Tampa Bay Lightning close to re-signing defenseman Eric Brewer

The Tampa Bay Lightning are inching closer to re-signing veteran defensemen Eric Brewer to an extension. Brewer was a mid-season acquisition for the Lightning when he was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in February for a 3rd round pick and Brock Beukeboom. He must have enjoyed his four months with the organization if he’s considering a deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  Likewise, the Lightning must have liked what they saw down the stretch of the regular season and during their playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

According to both Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Brewer’s agent Don Meehan, negotiations are going well and both sides are optimistic. Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune has quotes from both sides:

“Our discussions have been most productive and we are optimistic in relation to concluding a contract with Erik and the Tampa Bay Lightning,’’ Meehan said in an email.

Yesterday, Yzerman said this: “With Eric Brewer, I’ve met with Newport Sports and we’ve had some discussions and I’m encouraged with how discussions have gone.”

He signed his last contract before the 2007-08 season for $17 million spread out over 4 seasons. It’s likely he’ll sign a contract with similar a similar $4.25 million cap hit per season. The 32-year-old would be lucky to get another 4-year deal, but $4 million per season is certainly within the realm of possibility.

For the Lightning, the move will help solidify their top six defensemen going into next season. As it stands today (without Brewer signed), Tampa Bay only has Victor Hedman, Mattias Ohlund, Pavel Kubina, and Brett Clark signed for next season on the blueline. Brewer would give their defensive corps another veteran presence—not to mention a veteran leader in the locker room as well.

From the Brewer’s perspective, Tampa Bay looks to be a perfect fit for the former 5th overall pick. He’s an ideal match for a contender as a 2nd or 3rd pairing defenseman that provides great depth. If a team is looking for a blueliner to bring 25 minutes a game and 30-40 points throughout the season, then Brewer isn’t the kind of player they’re looking for anymore. Some will tell you he never was that kind of player—even though the Blues and Oilers paid him as though he was. Bottom line: he’s never going to be the type of player you trade Chris Pronger for. Too soon?

Instead of being forced to carry the load on the ice, Brewer will be able to play his well-rounded game that has made him a valuable NHL player for more than a decade. He’ll net a few goals as a second pairing power play performer, he’ll kill penalties, and he’ll provide the type of leadership in the locker room that made him a captain in St. Louis.

When used property, he’s the type of player ever team could use on their team. Sounds like the Lightning already know it.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: