Congratulations to everyone reading this, you’ve made it to Friday. Your reward for making to the weekend? An evening filled with hockey, five games worth. As always, here’s the schedule with all times Eastern.
Calgary @ Columbus
I don’t suppose too many folks will be eyeballing the attendance in Columbus will they? After pulling in their smallest crowd in team history the other night, it’ll be interesting to see how many folks come out for a Friday night affair against the Flames. Meanwhile, lost in this is that Columbus got a win over Anaheim and the Flames come in smarting from a 4-2 loss to Detroit last night.
Ottawa @ Buffalo
Buffalo always has their issues with the Senators, but so far they’re 1-0 against them, beating them on opening night. Ottawa will send the bane of the Sabres existence against them in goal in the form of Brian Elliott who is 8-0-0 with a 1.87 goals against average against Buffalo. Meanwhile, Buffalo comes in after getting a road win against Atlanta as they look to rebound from a slow start.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Speaking of the Thrashers, they’ll get the chance to bounce back against a Lightning team looking to make up for a hard-luck loss to the Islanders last night. Count on Mike Smith getting the start in goal for Tampa Bay after Dan Ellis took the loss last night. With the Capitals reeling a little bit, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are locked in an early struggle to try and take control of the Southeast Division. Keep in mind, we’re just a handful of games into the season.
Chicago @ St. Louis
What can the Blues do to try and keep Marian Hossa in check? They’ll have to figure that out or else Hossa will find a way to run wild on them the way he has of late. With seven goals and four assists, Hossa’s 11 point start to the season is quite the revelation for a Hawks team that sees plenty of attention paid to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Hossa reemerging as the scoring threat is just what they need to remain dangerous in the West. Meanwhile, the Blues would just like to try and avoid overtime. In their five games this year, they’ve gone to overtime/shootout three times, winning just once in their first game of the year in OT over Philly. They’ve since lost in a shootout to Dallas and in overtime to Chicago back on Monday.
Minnesota @ Vancouver
It’s taken a while for Canucks coach Allain Vigneault to learn his lesson, but Roberto Luongo and his history of terrible games against the Wild will get to ride the pine this time around and Cory Schneider gets the start against Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Wild come into the game riding the high of a 4-2 win over Edmonton last night. That said, if they play the same way they did against Vancouver the way they did against Edmonton, the Sedin twins will tear them to shreds and make life miserable for the Wild.
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
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
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
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