Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos and Lightning reportedly closer to a new deal

One of the guys that could be a very attractive restricted free agent is Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos. Stamkos is coming off a season that saw him post 45 more goals on top of the 51 goals he scored last season. After having a half-miserable rookie season, Stamkos is legitimately one of the best goal scorers in the NHL and one of the league’s top young stars. Putting Stamkos alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin isn’t out of the question and with that kind of star power, Tampa Bay management knows they’ve got a deal to get done.

Fortunately for both sides they’re on the same page and with the same line of thought about things.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Stamkos’ agent are busy trying to hammer out a new deal and Stamkos thinks that things will get hashed out soon. Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times gets the scoop from Stamkos about how things are going.

“I’m thinking things are going to get done,” said Stamkos, who at tonight’s NHL awards show at the Palms Hotel is up for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player.

“Tampa is a great organization. With the success we had this year, there are only going to be bigger and better things. You want to be part of that. Whatever happens happens, but I have confidence things are going to get done well before (July 1).”

Cristodero says that the deal is rumored to be worth $7 million a year and for a player of his caliber, that’s about the going rate salary-wise. When you look at the players making $7 million or more per year against the cap, thanks to CapGeek, you’ll see that Stamkos more than belongs among that elite class of the highly paid. After scoring 96 goals and 186 points the last two seasons, Stamkos has proven himself worthy of superstar status in the league.

With the salary cap slated to jump to around $64 million next season, paying up for your young franchise player should be no problem. The Lightning’s current management will just need to learn from mistakes from the past regime and not make his new deal Vincent Lecavalier-esque in its cap-crushing ability. We suspect that Yzerman and owner Jeff Vinnik have a bit more savvy than to let that happen. Not that Stamkos isn’t worth big money, just that everyone benefits from a cap-flexible and friendly deal. We’re sure that every agent in the world hates that last statement.

Video: Henrik Sedin records 1,000th career point

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Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.

Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.

Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.

Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. He also becomes just the fourth player from Sweden to hit that number, joining Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Daniel should also reach the mark, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.

Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.

Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

Video: Cam Ward loses it on Hornqvist, Hurricanes suffer ’embarrassing’ loss to Penguins

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Cam Ward had enough.

The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.

The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.

Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.

“That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.

The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.

Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.

The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.

With Claude Julien on the hot seat, Bruins lose late heartbreaker to Blackhawks

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The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.

The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.

On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.

But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.

The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.

The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.

It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.

Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.