Tim Thomas, Colin Wilson

Predators insert Colin Wilson into Game 2 lineup

The Nashville Predators came just short of a victory against the Phoenix Coyotes last time around, as Game 1 showed that they’ll need plenty of scoring power to top Mike Smith. More than any time in recent memory, Nashville’s roster is littered with wild cards from the Kostitsyn brothers to Alexander Radulov. Barry Trotz now can play one more; Josh Cooper reports that Colin Wilson will suit up for the first time since April 7 tonight.

The Predators are noted for integrating prospects into their mix as methodically as any team in the NHL, so it’s not surprising that Wilson (the seventh overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft) has had to fight for every minute of playing time. With 15 goals and 35 points in 68 games in 2010-11, he has the potential to add some scoring punch to a diverse but not particularly distinguished Predators offense.

Perhaps most importantly, the 22-year-old should have fresh legs. That could be a significant difference-maker. Wilson is taking the place of fellow youngster Craig Smith.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?