Mike Ribeiro to the Wild makes sense for both teams

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Ribeiro.jpgThis isn’t a rumor. This isn’t blind speculation on a trade that is “in the works.” This is merely analysis of a potential trade that would make sense between two teams.

Get used to this, as we gear up for the NHL Draft next weekend and
then NHL free agency right after that. As teams jockey for space under
the salary cap we’re likely to see more trades than normal at this time
of the year, especially considering how dire this free agent class is
outside of the goaltenders.

There are a few names that keep being
brought up, including Tomas Kaberle, Jason Spezza, Kris Versteeg and
Nathan Horton. Another name that has been mentioned, but not as
prominently, is Dallas center Mike Ribeiro.

Ribeiro has been great
for the Stars since the team acquired him in one of the most lopsided
trades in recent history but with the team facing payroll restrictions
and looking to move in a new direction under Marc Crawford, Ribeiro has
become expendable.

Ribeiro enjoyed another productive season last
year, but it was evident that he just isn’t a good fit in the system
that Crawford is hoping to put in place in Dallas. The Stars were caught
between being an aggressive offensive team last season that pushes the
pace of the game and a team that wants to slow down and keep the game in
one half of the ice. The result was a wholly inconsistent team, and
Ribeiro was right at the center of the Stars’ struggles.

While the
Stars were looking to push the pace of the game, Ribeiro prefers to
slow the game down. Watching the team in person a number of times last
season it was apparent just how much Ribeiro stuck out in Crawford’s
system. This isn’t to say that Ribeiro has lost a step or is struggling
offensively — he’s still a great talent with the puck — but he just
doesn’t appear to fit what the Stars are hoping to build moving forward.
And the Stars are desperate for defensive help.

With Jamie
Benn emerging as a game-changing center, and with Brad Richards likely
to stay, the Stars have the chance to move Ribeiro in order to get some
much needed defensive help and to ease up on payroll. Ribeiro has three
seasons left on his contract at $5 million per season, and there are a
couple of options that might give the Stars the chance to bolster the
blue line without taking on extra salary.

Jim
Matheson of the Edmonton Journal
suggests that the Minnesota Wild
are putting defenseman Brent Burns on the market while on the lookout
for a top line center. A trade that would sway Ribeiro and Burns would
make sense for both sides, as the Stars would gain a talented defenseman
and free up salary while the Wild would get the top center they
desperately need.

The Wild are moving in a new directions
themselves, hoping to bust out of the defensive system they were in
under Jacques Lemaire. Ribeiro would give the Wild an instant boost on
offense and they have the cap space to make the move.

It’s also not a guarantee that Burns would be the one that is traded. The Wild also have Nick Shultz and Cam Barker, who would also be valuable to the Stars in improving their blue line while clearing up salary on the payroll.

There’s
nothing that says that these teams have been talking, although it’s
known around the league that Dallas could be actively shopping Ribeiro.
This would be a great fit for both teams, depending on the other parts
that could be involved in a trade. There are other options for both
teams, since the Flyers will likely have Carter on the market as well,
although the Wild won’t have the pieces the Flyers need.

The
Stars need defensemen and the Wild need a center. It fits.

As always, all salary numbers come from CapGeek.com.

Video: Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler lose cool in scuffle with Kassian, Oilers

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In the first round, Zack Kassian reminded the hockey world why he came into the league with considerable hype as a first-rounder, as he scored some big goals for the Edmonton Oilers.

Of course, there’s a reason why Kassian has 522 penalty minutes in 313 career regular-season games. He can be a nasty presence who straddles the line.

He did as much late in Game 1, getting into it with Ryan Kesler, and then things really got out of hand. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and others were involved in “histrionics.”

(Who wants to start a Patreon to find out what Getzlaf and Andrej Sekera were saying to each other, by the way?)

It looks like the players involved were only whistled for roughing minors rather than fighting majors. This caps a tough night for Anaheim, who lost 5-3 and saw Kevin Bieksa suffer a troubling lower-body injury.

King Leon: Draisaitl collects four points vs. Ducks to give Oilers a Game 1 win

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So far, the Edmonton Oilers had been showing that they can win tight, low-scoring playoff games. And then the third period of Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks happened.

The two teams entered the final frame tied 1-1, with smaller breaks and bounces being the story. Then just about everything happened in the third, with Leon Draisaitl guiding the Oilers to a 5-3 win to take a 1-0 series lead.

Draisaitl ended up with a goal and three assists, extending his point streak to three games (seven points during that span).

He wasn’t the only Oilers player to raise some eyebrows, and actually, the other two starring members were a lot more surprising. Mark Letestu seemed to make the early difference with two power-play goals, while low-scoring defenseman Adam Larsson found the net twice, including on the game-winner.

Phew, that’s a lot to absorb, right? This video captures the wildest scoring stretch of that period, even if there would be more:

While Connor McDavid hasn’t been bad, he’s been quiet – by his lofty standards – so far in the Oilers’ run, and that was mostly true on Wednesday. He ended up with a mere secondary assist in this one,

Yet, that might just be part of the good news for the Oilers. They advanced after McDavid had spotty series against the Sharks, and they just gave the Ducks their first postseason loss of 2017 with Draisaitl and others stealing the headlines.

Things got nasty at the end of this game, with key Ducks such as Ryan Getzlaf being prominently involved. Such moments make it clear that Anaheim isn’t likely to bow out of this one easily (and perhaps not gracefully?) but that should only make for a captivating Game 2.

That Game 2 airs Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; you can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Keep an eye on Oilers’ Slepyshev (the Ducks certainly should)

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The breaks and breakaways frequently went the Edmonton Oilers’ way as they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their first-round series. Those results have been more of a mixed bag for Edmonton against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tonight, though.

Anton Slepyshev is a great example of those ups and downs.

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Slepyshev used his speed to score a breakaway tally that ended up being the game-winner. (See here for those friendly breakaways.)

Slepyshev’s been burning the Ducks with his speed on Wednesday, but the Oilers have been burned in the process. For one thing, John Gibson turned aside this big chance shortly after Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead:

Later on in that same second period, Slepyshev got a step on the Ducks defense again. This time, he didn’t just fail to score; he took a goalie interference penalty for bumping Gibson.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being among those hitting posts, it might feel like it’s all against the Oilers this time around, but crossbars/postsanother theme from Edmonton’s Game 6 win vs. San Jose – have more or less balanced out.

And, one break really went Edmonton’s way: a Ducks defender broke his stick on the Oilers’ 5-on-3 opportunity, opening the door for a crucial Mark Letestu goal:

The end result is a 1-1 tie, but give the Oilers credit for not getting rattled. If Slepyshev can keep up his efforts, his speed could be a factor in a series that looks like it could be a real tug-o-war.

Jake Allen takes blame for Predators’ game-winner vs. Blues

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Let’s be honest: the St. Louis Blues owe a lot to Jake Allen‘s work against the Minnesota Wild in that first-round series.

He probably bought himself a significant amount of goodwill for that outstanding work, but Allen isn’t resting on his laurels. He admitted that “a little mistake by me cost” the Blues the 4-3 decision against the Predators, leaving St. Louis down 1-0 to Nashville.

The goal in question was Vernon Fiddler‘s unlikely 4-3 tally, which came after an unsuccessful poke check attempt by Allen:

Now, to be fair, that wasn’t even the only failed poke check that turned into a goal, as Pekka Rinne also got beat after making such an attempt:

Then again, Allen is wise to score points with teammates for taking the blame. As far as his team, head coach Mike Yeo believes that it was the second period that really made the difference.

Regardless, Allen and the Blues hope to carry over the momentum from their third-period dominance in Game 1 to Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

That contest airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)