Chris Phillips, Darroll Powe

Trade bait no longer: Ottawa signs Chris Phillips to three-year, $9.25 million extension

To many, stay-at-home defenseman Chris Phillips represented the best remaining trading chip on the Ottawa Senators roster and one of the best potential trade targets, period. The only thing is that Phillips didn’t want to leave the team that made him the top pick of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Apparently, the Senators are still pretty smitten with him too, as various sources indicate that the team signed Phillips to a three-year, $9.25 million extension.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie notes that the deal also includes a no movement clause, certainly a relevant note considering the fact that the sturdy blueliner probably didn’t enjoy all the trade speculation during the last month.

It’s unclear if the deal will pay him a varied salary per season, but the annual cap hit will be a tad bit more than $3 million. That’s almost a $500K per year discount from his current deal, which is a pretty reasonable pay cut considering the fact that he will turn 33 on March 9th.

He’s not totally useless on the offensive end – typically scoring between 18 and 26 points per season – although the bottom fell out on his production in 2010-11. He only has five points and an ugly -25 rating this season, but that probably reflects upon the team around him more than his own skills. At least Senators GM Bryan Murray probably hopes so.

This must be a relief for Senators fans, who probably want to hold onto at least something that resembles the team they’ve been rooting for the past few seasons. Even if he loses a step or two during the deal’s duration, it’s probably a good crowd-pleasing move. Retaining a great shutdown defenseman is the biggest prize, though, obviously.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?