NHL News & Notes: Gardiner, Senators Arena & More

In today’s News & Notes, Jake Gardiner will miss Wednesday’s game, Plans for a downtown arena in Ottawa fell through but there’s still intentions to build an arena and Sami Vatanen is set to return to action.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Kadri, Johansson & More

Gardiner Out Wednesday Night

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without Jake Gardiner on Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers as the veteran blueliner is still dealing with a lingering injury.

Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dec. 12, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gardiner missed two games prior to the All-Star Break with back spasms and the current ailment for Gardiner appears to be related to that.

In 60 games this season, Gardiner has scored two goals and 29 points. On a weak Toronto blue-line, Gardiner has been one of the more solid defenders throughout this season and his career. He’s drawn the ire of many in the fanbase at times but that dismay seems ill-placed in general.

The 28-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Senators Still Exploring New Arena Options

Despite the intentions of building a new arena and central hub at LeBreton Flats falling through, Eugene Melnyk still has plans of finding a new arena and keeping the Senators in Ottawa for the long-term. As it stands, the team plays outside of the city in Kanata, Ontario, but the intentions for Melnyk have long been to create a downtown hub that will not only be home to the arena but other amenities as well.

According to Bruce Garrioch, the Senators released a statement saying the following:

“We are determined to explore alternative approaches in central locations that could accommodate a world-class hub.”

“We’re here for the long-term. We are here for the long-term and want a world-class venue where Ottawans will live, work, play and enjoy the best the city has to offer.”

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed the NHL’s support in Melnyk and his new plans in an email with Postmedia, according to Garrioch.

“We have been in touch with Eugene and we certainly support his efforts to find a new home, long-term for the Sens in Ottawa.

Vatanen to Return Against Flames

The New Jersey Devils appear to be getting a boost to their lineup Wednesday as Vatanen is reportedly returning to action Wednesday night according to Amanda Stein. The 27-year-old defender has been out of action since late January with a concussion and his presence in the lineup has been sorely missed.

Sami Vatanen New Jersey Devils
Sami Vatanen returned to practice Wednesday, New Jersey Devils, January 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 46 games this season, Vatanen has scored four goals and 17 points. He skated with Mirco Mueller on the Devils’ second-pairing in practice with Andy Greene and Damon Severson maintaining their spots on the top pairing.

The Devils recently traded Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins, Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars, Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators and Keith Kinkaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The lineup is significantly diminished and that cause hasn’t been helped by the fact that they’re still missing Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt and John Quenneville due to injury.