Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg

Christian Ehrhoff polls other players about Buffalo, Sabres wait for his answer

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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t landed a big star in Terry Pegula’s brief run as their new owner, but the team has clearly been willing to make bold moves. During the trade deadline, they weren’t shy to overspend a bit to acquire hot-and-cold forward Brad Boyes. They continued that trend by sending their 2012 fourth round pick to the New York Islanders to earn Christian Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights last night.

Sabres GM Darcy Regier would probably be happy to give up that pick if it means landing the hard-shooting German defenseman, but that remains a big if. Still, there seems to be an air of optimism around the situation as Ehrhoff polls former and potential new teammates about Buffalo and the Sabres franchise.

John Vogl gathered insight from both sides for the Buffalo News.

Ehrhoff, one of the premier defensemen set to enter Friday’s free agent market, has contacted former teammates with ties to the Sabres to learn more about Buffalo, which acquired his rights via trade Wednesday night.

“So far, it’s been positive,” Regier said in HSBC Arena. “He has initiated his own discovery on Buffalo. He has played with some players, he’s contacted a couple of former teammates, Mike Grier … he’s played with some other guys, Jochen [Hecht] as well in international arena. He’s doing that work, and his wife is involved with him. Kim and Terry [Pegula] are involved, Lindy [Ruff] and myself. So far it’s been positive.”

(snip)

“When we examined the prospects of going into the open market and competing with all the other teams, we decided that we would try and get a head start,” Regier said. “It’s costly. A fourth-round pick is significant. It’s not something we’ve done in the past, but it’s an advantage that we plan on making pay off.”

The Islanders reportedly gave Ehrhoff a deadline to decide if he would accept their alleged five-year, $23 million-plus offer (which he did not, of course). Regier said that he won’t take that track with Ehrhoff.

“I’m not big on deadlines and drawing lines in the sand. We’ll work with him,” Regier said. “He’s going to discuss the situation more with his wife, with his agent, and we will hear back at some point this afternoon.”

If word leaks about Ehrhoff’s decision sometime this afternoon, we’ll let you know. Either way, we’ll probably have a better idea about what he’s thinking on Friday (or a few days/weeks/months later) when he signs what will probably be a very lucrative new contract.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay