Logan Couture and Sharks agree to two-year extension

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The San Jose Sharks have been one of the busiest teams of the offseason. Just because it’s the middle of August, it doesn’t look like Sharks GM Doug Wilson is showing any signs of slowing down. Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area is reporting that the Sharks will announce a two-year extension with Logan Couture that will keep him in San Jose through the 2013-14 season.

Couture was the Calder Trophy runner-up last season, as he finished second in rookie goal scoring (32) and second in rookie points (56). But just as impressive as the statistics the talented center put up; his ability to grow into a responsible two-way player as a 21-year-old really turned heads. Since turning 22, he continued to grow as he showed that he can produce in the playoffs as well. His 7 goals and 14 points in 18 games were both second in rookie playoff scoring.

After being named to the 2010-11 NHL All-Rookie team and proving to be a valuable part of the Sharks organization, it was no secret that San Jose would want to re-sign Couture. But to sign him 10 months before he became a restricted free agent comes as a bit of a surprise. Then again, this is the same front office that was able to lock-up newly acquired defensemen Brent Burns almost a full year before he hit the open market. Say what you want about GM Doug Wilson’s moves—at least the man is proactive.

The big question about Couture’s extension will be the salary he collects for two seasons. His entry-level deal carries a $1.24 million cap hit—the extension will undoubtedly bring a healthy raise. With Couture’s extension, the Sharks now have five natural centers locked up for the next two seasons in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Michal Handzus. With Marleau playing on the wing over the last couple of seasons, and word that Andrew Desjardins will get every opportunity to lock-down the 4th line center role, the Sharks have no shortage of centers. No wonder the Sharks were able to part with a guy like Charlie Coyle in the Brent Burns trade.

We’ll keep our eye on the story as more details emerge from San Jose.

Update, 11:37 a.m.: CSNBayArea’s Brodie Brazil says Couture’s deal is worth $5.75 million for the two years on his extension.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: