Jesperi Kotkaniemi hasn’t had the sophomore campaign that he had hoped for. After an impressive rookie season in which the Montreal Canadien scored 11 goals and 34 points, the 19-year-old was hoping to improve on those numbers. Instead it’s been one disappointment after another, which includes a slow start, demotion to the AHL and now a spleen injury.
The Laval Rocket, the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, announced (translation required) that Kotkaniemi suffered a spleen injury and spent Friday night in the hospital. He has been released, but there is no word on how long the young center will be out.
Kotkaniemi started the 2019-20 season with just six goals and eight points in 36 games, prompting the team to send him to Laval in hopes of getting increased playing time there as well as to find his confidence. So far through 13 games, Kotkaniemi has one goals and 13 points.
- While the playoffs are out of reach for the Detroit Red Wings, the team’s main focus will be on developing their youth. That’s expected to include forward Filip Zadina, who has been out since Feb. 1 with a fractured ankle. MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Zadina returned to practice Saturday and should be ready to return soon. “I just want to get stronger and get better and get back in the lineup,” Zadina said. “I just need to be a little more patient and get healthy 100 percent, get myself in shape and feel ready to go. Right now, I just want to (spend) most of the time on the ice and in the gym to get stronger.” Head coach Jeff Blashill said it won’t be Sunday, however.
- The Athletic’s John Vogl (subscription required) looks into the future possibilities this summer when the Buffalo Sabres hit free agency. The scribe breaks down the team’s potential salary-cap situation, cautiously estimating that Buffalo should have $21.5M in available cap room. The team is in need of a second-line center, two right wingers and a left wing. With the right-wing market likely to be the strongest at free agency, the team could focus on a player like Mike Hoffman or Tyler Toffoli to fill a need, but the team is unlikely to find help at the other two positions without making trades.