The PHT Nightcap: Monday, August 30th

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Speculating on what’s next for the NJ Devils – My prediction: headaches either way.

Keith Yandle reflects on playoff loss, improving Coyotes defense – Their D was pretty stout during the regular season but was a bit porous during the playoffs.

Tom Kostopoulos is excited by Hurricanes’ chances – I’m excited that I won’t have to spell his last name again for a while.

Coyotes re-sign Lee Stempniak to two-year deal – It seems like he’s staying in Phoenix because the market was pretty dry, but it would be great if it worked out for both sides.

Rangers sign Tim Kennedy – Good for Kennedy. I wasn’t sure he’d land another NHL job.

Blues sign David Spina – Please tell me his nickname is “Spina Tap.”

New ownership group reportedly close to buying Coyotes – I’ll believe it when I see it.

All-Star Game ticket prices revealed

Trading card companies gather top rookies – It’s nice to know card companies still … you know, exist.

Briere stays small – Seriously, not enough was made of his great playoff run.

League hopes to improve programming, NHL Network – I’ll probably watch it a lot either way, but better programming certainly would keep me coming back for more.

Ilya Kovalchuk’s second contract still under review – And so the Ilyawn saga continues.

Antti Niemi is supposedly on the verge of making a decision – Could be interesting to see if he finds a good fit with an NHL team.

Andrei Markov starts skating again – Montreal’s going to need their best offensive defenseman back next season, so this is a good sign.

Paul Bissonnette returns to Twitter – Hilarity (and hoarding?) ensues …

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    Red Wings sign Tomas Tatar: four years, $21.2M

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    It turns out that Tomas Tatar‘s days are numbered with the Detroit Red Wings by almost 1,500.*

    After a salary arbitration hearing and concerns that he might leave after a single season, “Band-Aid” sort of deal, a wide variety of reporters state that the two sides instead agreed to a four-year deal with a $5.3 million cap hit, which would total $21.2 million.

    Those figures come from MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan, FanRag’s Craig Morgan, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It will be noted if the Red Wings make the term and/or financial details official.

    Here’s the reported yearly breakdown (cue ominous music for that lockout-protection drop in 2020-21), via Morgan:

    Again, this feels like a change in viewpoint, as even just yesterday it was reasonable to wonder if Tatar would only stick around for 2017-18. Now, it is possible that Tatar might get traded at some point, but a four-year deal is a bit surprising. The forward himself speculated that a one-year deal would be it.

    This contract makes Tatar, 26, the Red Wings’ second-most expensive forward from a cap perspective, trailing only Henrik Zetteberg’s $6.083 million.

    Even with this deal out of the way, Red Wings GM Ken Holland still has some work to do, including re-signing speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou. And the situation is tight.

    * – Four times 365 is 1,460. Get it?

    Wingels fractures foot, but should be ready for Blackhawks camp

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    The good news is that Tommy Wingels is expected to be ready for Chicago Blackhawks training camp. The bad news is that he’ll be limited in his training regimen … although that very regimen caused him issues in the first place.

    Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks’ team doctor, released the following update regarding Wingels:

    “Tommy Wingels sustained a left foot fracture during his off-season training. We anticipate a full recovery in six to eight weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

    It’s unclear what caused the specific injury. Dropped weight? Unlucky fall? Perhaps a stress fracture? Without knowing the exact issue, it’s tempting to picture various painful scenarios.

    (Probably because we’re in the dog days of the hockey summer, too.)

    Wingels, 29, is on a one-year deal with Chicago, carrying a $750K salary and cap hit. He last played for the Ottawa Senators, though Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember him from his lengthy stay with the San Jose Sharks.

    Six-to-eight weeks seems like it wouldn’t give a ton of room for error, so we’ll see if he’ll actually be ready for training camp.

    Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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    Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

    Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

    Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

    Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

    Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

    Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

    All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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    Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

    That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

    From the Houston Press:

    But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

    Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

    And Houston is growing fast.

    Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

    Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

    FanRag’s Cat Silverman wrote extensively about this topic yesterday. To learn more, give it a read.