SUN Hockey Pool

Blues hope Russian prospect chooses NHL

Russia's Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates after his team defeated Canada in the gold medal game at the...

Russia's Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates after his team defeated Canada in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Funny how things can turn out.

When it came time for the Ottawa Senators to make their first-round selection at last summer's NHL draft, they opted to trade the 16th pick overall to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman David Rundblad, who was the 17th pick in the 2009 draft.

The Senators figured Rundblad was a better prospect than anybody they had on their radar at that point.

The Blues did the swap.

The Senators are now flush with defensive prospects -- Rundblad, Jared Cowen, who played for Team Canada at the world junior championship, and Patrick Wiercioch, playing in Binghamton.

They need some offensive help.

The Blues used that 16th pick to take Vladimir Tarasenko, the hero of the Russian victory at the world junior championship and the guy, as TSN's James Duthie put it, who has become Russia's version of Jordan Eberle, the hero of a couple of Canadian comebacks.

It remains to be seen if the Blues can get Tarasenko to come to North America, but St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong is optimistic.

"When he does get over here, he'll push very quickly for an NHL job," Armstrong said. "We're hoping to get him here for camp next year -- that's the goal -- or over here to train in the summer."

Tarasenko's heroics at the world juniors (four goals, seven assists in seven games) make him a hot commodity and a top prospect.

It'll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

HEAR AND THERE

On their off day in Edmonton, the Detroit Red Wings went curling. It was coach Mike Babcock's idea after he befriended Olympic champ Kevin Martin in Vancouver. Martin put on a clinic. Hey, if you're going to learn, why not from the best? The team of Babcock, Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and trainer Piet Van Zant won the deal, which sounds like a fix ... When Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was pulled eight minutes into a game on New Year's Day, it marked the earliest shower of his career. His previous short night was 13 minutes 11 seconds way back in 1995. Not the kind of personal records you want to be setting, but it has been that kind of season for the classy veteran.

THE BUZZ

The Blue Jackets are willing to move just about everybody and anybody as they appear poised to enter their annual second-half swoon. They have been talking to New Jersey and Ottawa (I know what you're thinking: How do you help yourself talking to New Jersey and Ottawa?) ... Given the Chicago Blackhawks struggles on defence, one of the biggest mistakes of the off-season was deciding to trade forward Dustin Byfuglien to the Atlanta Thrashers in the slashing of the 'Hawks payroll. The Thrashers put Byfuglien back on defence and he has six game-winning goals (tops in the league), three of them in overtime. He's in the Norris Trophy conversation ... Byfuglien has helped the Thrashers blue line contribute 108 points to the effort, second behind only the Detroit Red Wings defence (109) going into Friday's games.

JUST WONDERING

Was it only in June Michael Leighton was a hero in Philly? Now the goaltender is in the minors and word is he likely won't play another game with the Flyers. After signing a two-year deal worth $3.1 million in the summer, it was discovered he had a herniated disc and, after surgery, numbness in a leg. The Flyers aren't happy with the way the whole thing played out.

JUST SAYING

The Flyers made a big push for Jamie Langenbrunner before the Devils traded him to the Dallas Stars, but New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello is loathe to deal with the Flyers.

THE LAST WORD

Mike Commodore has requested a trade from Columbus (sound of crickets around the NHL). He and Jackets coach Scott Arniel can't play nice. "I've sat quiet and I've worked my (butt) off all year. I haven't said anything, while Arniel has gone to the media and said, basically, that I can't play. It gets to the point where I have to have some personal pride and I have to stand up for myself," Commodore said. Said Arniel: "This isn't personal. This has to do with hockey skills. How you play the game, how you are with your teammates, how you work off the ice. It's not personal. He's just not in our top six." That's not exactly marketing Commodore, because if you can't play in the top six in Columbus, well ...

BIG GAMES

BOSTON @ MONTREAL

Saturday

Return match after a nasty tussle in Montreal that left both the B's and the Beantown media bent out of shape.

DALLAS @ MINNESOTA

Sunday

The old North Stars meet the Wild with the Dallas boys riding surprisingly high and the Wild, well, not as much.

WASHINGTON @ TAMPA BAY

Wednesday

Two somewhat surprising teams for different reasons, fighting for top spot in the East. The Southleast, no longer?

VANCOUVER @ WASHINGTON

Friday

The Canucks, right at the top of the league, bring their show to the East and we'll see how the Caps stack up.

CHECKING LINES WITH ...

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

What's the first website you visit in the morning?

"I go to speedroping.com. It's Speed Williams' website and I like to check out the videos. He's an eight-time world champion roper (Price competed in the team roping events on the B.C. rodeo circuit last summer). I got to meet him in Dallas and he came out and watched our game. I told him there a lot of ropers in Canada and it might be an untapped source for him."

You just got a new barbecue. What's your favourite meal?

"Definitely barbecued steak. I smother it in Diana BBQ sauce and Montreal steak spice. It's pretty tough to beat a good barbecued steak."

Are you a reader?

"Yeah, I read quite a bit. I just finished "No Angel" (Jay Dobyns' story of his infiltration of the Hells Angels). I thought it was really good. I usually have a book going. I just finished that one, but I don't know what I'm going to read next."

What's a good day off for you?

"Sit around and relax, maybe watch a couple of movies. I really want to see that new western, True Grit. I like to hang out with my dog (an 18-month old Lab named Mozart)."

GO FIGURE

.882

The save percentage for New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, which ranks the future Hall of Famer last in the NHL among the 44 goaltenders listed in the stats. Talk about a circle completing itself (not that we're saying Brodeur is done by any stretch), but in his first season with the Devils, 1991-92, Brodeur played four games, registered a 2-1 record, gave up 10 goals and registered a save percentage of, you guessed it, .882.

45

The projected number of points for the New Jersey Devils this season. How bad is that? To put it in perspective, no team has had fewer than 56 points since the lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season. The Philadelphia Flyers had 56 in 2006-07. The other lowest point totals by season, post-lockout: the St. Louis Blues had 57 in 2005-06, the New York Islanders 61 in 2008-09, the Edmonton Oilers 62 in 2009-10, and Tampa Bay and Los Angeles each had 71 in 2007-08.

146

The number of goals the New Jersey Devils are projected to score this season. That would be the fewest they have scored in a full season in their history and that includes their days as the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies. That's saying something. In the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, which was only 48 games long, they managed to score 136 and went on to win their first Stanley Cup. No team has had fewer than 194 in a season since the 2004-05 lockout.

262

The number of projected goals against for the New Jersey Devils this season. That would be 61 more than the Devils surrendered last season and by far the most they have given up post-lockout. Their previous high total was 229 in 2005-06. So, just in case you weren't completely convinced by watching them, there you have it in numbers how monumentally bad this season is for the Devils.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CHRIS OSGOOD

The Detroit Red Wings goaltender earned the 401st win of his career against the Edmonton Oilers and going into Friday night's action was just two wins behind Grant Fuhr and six back of Glenn Hall. Osgood a Hall of Famer? You bet.

RYAN JONES

The Edmonton Oilers forward has scored nine goals this season despite getting just an average of 11 minutes of ice time a night. All of his goals have come at even strength. A guy who makes the most of what he has.

CRAIG ANDERSON

The Colorado Avalanche goaltender has seen his play dip this season in a contract year (he can be an unrestricted free agent next summer). The Avs will need him to pick it up to give them a shot at the post-season.

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