Edmonton Oilers new arena decision could come soon

On the ice, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to bounce back from what was by far the worst season of any NHL team in 09-10 by building up their team with prospects. Much like the once-floundering Pittsburgh Penguins’ struggles with the relatively ancient Mellon Arena, perhaps that influx of potential stars will help Oilers owner Daryl Katz get the club’s long-awaited arena deal done.

TSN reports that the $400 million deal (with reportedly $1.5 billion in overall development money involved in the proposals) may see its make-or-break day as soon as June 28. First, let’s consider the stakes at hand.

Get it right and the proposed $400-million rink becomes the transformative force for a cultural and economic renaissance.

Get it wrong and generations of taxpayers pay the price and the core, just springing back to life with condos and storefront shops, is killed in the cradle.

As the story says, time is a big factor but money is the most important. The Edmonton area is fledgling (just ask stars who pooh-poohed a trade to the region like Dany Heatley) and could certainly use a shot in the arm. That being said, many critics point out that other Canadian teams who built new arenas did so with little or no public funding.

The Oilers want spades in the ground in 18 months so that the new rink is ready to go when the lease expires in 2014 on their current home, the aging Rexall Place.

There’s obviously a lot of money – and, in a worst case scenario, the fate of a franchise that won a slew of Cups in the Wayne Gretzky Era – on the line but a lot can change in a month or more. We’ll keep you updated as this crucial situation makes its way toward a conclusion.

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    Canucks will be without Rodin ‘until his knee strength and function return’

    SASKATOON, SK - JANUARY 3:  Anton Rodin #18 of Team Sweden skates with the puck while being defended by David Warsofsky #5 of Team USA during the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Semifinal game on January 3, 2010 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Team USA defeated Team Sweden 5-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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    The last time Anton Rodin got into the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup, he sat on the bench the entire game.

    Today, the Canucks announced that the 26-year-old winger has re-aggravated the same knee injury he suffered a year ago while playing in Sweden, and now he needs to rest.

    “Our Canucks medical team and Anton have determined it is in his best interest to undergo a period of rest, followed by rehab, until his knee strength and function return,” said GM Jim Benning in a release. “Anton will undergo an MRI and orthopedic consult this week.”

    In the same release, Benning confirmed that Rodin fell on his knee Jan. 6 against the Flames at Rogers Arena. It was the very next night in Calgary that he didn’t play a single shift, as the Canucks only had five healthy defensemen and were forced to dress 13 forwards.

    “Rodin wasn’t 100 percent and once it gets past 10 minutes, it’s hard to get him in and once you do, it’s not fair to play him,” explained head coach Willie Desjardins, per The Province.

    It’s a disappointing turn of events for Rodin, who waited a long time to make his NHL debut. He’s only been able to skate in three games for the Canucks, and his ice time was limited in all three.

    Rodin started the season on injured reserve after re-aggravating his knee in the preseason.

    Related: Anton Rodin is looking to make the leap

    Banged-up Pens lose another — Cullen out 3-4 weeks with foot injury

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Matt Cullen #7 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    Having already lost Kris Letang to a knee injury and Brian Dumoulin to a broken jaw, the Pens received more tough news in the health department on Tuesday — in the form of veteran forward Matt Cullen.

    Cullen was hurt after taking a shot to the foot in last night’s wild 8-7 win over Washington and will miss the next 3-4 weeks, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan announced.

    Cullen, 40, is one of the NHL’s oldest skaters but has been remarkably durable since joining Pittsburgh. In fact, he hasn’t missed a single game — he played in all 82 last season, then all 24 en route to the Stanley Cup, and is one of just seven Penguins to appear in all 43 games this year.

    The cagey vet has been steady in terms of production as well. He has eight goals and 17 points thus far, which had him on pace to match last year’s impressive effort (16 goals, 32 points).

    It’s a tough break for the Pens, but there is a silver lining. Shortly after announcing Cullen’s injury, Sullivan said Dumoulin would travel for an upcoming road swing through Montreal and Carolina.

     

    Jamie Benn admits the stick-snapping rampages have to stop

    Fans celebrate along with Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) after a score by Benn in the first period of Game 3 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series game, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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    Expect a more composed Jamie Benn when the Dallas Stars take on the Rangers tonight in New York.

    At the very least, don’t expect another stick-breaking rampage like we saw yesterday in Buffalo.

    “I have to do a better job with body language and my play on the ice,” Benn said, per the Dallas Morning News.

    He also said of his recent play, “I wish I could say how I really feel, but it’s probably not good for TV.”

    The Stars’ captain is understandably frustrated. His team is four points back of a wild-card spot, and his production, with 10 goals in 41 games, is down significantly compared to last season when he finished with 40 goals in 82 games and his team won the Central Division.

    Tonight, it doesn’t get any easier. The Stars will take on a Rangers team that will have Mika Zibenajad in their lineup for the first time since Nov. 20. Meanwhile, the rest of the Blueshirts have had two days to recuperate after their 5-4 loss in Montreal on Saturday.

    It’s estimated the Stars will need to go around 21-11-5 in their remaining 37 games to make the playoffs. So regardless of their frustrations, they’d best get on a roll soon. A better performance from their captain would be a good start.

    Preds claim AHL All-Star Hunt off waivers from Blues

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09:  Brad Hunt #77 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    With P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Petter Granberg all out with their respective injuries, the Nashville Predators are a little thin on the blueline.

    So on Tuesday, they set about adding some depth.

    Brad Hunt, the 28-year-old offensive defenseman, has been claimed off waivers from St. Louis, per TSN. Hunt has spent most of this year with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Chicago but, in limited time with the big club, has shown pretty well.

    The Bemidji State product has five points in nine games for the Blues, while averaging 13:36 TOI per night. He was widely praised for his passing ability, and how quickly he helped the Blues transition from defense to offense.

    “[Hunt] just moves the puck,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcok said earlier this year, per the Post-Dispatch. “He gets himself out of trouble, he gets the team out of trouble. He’s a smart player.”

    That offensive output is what Hunt’s known for — a consistently productive AHLer, Hunt recently made his fourth career All-Star Game on the strength of 29 points in 23 games for the Wolves.