Steven Stamkos’ Olympic trial will likely happen Saturday.
Stamkos is targetting a return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup that night against the Detroit Red Wings, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He has missed nearly three months after breaking his right tibia on Nov. 11 against the Boston Bruins.
Stamkos has been named to the Canadian team’s roster for the Sochi Olympics but how his leg holds up against the Red Wings will probably determine if he will actually play in Russia. Saturday will be his last chance to test the leg in game action before the NHL takes its Olympic break.
Following Monday’s practice, Stamkos told reporters he had no issues doing five-on-five battle drills with his teammates. He added that his injured leg felt the best it’s been since he had surgery to repair the break.
In 17 games this season, Stamkos has 14 goals and nine assists.
VANEK LIKELY BEING MOVED
Thomas Vanek’s stay in Long Island will likely be a short one.
According to Newsday, Vanek will likely be traded by the New York Islanders after turning down a long-term contract offer. The deal was reported to be similar to the expiring seven-year, $50 million contract he signed with the Buffalo Sabres.
Vanek is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season but the Islanders want to lock him up. If they can’t, general manager Garth Snow will likely trade him before the deadline March 5.
“I understand we’re getting close to the time where Garth may feel he needs to act,” Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett is quoted as saying in the Newsday report.
The Islanders acquired Vanek in a trade with the Sabres Oct. 27, with forward Matt Moulson going the other way. In 41 games with the Isles, Vanek has 15 goals and 23 assists.
CONTRITE TORTORELLA RETURNS
Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella was contrite as he came off a 15-day suspension Monday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
In a meeting with reporters Monday morning, Tortorella said he regrets the incident that led to his suspension. Tortorella was disciplined by the NHL for charging the Calgary Flames’ locker room after the first period of their game on Jan. 18.
“It hasn’t been a great two weeks,” Tortorella said. “It’s been very embarrassing for my family, myself and, more importantly, everybody else around me that I’m supposed to represent.”
The Canucks lost three straight games and were 2-4 while Tortorella was away.
Tortorella said he will remain passionate as a coach but that he will temper his actions.
“I let a lot of people down,” he said. “I have to make amends here by getting back at this. I’m going to be who I am. I just can’t go off the rails as I did.
“Off the rails? I was off the country.”
FLAMES’ RAMO OUT
Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Ramo left the game late in the first period of Saturday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild and there’s no timeline for his return.
The Flames summoned Joni Ortio from Abbotsford of the AHL in time for Monday’s practice in preparation for the coming three-game road trip which begins Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Ortio, drafted in the sixth round in 2009, is in the top five in the AHL with his 2.08 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and a 19-5-0 record.
The Flames also sent centre Ben Street to Abbotsford.
CANUCKS, HABS MAKE TRADE
The Vancouver Canucks acquired Swiss defenceman Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens for rugged forward Dale Weise Monday.
Diaz, 28, had 11 assists and was third on the Canadiens with 100 blocked shots in an average of 18:53 of ice time over 46 games. He will play for Switzerland at the Sochi Olympics.
Diaz, who signed with the Canadiens as an undrafted free agent in September 2012, has four goals and 41 points in 128 NHL games. He is in the final year of a two-year, $2.45 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Weise, 25, has three goals and nine assists while averaging 7:45 of ice time in 44 games. He can become a restricted free agent after the season.
KING GOES KONTINENTAL
Former Calgary Flames coach Dave King is going back to the KHL.
According to the KHL website, King will take over as coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl from Pyoty Vorobyov, who resigned over the weekend due to health issues. The Phoenix Coyotes have given King, who is a development coach, a leave of absence to take the job.
King has experience coaching in the KHL — he was coach of Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2006 — along with guiding the Flames and Colombus Blue Jackets of the NHL.
King is expected to return to his gig with the Coyotes once the current season ends.
KHUDOBIN BEST OF MONTH
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin was named the NHL’s first star of the month Monday.
Khudobin went 10-4-0 in January for the Hurricanes, posting a 2.19 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. Khudobin didn’t allow more than three goals in any of his January starts.
Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel and San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski were the NHL’s second and third stars for the month. Kessel had seven goals and 13 assists in 15 games while Pavelski had 12 goals and four assists in 15 games.
Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyqvist will replace concussed teammate Johan Franzen on the Swedish Olympic team, according to the Detroit Free Press. Franzen is on injured reserve and won’t be ready in time for the Olympics ... The Buffalo Sabres put forward Matt Moulson on IR due to an arm injury. Moulson was hurt Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes and missed Saturday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. He won’t return until after the Olympic break ... Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang missed his third staright game Monday against the Ottawa Senators. Letang has been out with an undisclosed illness and will be evaluated further, coach Dan Bylsma said.