Kirk Maltby close to re-signing with Red Wings

kirkmaltby1.jpgThe life of a free agent this summer is proving to be a difficult one as we’ve documented all off-season long. If you’re a veteran free agent just looking to re-sign with a team you’ve spent 14 seasons with, you’d think this process might be a little easier, but for Kirk Maltby times are tough.

The career grind-liner for the Red Wings is seeing that spots to play on the Red Wings have evaporated with the team re-signing Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. The Wings bringing Mike Modano on board and bringing Jiri Hudler back from Russia have essentially put the writing on the wall for the veteran Maltby, but he wants to stay a Red Wing badly and he might just get his wish as The Detroit News’ Gregg Krupa finds out.

As the Red Wings prepare for their first preseason skate together, they may well have the ol’ grinder back in the fold. At the very least, no prospects should be eyeing the sweater with the No. 18 hanging in Maltby’s locker quite yet.

“We are having discussions with Detroit, and we hope that something will be finalized next week,” Anton Thun, Maltby’s agent, said Friday.

Thun said he has had “conversations with others,” including general manager Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay. But Maltby’s preference is to play a 15th season in Detroit. And it sounds like Maltby has at least contemplated a two-way contract that would have him playing a bit in Grand Rapids.

A two-way contract makes the most sense at this point in time for Maltby. Playing time and roster space is going to be at a premium and with the possibility that even established veteran Kris Draper could be fighting for ice time with the likes of Helm, Miller, Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves the likelihood of Maltby getting through all those guys for a spot on the team seems slim.

Giving Detroit the ability to call up Maltby to and from Grand Rapids without negotiating waivers would be beneficial to the front office, not so much for Maltby. It’s up to Maltby how much he wants to stay in Detroit at this point and how much pride he wants to suck up in order to do so. The free agent market is, indeed, a cruel mistress this year.

(Stick-tap to George Malik for the story)

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    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?

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    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

    Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

    Mike Condon, John Moore,
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    If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

    The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

    After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

    If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

    Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

    Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

    Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

    If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

    “Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

    The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

    Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

    With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

    Measuring stick stretch begins

    Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

    This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

    It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

    In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

    Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


    Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

    It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

    His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

    These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

    Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.