The St. Louis Blues have done their best to try to shrug off becoming the NHL’s first team to clinch a playoff berth. The New York Rangers are far more justified in taking a blase attitude about being the East’s first, however, as they’re nowhere near as comfortable as the odds-on Central Division winners must be (deep down).
It makes sense, then, that the Rangers clinched their playoff spot with a tough 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils.
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If division titles didn’t determine seeding, the East’s top four teams would all come from the Atlantic. Excluding the Larry Brooks-abused New York Islanders, the Devils are the only team without a realistic chance to usurp the Rangers for the Atlantic:
(1) Rangers: 97 points, 10 games left, 45 wins (42 in regulation/OT)
(4): Pittsburgh: 94 points, 11 games left, 44 wins (35 in regulation/OT)
(5): Philadelphia: 92 points, 10 games left, 42 wins (39 in regulation/OT)
(6): New Jersey: 87 points, nine games left, 41 wins (30 in regulation/OT)
Yup, the Rangers’ win probably put the Devils’ already-slim Atlantic dreams to bed, but the Penguins remain a serious threat. Pittsburgh has a game in hand and one more contest against the Blueshirts, so John Tortorella & Co. can’t take it easy just because the postseason is now guaranteed.
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
Ben Scrivens is off to Belarus. The 29-year-old goalie has reportedly signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.
Scrivens made 14 starts for the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16, failing to really take advantage of his opportunity with the Habs and finishing 5-8-0 with a .906 save percentage.
In total, Scrivens made 144 appearances (130 starts) in NHL games, his best season coming in 2013-14, which he split between Los Angeles and Edmonton. The Oilers gave up a third-round draft pick to get him. They eventually acquired Zack Kassian when they dealt him away.
Related: Maple Leafs reportedly close to signing Jhonas Enroth