Around the Rink – Thursday, October 21

After a few easy-to-follow days of four or five games, the NHL returns to a more hectic schedule tonight. There are 11 games overall, so let’s take a quick look at them all. All start times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Toronto

The Maple Leafs are coming off their first loss of the season (in overtime against the Islanders), while the Rangers are steal dealing with injuries that occurred in the teams’ first game of the season. Mike Komisarek might just have something to say to Sean Avery, too.

Anaheim @ Philadelphia

The penalty box operator might get a workout tonight, as the two most heavily penalized teams in the NHL play tonight. Both are struggling a bit, too, so this will be a bounce back game for … someone.

Washington @ Boston

The Bruins took the first of the two team’s home-and-home series, so we’ll see if the Capitals can ruin Boston’s (ridiculously late) home opener.

7:30 pm

Calgary @ Detroit

The Red Wings and Flames are both playing well right now, so something will have to give. Detroit begins a four game homestand tonight.

NY Islanders @ Tampa Bay

Two of the league’s most resurgent teams meet in this one, with the 2008 No. 1 pick (Steve Stamkos) going up against the 2009 No. 1 pick (John Tavares). Should be an interesting contest.

New Jersey @ Montreal

Want to know how well the Devils have done against the Canadiens recently? Here’s this bit from the Associated Press preview.

The Devils have won seven of eight meetings against the Canadiens and are 16-4 against them since the start of the 2005-06 season. They have won four straight in Montreal with their last loss coming March 11, 2008.

Dallas @ Florida

Tomas Vokoun is on a two-game shutout streak, but if he can stop the Stars, then he’ll really be on to something.

8:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Nashville

Last I heard, Marc-Andre Fleury will make his return to the Penguins net, but we’ll keep an eye on that one throughout the day. It’s surprising the team wouldn’t want to ride the hot hand, yet it’s also understandable that they don’t want Fleury to lose his confidence.

9:00 pm

San Jose @ Colorado

The Avalanche really gave the Sharks fits in the playoffs last season, and that was when San Jose had a more stable situation in net and on their blue line. Will the Sharks shake off the cobwebs or will the Avs continue their hot start?

9:30 pm

Minnesota @ Edmonton

This is the definition of a “homer” rivalry:

Although the Oilers are 0-12-2 at Minnesota since January 2007, they have won seven of eight at home over the Wild. Playing for the first time since losing 5-3 at Calgary on Saturday, Edmonton looks to even the season series after falling 4-2 at Minnesota in its road opener last Thursday.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Phoenix

The Kings will go into this one without defenseman Drew Doughty and might be a little bushed doing a back-to-back. While the Coyotes will be more rested, they’ll be without an important player too, as Shane Doan begins his three-game suspension tonight.

Preds GM Poile still has work to do, with Johansen in need of a deal

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David Poile got some work done Saturday.

The Nashville Predators re-signed Viktor Arvidsson on the day the two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled. The new deal? Seven years at a total of $29.75 million — an annual average value of $4.25 million for a player that just scored 31 goals while playing on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.

The Predators made a run at the Stanley Cup last month, doing so with great goaltending from Pekka Rinne, a top-four group of defensemen that you can argue sets the standard around the league and a talented group of forwards — a number of them with age on their side.

They didn’t win it all, but Poile was recognized for his work by claiming General Manager of the Year.

This is likely among the reasons why.

Roman Josi still has three years left on his deal, while Mattias Ekholm, who was a valuable and reliable top-four d-man playing alongside P.K. Subban, has five years remaining on his deal.

With the Arvidsson contract completed, the priority is now to get Johansen — a restricted free agent — signed. At age 24, he’s Nashville’s No. 1 center coming off a 61-point season, which completed his three-year, $12 million deal.

He was also in the midst of a terrific playoff performance before he suffered a thigh injury and postseason-ending surgery. He’s in line for a significant raise from the $4 million AAV he made on his last contract.

The Predators have about $14.5 million remaining in cap space, per CapFriendly.

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

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Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

From The Tennessean:

Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

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The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.