Yaroslavl Lokomotiv might play in second-tier league; Czech league postpones opener for funeral

At this point, you may already know that Yaroslavl Lokomotiv will not play in the KHL next season after the entire team fell victim to that horrific plane crash. That doesn’t mean that Lokomotiv will go away altogether, though; The Associated Press reports that a rebuilt version of the team might actually play in a second-tier Russian league this season.

Lokomotiv could play in the Major Hockey League by December, according to club president Yury Yakovlyev. The team will receive an automatic playoff bid this season to make up for the months of hockey that they’ll miss.

The original plan was for Lokomotiv to play in the KHL next season, with the team consisting of some of their junior league players along with players made available from the league’s other teams. That plan was eventually dashed with the hopes of putting together less of a quick fix.

Mutko said the rebuilding of Lokomotiv would take place in a series of stages.

The first step will be transferring the team to the Major Hockey League. After that, youth players from other clubs will be permitted to transfer to Lokomotiv, Mutko said.

Yakovlyev said Lokomotiv’s farm team of young and up-and-coming players would be used as the base on which to create a new squad. He added that before next season, Lokomotiv would seek to attract players with expired contracts and have the quota for foreign players increased to six — one more than for other teams.

That seems like a pretty reasonable plan, even if it will be difficult – both emotionally and from a hockey standpoint – to go through that process. If Lokomotiv does make its return, it will be tough for anyone to root against them.

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In related news, the Czech hockey league decided to postpone the opening day of its season from Friday to Monday to accommodate Jan Marek’s funeral. Marek was one of three Czech players who died in that plane crash, along with Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek.

Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

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The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

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The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel