Believe it or not, there are actually two games that will take place as the league sorts itself out after a relatively tepid trade deadline. The best part is that both of these contests have serious playoff implications to boot. It’s unclear if the two biggest trade acquisitions from the four teams (Dustin Penner for the Los Angeles Kings and Chris Campoli for the Chicago Blackhawks) will play, so we’ll make an educated guess that the two teams will be without those additions.
(Note: Penner might have the best chance of playing because the Wings-Kings game starts late, but all we know right now is that he will wear No. 25 in Los Angeles.)
As always, all start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Chicago @ Minnesota
The Blackhawks are coming off an impressive and emotional win at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, but this game is even bigger. In fact, this contest is huge for both teams, as both the Hawks and the Wild hold identical 33-23-6 records for 72 points. With two games in hand and only one less point, both teams could actually pass the Calgary Flames if it ends up being a three-point contest.
The Hawks come in red-hot, having won four in a row. Jonathan Toews has been playing especially well this month, notching an impressive 18 points in 12 February games. These are the kind of moments that great players seize, so can Captain Serious lead what might be a tired Chicago team past the pesky Wild?
Detroit @ Los Angeles
As hot as the fifth place Kings have been, they are only two points ahead of the teams racing for eighth and only three in front of the hated 11th-place Anaheim Ducks. The Red Wings have less to lose being that their current focus is catching the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the West.
Something must give for Detroit though, as they’re hoping to maintain a five-game road winning streak and snap a four-game losing skid against Los Angeles. One of those trends will be broken tonight.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.
This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.
Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.
What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.
That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.
Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.
The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.
Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.
In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.
“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”
The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.
The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.
Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.
The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.
With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.
But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.
Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season
Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.
In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.
Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.