Lightning’s Kucherov out with upper-body injury vs. Sabres

Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov is out with an upper-body injury for the Bolts' matchup against the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday, according to Bryan Burns of the team's official website.

Kucherov left Monday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after playing just six shifts. Details of his ailment remain unclear at this point, but his agent Dan Milstein told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times that it is not a concussion, it is not hand-related, and nothing is broken.

The 24-year-old leads the NHL with 82 points heading into Wednesday's action.

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Bettman: Potential Seattle expansion draft would feature same rules as Vegas

If the NHL rewards Seattle an expansion franchise, it will face the same parameters as the Vegas Golden Knights when it comes to selecting a team, commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday, per TSN's Farhan Lalji.

In case you've forgotten the rules, each team was allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie - or eight skaters and one goaltender - leaving the Golden Knights to pluck one player per franchise to fill their inaugural roster.

Additionally, all first- and second-year players were exempt, while any roster player with a no-movement clause had to be protected unless they agreed to waive it.

Seattle's ownership group officially submitted it's application to the league - which included a $10-million fee - in early February and will kick off its season-ticket drive March 1.

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Jordan Staal thanks hockey world for support after passing of infant daughter

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal and his wife Heather released a statement to thank friends, family, and the entire hockey community for the support they've received following the passing of their infant daughter Hannah.

Staal hasn't suited up for the Hurricanes since Feb. 18 and his status moving forward remains unclear during this difficult time.

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Vancouver to host 2019 NHL Draft

The city of Vancouver will play host to the 2019 NHL Draft, the Canucks' media relations department announced Wednesday.

In doing so, Vancouver will be the first Canadian city to host the draft since Montreal in 2009.

2019 will be a big year for Vancouver, which is already hosting the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships that year. The 2019-20 season will also be the 50th in Canucks' history.

"Returning the draft to Vancouver allows the entire NHL family to meaningfully participate in a highlight of the Canucks' 50-year anniversary celebration," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "The 2019 NHL Draft will provide another memorable moment for the Canucks and their fans while shining the spotlight on one of the world's most scenic cities and serving as the starting point for so many NHL careers."

Though it's still awfully early, American center Jack Hughes is considered the top prospect eligible for the 2019 draft at this stage.

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Canucks ink Biega to 2-year, $1.65M contract extension

The Vancouver Canucks signed defenseman Alex Biega to a two-year, $1.65-million contract on Wednesday, the team announced.

Biega was a pending unrestricted free agent and gets a slight pay raise from his previous two-year deal that paid him an annual average of $750,000.

"Alex has an incredible work ethic and is always prepared," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a release. "He sets an example for our younger players to follow. We're pleased to have Alex as part of our team moving forward."

The 29-year-old has six assists in 31 games this season.

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Penguins’ Aston-Reese out ‘longer term’ after suffering injury in practice

The Pittsburgh Penguins' newest offensive contributor is going to miss some time.

Zach Aston-Reese missed Tuesday night's loss to the New Jersey Devils because he got hurt in the morning skate earlier in the day, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan revealed Wednesday.

Sullivan added that the 23-year-old forward will be out "longer term" with what the coach would only classify as an "upper-body" ailment.

Aston-Reese scored four goals in a four-game span earlier this month after being promoted to Sidney Crosby's wing on the Penguins' top line. He has six points in 10 games since being called up from Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Penguins signed the Hobey Baker Award finalist to an entry-level deal out of Northeastern University last year.

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Sharks sign Dell to 2-year contract extension

The San Jose Sharks signed goaltender Aaron Dell to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, the team announced.

The 28-year-old is in the final season of a two-year, $1.225-million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"Aaron has met every challenge he has faced in his career head-on and our team is a confident group when he's in the net," said Wilson. "He's a very popular guy in the dressing room and we feel that Aaron and Martin [Jones] give us one of the top goaltending tandems in the League."

Dell has been solid as Martin Jones' backup this season, going 14-5-3 in 25 games with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

In his two years with the Sharks, he's amassed a record of 25-11-4 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

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Lundqvist: It was tough knowing teammates could be traded at deadline

The last few weeks have not been easy for the New York Rangers.

On Feb. 8. general manager Jeff Gorton and president Glen Sather penned a letter to fans regarding the retooling of the team's roster, with the reality being that fan favorites would be traded for picks and prospects.

The team stuck to its word, dealing captain Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, and Nick Holden ahead of the deadline. For goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, all that movement hit him hard on Tuesday.

"I woke up today and it's almost like you can't believe it," Lundqvist said on Tuesday, according to's Kevin Woodley. "It's been so many years playing together, going through so many things, and it's just a different team."

Knowing that teammates could be traded anytime between when the club released its statement and the deadline was certainly taxing on the players.

"It's been a really tough stretch here for a few weeks knowing this might happen," said Lundqvist. "A big part of our team, good friends, they are gone. … I've never experienced anything like this. It was new, but I totally understand where we are and what needs to be done."

On the flip side, the Rangers were able to kick-start their rebuild with the moves they made, acquiring two first-round picks, a conditional first, a second, a third, a seventh, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Ryan Spooner, along with some prospects and younger players, setting themselves up nicely to quickly turn things around.

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Joe Thornton picked Evander Kane up at the airport

Joe Thornton can't help the San Jose Sharks on the ice at the moment, but he's stepping up in other ways.

The veteran forward showed up to greet Evander Kane at the airport after the former Buffalo Sabres winger was traded to San Jose on Monday.

Hopped off the plane at SJC 🎶

A post shared by San Jose Sharks (@sanjosesharks) on

"Jumbo picked me up," Kane said of Thornton on Tuesday, according to Bay Area News Group's Curtis Pashelka. "That was real nice of him, especially with the injury that he has. It's good to see a familiar face right off the hop. A nice welcome."

Kane tallied a pair of assists in his Sharks debut Tuesday night, a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Thornton has been out of action since Jan. 23 with a knee injury.

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NHL Power Rankings: Cup contenders get deeper after trade deadline shuffle

The 11th installment of theScore's NHL Power Rankings is put together by editors Craig Hagerman, Cory Wilkins, and Sean O'Leary.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (43-17-3)

Previously: 1st

The rich get richer.

The Lightning are still the top team in the league and only improved with the additions of Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller on Monday. McDonagh gives a huge boost to the back end, while the forward group remains elite.

It should be clear sailing as Nikita Kucherov's injury doesn't appear to be serious. - Hagerman

2. Vegas Golden Knights (41-17-5) ▲

Previously: 3rd

The Golden Knights could have very well jumped into first had they been able to land Erik Karlsson. They didn't, but nevertheless, they added Tomas Tatar without subtracting from the current roster, which only helps their chances of doing something truly historic when the playoffs roll around. - Hagerman

3. Nashville Predators (39-14-9) ▼

Previously: 2nd

The Predators are playing tremendous hockey and reports surfaced this past week that the team also had interest in Karlsson - could you imagine?

Still, the team bolstered its forward depth by acquiring Ryan Hartman. With Pekka Rinne in stellar form and Nashville's defense corps being what it is, the Predators are arguably the team to beat in the West. - Hagerman

4. Winnipeg Jets (37-17-9) ▲

Previously: 5th

Unless the Jets have something to say about that.

The club has been electric of late, and with arguably the biggest surprise deal of the deadline - acquiring Paul Stastny from the Blues - the team has cemented its place as a potential Stanley Cup favorite. - Hagerman

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (39-20-7) ▲

Previously: 6th

The Maple Leafs didn't get the defensive upgrade they desired, but they did add Tomas Plekanec, giving the club more depth at forward.

Toronto's gone 10-2-2 in February, most recently taking four of a possible six points from the Bruins, Lightning, and Panthers without Auston Matthews at their disposal. The Leafs will look to ride this wave down the stretch. - Hagerman

6. Boston Bruins (38-15-8) ▼

Previously: 4th

The Bruins are starting to come back to earth after an incredible stretch from late November to early February. The team's posted a 6-4-0 record over their last 10, and appear to be going all-in.

Boston acquired Rick Nash from the Rangers to help bolster the offense. The team will be dangerous, but Patrice Bergeron's fractured foot is certainly concerning. - Hagerman

7. Philadelphia Flyers (34-19-10) ▲

Previously: 16th

Don't look now, but the Flyers are suddenly in the hunt for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The team played well enough to warrant Ron Hextall acquiring Petr Mrazek from the Red Wings, and Mrazek's gone 3-0-0 with a .948 save percentage for the Flyers. Their top line remains elite, their defense is deceptively good, and with a capable goalie, they could be a dark horse in the East. - Hagerman

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-24-4) ▲

Previously: 10th

The Penguins made their annual "of course they got him" deal when they acquired Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators last week.

Thanks to some help from Vegas, they were able to fit Brassard in under the cap, and now they easily have the most center depth in the league (if they didn't already).

There is no reason to believe Pittsburgh couldn't three-peat as champs. - Hagerman

9. Washington Capitals (36-21-7)

Previously: 9th

The Capitals have hit a bit of a bump in the road with just four wins in their last 10, but still hold top spot in the Metro.

The team didn't do much at the deadline aside from adding a couple of depth defensemen, but they still have the talent to compete. However, they have also had that in the past, and we all know how that worked out. - Hagerman

10. Minnesota Wild (36-20-7) ▲

Previously: 11th

The Wild have quietly climbed up the Western Conference standings.

They've ripped off five straight wins on the back of Eric Staal, who's posted 12 points in those games. They didn't make any significant upgrades at the deadline but, like the Maple Leafs, could look to ride the hot hand. - Hagerman

11. Anaheim Ducks (31-21-12) ▲

Previously: 12th

The Ducks are built to win in the playoffs and reinforced that quality Monday by picking up gritty veteran Jason Chimera from the Islanders. A healthy John Gibson is key to an extended postseason run. - Wilkins

12. Dallas Stars (36-23-4) ▼

Previously: 8th

No action out of Dallas prior to the trade deadline could come back to haunt a club in the thick of the playoff race. Still, the Stars may be satisfied with the addition to their lineup from earlier in February - the return of injured blue-liner Marc Methot. - Wilkins

13. Calgary Flames (32-23-9) ▲

Previously: 14th

Despite starter Mike Smith being on the shelf, the Flames have held their own, turning to rookie netminder David Rittich. Finding offense down the stretch is needed to secure a playoff berth. - Wilkins

14. New Jersey Devils (33-22-8) ▲

Previously: 20th

Kudos to Devils general manager Ray Shero, who made a pair of savvy deadline additions in Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon at a low price. - Wilkins

15. San Jose Sharks (34-21-9)

Previously: 15th

It's no secret the Sharks need offense, and GM Doug Wilson got one of the best bargains of the deadline in acquiring Evander Kane from the Sabres to round out his forward group. - Wilkins

16. Columbus Blue Jackets (32-26-5) ▲

Previously: 18th

The Blue Jackets weren't big-game hunters at the deadline, but made some under-the-radar tweaks in trading for Thomas Vanek, Ian Cole, and Mark Letestu. Time will tell if that's enough to help Columbus return to the playoffs. - Wilkins

17. Los Angeles Kings (35-24-5) ▼

Previously: 13th

The Kings were relatively quiet at the deadline, but the team's biggest pickup is likely a healthy Jeff Carter. The veteran scorer missed 55 games with an ankle injury before returning to the lineup Saturday. - Wilkins

18. St. Louis Blues (34-26-4) ▼

Previously: 7th

For the second straight deadline, the Blues shipped out a pending unrestricted free agent they didn't plan to re-sign in Stastny. It's good asset management, but risky for a team in the playoff hunt. - Wilkins

19. Florida Panthers (29-25-6) ▲

Previously: 24th

Panthers GM Dale Tallon balked at the deadline prices - the team was reportedly in the mix for blue-liner McDonagh. In the end, it was a quiet deadline in South Florida, meaning the Panthers will need to look within if they are to climb into a playoff position. - Wilkins

20. New York Islanders (29-27-7) ▼

Previously: 19th

Earlier this month, Islanders GM Garth Snow stated he's comfortable with the tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss. He wasn't bluffing after all - he didn't add a netminder at the deadline, meaning the Islanders will look to the duo to carry them to the postseason. - Wilkins

21. Carolina Hurricanes (27-25-11)

Previously: 21st

It's been a problem all season, but ranking 30th in save percentage isn't going to get the Hurricanes anywhere, no matter how many good pieces they have up front or on the blue line. - O'Leary

22. Colorado Avalanche (33-24-5) ▼

Previously: 17th

Since the conclusion of Colorado's 10-game winning streak Jan. 23, the Avs rank 26th in the NHL with just 36 goals in 16 games. Combine that with Semyon Varlamov's .892 road save percentage and the Avalanche's odds in the Western Conference wild-card race are slim. - O'Leary

23. Detroit Red Wings (26-26-10) ▲

Previously: 26th

It was a confusing deadline for the Red Wings, as the club failed to deal Mike Green but somehow managed to pull a first-, second-, and third-round pick for Tomas Tatar and his 28 points. - O'Leary

24. Edmonton Oilers (27-32-4) ▲

Previously: 25th

There's been lots of finger-pointing throughout Edmonton's disastrous season, but it feels the production of Leon Draisaitl hasn't gotten any attention. The 22-year-old has 57 points - 51 of them at even strength - in 59 games.

See? It's not all bad, Oilers fans. - O'Leary

25. Chicago Blackhawks (27-28-8) ▼

Previously: 23rd

After last season's first-round sweep, Chicago appeared to hit rock bottom. However, with just three wins in their last 10 games, it turns out things can be much worse.

The Blackhawks will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and it will be interesting to monitor how the club plans to fix things during its longest offseason in a decade. - O'Leary

26. Montreal Canadiens (23-29-10) ▲

Previously: 27th

No Shea Weber for the rest of the season and no Carey Price for the foreseeable future. It appears the Habs are fallin' for Dahlin. - O'Leary

27. Arizona Coyotes (18-34-10) ▲

Previously: 31st

Congratulations to the Coyotes, who come in ranked higher than 28th for the second time this season.

On the strength of Antti Raanta, Arizona has actually won a handful of games recently - which, in the grand scheme of things, may not be a positive when it comes to draft-lottery positioning. - O'Leary

28. New York Rangers (27-30-6) ▼

Previously: 22nd

The Rangers' brass promised some changes, and delivered, hauling in a ton of assets for Grabner, Nash, and McDonagh. It will take a while to see if the accrued picks and prospects pan out, but on the surface, it looks like New York did all right. - O'Leary

29. Ottawa Senators (21-31-10) ▼

Previously: 28th

Boy, a Karlsson trade would have been fun. Let's revisit this topic in the offseason. - O'Leary

30. Vancouver Canucks (24-32-7) ▼

Previously: 29th

While most of the basement-dwellers made a point to go out and acquire future assets by dealing expendable contracts, the Canucks figured re-signing Erik Gudbranson for three more seasons was a good idea. - O'Leary

31. Buffalo Sabres (19-33-11) ▼

Previously: 30th

The Sabres had better hope Kane is interested in staying with the Sharks, because if the most valuable asset Buffalo acquires for one of the biggest names on this year's trade board is a second-round pick, that deal will be considered nothing but a failure. - O'Leary

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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