NHL News & Notes: Niederreiter & Rask Trade, Byron, Alzner & More

In today’s News & Notes, the Minnesota Wild have traded Nino Niederreiter to the Carolina Hurricanes for Victor Rask, Paul Byron has been suspended, the Montreal Canadiens have recalled Karl Alzner, Brandon Dubinsky has returned to practice and Ben Lovejoy will miss Thursday’s game.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Kesler, Backes & More

Niederreiter Traded for Rask

The Hurricanes have traded Rask to the Wild in exchange for Niederreiter. This deal comes as both the Hurricanes and Wild are well within their respective playoff races and over a month prior to the trade deadline.

Nino Niederreiter, Minnesota Wild
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In acquiring Niederreiter, the Hurricanes have gotten the goal-scorer they wanted with a proven ability to contribute in multiple areas. He’s in the second year of a five-year, $26.25 million contract.

Related: Wild Trade Niederreiter to Hurricanes for Rask

The Wild, on the other hand, are acquiring a center to bolster their depth down the middle. Rask hasn’t produced as many goals as Niederreiter has but he does allow the team to move Charlie Coyle out of their third-line center spot if that’s what they wish to do. He’s in the third year of a six-year, $24 million contract.

Paul Byron Suspended

The Canadiens will be without Byron for the next three games as the veteran forward was suspended Wednesday for charging Florida Panthers’ defender MacKenzie Weegar. The hit would injure Weegar and would result in Byron’s first experience with supplemental discipline in his NHL career.

Montreal Canadiens left wing Paul Byron
Montreal Canadiens left wing Paul Byron (AP Photo/Joe Buglewicz)

Byron released a statement via Twitter stating that he was apologetic for the hit and that there was no malicious intent. Despite this lack of intent, he also accepted the suspension and made it clear that he would make a conscious effort moving forward to ensure all of his hits are delivered cleanly.

Byron has scored 10 goals and 18 points in 34 games this season and is a crucial part of the Canadiens’ gameplan, especially on the penalty kill.

Canadiens Recall Alzner

Keeping with the Canadiens theme, the team recalled Alzner from the Laval Rocket of the AHL on Thursday. The veteran defender played in Laval on Wednesday night and will join the Canadiens as they travel to Columbus for their game on Friday.

Karl Alzner
Karl Alzner #22, Montreal Canadiens – February 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Alzner’s stay in the AHL this time around was short-lived as he was assigned to Laval just two days ago.

The 30-year-old Alzner is in just the second season of a five-year, $23.125 million deal that he signed in 2017. Alzner has a modified no-trade clause every year of the deal that comes with a $4.625 million cap hit each season.

In 91 games with the Canadiens (82 last season and nine this season), Alzner has scored just one goal and 12 points, including one assist this season.

Dubinsky Returns to Practice

The Columbus Blue Jackets got some good news Thursday when Dubinsky returned to practice after missing the team’s past four games with a hamstring injury. The veteran forward last played with the team on Jan. 8 against the Tampa Bay Lightning before leaving the game in the second period.

Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky
Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

As Brian Hedger mentioned, Dubinsky being removed from the game against the Lightning came as a pre-emptive move to avoid potentially injuring his leg further.

“It just tightened up on me pretty good and I didn’t want to tear it down – didn’t want to tear it or have something crazy happen, when I knew it was just kind of a short-term injury.”

He’s set to join the lineup when the Blue Jackets take on the Canadiens on Friday.

Dubinsky has scored four goals and 10 points in 32 games this season. He’s scored only 10 goals over the past two seasons after scoring at least 10 goals in nine of 10 seasons dating back to his rookie season with the New York Rangers and excluding only the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season when he’d score two goals and 20 points in 29 games.

Lovejoy to Miss Game

As Chris Ryan of NJ.com reported, Lovejoy is going to miss the New Jersey Devils’ game against the New York Islanders on Thursday due to an upper-body injury. Lovejoy suffered the injury in the Devils’ 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Ben Lovejoy #12, New Jersey Devils
Ben Lovejoy #12, New Jersey Devils – January 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In his absence, the Devils are dressing Steve Santini. The 23-year-old Santini has skated in 12 games with the Devils this season and has recorded one assist. He’s also played in three games with the Binghampton Devils though he’s been held without a point in the AHL this season.

The Devils will also be without forward Miles Wood for the second consecutive contest with a lower-body injury.