Niklas Kronwall

Detroit signs Kronwall to seven-year extension worth $33.25 million

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If there’s one thing Ken Holland is good at as Red Wings GM it’s locking up Detroit’s future cornerstones to long-term deals. Niklas Kronwall was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and make a killing on the open market, but instead he’ll stay in Detroit for seven more years.

UPDATE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the deal is worth $4.75 million per year against the cap, good for a total of $33.25 million. Kronwall turns 31 in January. Kronwall’s current deal has a cap hit of $3 million per year. The Wings had to pay up harder knowing full well that Nicklas Lidstrom won’t play forever (sad as that is).

Kronwall has made a name for himself with the Red Wings as a punishing checker and lately has opened up his offensive game to make him one of the league’s more solid two-way threats. Of course, Kronwall will forever be better known for his destructive open ice hits. Just ask any number of players in the Central Division that were unfortunate enough to be caught with their heads down coming through the neutral zone.

With Nicklas Lidstrom’s career winding down (we refuse to say this will be his last year), the heir to the throne is Kronwall. After all, both came up through the organization, both were highly touted, and both hail from Sweden. Kronwall’s more physical nature makes him different from Lidstrom, but Lidstrom is the better player by far. Detroit hopes that with security in place for Kronwall he’ll settle in and embrace his role as their man on the blue line for the future.

If he can turn into a Norris finalist in the future, it’ll be a huge success for the Wings. Asking for another Lidstrom is asking for another once-in-a-generation player.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?