What's at stake: Final day of NHL season

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Here’s a rundown of all the storylines for today, as prepare for what
should be an incredible day of hockey. Some of the playoff implications
are a bit confusing, especially in the middle of the Western Conference.

The
biggest story of the day, besides the Ranger and Flyers duking it out
for a playoff spot, is the race for the Rocket Richard with Ovechkin,
Stamkos and Crosby all playing today.

Western Conference:

1.
San Jose or Chicago
2. San Jose or Chicago
3. Vancouver Canucks
4. Phoenix Coyotes
5. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
6. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
7. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
8. Colorado Avalanche

– With win against Detroit, Chicago would
lock down #1 seed.

– Detroit wins, assured 5th spot.
– Detroit loses, combined with LA win and Detroit drops to #7 and Kings
jump to #5
– Detroit loses in OT or SO, combined with LA win, Detroit drops to #6
and Kings jump to #5
– Detroit loses in regulation, combined with LA loss in OT or SO –
Nashville #5, LA #6, Detroit #7
-Detroit and LA lose in regulation – Nashville to #5, Detroit to #6

Confused
yet?

Eastern Conference after the jump:

1. Washington
2. New Jersey or Buffalo
3. New Jersey or Buffalo
4. Pittsburgh
5. Ottawa
6. Boston
7. Montreal or Philadelphia
8. Montreal or Boston

– The Sabres and the Devils are playing each
other this evening for the number two seed in the conference. Buffalo
needs to beat New Jersey in regulation; one point by NJ and they
automatically win the #2 seed due to tiebreakers.

– Either New York
or Philadelphia will make the playoffs; both can’t make it. If
Philadelphia wins, Montreal drops to #8 and takes on the Capitals in the
first round.

– Habs fans are now big NY Rangers fans.

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.