Dale Tallon, Craig Leipold, Jim Rutherford

Did Wild owner Craig Leipold spill the beans on new division alignment?

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The NHL’s plans to realign the divisions next year and go to a new layout for the way the league is set up is an issue that’s got a lot of fans imaginations captured. After all, with the wants of three teams to move east in Columbus, Detroit, and Nashville as well as the need to get Winnipeg out of the Southeast Division, sprucing things up makes a world of sense.Of course, it’ll be tricky for the NHL to get things together in a way that will make everyone happy and while the talk of doing a balanced schedule will help make things a bit more even, laying teams out geographically helps the divisional layout.

While no one at the NHL is tipping their hand as to how things will go, luckily Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold took to the airwaves today on KFAN in Minneapolis on the Paul Allen Show with Kevin Gorg and very well may have tipped off for how the new Central Division will be laid out and how some of these new things will play out. (audio here, skip to 21 minute mark)

“Our division would include the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets… maybe not depending on if they go east or west. I am all in favor of that. I think that is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.”

With that kind of divisional lay out that means we’ll see the Detroit Red Wings somewhere else. We’ll also see them separated from the Blackhawks. The decision over whether or not to send Columbus to the East is also up in the air with this layout. Nashville too seems to be getting worked over as well. The one difference here being that, without Columbus, the entire division exists in the Central time zone.

“We’re all Central Division now. All of our teams, except for Columbus, all of our teams will be Central Division. We’ll play less teams in Canada. We will play every team home and away at least one time.”

There’s the confirmation on the balanced schedule. No longer will it be up to a few years between visits from some teams in other conferences. That set up makes a lot more sense because it means getting the guaranteed one visit a year for Western teams from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steve Stamkos among others. Bringing the big stars to all the fans only makes good business sense.

As for how Leipold feels about being aligned with Winnipeg, he couldn’t be more excited. Oh yeah, he’s pretty fired up about the old Norris Division tie-ins too. There’s also a bittersweet slip of the tongue too.

“Everybody’s talking about it. We’d love to have Winnipeg. It’s a natural rivalry for us. The closest team in the NHL [for us] is Winnipeg. We’d love to have them in that division. I think with Chicago and St. Louis the old North Star divi… I mean Norris Division. Come on… How much fun is that?”

Hey, North Star Division would sound great to us just so long as the other divisions were named after defunct teams. Let’s just make sure they’re named after teams that have no chance of being resurrected in the future. Sorry Nordiques Division.

Of course with the Central Division mostly figured out, where do the rest of the teams go? Well, the Pacific Division and Western Conference seems to have itself figured out already.

Potential Central Division
Chicago
Columbus*
Dallas
Minnesota
Nashville
St. Louis
Winnipeg

Potential Pacific Division
Anaheim
Calgary
Colorado
Edmonton
Los Angeles
Phoenix
San Jose
Vancouver

That’s 15 teams in the conference with one division having seven teams and the other with eight, fitting what we’d learned before. Columbus being the “maybe” team there means that perhaps there’s discussion on whether or not it’ll be Columbus or Detroit that stays in the Central. No disrespect to either Columbus or Detroit, but that Central Division has a lot more “oomph” to it with Detroit there.

If that layout stays that way, however, that leaves the Eastern Conference with Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Washington. Figuring out a way to lay that out in a geographically sound way will be tricky with Carolina and the Florida teams being outliers. Perhaps something that’s more map-friendly would work out. Here’s our silly suggestion that borrows a bit from the ACC:

Possible Atlantic Division
Boston
Florida
New Jersey
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
Philadelphia
Tampa Bay
Washington

Possible Mid-Atlantic Division
Buffalo
Carolina
Detroit
Montreal
Ottawa
Pittsburgh
Toronto

Our thinking here being that all the teams along the extreme east coast will all stick together and all the teams that find themselves a bit further out from the ocean can be piled up together. Mind you, this is a totally silly idea, but given the disproportionate difference between teams in the north and south the proposed idea to do a Northeast and South division might not work out.

All we know is that the Mid-Atlantic Division would be a bloodbath with the three Canadian teams, renewed Original Six wars with Detroit against Toronto and Montreal, and the Wings getting to play Pittsburgh more than a few times per year. Let that hate flow anew. Of course, if Detroit and Columbus swapped spots there, it’s still intriguing but potentially brutal for the Jackets.

We don’t know for sure that Leipold’s take on the Central Division is true and we won’t know until something is announced later on, but he sounded awfully convinced that this was how things would shake out and being that he’s an owner, he’s privy to that kind of information. Speculate away and see if you can come up with better ideas than these.

(Major thanks to PHT reader and commenter “whatagreatfootballmind” for the tip)

Kings acquire Jarome Iginla from Avalanche

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Jarome Iginla #12 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up as he prepares to face the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center on October 24, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Blue Jackets defeated the Avalanche 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Jarome Iginla‘s time with the Colorado Avalanche has come to an end, and it is resulting in a reunion with one of his former coaches, Darryl Sutter.

The Los Angeles Kings acquired Iginla in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday in exchange for a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.

The Avalanche will also be retaining half of Iginla’s remaining salary for this season.

The 39-year-old Iginla is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Avalanche and had expressed a desire to be moved before the deadline to go to a contender in his continued quest to win a Stanley Cup.

At this point, though, the Kings are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting one behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card spot. They just added goaltender Ben Bishop over the weekend but are still desperate to add some sort of offense to a team that is in the bottom-five of the league in goals for the season and has scored just 24 goals in their past 12 games.

Whether or not Iginla, who only has eight goals and 10 assists in 61 games this season, will be enough to help remedy that problem remains to be seen.

The obvious intrigue here is the reunion between Iginla and Sutter. The two spent two-and-a-half years together in Calgary between the 2003 and 2006, including the 2003-04 season when they reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Along with acquiring Iginla, the Kings are also reportedly shopping veteran forward Marian Gaborik, in a move that could be used to clear cap space if they can find a taker for him.

They also traded Dwight King to the Montreal Canadiens earlier in the day for a 2018 draft pick.

It’s going to be a very different draft for the Red Wings

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland (L) and Detroit Red Wings Senior Vice President Jim Devellano speak during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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If the Detroit Red Wings finally miss the playoffs this year — and it’s a near certainty they will — their general manager, Ken Holland, will work hard this summer to make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

“We don’t want to miss two years in a row,” Holland told TSN today.

That being said, the GM is excited he’ll be going to the draft with so many selections. In the past few days, the Wings have acquired three third-round picks by selling off Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Jurco.

“Somebody told me it’s the most picks we’ve had in a draft since 2002,” said Holland. “Usually we go into these drafts with five or six picks, (because) we’ve traded picks away.”

The Wings may also draft in the top 10 for the first time since — amazingly — 1991. That was the year they took Martin Lapointe, who’s long since retired.

In spite of the losing season, Holland has been encouraged by a number of youngsters who’ve taken steps in their development, referencing Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Petr Mrazek, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

The GM didn’t have to mention Dylan Larkin, who’s still only 20. Larkin’s endured a tough sophomore season, but still has great promise.

The key for the Wings will be to add more and more young talent — especially down the middle and on the back end, which was once a great strength but is now a significant weakness.

“These moves that we made for these draft picks will allow us to pick more players,” said Holland, “and hopefully some of them will end up as Red Wings down the road.”

Related: Don’t expect a full-scale rebuild in Detroit

PHT’s 2017 Trade Deadline Tracker

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Here’s the full list of deals made prior to the Wednesday, March 1 3 p.m. EST trade deadline..

Mar. 1

To Los Angeles: Jarome Iginla
To Colorado: ’18 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To Montreal: F Dwight King
To Los Angeles: ’18 4th-round pick (link)

To Florida: F Thomas Vanek
To Detroit: ’17 3rd-round pick, D Dylan McIlrath (link)

To Colorado: G Joe Cannata
To Washington: D Cody Corbett (link)

To Colorado: F Brendan Ranford
To Arizona: F Joe Whitney (link)

Feb. 28

To Montreal: F Steve Ott
To Detroit: ’18 6th-round pick (link)

To San Jose: F Jannik Hansen
To Vancouver: F Nikolay Goldobin, ’17 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To Edmonton: F David Desharnais
To Montreal: D Brandon Davidson (link)

To Chicago: D Johnny Oduya
To Dallas: F Mark McNeill, ’18 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To New York Rangers: F Daniel Catenacci
To Buffalo: D Mat Bodie (link)

To Ottawa: F Viktor Stalberg
To Carolina: ’17 3rd-round pick (link)

To New York Rangers: D Brendan Smith
To Detroit: ’17 3rd-round pick, ’18 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 27

To Washington: D Kevin Shattenkirk, G Pheonix Copley
To St. Louis: F Zach Sanford, F Brad Malone, ’17 1st-round pick, ’19 conditional 2nd-round pick (link)

To Ottawa: F Alex Burrows
To Vancouver: F Jonathan Dahlen (link)

To Montreal: D Jordie Benn
To Dallas: D Greg Pateryn, ’17 4th-round pick (link)

To Toronto: F Brian Boyle
To Tampa Bay: F Byron Froese, ’17 2nd-round pick (link)

To Arizona: F Teemu Pulkkinen
To Minnesota: Future considerations (link)

Feb. 26

To Minnesota: F Martin Hanzal, F Ryan White, ’17 4th-round pick
To Arizona: ’17 1st-round pick, ’18 2nd-round pick, ’19 conditional 4th-round pick, F Grayson Downing (link)

To Los Angeles: G Ben Bishop, ’17 5th-round pick
To Tampa Bay: G Peter Budaj, D Erik Cernak, ’17 7th-round pick, ’17 conditional pick (link)

Feb. 24

To Anaheim: F Patrick Eaves
To Dallas: ’17 conditional 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 23

To Pittsburgh: D Ron Hainsey
To Carolina: F Danny Kristo, ’17 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 20

To Calgary: D Michael Stone
To Arizona: ’18 3rd-round pick, ’18 conditional 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 18

To Toronto: F Sergey Kalinin
To New Jersey: D Viktor Loov (link)

Feb. 15

To Washington: D Tom Gilbert
To Los Angeles: ’17 conditional 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 4

To Nashville: F Vernon Fiddler
To New Jersey: ’17 4th-round pick (link)

Flyers sign Michal Neuvirth to two-year, $5 million extension

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 12: Goalie Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Florida Panthers at Wells Fargo Center on October 12, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The goaltending situation in Philadelphia has become a lot more clear today, as they’ve signed Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million ($2.5 million cap hit).

Neuvirth was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

The 28-year-old has been between the pipes for nine of his team’s last 11 games, but he’s dropped four of his last five decisions. He has a 10-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 24 games.

The duo of Neuvirth and Steve Mason hasn’t worked out too well in Philadelphia. Both players have struggled to find consistency in their game, which has been problematic for the Flyers.

Even though Neuvirth will be back, they can still shake things up by moving on from Mason, who is also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st.

The Flyers also re-signed forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare earlier today.