Things in the Detroit-Chicago rivalry this season have been relatively quiet but that’s not likely to stay the same when they meet tonight (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN). After going through a nine-game losing streak, the Blackhawks are winners of three in a row. Meanwhile, you might’ve heard a bit about the Red Wings’ home winning streak, but they head to Chicago on a six-game win streak of their own.
As the saying goes, something’s got to give.
Chicago snapping out of their funk has been thanks to opportunistic goal scoring and seeing Corey Crawford getting his game back in order. The Blackhawks pounced on both the Rangers and Blue Jackets recently to knock them down before they knew what hit them.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa have all been strong with their offense of late but could use a little more out of Patrick Kane to get back to their full capabilities. Duncan Keith reemerging as a presence along the blue line has given Chicago a huge lift to take the stress off their forwards as well. They’ll need all that and more against Detroit.
The Red Wings have seen just about everything go right of late. Jimmy Howard gets hurt? Fine, Joey MacDonald steps in and they don’t miss a beat. Henrik Zetterberg slumps? That’s OK, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen will pick up the slack. Now Zetterberg is playing better and the Wings are getting production from all four lines as well as their defense. No wonder they’ve got the best record in the league.
One area where they’ve been weak all season, however, is on the road. We know how incredible the Red Wings have been at home, but away from Joe Louis Arena they’re mortal going 15-15-1. With Chicago once again beaming with confidence, if the Wings want to keep their own winning streak alive, they’ll have to get their match-ups figured out in the hostile atmosphere of United Center.
If the Buffalo Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, they may be more willing to trade winger Evander Kane.
That’s what TSN 1040 (Vancouver) radio host Matt Sekeres has been hearing, and what he’s hearing does make a lot of sense.
Kane, whose off-ice issues are once again making headlines, has two years left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. He plays the same position as Vesey, 23, who’s currently Buffalo property but can sign with any team he chooses on Aug. 15.
Even if the Sabres can’t convince Vesey to join them, Kane could still be traded. GM Tim Murray has already conceded that his patience is wearing thin with the 24-year-old that he acquired from Winnipeg not long ago. Alex Nylander, drafted eighth overall in June, plays the same position as Kane, and Murray has said it’s possible the teenager could make the jump to the NHL next season.
Buffalo, Boston and Toronto have generally been considered the favorites to land Vesey. Chicago and Pittsburgh have also been mentioned.
Related: Cue the Kane-to-Vancouver speculation
The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t require arbitration with forward Peter Holland. They’ve signed the 25-year-old to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.3 million.
Holland had a hearing scheduled for today. Last week, the Leafs sent a message by putting him on waivers, which he cleared.
Holland had nine goals and 18 assists in 65 games last season. With him signed, the Leafs have only defensemen Frank Corrado and Martin Marincin as restricted free agents. Corrado has an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow; Marincin’s is next Tuesday.
Related: Corrado and Leafs aren’t that far apart
This is an important week in the Detroit Red Wings’ offseason, with Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday and Danny DeKeyser‘s for Thursday.
GM Ken Holland would prefer to avoid the hearings, which can sometimes result in hurt feelings.
“I think a negotiated settlement is always better than having an arbitrated settlement,” Holland told MLive.com. “Obviously, both sides run (the risk) of somebody’s not going to be happy.”
That being said, in Mrazek’s case, the two sides still have a ways to go. Remember that the 24-year-old netminder was excellent for most of 2015-16, but in Holland’s words, “the wheels came off a little bit in the middle of February.”
Hence, the divide:
DeKeyser, meanwhile, is more of a proven NHL commodity. He’s had three full seasons in the league. In the 26-year-old defenseman, the Red Wings pretty much know what they’ve got.
“There’s way more comparables, I think, in Dan DeKeyser‘s case so it was easier to figure out what was the market place,” said Holland. “That’s certainly not the case of Petr Mrazek’s situation.”
Holland’s work will not be finished once Mrazek and DeKeyser are signed. He still wants to add another defenseman, and he’s got a surplus of forwards to work with.
Related: Holland makes argument to keep Jimmy Howard
The Flyers won’t require today’s scheduled arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn. They’ve agreed to terms with the 24-year-old forward on a four-year contract with a reported cap hit of $5.125 million.
Schenn had a career-high 26 goals and 33 assists in 2015-16. His 59 points were the third most on the Flyers, behind only Claude Giroux‘s 67 and Wayne Simmonds‘ 60.
The Schenn signing leaves the Flyers with just over $1 million in cap space for 2016-17, but no major free agents remaining. RFA defenseman Brandon Manning still needs a contract, but that’s it, per General Fanager. Manning has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 2.
Related: Coyotes sign Luke Schenn