Rangers’ Vigneault envisions Eric Staal playing down the middle

Eric Staal hit the ice Monday morning as a member of the New York Rangers after Sunday's big trade.

Following practice, head coach Alain Vigneault met with the media and said he expects the longtime Carolina Hurricanes captain to play center in New York.

"I do envision Eric playing in the middle," he said. "With Eric, you're talking about an elite player, been captain of his team, and will bring his leadership to the room.

"There's no doubt our players are excited about Eric."

The Rangers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, so Staal will make his debut. But with Jesper Fast ill and out of the lineup, Staal will likely start on the wing.

There are questions, if Staal eventually moves to center, because the Rangers already employ Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard.

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Bruins’ Rinaldo to have hearing for hit on Lightning’s Paquette

Boston Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo will have a hearing for the illegal check to the head he delivered on Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette this past weekend, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced.

Rinaldo didn't leave his feet, or take a violent run, but certainly made contact with the chin of Paquette first as he attempted to separate the player from the puck in the defensive zone.

Rinaldo has been suspended on multiple occasions by the NHL, which will factor into the bureau's decision. He will, however, apparently avoid a ban in excess of five games, as Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports that it will be a phone hearing.

Rinaldo was placed on waivers Sunday.

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Carey Price skates in full equipment

It's been a difficult season for the Montreal Canadiens, but they received some very good news Monday morning.

Carey Price, who has been limited to only 12 games this season, was back on the ice in full gear as he continues to make strides in his recovery from a long-term lower-body injury.

#GottaSeeIt: A nice sight for @canadiensmtl fans! Carey Price skated in full goalie gear on Monday.

A video posted by Sportsnet (@sportsnet) on

Price has not played since sustaining the injury on Nov. 25 against the New York Rangers.

The 28-year-old goalie was enjoying yet another Vezina Trophy-caliber campaign, posting a record of 10-2-0 with a 2.06 GAA and .934 save percentage before going down with the injury.

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Agent: Bruins’ Khokhlachev could be traded before deadline

The Boston Bruins may be willing to part with top prospect Alex Khokhlachev.

Khokhlachev's agent has indicated that his client could be traded prior to Monday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express.

Selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, Khokhlachev has yet to be given an extended look with the Bruins, recording zero points in nine games. He's excelled at the AHL level this season, however, with 15 goals and 32 assists through 42 games.

Before the season, Khokhlachev expressed a measure of frustration about not getting a chance to assert himself at the NHL level.

The Bruins are believed to be in the market for a defenseman and have a decision to make regarding Loui Eriksson. Khokhlachev would be an enticing piece to deal in order to fill a need on the blue line.

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Report: Wild getting calls about Brodin but not ‘shopping’ defender

Phone's ringing in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Wild are getting calls about defenseman Jonas Brodin but aren't "shopping" the young defender, according to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo.

Brodin will be 23 in July and has a goal and five assists in 50 games, averaging 20:23 in ice time. He's signed long term, through 2019-20 at a cap hit of $4.167 million. Brodin is an integral part of the Wild's defense and, as Russo points out, the team averaged 2.92 goals against over 12 games he missed due to a broken foot.

Brodin's been speculatively linked to a trade for disgruntled Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, but it appears the Wild want to hold on to their D-man.

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Senators shut down Kyle Turris indefinitely

The Ottawa Senators' slim postseason hopes have just taken a major hit.

Top center Kyle Turris will be shut down indefinitely with a high ankle sprain he's been dealing with over the last several months, Senators GM Bryan Murray announced Monday.

Murray said the team could be shopping for a center to offset Turris' loss.

It's believed the ankle sprain occurred more than 12 weeks ago when Turris' leg was twisted underneath New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas. Turris appeared to be in considerable pain at the time, and it looked as though he would miss time, but he managed to play 20 minutes the next night.

Turris has eight points in 31 games since the incident.

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Report: Oilers ink Brossoit to 2-year, 1-way extension

The Edmonton Oilers are using trade deadline day to lock up their future stars.

The team has agreed to a two-year, one-way contract extension with goaltender Laurent Brossoit, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

The deal comes after it was reported that the Oilers had signed defenseman Brandon Davidson to a two-year extension.

Like Davidson, Brossoit was set to become a restricted free agent this summer. The 22-year-old has been steady with the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League this season, posting a 15-9-3 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.69 goals-against average.

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Maple Leafs recall Nylander, Kapanen, 3 others

The future is arriving for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sort of.

The club has recalled William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman, and Ben Smith from the AHL's Toronto Marlies in advance of Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And while it's believed the group will be in the lineup, there's expected to be further maneuvering with the call-ups in order to ensure eligibility for the AHL playoffs, in which the Marlies will be heavily favored to win the Calder Cup.

The promotion to the big club does, of course, carry contract implications.

Nylander, 19, has recorded 18 goals and 27 assists in 37 games for the Marlies in a season that was interrupted by a concussion suffered at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Kapanen, a key piece of the Phil Kessel trade last summer, has scored eight goals and added 14 assists in 32 games.

The Maple Leafs are expected to remain active in advance of the trade deadline, with P.A. Parenteau likely on the move.

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3 things we learned from Maple Leafs-Capitals trade

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals made a trade late Sunday night: Daniel Winnik and a 2016 fifth-round pick are heading to the U.S. capital for Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick, and a second-round pick this year.

Here's what we learned:

Still feels wrong

The Maple Leafs made a smart move in accumulating another draft pick, giving them 12 in the coming draft. That's a lot. And after every trade, you're almost left shaking your head, because you're so used to Toronto getting it wrong - so very wrong - not right.

But Toronto's sticking to its word. Head coach Mike Babcock wasn't lying about pain, because it's possible the Maple Leafs lose 18 of their final 22 games. This teardown had to be done, though, and it's possible - although still too early to say - that the Maple Leafs have actually figured it out. The team is finally flexing its only muscle: money. Teams can't afford to make bad decisions in the salary-cap NHL. Except Toronto.

At some point, a smart move made by Toronto won't feel like an anomaly. That day may be coming, and many probably thought it would never arrive.

A cruel business

There has never been a wider gap between two teams than the one separating the Capitals and Maple Leafs. Washington is elite. Toronto is trotting out an AHL lineup. At this point, watching the Maple Leafs play the Toronto Marlies is something people would probably pay to watch.

Laich has played 742 of his 743 regular-season games in the NHL with the Capitals, and another 65 playoff games with Washington. He's been on fifth-place Capitals teams and first-place Capitals teams. And now, with his 33rd year on the horizon, he's a Maple Leaf. Not only for the rest of this season, but next, too.

Washington has 94 points, Toronto 52. The Capitals are a Stanley Cup contender - the favorite. You can't even say "Stanley Cup" within a few blocks of the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This is awful for Laich. Unfair.

You play to win. And Laich gave his heart and soul, his best years, his prime, to the Capitals. He played a game that didn't make it so surprising when the injuries came, when the decline began. And the decline was ruthless.

It's a business. Toronto's proving that best. Laich's learning it firsthand. Laich can't possibly watch the Capitals in the playoffs on television. That'll be too difficult.

New reality

It's been 10 years since the NHL implemented a salary cap. Teams are finally figuring it out. And the new reality is that there are ramifications for signing players to bad contracts.

And the Maple Leafs, to their credit, are finding a role for themselves in this new league landscape. Because Toronto is the only team that can afford to make its own mistakes and take on other teams' mistakes - for a price.

Even in a hard-cap league, teams like the Maple Leafs can spend others into the ground, by pouring money into their front office, and an analytics team, by figuring out creative ways to absorb money, and bury money, and in the case of Stephane Robidas, make players disappear.

Toronto's money is endless. And even a team like Washington, a playoff team in seven of the past eight seasons, employing one of the best players in the world in Alex Ovechkin, has no chance of ever playing on the same monetary level.

The Capitals' window is open for only another two years. If Toronto keeps this up, it can prop open its window for a long time, maybe even a Detroit Red Wings-like long time. And for Brendan Shanahan and Babcock, that has to be the goal.

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