Manny Malhotra

While Manny Malhotra practices, Dan Hamhuis sits out; Both listed as day-to-day

Right when you think you’ve got an idea of what the Canucks have got going on regarding the injuries to Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis, they do some things to make sure you’re on your toes. Case in point, their practice today in Vancouver. Malhotra took to the ice and practiced with the fourth line while Hamhuis did not participate.

With Malhotra working on a line with Jeff Tambellini and Victor Oreskovich, the two guys who played in Game 1 on the fourth line, speculation is sky high that Malhotra will suit up for Game 2. During the post practice press conference, coach Alain Vigneault was decidedly coy about about how things will shake out for the lineup.

Q. Any sort of update on Manny?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Manny is day to day (laughter).

Q. How did he look to you today?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Skated well.

Er, well… Thanks coach. Vigneault did say that if Malhotra does draw into the lineup, he’ll have a specific purpose.

“If Manny does play, obviously he’s one of the best faceoff guys in the league, so he would be used a little bit more in our end without a doubt,” Vigneault said.

Malhotra said he didn’t just want to play for the sake of appearing in another game. Instead, he wants to make sure he can make a positive impact on the action.

“This is not about me wanting a sentimental shift,” said Malhotra, a faceoff specialist and standout defensive forward. “It’s about me feeling I can contribute.”

(snip)

“I wish I could put it into a percentage for you, but it’s going to be day-to-day,” Malhotra said. “I’ll see how I feel after the morning skate. We’ll make a decision at that point.”

While Malhotra playing over Alexandre Bolduc would be a massive improvement for the Canucks, having to potentially step away from Dan Hamhuis is a bit of a blow. While the Canucks have dealt with injuries along the blue line all season long and did well to fill ranks, they’re looking at potentially Andrew Alberts taking Hamhuis’ spot in the lineup. Alberts lined up with Christian Ehrhoff at practice today, a spot that Hamhuis would play.

Vigneault downplayed Alberts’ role in practice today and made it clear that Hamhuis, like Malhotra, is day-to-day.

Q. I noticed you had Andrew Alberts skating along Christian Ehrhoff.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Dan is day to day. Don’t put anything in the lines or the D pairs you saw today.

Q. Can I ask you about Andrew Alberts? What would you expect from him?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I’d expect him to play well. He’s a big body. He’s a physical presence. Every time we’ve used Andrew, he’s played extremely well for us and hard.

Whether he’s in the lineup or not, he’ll do a good job.

A coach never wants to give away all his tricks but there’s enough to read into things here. Malhotra getting worked out today means that the chances of seeing him play in Game 2 are there and if he’s ready to go, he’ll likely draw into the lineup.

As for Hamhuis’ day off, that’s a bit more cryptic. He could be more banged up with a “mid-body injury” as Vigneault put it after his hit on Milan Lucic in Game 1 or he could be just resting up whatever did happen more today to ensure he’s ready for tomorrow night’s Game 2. Read into things how you will. Either way, we’re sure that the Bruins don’t have much of an idea of who they’ll be dealing with in a pivotal Game 2 and perhaps that’s just the way Vancouver likes it.

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.