It wasn’t supposed to be a Penguins-Islanders battle on Versus tonight (7 p.m. ET) but with Sidney Crosby making his return to action after missing 10 months with a concussion, things change. With the game’s biggest star making his return to game action, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were already roaring this season, all of a sudden become a lot scarier to play against.
Crosby will cruise the ice with a pair of familiar linemates in Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Nothing beats welcoming him back to action like having his old running crew on the wings for him to roll with. By doing that, coach Dan Bylsma can also keep his line of Steve Sullivan, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal together. While Kunitz and Dupuis might not stand out as big time scorers, Crosby will be able to help lift their game even if he ends up being a bit rusty.
The Penguins’ opponents in this battle, the Islanders, are taking a backseat to all the Crosby headlines and they might be happy about that for a good reason. The Isles have been terrible of late and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Rick DiPietro is now the man in goal and having to deal with Crosby and the Penguins is about as difficult of an assignment as it gets.
In his career against the Islanders, Crosby has 18 goals and 44 assists in 33 games. Crosby’s success against the Islanders is only matched by what he’s done against the Flyers as he’s scored 62 points against both teams in his career. Just so long as DiPietro doesn’t threaten to fight anyone, things might stay somewhat normal tonight.
Bylsma says that Crosby won’t get thrown to the wolves and play 20 minutes or more tonight believing that he’ll get around 15 minutes or so. Good luck keeping him off the ice though. If Crosby looks like he hasn’t missed a day, never mind 10 months, they’ll be hard pressed to hold him back.
Will the New Jersey Devils select Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick? Could another team swoop in and trade for a high choice, whether it be from the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, or someone else?
On a day of huge, often shocking trades, the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft still has potential to bring more twists and turns.
You can watch another important night in the NHL unfold on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Also, check out PHT’s draft tracker here. Note the current order of selections below.
From the United Center in Chicago, it’s the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft!
Click back here throughout the night for all the latest picks, complete with draft profiles, stories and video from tonight’s broadcast on NBCSN.
1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona)
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins
T.J. Oshie will be staying with the Washington Capitals for a very, very long time.
The team announced on Friday evening that it has signed the veteran forward to an eight-year contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $5.75 million.
That comes out to a total dollar amount of $46 million.
“T.J. is an invaluable member of our team and we felt it was imperative for us to re-sign him in a competitive free agent market,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement released by the team. “T.J. is a highly competitive player with a tremendous skill set; he epitomizes the kind of player our team must have in order for us to continue to put ourselves in a position to compete in this League.”
Oshie is coming off of a career year for the Capitals that saw him score 33 goals to go with 28 assists in only 68 games.
While the team is almost certainly ecstatic to bring him back (and better off in the short-term), that eight-year commitment could be a risky one long-term. While Oshie is still a top-line player and was one of the most productive forwards in the league this past season, he is also already 30 years old. Giving that much term to a player that has already celebrated his 30th birthday usually ends up becoming an issue before the contract expires. But that is still pretty far down the road, and the Capitals are a better team in the short-term with him back in the mix. If he proves to be an essential ingredient in maybe bringing a Stanley Cup to Washington, they certainly won’t complain about maybe having to deal with a bad contract in five or six years.
In two years with the Capitals he has 59 goals and 48 assists (107 points) in 148 games.
His re-signing with the Capitals also puts a pretty significant dent in the upcoming free agent class as Oshie was looking to be one of the most sought after players on the open market.
On Friday, shortly after the Blackhawks overhauled their roster, there was speculation they might make a run at him as a potential Artemi Panarin replacement. Obviously, they will have to now look elsewhere. With Oshie no longer available the biggest names that could be available would be Alexander Radulov (assuming he and the Montreal Canadiens can not come to terms) or Ilya Kovalchuk (if he makes a return to the NHL).
CHICAGO — If it wasn’t clear that Andrew Barroway is running the show in Arizona, it sure is now.
Since Barroway bought out his minority partners earlier this month, the Coyotes have cut ties with captain Shane Doan, traded goalie Mike Smith, and parted ways with head coach Dave Tippett.
That is no coincidence. Doan, Smith, and Tippett were the old guard, and Barroway wants to chart a new path.
For the breakup with Tippett, Barroway cited “philosophical differences on how to build” the team.
“I mean, he’s 100 percent owner,” GM John Chayka said Friday before the NHL Entry Draft. “Usually those guys do have some influence. … I think he’s trying to do what’s right for the organization moving forward. He wants to help find us an arena and keep us (in Arizona) long term. He wants to help us build a team. He’s invested emotionally, financially, everything. I respect that about him.”
Read more: ‘It was the owner’s decision’
But the shakeup hasn’t been easy on Chayka, who now has to find a new head coach, in addition to everything else on his plate.
“I’m 24 hours past Dave Tippett, and he’s a tough guy to get over,” said Chayka. “I’m focused on picking the best player tonight, then going from there.”
The Coyotes have the 23rd overall pick tonight. That was the selection they got from Minnesota in the Martin Hanzal trade. Arizona’s pick, the seventh overall selection, went to the Rangers in today’s Derek Stepan trade.
Hectic times for the Desert Dogs.
Related: Coyotes acquire Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago