Rookie Watch: Perfetti on first-year NHL All-Star Team

SUNRISE, FL – Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets: He’s second among rookies with 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) and 24 even-strength points (six goals) in 46 games. The No. 10 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is tied for seventh (Jack Quinn, Sabres) among rookie forwards with 17 takeaways and tied for eighth with 21 blocked shots. He plays on a line with center Pierre-Luc Dubois and left wing Kyle Connor, averages 14:57 of ice time, and is good at reading and reacting to how an opponent plays him.

The 21-year-old has rebounded this season after playing just 18 NHL games and 17 American Hockey League games last season because of an upper-body injury.

“Being a good pro is you find a way to succeed and play your game,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “He’s done that. He’s growing on the ice and he’s growing off the ice. He sees the ice very well, has a good hockey IQ and knows where people are. He’s getting it away from the defender and giving the receiver of the pass an opportunity to make the next play.”

‘He has eyes on the back of his head’: Cole Perfetti is thriving with the Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG, MB – If all went to plan, Cole Perfetti wouldn’t be in the Calder Trophy conversation right now.

And, frankly, he’s not going to win it this year anyways. That’s up to Matty Beniers and Logan Thompson to fight it out. But Perfetti’s development was abruptly halted after an upper-body injury took him out of the second half of 2021-22 – just weeks after becoming a full-time NHLer. Perfetti was limited to just 18 games in the NHL and 17 in the AHL in what was supposed to be his first proper season of pro hockey.

Missing half a season for any player is tough. And that’s amplified when you’re a young guy just looking to get your groove at 20 years old.

Gruden Family Comes From All Over For Jonathan’s NHL Debut

PITTSBURGH, PA – On Saturday afternoon, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Jonathan Gruden scored for the fifth time in three games during a road game against the Charlotte Checkers. Just a day later, he was en route to Pittsburgh after the Penguins recalled him.

“Pretty crazy,” he said. “I found out (Sunday) morning in Charlotte, and then flew to Wilkes and drove here (Sunday) night.”

Gruden made his NHL debut on Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks at PPG Paints Arena. He logged 7:02 of ice time in the Penguins’ 4-3 overtime victory, even having an attempt ring off the post in the first period.

“I thought Grudes played well. I thought he was making good decisions, I thought he played with confidence,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I would have liked to have gotten him a little bit more ice time, but the way the game evolved with some of the power plays and special teams, it just didn’t give me the opportunity to use the bench the way I had intended going in and the way I wanted to. But I thought for his first game, I thought he played a real solid game.”

Lightning’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare drives fourth-line heroics

TAMPA BAY, FL – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare didn’t want to give himself too much credit following the Lightning’s 4-1 win over the Kraken Monday afternoon in Seattle.

Locked in a tight-checking game with not many scoring opportunities, Tampa Bay’s top offensive threats were quiet and the Lightning needed a jolt from their bottom two lines.

Bellemare doesn’t score much. His job is to center a fourth line focused on playing a heavy game and possessing the puck, winning faceoffs and being an anchor on the penalty kill.

But in a game like Monday’s, where Tampa Bay had to find its offensive game from somewhere other than its top-six forwards, Bellemare made sure he was in the right place at the right time.

In a first period that saw the Lightning make 25 shot attempts (15 on goal), they were sustaining zone time and pressuring the net. But it wasn’t until Bellemare deflected an Ian Cole shot past goaltender Philipp Grubauer with 1:17 left in the period that the Lightning were rewarded with a goal, the game’s only tally in the first two periods.

“It’s depth,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And that’s the difference with some teams. When you have some depth, it helps you win some hockey games, and in a game like (Monday’s), when (Nikita Kucherov) or (Steven Stamkos) or (Brayden Point) isn’t getting one, you need somebody like ‘Belly’ to get it for you, and it turns out to be a big one for us.”

Shawn Hunwick, Established NHL Agent, Joins KO Sports, Inc.

DENVER, CO – KO Sports, Inc. announced today that established NHLPA Certified Agent, Shawn Hunwick, has joined the agency.

A former goaltender, Shawn had an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Michigan where he earned numerous team and individual accolades including being named a Hobey Baker Finalist in 2012. Shawn continued on to professional hockey, making stops in the NHL, ECHL and DEL before retiring in 2013 to pursue a career as a player agent. Over the course of the past ten years, Shawn has built his client base organically and represents some of the top young talent in the game.

“It is an honor for me and my clients to be joining the group at KO Sports,” said Hunwick. “I have long admired their approach to recruiting and representing hockey players and I am proud to embark on this new chapter together.”

“Shawn is a perfect fit with our agency based on his professionalism, high standard of care for his clients and integrity,” said Founder and CEO, Kurt Overhardt. “On behalf of our entire group, we are thrilled to welcome Shawn and his clients to KO Sports.”

KO Sports, Inc. is the Top Boutique Hockey Agency in the World representing some of the best players and people in the National Hockey League.

How J.T. Compher became faceoff dynamo for Avalanche: ‘It’s the studying’

DENVER, CO – Follow J.T. Compher during TV timeouts at Ball Arena and witness a crafty NHL veteran perfecting his craft in the faceoff circle.

Why is he talking to the officials?

“Getting to know the linesmen a bit and how they want the draws to go and what they’re looking for that night,” Compher explained recently from the Avs dressing room. “Trying to have a relationship with them so you know what they’re looking for. Most (officials) are about the same. But, sometimes, there is a little wrinkle here or there.”

NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman announces Troy Terry a NHL All Star for the Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CA – For the second consecutive year, Troy Terry has been named a NHL All-Star for the Anaheim Ducks.

Terri found out the exciting news via AC video message from NFL Hall of Famer, Troy Aikman, for whom Troy Terry was named after. The surprise special moment was shared with Terry and his teammates in Anaheim.

John Gibson makes 35 saves, Ducks shut out Stars

ANAHEIM, CA – John Gibson made 35 saves for the Anaheim Ducks in a 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars at Honda Center on Wednesday.

It was Gibson’s first shutout since Nov. 2, 2021, and his 24th in the NHL. He also tied Guy Hebert for the second-most wins in Ducks history (173), behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere (206).

“I thought everybody played well. It was a good team game,” Gibson said. “When there were rebounds, they cleared them away.

“They had a good push in the third period, but we found a way just to keep them to the outside. A lot of guys at the end there blocking shots, so it was a good team effort.”

Filip Gustavsson gets 1st NHL Shutout, Wild beat Canucks 3-0

VANCOUVER, BC – Filip Gustavsson stopped 35 shots for his first NHL shutout as the Minnesota Wild beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Saturday night to snap a two-game skid.

Matt Boldy, Connor Dewar and Sam Steel scored and Mats Zuccarello had two assists for the Wild, who were playing for the third time in four nights.

Gustavsson, making his 32nd career start, had four saves in the first period, 19 in the second and 12 in the third. Many of the shots he faced were from long range. He made a nice stop on Bo Horvat’s deflection on a second-period power play then got a right pad on Ilya Mikheyev’s shot on the doorstep with 8:15 left in the third.

“It was really nice,” the 24-year-old Gustavsson said of his first shutout. “You set a few small goals along the way. First, I wanted to play an AHL game, then I wanted to win an AHL game, then a shutout, then I got a chance to play in the NHL, I wanted to win in the NHL and now I got a shutout. Now we got to look at the next step.”