Should Sidney Crosby break his silence?

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During the last two weeks, the rumors about Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby’s health have ramped up once again. In a way, it’s a bit like the Phoenix Coyotes situation in injury form: an important story with plenty of ups and downs but few concrete details, which can make the process frustrating for onlookers.

Joe addressed the latest round of scuttlebutt by asking everyone to relax, but many hockey people are struggling to deal with the murky nature of Crosby’s health situation. If their public comments are a true indication of their knowledge of the situation – rather than a smokescreen – then the Penguins organization seems like it’s just as confounded about their biggest star’s progress as anyone else.

Ultimately, the only answer to one of the off-season’s biggest (and most troubling) questions is a shoulder shrug. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic brings up an interesting point, then: doesn’t Crosby owe it to the Penguins – and to a far lesser extent, the hockey world – to keep his team more informed about his situation?

Look, I’m not suggesting that he reports to Pittsburgh and spends his entire summer under team supervision. He’s a grown man, an athlete is due his offseason, and the employer has no control over that. Nor am I suggesting Crosby isn’t due his privacy, particularly in light of his usual fishbowl existence. Nor am I ignoring that he’s had a rough few months. For all we know, it might still be rough for him.

But how about a call to the Penguins rather than vice versa?

How about a text?

Stick taps in Morse code?

The Penguins owe a lot to Crosby, but he surely owes them the courtesy of diligent, detailed updates on his health. To avoid doing so is as indefensible as it is inexplicable.

It’s a shame that the Penguins are less than a month from the start of camp, and Shero and Bylsma have so little information on the key component of their roster. It’s a shame that the public knows even less, not having heard from him since two days after last season ended.

It’s probably a little harsh to call Crosby’s lack of response “indefensible,” especially since it’s possible that he doesn’t know a whole lot more about his future than anyone else. Kovacevic does make an interesting point, though, and the very roots of the problem might come down to poor communication. At least that’s what Cassie McClellan argues in a provocative piece about Crosby’s situation; she believes that someone “looked the other way” when it came to his health after that initial David Steckel hit, whether it was the team’s staff, his teammates or Crosby himself.

And how about the ultimate scenario of everyone knowing everything? Crosby saying he’s okay, teammates – knowing that he’s not – going along with it, coaches – knowing that he’s not – are afraid to pull him, trainers – not saying too much because they don’t want to cause waves – letting it go, the GM – giving into pressures to keep the marquee player in the league in a marquee game – doesn’t say anything, and NHL officials in charge knowing what’s really going but taking everyone at face value. That’s not a conspiracy theory or anything; that’s just how these things can sometimes go. (I have a friend who’s an athletic trainer at the college level, and you’d be surprised just how willfully ignorant and/or flat-out in denial people can get around star players and their injuries.) If everyone knew, then everyone’s to blame.

At this point, it’s not about whose at fault for Crosby’s situation, but one can argue that the situation is still being handled in a way that seems strange to outsiders. Maybe the Penguins/Crosby are controlling information for tactical reasons, but the lack of concrete updates about the NHL’s biggest names lends itself to rumor mongering and doomsday proclamations. It’s doubtful that things would change much if Crosby shed some light on the situation, but Kovacevic is among those who believe that he should break his silence anyway.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.