The Future

GRIMALDI NAMED CCM/AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that San Antonio Rampage forward Rocco Grimaldi has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 29, 2017.

In three games last week, Grimaldi scored four goals – two of them game-winners – and added an assist for five points to go with a plus-4 rating.

Grimaldi recorded his first three-point night of the season on Wednesday, including scoring two third-period goals in a 6-2 win over Rockford. On Friday night he scored two more goals against Ontario, breaking a tie late in the third period and then netting the decisive goal in overtime for a 5-4 Rampage victory, and on Saturday he registered a game-high six shots on goal in a 4-3 setback vs. Ontario.

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Lorito and Russo Named 2017 AHL All-Star Classic Participants

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Hockey League announced on Thursday that Grand Rapids Griffins forward Matt Lorito and defenseman Robbie Russo have been selected to play for the Central Division All-Star Team at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held Jan. 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.

Each of the AHL’s four divisions will be represented by 12 players. Rosters were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.

Lorito and Russo will join head coach Todd Nelson at the event, as Nelson earned the honor to coach the Central Division by virtue of Grand Rapids owning the division’s best record as of Dec. 31.

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‘Yotes Notes: Dvorak Scores First NHL Goal

GLENDALE – Christian Dvorak became the third Coyotes rookie to notch his first NHL goal this season in Arizona’s 3-2 shootout win over Nashville on Thursday night at Gila River Arena.

Dvorak scored a nifty, backhanded goal past Pekka Rinne at 9:17 of the first period to give Arizona a 1-0 lead. The 20-year-old forward took a pass from Ryan White at the top of the slot, skated to his right and around Preds defenseman Matt Irwin, and then lifted a shot that hit Rinne’s glove and trickled into the net.

Dvorak also chipped in an assist on a goal scored by Anthony Duclair at 5:48 of the third period that pulled Arizona into a 2-2 tie. It’s the first multi-point game of Dvorak’s eight-game NHL career.

“It’s a little bit of a relief,” Dvorak said. “It’s special to get the first NHL goal and it’s nice to help the team win.”

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Callan Foote following in father’s footsteps

Callan Foote of Kelowna of the Western Hockey League, one of the top defensemen eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft, stands out for a number of reasons.

But the No. 1 thing people seem to notice about him are his feet.

“He’s got something like size 16 or 17 feet, so he’s working into those,” Kelowna assistant general manager Lorne Frey said.

Said Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, who lived with Foote and his family during his first two NHL seasons, “The kid’s had bigger feet than me from the time I’ve known him.”

When Duchene moved in, Foote was 10 years old.

Foote, who said his feet are size 16, has heard all manner of jokes about them, and even makes them himself.

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Defenseman Lucas Johansen ‘looking like an outstanding draft pick’

As Lucas Johansen stepped onto the ice for his first NHL preseason game Monday, it didn’t feel all that different from the summers he spent training with his brother, Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen. Skating with professional hockey players such as Brenden Dillon, Derek Grant and Jake Virtanen in Vancouver was a normal offseason for Lucas, so playing against NHLers in an exhibition for the first time didn’t spook him.

“For a first game, to have that kind of poise playing defense, you don’t see it very often,” associate coach Todd Reirden said. “So, it’s fun to watch, how he goes about the game. Certainly, I think it’s helped growing up in the family that he has and being around some of the players he’s practiced with. I think he has some special tools, in terms of his ability to slow down the play and see some things that other players don’t. He’s looking like an outstanding draft pick for us and a real great prospect moving forward.”

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Playing in the NHL runs in the family for Lucas Johansen

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Lucas Johansen was just 12 years old when his older brother was drafted. He remembers looking over at his parents and noticing how sweaty their palms were. As Ryan Johansen experienced just about every emotion as he waited for his name to be called, Lucas focused on the bright lights at Staples Center instead of the tension next to him.

Ryan’s stress was short-lived, the fourth overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL draft. When that pick was about to be announced at this summer’s NHL draft in Buffalo, Lucas was the one anxiously waiting, and Ryan decided to remind Lucas what was at stake.

“I kept saying, ‘As long as you don’t go top three, I’m fine,’ ” Ryan said earlier this summer. “I need to be able to keep those bragging rights.”

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Brothers Nick Schmaltz, Jordan Schmaltz face off

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Chicago Blackhawks forward prospect Nick Schmaltz finally had an opportunity to go head-to-head against the one player he idolized as a teenager during the Traverse City prospects tournament at Centre Ice Arena this week.

In the end, St. Louis Blues defense prospect Jordan Schmaltz got the best of his little brother with a goal, an assist, two shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in a 3-2 victory on Friday. Nick Schmaltz had no points and two shots on goal.

“It was the first time we ever played against each other, so it was fun watching him play; he had a great game,” said Nick (6-foot, 179 pounds). “Hopefully, one day we’ll get a regular-season NHL game in against each other.”

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Kerby Rychel excited by second chance with Maple Leafs

Kerby Rychel is like most Maple Leafs prospects — polite and very anxious to earn a spot on a Toronto roster continuing a trend from last season where young players will be thrust into the NHL spotlight to see if they belong.

Rychel, though, is going through the “young gun” phase of his career for a second time, as he joins dozens of regulars and prospects in daily workouts this week at the MasterCard Centre, ahead of the opening of training camp later this month.

The 21-year-old is coming off a trying 2015-16 with Columbus, where his career failed to launch, prompting a trade request and a silver lining in a Calder Cup championship with the Lake Erie Monsters.

“They (Leafs) told me to come to camp in great shape and just be ready to play,” said Rychel, who was dealt to Toronto on June 25 for defenceman Scott Harrington and a conditional draft pick in 2017 (a fifth-rounder if Rychel is placed on waivers).

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Christian Dvorak convinced he’s ready for NHL

TORONTO — Arizona Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak is convinced he’s ready for the NHL.

“I think so,” said Dvorak, a center who attended the NHLPA Rookie Showcase on Aug. 29. “Obviously it’s up to the team. But I’m going to try my best, give my best effort in training camp, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Dvorak, 20, had 93 goals and 230 points in 125 games with London of the Ontario Hockey League over the past two seasons. A left wing, Dvorak was selected by the Coyotes in the second round (No. 58) of the 2014 NHL Draft. He had a little taste of professional hockey in 2015, playing in two regular-season games and five playoff games with Portland of the American Hockey League. Dvorak had a goal and an assist in the two regular-season games and one assist in the five playoff games with Portland.

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Mac Carruth put his his career back on track by living in the moment

Mac Carruth’s career was heading in the wrong direction.

Carruth had played in more ECHL games than AHL games two years after signing his entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. His ECHL numbers weren’t great. He was also thought to be immature and a hothead. When his NHL deal came up after the 2014-15 season, the Blackhawks didn’t offer him a new one. His best bet was an AHL/ECHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs and Indy Fuel.

That could have been the last you heard of Carruth. Plenty of NHL-drafted goalies never find their footing in professional hockey and end up bouncing around lower leagues or get out of the game all together.

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