Gary Bettman updates Phoenix Coyotes sale situation

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The NHL has been stuck in limbo with the Phoenix Coyotes sale for long enough that it’s almost hard to believe that a resolution might ever happen. If you read a bit into Gary Bettman’s comments from last night, then you might just believe that an answer could come soon, though.

Bettman spoke with Anaheim-area media* Wednesday regarding a variety of issues, but amid all the cryptic comments, the Coyotes bits carried an air of exhaustion. Let’s pick apart the juiciest bits.

“Nothing’s imminent”

When asked about the possible owners “on the back burner” in Phoenix, here is what Bettman had to say:

“Nothing imminent,” Bettman said. “But it’s still being worked on. It’s still a work in progress and there’s no significant development that I’m in position to report.”

Ouch. It almost sounds like there’s not a shiny new Matt Hulsizer/Jerry Reinsdorf to shake in front of people to distract them from the undesirable situation. When Bettman was asked if he wanted to bring the situation “to a conclusion” in Phoenix, he had this to say:

“Our goal is to bring it to a conclusion in Phoenix,” Bettman said. “If, in fact, we don’t have an alternative, we’ll deal with it. But we’re not at that point.”

Naturally, that brings us to a crucial question: when will the NHL reach that point? Honestly, many of us believed it reached the point of no return at least a couple times before, yet some last minute twist – good or bad – always seemed to come along.

The difference is, this time around, Bettman kind-of-sort-of admits that it all might wind down in the very near future.

“If I were speculating, that would be my guess and at some point, if we can’t get it resolved for next year, then obviously I think we’ll have to consider our alternatives—but that’s not new news.”

It’s true, this isn’t really “new news,” but it all feels a little different coming from Bettman’s mouth.

So, let me ask: Are these quotes a sign that things are moving in the wrong direction – as in, away from Phoenix – or are they really no big deal? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

* – Including PHT’s own Matt Reitz.

Hurricanes get Scott Darling from Blackhawks for third-rounder

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If you’re looking at that headline regarding the Carolina Hurricanes nabbing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a state of awe, don’t feel too badly.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that even Darling’s representatives didn’t see it coming.

But it did indeed happen, as the Hurricanes sent a third-round pick in 2017 to Chicago for Darling. It sounds like the Blackhawks were going to part ways with Darling one way or another, so they get a decent pick for their trouble.

Darling is scheduled to be a UFA this summer, so the Hurricanes must believe that they can sign a goalie Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman described as “always reliable.”

The Hurricanes could have chosen to keep Darling in their organization, but apparently he didn’t make a huge first impression during this opportunity:

“Reliable” might honestly be selling Darling, 28, a little short. In 75 regular season games, he generated a fantastic .923 save percentage and even excelled when called upon in the playoffs.

With the Hurricanes’ mess in net in mind, you have to credit GM Ron Francis & Co. for being proactive … assuming they can sign Darling to a reasonable deal.

Carolina and Chicago seem comfortable as trade partners, as the two teams also made the Teuvo Teravainen/Bryan Bickell deal fairly recently.

WATCH LIVE: Game 2 for Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

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Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”