When the regular season wraps up on Sunday, April 10 one of the highlight games of the day will be NBC’s Game of the Week at 12:30 p.m. ET and it’ll be live from United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The defending champion Blackhawks will take on the Detroit Red Wings in an original six tilt that may be the game that decides whether or not the Blackhawks even make the playoffs to defend their title.
With how tight things are in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks may either be fighting for a chance to host a first round playoff series or fighting for a chance to be in the postseason at all. Having home ice on April 10 will be a major advantage for Chicago but dealing with the likely division winning Red Wings will be tough. Making things more interesting is the teams will have just faced off in Detroit the preceding Friday night.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith will go into battle with Corey Crawford against Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom with Jimmy Howard in goal. At least we’ll assume Howard will be in goal. If Detroit’s got nothing to play for in the conference or the division, it’s possible Howard gets the day off. Chicago, however, would seem very likely that they’ll have a lot to play for on the final day of the season, including their playoff lives.
As always, we’ll have NHL Extra for you during the game to hit us with your questions and get our analysis of what’s going on. Consider this game your major league warm-up for the playoffs. Yes, we can’t believe the season is almost over either. Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more coverage from us come playoff time.
The Calgary Flames signed Finnish defenseman Jusso Valimaki to a three-year, entry-level contract on Friday.
Valimaki, 18, was the 16th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. He was selected in that spot after a nice year with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, scoring 61 points in 60 regular-season games and then added an assist in four playoff contests. He also played for the Tri-City Americans in 2015-16, putting up 32 points in 56 games.
Apparently he’s capable of at least one nifty shootout move, too:
People are pondering how Valimaki may fit into the Flames at the end of a three-year window Johnny Gaudreau recently cited. That seems a little far-reaching, although this nugget makes you wonder if Calgary might want to drag a little extra value out of his rookie deal:
Interesting. Either way, the Flames locked up a future piece, whether he can make an NHL impact sooner or later.
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. The Red Wings confirmed that it was four years, but didn’t mention the financial details in their release.
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?
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.
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