on an interim basis as the club begins its search for a new executive.

"It has been a great honor to serve as general manager of the Penguins, and to hang two more Stanley Cup banners at PPG Paints Arena," Rutherford said. "I have so many people to thank, beginning with the owners, Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, and team president David Morehouse. There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby.

"The fans here have been tremendous to me and my family. I know it's a little unusual to have this happen during a season, but just felt this was the right time to step away."

Rutherford took over as GM in 2014 and led Pittsburgh to back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. He made several major trades during his tenure, acquiring the likes of Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Jason Zucker, and Patrick Marleau, among others.

The 71-year-old also hired current head coach Mike Sullivan, who transformed an uninspired Penguins team falling well short of expectations into Cup champions immediately after his arrival.

Pittsburgh owns a 276-154-56 record since Rutherford's hiring. The club ranks fifth in wins, points, and point percentage over that span. The Penguins currently sit fourth in the East Division through seven games.

Before joining the Penguins, Rutherford spent 20 years as GM of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

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Vezina power rankings: Gibson keeping Ducks afloat with torrid start

In the first edition of theScore's 2021 Vezina Trophy Power Rankings, we get an early look at which netminders have been the toughest to beat so far this season.

Since the sample sizes are still quite small, goaltenders must have made a minimum of four starts to be considered. Here are the five puck-stoppers who've stood out the most through the opening two weeks.

GAA = Goals against average
xGA/60 = Expected goals against per 60 minutes
SV% = Save percentage
HDSV% = High-danger save percentage
GSAA = Goals saved above average

5. Vitek Vanecek, Capitals

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Record GAA xGA/60 SV% HDSV% GSAA
3-0-2 2.70 2.68 .918 .810 2.19

Vanecek's emergence has been a welcome revelation for the Capitals with regular starter Ilya Samsonov on the COVID-19 protocol list. The 25-year-old has faced over 30 shots in four of his first five NHL starts, and he's yet to drop a game in regulation. He also ranks seventh in minutes played among goalies, and Vanecek has done an excellent job helping the Capitals stay steady during what could have been a rocky start.

4. Joonas Korpisalo, Blue Jackets

Jamie Sabau / National Hockey League / Getty
Record GAA xGA/60 SV% HDSV% GSAA
 1-1-2 2.45 2.83 .928 .878 3.24

Korpisalo has quietly been one of the league's most reliable goaltenders so far. The 26-year-old has outperformed his expected goals-against average by a decent margin, and he ranks fifth in goals saved above average among all goalies. Those metrics show his elite play despite only earning one win.

3. Philipp Grubauer, Avalanche

Matthew Stockman / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Record GAA xGA/60 SV% HDSV% GSAA
4-2-0 2.17 2.34 .919 .841 2.24

The Avalanche haven't been as dominant as many expected to start, but that's not Grubauer's fault. The German allowed two goals or fewer in four of his first five starts, and he's tied for the league lead in wins.

It's a shame Grubauer was injured during the club's postseason run in the bubble, but the 29-year-old continues to prove he's more than capable of being the starter for a top team after spending much of his career as a backup.

2. Semyon Varlamov, Islanders

Mike Stobe / National Hockey League / Getty
Record GAA xGA/60 SV% HDSV% GSAA
3-1-0 1.00 2.17 .966 .895 7.34

It took opponents 142:10 of action to finally beat Varlamov this season, as the Islanders puck-stopper appears to have carried over his form after an incredible playoff run last summer. The Capitals finally got to Varlamov for three goals on Tuesday, but the 32-year-old has still allowed only four goals over four games, and he boasts the best save percentage and second-best goals saved above average among all netminders.

1. John Gibson, Ducks

David Becker / National Hockey League / Getty
Record GAA xGA/60 SV% HDSV% GSAA
3-1-2 1.67 2.92 .948 .846 8.20

Gibson is off to yet another red-hot start. The Ducks goaltender has been sensational while also managing one of the largest workloads thus far, ranking second in shots against and fifth in minutes played among all goalies. Anaheim owns the league's worst offense and has scored just 10 goals with Gibson in net, and he's still won half of his starts.

Maintaining his top-tier numbers behind the rebuilding Ducks will be a tall task, but Gibson possesses the ability to single-handedly keep the club in the postseason race.

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Tortorella acknowledges feud with Dubois: ‘Goddamn right we’ve had conflict’

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella didn't mince words when discussing the recent trade of his past disgruntled star Pierre-Luc Dubois.

"Have Luc and I had conflict? Goddamn right we've had conflict," Tortorella said in an interview with Sportsnet's Christine Simpson. "If someone doesn't want to be here, that's a hard thing for me to stomach, quite honestly."

He added: "I'll tell you this, I do think the athletes (today), it's a softer athlete. And the benching; I'd do it again."

After Tortorella benched Dubois for the majority of what turned out to be his final game with the Blue Jackets early last week, many people speculated that the failing relationship between the two led to the center's trade demand last month.

However, after being dealt to the Winnipeg Jets last week, Dubois said Tortorella wasn't the reason for his trade request. Dubois added that he has "nothing but respect for him." The 22-year-old hasn't explained why he demanded a trade.

While Tortorella is well aware of his reputation for having a brass nature and tough coaching style, Columbus' bench boss says he pays no attention to it.

"A lot of people have some perceptions of me that don't have a clue who I am," Tortorella said.

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Trotz irked by lack of playoff mentality from Isles: ‘It’s pissing me off’

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz knows every game in a shortened season counts, and he doesn't like his team's effort so far this year.

"It's playoff mentality right now and I'm not sure we have our playoff mentality yet," Trotz said postgame on Tuesday, according to The Athletic's Arthur Staple. "And it's pissing me off."

The Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday after allowing the game-winning goal with 26.7 seconds left. Washington outplayed New York all game, finishing with a Corsi For of 56.52% at even strength and nine high-danger scoring chances to the Islanders' five.

Trotz vowed he'll change the lineup moving forward to try to get something going.

"We need more. I just felt we had one line," Trotz said, according to NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "That’s all I felt like I had tonight and that’s a couple games in a row here, so we’re going to shake it up and put some new people in and go from there."

After New York won three of its first four games of the season, it's now lost the last two to bring its record to 3-3-0.

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Report: Blues discussing Vince Dunn with other clubs

The St. Louis Blues are evaluating the market for struggling defenseman Vince Dunn.

"I'm told that the Blues have engaged with teams (in) conversations about Vince Dunn," TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Tuesday on "Insider Trading."

The Blues made Dunn a healthy scratch Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The rearguard has collected one goal and one assist while averaging 16:32 in ice time over the first six games.

Dunn signed a one-year, $1.875-million contract Dec. 31. The 24-year-old had been a restricted free agent.

He played poorly in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings, as Carl Grundstrom burned Dunn for a goal that Blues head coach Craig Berube lamented postgame.

"Gotta play better. Can't get walked one-on-one. We'll keep that in-house talking about it," Berube said.

Dunn spent his previous three NHL seasons with the Blues, who drafted him 56th overall in 2015.

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