Mike Babcock believes Mike Modano is coming to Detroit

modano.jpgWe know we’ve talked a lot about this summer’s other free agent saga. You know, the one involving a 40 year-old future hall of famer, not the Russian mega-star on the brink of supreme financial freedom. I’m talking, of course, about Mike Modano. Today, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock poured some gasoline on the fires that stoke the rumor mill by saying what he thought Mike Modano was going to do.

“This is a no brainer for Mike Modano — the highest scoring American player of all time to come back to your hometown, play in Hockeytown,” Babcock told NHL.com Friday. “It’s not about the cash, it’s about the legacy and the fit. He’ll fit and he’ll be excited to play. I look forward to him signing. I think that’s inevitable. I think that’s what is going to happen.”

Babcock, of course, was smart enough to leave himself an out, just in case.

“I think this is all going to work out; I’m pretty certain of that for us, but I’ve been around before and if you would have told me Jiri Hudler was leaving for Russia, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “I’ve been wrong. Some people think I have the market cornered on being wrong.”

Well then. If Babcock thinks it’s as good as a done deal, that’s great then. We’re all settled then and can wrap this one up, right? Not so fast.

He doesn’t expect Modano to decide until Aug. 1 — at the earliest.

So you’d have to figure it’ll just be a one-year victory tour kind of thing for Modano. What say you, Mike Babcock?

“I think we’re a good fit for him and I think he knows it,” Babcock said. “I know the veteran players we have dealt with over the years, so I’m a big believer if Mike Modano comes to Detroit he won’t be here for one year, he’ll play for two.”

A two-year commitment for a 40 year-old player is a huge commitment considering that any deal signed by a player 35 years-old or older stays on the cap no matter what, even in the case of a career-ending injury. There’s no doubt that Babcock and the Red Wings organization smells blood in the water this off-season, especially when discussing their division-mates from Chicago so why not seize the day and go for the gusto.

The catch here is that while the Red Wings are jockeying very hard to get Modano, they’ve still got a couple of restricted free agents to get back into the fold and not a ton of cap space to get it taken care of. Forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm still await new deals, and if there’s a player that other teams in need of a fast, defensive forward to play third line minutes might be after it’s Helm. Not that another team would make Helm an offer that would cause the Wings to not match it, nor would Helm command that sort of money anyhow but it is a concern nonetheless.

Obviously there’s still time to see how this will play out, but Babcock’s insistence is rather telling of how their meetings with Modano went.

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    Newest Coyote Schenn is looking forward to playing in a market with no ‘outside added pressure’

    SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 20:  Luke Schenn #52 of the Los Angeles Kings looks back at Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks after Schenn was called for roughing in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the NHL 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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    Since coming to the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2008, Luke Schenn has had the opportunity to play in Toronto, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Playing in cities that love hockey is great, but it also comes with a certain amount of pressure.

    Schenn, who is a former fifth overall pick, hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status and when you underachieve in Toronto and Philadelphia, the fans and media make sure you know it.

    On Saturday, Schenn signed a two-year deal in Arizona, which is a non-traditional hockey market. It sounds like it may have been done by design.

    “I’m looking forward to coming to a market where I can just worry about playing hockey and not outside added pressure, and hopefully growing with the team,” Schenn said of signing with the Coyotes, per the team’s website. “I know they have a lot of upside and I still feel like I’ve hopefully got some upside, too. (I’m) still at a good age where I can continue to grow with them and evolve.”

    The Coyotes have Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski who are more than capable of moving the puck up the ice and players like Schenn and Zbynek Michalek will be counted on to provide some defensive stability.

    “They’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the puck and move the puck well and (who’ve) got a good offensive instinct for the game, so I just want to try to play solid defensively and help out in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill and play physical,” added Schenn. “Obviously, the way the game is now there’s a lot of skating so you’ve definitely got to pick your spots to be physical, but I still think there’s definitely still a need for that.”

    Arizona still needs to work out deals with restricted free agents Michael Stone and Connor Murphy. Even if both players return next season, Schenn should still have a role as a four, five or six defenseman with the ‘Yotes.

    Flyers’ Couturier has street named after him in his hometown

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    Most people will never be able to say they have a street named after them, but Flyers center Sean Couturier isn’t most people.

    The 23-year-old’s name is now on a street sign in his hometown of Bathurst, New Brunswick. Sean Couturier Avenue leads to the rink where he began his minor hockey career.

    “It’s special, it’s a great honour,” Couturier said, per CBC.ca. “It’s not something you dream of growing up, but if you can be an example for other young kids and remind them even coming from a small town like Bathurst, anything is possible if you make the sacrifices and believe in what you can do.”

    The month of July has been kind to Couturier for the second straight year. Last year at around this time, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $26 million. The new deal kicks in at the start of the upcoming season.

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    Report: Veteran center Moore says he has offers on the table

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    The chaos of free agency has subsided. And the list of notable players out there has thinned down as the summer has carried on.

    Still looking to sign an NHL deal is veteran center Dominic Moore, who is about to turn 36 years old next month and is coming off a two-year deal with the New York Rangers that paid him an AAV of $1.5 million. It was evident way before free agency that Moore likely wouldn’t be back in New York, and would go to the open mark.

    “The free agency period goes in fits and starts. Things open up and close along the way. You just try to be proactive but patient. You also don’t want to put yourself in the wrong spot, so you wait to find the right fit, the right role,” Moore told Sportsnet.

    “You want to be on a good team that has a great chance to win but you also want to have a responsibility, some value on that team. It’s about marrying all of those factors and making the best decision.”

    Moore has never been known for offence. With the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11, he hit 18 goals. That was a career high. His highest point total? Forty-one in 2008-09 with Toronto.

    But a team looking for a veteran player in the middle, on a reasonable contract and among the bottom six group of forwards, that can have success in the faceoff circle and play on the penalty kill may eventually get him under contract.

    According to Sportsnet, there have been offers made to Moore. Now, it appears, the ball is in his court.

    Related: Patrick Eaves bests big hockey names at Smashfest V

    Coyotes have work to do, with RFAs Murphy, Stone still unsigned

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: John Chayka of the Arizona Coyotes attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Coyotes added a defenseman with a right shot to their roster, signing Luke Schenn on Saturday. And there could be more moves to the back end on the way for Arizona.

    They still have work left with respect to two restricted free agents. Defensemen Connor Murphy, 23, and Michael Stone, 26, are still looking for new contracts.

    Stone, another right-shot blue liner, had a career-best 36 points in 75 games last season for the Coyotes and has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 4.

    His previous contract was a three-year deal with an average annual value of $1.15 million. But he’s also coming off surgery to repair the ACL and MCL in his left knee, according to azcentral.com. In April, it was expected he could be out at least six months.

    “I know he’s running well and moving pretty well,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka, as per azcentral.com. “ … He’s a big part of our blue line, so we’re hoping to get him back as soon as we can.”

    However, when it comes to a new deal for Murphy, it appears there is some distance between the two sides.

    From Arizona Sports 98.7:

    While Chayka said the tenor of talks with Murphy has been good, Murphy’s agent, Brian Bartlett, said on July 18 that he was uncertain when a deal might be struck, and he reiterated on Saturday that nothing has changed in those negotiations.

    “I hope we are close,” he wrote via text message last week. “Still have a gap to bridge, but confident we will get it done eventually. Could wrap up with one phone call but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a little longer to get on the same page.”

    Murphy is a Coyotes first-round pick from 2011. His entry-level contract, with its AAV of more than $1,075 million, is expired.

    He appeared in 78 games for the Coyotes last season, increasing his point total from seven in 73 games in 2014-15, to 17 points in the 2015-16 campaign.