Kyle Wellwood, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ian White

West playoff update: Sharks lock up second seed, Ducks clinch fourth place

Western Conference playoff race

pzs-1. Vancouver – 117 pts (0 GR)
ys-2. San Jose – 105 pts (0 GR)
ys-3. Detroit – 102 pts (1 GR)
xs-4. Anaheim – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-5. Nashville – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-6. Phoenix – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-7. Los Angeles – 98 pts (0 GR)
8. Chicago – 97 pts (1 GR)
9. Dallas – 95 pts (1 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
s – locked in at current seed
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

OK, before we get into the results themselves, here’s a look at where each team could land:

5th place: Nashville or Chicago
6th place: Nashville or Phoenix
7th place: Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago
8th place: Los Angeles, Chicago or Dallas

As you can see, the Blackhawks could land anywhere from fifth place to ninth place while the Stars can only take eighth. For a deeper look at the rather convoluted scenarios depending on how Chicago fares, read the upcoming post on their chances.

Now, let’s take a quick tour of Saturday’s biggest games.

San Jose 3, Phoenix 1

The Sharks clinched the second spot in the West with this win, despite Ilya Bryzgalov’s best, stick-flinging efforts. Bryzgalov made a save of the night/week/year worthy stop in the third period, only to allow a Logan Couture power-play goal moments later. The animated Russian netminder was none-too-pleased, revealing his displeasure by throwing his goalie stick behind him. Antti Niemi did his part to frustrate Coyotes shooters, making 35 out of 36 saves.

Anaheim 3, Los Angeles 1

Corey Perry is obviously the biggest reason why the Ducks somehow found their way from a playoff endangered species to the fourth seed with at least one round of home ice advantage. That being said, this team also had a revolving door of heroes this season; to see evidence of that, look no further than their goalies. Ray Emery saved the day when Jonas Hiller went down and now Dan Ellis is saving the day in Emery’s wake, especially tonight. The backup known mostly for the ridicule he received on Twitter took over for Emery when he suffered an injury on Friday, even if that win was preordained. His real work came Saturday, when he stopped 43 out of 44 saves to help his new team earn two huge points in regulation.

St. Louis 2, Nashville 0

The Predators had a chance to earn themselves the fourth seed with just one point, but couldn’t manage a single goal against Jaroslav Halak. As pointless as this win might seem (pun somewhat intended), the Blues were determined to keep this year’s first round pick away from the Colorado Avalanche.

With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

Ken Holland
AP
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There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet

It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

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Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.

Report: Blackhawks, Rundblad agree to terminate contract

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.

Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.

It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.