Enforcer in training: Wings' Abdelkader taking boxing classes

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justinabdelkader1.jpgA player’s off-season workouts are generally pretty intense. Depending on the type of role you play or the style of play a guy has can depict what it is exactly that they’ll do to make themselves better. For a player like Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, honing his skills as an agitating and physical forward sometimes means having to do things a bit out of the norm to prepare for a season, like taking boxing classes as Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan tells us.

He’s not trying to become a heavyweight, he just wants to be better prepared to fight in 2010-11, which will be his first full NHL season. Playing an abrasive style of hockey that can agitate opponents, Abdelkader will be challenged occasionally, especially on a team that lacks an enforcer and does not have many players who fight.

“It’s a good upper-body workout and, at the same time, you’re getting a few pointers,” Abdelkader said. “You learn technique, how to throw proper punches, when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive.

“If you’re going to fight, you’ve got to know how to fight. I’m not going to go around looking for it, but if it’s going to happen, you’ve got to prepare yourself for it.”

While much hasn’t been really seen of Abdelkader’s sandpaper-like ways on the ice, provided he’s playing a bigger role in Detroit next year it’ll become more evident. In 2008-2009 with Grand Rapids in the AHL he logged 102 penalty minutes in 78 games with the Griffins. His transformation from what he did in college with Michigan State to the pros is intriguing.

Abdelkader scored one of the biggest goals in Michigan State history scoring the National Championship-clinching goal against Boston College in 2007. Going from being a scorer in college to an agitator in the pros isn’t uncommon as sometimes guys will adapt their game any way they can to make sure they stay in the game. For the Red Wings, having a regular skater that can contribute, help settle scores and stir things up is something they really haven’t had since the days of Martin Lapointe and Darren McCarty.

Some players have come and gone briefly filling that need as it arose (Dallas Drake for instance), but having one guy do that year in and year out is something else entirely. Whether or not the “Afrogator” can handle the workload remains to be seen, but his tenacity is certainly something working out to his benefit.

Report: If the Sabres can sign Vesey, they could be more willing to trade Kane

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 03:  Evander Kane #9 of the Buffalo Sabres speaks with referee Kevin Pollock #33 during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on February 3, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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If the Buffalo Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, they may be more willing to trade winger Evander Kane.

That’s what TSN 1040 (Vancouver) radio host Matt Sekeres has been hearing, and what he’s hearing does make a lot of sense.

Kane, whose off-ice issues are once again making headlines, has two years left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. He plays the same position as Vesey, 23, who’s currently Buffalo property but can sign with any team he chooses on Aug. 15.

Even if the Sabres can’t convince Vesey to join them, Kane could still be traded. GM Tim Murray has already conceded that his patience is wearing thin with the 24-year-old that he acquired from Winnipeg not long ago. Alex Nylander, drafted eighth overall in June, plays the same position as Kane, and Murray has said it’s possible the teenager could make the jump to the NHL next season.

Buffalo, Boston and Toronto have generally been considered the favorites to land Vesey. Chicago and Pittsburgh have also been mentioned.

Related: Cue the Kane-to-Vancouver speculation

Leafs avoid arbitration with Peter Holland

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 11: Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates up the ice during NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre April 11, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t require arbitration with forward Peter Holland. They’ve signed the 25-year-old to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.3 million.

Holland had a hearing scheduled for today. Last week, the Leafs sent a message by putting him on waivers, which he cleared.

Holland had nine goals and 18 assists in 65 games last season. With him signed, the Leafs have only defensemen Frank Corrado and Martin Marincin as restricted free agents. Corrado has an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow; Marincin’s is next Tuesday.

Related: Corrado and Leafs aren’t that far apart

Arbitration looming this week for Mrazek and DeKeyser

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 16: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is checked by Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings in front of Petr Mrazek #34 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 16, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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This is an important week in the Detroit Red Wings’ offseason, with Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday and Danny DeKeyser‘s for Thursday.

GM Ken Holland would prefer to avoid the hearings, which can sometimes result in hurt feelings.

“I think a negotiated settlement is always better than having an arbitrated settlement,” Holland told MLive.com. “Obviously, both sides run (the risk) of somebody’s not going to be happy.”

That being said, in Mrazek’s case, the two sides still have a ways to go. Remember that the 24-year-old netminder was excellent for most of 2015-16, but in Holland’s words, “the wheels came off a little bit in the middle of February.”

Hence, the divide:

DeKeyser, meanwhile, is more of a proven NHL commodity. He’s had three full seasons in the league. In the 26-year-old defenseman, the Red Wings pretty much know what they’ve got.

“There’s way more comparables, I think, in Dan DeKeyser‘s case so it was easier to figure out what was the market place,” said Holland. “That’s certainly not the case of Petr Mrazek’s situation.”

Holland’s work will not be finished once Mrazek and DeKeyser are signed. He still wants to add another defenseman, and he’s got a surplus of forwards to work with.

Related: Holland makes argument to keep Jimmy Howard

Flyers sign Brayden Schenn to four-year deal

Philadelphia Flyers' Brayden Schenn reacts after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
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The Flyers won’t require today’s scheduled arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn. They’ve agreed to terms with the 24-year-old forward on a four-year contract with a reported cap hit of $5.125 million.

Schenn had a career-high 26 goals and 33 assists in 2015-16. His 59 points were the third most on the Flyers, behind only Claude Giroux‘s 67 and Wayne Simmonds‘ 60.

The Schenn signing leaves the Flyers with just over $1 million in cap space for 2016-17, but no major free agents remaining. RFA defenseman Brandon Manning still needs a contract, but that’s it, per General Fanager. Manning has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 2.

Related: Coyotes sign Luke Schenn