One of the contenders that’s come up in speculation?
The Detroit Red Wings!
There are a few reasons Detroit has emerged as a potential destination for the 41-year-old:
— Red Wings forward and fellow Finn Valtteri Filppula is a good friend (okay, Selanne is kind of his idol.) The two were Olympic teammates in Vancouver and with Filppula in the midst of a career year, the pair could potentially play on a line together.
“I’m not surprised about Val, because I know how good a player he is and can be,” Selanne said. “I think it’s great. I’ve been waiting a long time to see him play like this.”
So, would Selanne like to have Filppula as a linemate?
“We have good chemistry, let’s put it that way,” Selanne said, smiling. “But I try to avoid that question, because the only main focus is on here.”
— Detroit has often been a landing pad for veteran players: Mike Modano, Ruslan Salei, Brad May, Dominik Hasek and Dallas Drake were just a few of the over-35 set that caught on with the Wings at the tail end of their careers. (Drake and Hasek both won Stanley Cups in Detroit.)
— GM Ken Holland has a history of swinging big at the deadline, acquiring the likes of Todd Bertuzzi, Mathieu Schneider, Brad Stuart, Robert Lang and Chris Chelios.
All that said, Selanne swears his focus is solely on the task at hand — getting Anaheim into the playoffs.
“We don’t go that far,” he said. “[This trip] is so important for everybody right now and we know the urgency, what we have to do. But that’s the only focus we have right now. Everything else is stuff to put aside and forget from now on.”
Eddie Olczyk to return to broadcast booth for Blackhawks-Blues Rivalry Night showdown
The Chicago Blackhawks visit the St. Louis Blues for Wednesday’s Rivalry Night contest on NBCSN, and there will be a familiar voice on the broadcast.
Eddie Olczyk will return to the broadcast booth for this contest — the first meeting of the season between these two Central Division rivals — just over two months after it was publicly revealed that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and was undergoing treatment following surgery to remove a tumor.
“We have some dates that we have highlighted and hopefully I will be strong to do the job,” Olczyk told USA Today. “If I am not feeling good, I just have to be honest with everyone and tell them I can’t do it.”
Olczyk played 1,031 NHL games for six teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, from 1984 to 2000, scoring 342 goals and 794 points.
After coaching the Penguins during the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons, Olczyk moved to the broadcast booth as an analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL and also Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago.
In a statement in August, Olczyk vowed to return to broadcasting after his treatment.
“I talked briefly with Chuck, but he said it was a setback. I don’t know how much of a setback or anything,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau, per the Wild website.
“I know I talked to him before practice and he felt great. That’s why he was in a red color and was ready to go. The next thing I know, somebody told me he went off. I don’t know why he went off. Obviously, something didn’t feel right.”
General manager Chuck Fletcher seemed hopeful this latest occurrence would only be a short-term thing, although there doesn’t appear to be a timetable for when their veteran forward, who scored 19 goals and 42 points last season, may return. The Wild last played on Saturday, and don’t play again until Friday when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.
The news surrounding Mikael Granlund, out the last three games with a groin injury, seemed far more promising at this stage in the week.
Fletcher says "Mikael Granlund had a good skate today. Hopefully all going well Marcus Foligno will start skating Wednesday." #mnwild
The 25-year-old Granlund enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2016-17 with career highs in goals (26), assists (43) and points (69), and eventually cashed in with a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension to avoid salary arbitration.
The Rangers started this new season almost two weeks ago, and so far they’ve experienced the opposite end of the spectrum. Goals have been difficult to come by, with New York having scored only 13 times in six games, and that has hindered their record to just 1-5-0. They’re currently sitting on a three-game losing streak with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town tomorrow night.
The start of a new season always brings about surprises.
Where do we begin?
— The New Jersey Devils are among the higher scoring clubs right now, and being led offensively by two rookies not named Nico Hischier.
— Outside of their season opener, the Edmonton Oilers so far look nothing like the team that shrugged off a lengthy playoff drought and made it to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.
— How many hat tricks have there been now?
You can add the Rangers’ start to the list as well.
Mika Zibanejad, who has been put into the No. 1 center role, has five of the team’s 13 goals so far and only one of his tallies has come at five-on-five. Meanwhile, Nash, the highest paid forward on their roster at $7.8 million this season and a pending unrestricted free agent, has just one goal through six games, albeit with a team-high 25 shots on net. So far, no points for Vesey.
After losing in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, the Rangers made a number of changes to their roster, with Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein and Oscar Lindberg all being moved through trade, buyout, retirement or the expansion draft. They brought in Kevin Shattenkirk and Anthony DeAngelo, and added diminutive center David Desharnais on a one-year deal, and there is usually an adjustment for new players in a lineup when it comes to the roles they are put into, as well as forward or defensive combinations.
Dating back to their most recent loss on Saturday, head coach Alain Vigneault liked what he saw from his team for just over half the game, but missed opportunities, costly mistakes and an opportunistic Devils team proved too much for the Rangers.
It’s still probably too early to read too much into a poor start or great start for any team or player. It won’t get any easier, though, when the Rangers host the Penguins tomorrow. And another loss would only add to the growing unpleasantness of this early season surprise.
Clayton Keller received a special kind of rookie treatment last season moments before his NHL debut with the Arizona Coyotes.
Like other young players around the league, Keller’s teammates stayed behind in the tunnel and the rookie ended up taking a solo lap during warmups before a game against the St. Louis Blues last March. The moment was extra special for Keller, who grew up playing youth hockey in area under the tutelage of former NHLers Jeff Brown and Keith Tkachuk.
As a kid, Keller would attend Blues games with his father and grandfather, and it was there that his NHL dreams began to develop. As those dreams came closer to reality, it was his late grandfather who played a huge role in Keller achieving his goal of becoming a professional.
“He was probably the reason that I’m here today. He took me to everything growing up — hockey camps, school, hockey practice, and just about everything,” Keller told Pro Hockey Talk on Monday. “I know he’d be pretty proud today.”
Keller, the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, spent most of last season at Boston University where he scored 21 times and recorded 45 points in 31 games. Two days after the Terriers were knocked out of the NCAA tournament, he was taking that lap around Scottrade Center as family and friends cheered from the other side of the glass. He would play three games for the Coyotes and get to experience that “Welcome to the NHL” moment every rookie remembers.
“It’s pretty cool to see [Vladimir] Tarasenko and Jamie Benn,” Keller said. “I lined up next to those guys. That’s pretty crazy because I grew up watching both of those guys.”
Those three games introduced Keller to the pace of the NHL, which he quickly adjusted to. After the season ended, he was invited to play for the United States at the World Championship where he’d finish with five goals, including a hat trick against Denmark.
“It really helped me out a lot. You never really know how hard the NHL is until you play in it,” Keller said. “I got lucky at the end of last year and got a nice taste and realized how hard I had to work. That was a huge advantage for me.”
The talent Keller showed as a youth player on the U.S. National Development Team and in his only year at Boston University has led to lots of Calder Trophy buzz for the 19-year-old forward. But that talk is not something he’s focused on.
“I try to block it out. I don’t really pay attention to it,” Keller said. “I just play my game and the rest will [come].”
At 5’10, Keller isn’t the biggest out on the ice, which is why he cites Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau as influences — players who don’t have the size, but are skillful and quick. That skill has been on display through five games this season. Playing alongside Derek Stepan and Max Domi, Keller had potted three goals, meshing well with new Coyotes linemates and head coach Rick Tocchet’s desired style of play.
“We want to play fast, in-your-face type hockey. But also with lots of skill and [a] good defensive zone. It’s a great system, and it’ll show,” Keller said.
Life as an NHL rookie can be a difficult. Adjusting to a faster pace, dealing with the physicality and just going through the highs and lows of a season with a team can be expected. For Keller, he’s fortunate that he has plenty of friends around the league in the same situation. Former BU teammate and current Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is someone Keller frequently exchanges exepriences with.
“Charlie’s one of my best friends. I played with him last year. We definitely talked about how the season has been going so far,” Keller said. “It’s good to have a friend like that around the league. He’s an awesome person and an even better player.”