Penguins, Matt Cooke agree to three-year extension

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Thumbnail image for hardhitcooke.jpgDespite there being at least some doubts that the team could bring the villainous forward back, the Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to a three-year contract extension with rambunctious forward Matt Cooke. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has the story, which states that the team hasn’t released the salary details just yet.

Left wing Matt Cooke has reached a verbal agreement on a three-year contract with the Penguins. Term was agreed upon Monday night and the contract has been sent to NHL central registry to be made official.

Financial terms were not immediately known, but Cooke is one of the rare plus-30 players to re-sign with the Penguins on a multi-year deal since Shero was named to his post in May 2006.

Cooke, 31, was one of eight Penguins eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Finding a resolution with him and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 36, were the top offseason priorities of Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

While Cooke was already known for playing with an edge (or, as many will say, going far over the edge), this season solidified him as one of the most controversial hitters in the league after his brutal – but somehow legal – hit on Boston Bruins center Marc Savard.

Cooke is one of those “hate him until he’s on your team” type players, though. He scored 28 goals and 61 points in his two seasons with the Penguins, but Cooke truly came into form once Pittsburgh hired current head coach Dan Bylsma. In the 104 games played in the burrito-loving coach’s system, Cooke had 20 of 28 and 46 of 61 points and an impressive +22 rating. Love him or more likely hate him, he brought decent scoring punch to go along with his hard hits and excellent forechecking skills.

This comes a day after the team wrapped up defensive prospect and possible 2010-11 starter Ben Lovejoy to a three-year contract that would yield a 525K cap hit per season if the young blueliner plays at the NHL level. As Rossi pointed out, the Penguins still have some important decisions to make this off-season, particularly regarding the future of their top defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

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Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

You can see that hit below:

“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.

‘I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,’ Jets GM Cheveldayoff gets lucky with draft lottery

Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of Winnipeg Jets, speaks to members of the media after winning the second selection of the NHL hockey draft lottery in Toronto, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
The Canadian Press via AP
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The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the draft lottery, but an argument can be made that the luckiest team last night was the Winnipeg Jets.

After all, Toronto had the best odds to get the top pick, but Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second in the draft order.

“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Sun. “I was doing my scrum at the end (of the show) with the media that was here, I said at one point, ‘Moving from six to two…’ and I had to catch myself and go through the mental notes in my head that it had just really happened.”

It’s likely, though not guaranteed, that the Maple Leafs will take Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Assuming that’s the case, moving up to the second overall pick means that Winnipeg will have the option of choosing one of the two promising Finnish forwards available: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi.

That’s potentially a big break for Winnipeg, especially after this campaign where the Jets went from making the playoffs for the first time since relocating to posting a 35-39-8 record. Through five campaigns in Winnipeg, the Jets have missed the playoffs four times.

The last time this franchise drafted this high was back when the then Atlanta Thrashers took Kari Lehtonen with the second overall pick in 2002. That was the final year in a string of four straight drafts where the Thrashers always had the first or second selection. The previous three years they took Patrik Stefan (1999), Dany Heatley (2000), and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001).

Related: Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for today

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After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:

St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)

If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)

The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.

Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”