Devin Setoguchi; Jannik Hansen

Devin Setoguchi signs 3 year, $9 million extension with Sharks

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The San Jose Sharks got a jump start on their offseason by signing restricted free agent Devin Setoguchi to a three-year contract extension. The three-year deal announced by the Sharks has been confirmed by Craig Custance and Matthew Taylor to be worth $9 million.

The reasonable $3 million cap hit keeps Setoguchi around after a productive fourth season in the NHL. The deal for Setoguchi is a healthy raise from the 1-year, $1.8 million contract he signed a season ago; he’ll be under contract until he’s 27 years old.

The former 8th overall pick racked up 22 goals and 41 points over the course of the regular season; including 7 goals and 10 points in 18 playoff games this year. In fact, the 2010-11 campaign was the third straight season Setoguchi netted 20+ goals—it was also the third year in San Jose when he was a regular on the team for the entire season. He has 84 career goals in 267 career games. In a press release, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he only expects him Setoguchi to continue to improve:

“We feel Devin is an important part of our team and we look forward to him continuing to elevate his game to the level he is capable of.”

For the Sharks, the deal was a step in the right direction as they try to shape their team for next season. Setoguchi proved to be a clutch playoff performer with his seven goals—not to mention two overtime game-winners and a hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semi-finals. Signing him to an extension, the Sharks confirmed that Setoguchi is part of the Sharks future core along with guys like Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Ryane Clowe.

The next order of business is filling out the rest of their roster. GM Doug Wilson has already announced that the team will not be re-signing Scott Nichol or Jamal Mayers for next season. The team also has to make a decision on pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Ian White, who was brought over in a midseason deal from the Carolina Hurricanes.

While White would help solidify the blueline, Setoguchi is only the first step to shoring up the forward corps. Next, the organization will have to reach terms with Andrew Desjardins who is slated to be the 4th line center next season and possibly Ben Eager to provide grit up front.

The Sharks were undoubtedly helped by today’s news that the salary cap was increased to $64.3 million. Accordingly, San Jose was able to lock-up their most important pending restricted free agent. Now the team will be able to focus making the rest of the team better at the draft and when free agency opens on July 1st.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.