Don't count on a Lidstrom retirement this year

Lidstrom.jpgAs we approach the inevitable end to the season for the Detroit Red
Wings, questions about the future of Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas
Lidstrom are going to keep coming up. Detroit GM Ken Holland has gone on
record as saying that the team will do everything possible to retain
their prized veteran free agents, and it’s tough to think of a scenario
where Holmstrom and Lidstrom play for another team.

Yet with
Lidstrom just a few days over 40, there’s a chance that he could
consider retirement.
Talking to Drew Sharp of the the Detroit Free Press
, Lidstrom says
he’s not going to waffle about the decision either:

“I’m pretty sure that I won’t look back and wonder if I could have
done something differently,” Lidstrom said. “I’m sure the biggest
challenge is accepting in your mind and your heart that you’re at that
point where you were used to playing at a certain level and expecting
certain things out of yourself that you can’t do anymore.”

While I doubt the time for Lidstrom’s eventual retirement is coming
this summer, he also said that he can’t see him staying to the point
where he’s playing as anything other than a top pair defenseman.
Lidstrom has been so good for so long, it’s understandable that such a
classy and humble player would prefer to go out when he’s still on top
of his game.

While he’s certainly lost a bit of a step, he’s still one hell of a
defenseman. He’s still one of the top defensemen in the NHL and there
are some that think he should have been considered for the Norris
Trophy. Again.

Lidstrom most likely won’t be retiring this summer, he’s still too
good. But becoming a Chris Chelios type player, just playing out his
final days just because there’s still a will but not necessarily the
skill? That’s not going to happen.

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    Agent: Schultz likes Pittsburgh, but wants to be ‘rewarded’

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    Justin Schultz took a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

    He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.

    One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.

    That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.

    “We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”

    Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.

    Schultz then added 13 more points in the playoffs, as the Penguins managed to win it all without Kris Letang.

    For the record, Schultz wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Pens can afford to keep him, or if they’d be better off selling high in a trade.

    “We’ll probably have some more direction here this week with where we’re going with [a possible extension],” Arnott said. “But we’ve had some good discussions.”

    After Stepan trade, Zibanejad negotiations become even more crucial

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    For a good while, the center position in New York was largely carried by the one-two punch of Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.

    Now, the Derick & Derek show is no longer.

    Stepan was shipped out during draft weekend in a blockbuster deal with Arizona. Brassard exited a year earlier in a move to Ottawa that brought Mika Zibanejad to the Blueshirts.

    Zibanejad, 24, was acquired by GM Jeff Gorton in the hopes of one day becoming New York’s No. 1 center. He certainly showed he was capable this season — despite missing nearly 30 games with a broken fibula, he put together a fine offensive regular season and then surged in the playoffs, finishing with nine points in 12 games.

    And now, a big negotiation sits on the horizon.

    Zibanejad is a restricted free agent coming off a two-year, $5.25 million deal with a $2.625M cap hit. As we wrote earlier, Gorton is “open to anything” with regards to the extension, saying he’d be willing to go either short- or long-term.

    One has to think Zibanejad has a ton of leverage. His acquisition price (Brassard) was significant, Stepan is now gone, and so too is depth center Oscar Lindberg, who was acquired by Vegas at the expansion draft. Right now, New York’s center depth consists of Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and maybe some spot duty from J.T. Miller.

    Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at Friday’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year. But there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season, as Gorton could opt to send Andersson back to the Swedish League for further development.

    The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring down the middle, unless someone thinks they can land Joe Thornton, and there’s no doubt Zibanejad’s seen the paydays scored by some other good, young, top-line centers. Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, while Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven.

    Is Zibanejad at their level? If you surveyed folks around the league, the answer would be probably no. But he could be soon and, what’s more, the Rangers may be forced to pay him as if he already is.

    Sabres bring back defenseman Fedun on two-year deal

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    Taylor Fedun, the Sabres depth defenseman that was set to become a UFA on Saturday, has agreed to a two-year, two-way extension, Buffalo announced on Monday.

    Fedun, 29, appeared in 27 games for the Sabres last year, splitting time between the NHL and the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. He was a very productive player for the Amerks, scoring 23 points in 29 games.

    Moving forward, most expect Fedun to continue in the same role he served this year — a guy that can provide veteran stability at the minor league level, and fill spot duty at the NHL level when injuries strike.

    Ottawa extends Pyatt — two years, $2.2 million

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    Tom Pyatt, the veteran forward who enjoyed some success reuniting with Guy Boucher in Ottawa last season, has re-signed with the Sens on a two-year, $2.2 million deal, per TSN.

    Pyatt was a steady contributor for the Sens, scoring nine goals and 23 points while appearing in all 82 contests. He averaged over 15 minutes per night and was a vital part of the club’s penalty kill, leading all forwards in blocked shots.

    He also appeared in 14 playoff games, scoring twice.

    Prior to playing in Ottawa, Pyatt had skated under Boucher in Tampa Bay. They spent parts of two years together with the Lightning, before heading off to Switzerland — Pyatt with Geneve Servette, Boucher with Bern SC.

    Pyatt was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, but clearly liked the fit in Ottawa. He’ll get a pay bump — up from the $800,000 he made last year — a bit more long-term security, and possibly a bigger role with the Sens moving forward.

    Ottawa has already stated it will cut ties with veteran tough guy Chris Neil, and decisions are still looming on UFA forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels.