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So…what now for the Red Wings?


This morning at Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement press conference, Red Wings GM Ken Holland said, “I’ve been dreading this day since I became manager in 1997.”

And you believed him when he said it. After all, how does one replace, as Holland put it, the “most valuable player of his era”?

Well, one doesn’t. But Holland still has to try.

Ryan Suter is usually the first candidate to come up. The 27-year-old Predators defenseman can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and if he chooses to leave Nashville, Detroit is the most rumored destination.

However, if the Red Wings are interested in Suter, they won’t be the only team. In Philadelphia, the Flyers may be forced to move on without their own captain and Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, Chris Pronger.  The 37-year-old suffered a serious concussion this season and there’s talk he could be forced to retire.

How important is Pronger to the Flyers? Shortly after they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, Flyers owner Ed Snider said if Pronger (and defenseman Andrej Meszaros) had been healthy, they “would have won the whole thing.”

Philly d-man Kimmo Timonen, 37, is also approaching the end of his career.

If Holland can’t get Suter, he could always inquire about Nashville’s other top defenseman, Shea Weber, who can become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. The Preds won’t let Weber, 26, walk away for free though.

Another option is Justin Schultz, the 21-year-old college star who can become unrestricted if he doesn’t sign with Anaheim, the team that drafted him in 2008.

Holland could also pursue “lesser” pending UFAs like Dennis Wideman, Jason Garrison or Barret Jackman, then hope Niklas Kronwall can elevate his game.

There’s also 23-year-old Brendan Smith waiting in the wings.

Related: With Lidstrom gone, Zetterberg likely to be Detroit’s next captain

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.

McDavid will center Hall and Slepyshev

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid said he didn’t have any trouble falling asleep on the eve of his professional debut.

But when he woke up on Thursday he said it finally hit him.

“In the days leading up I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,” McDavid said. “Kind of when I woke up this morning, I guess that’s kind of when it hit me that I’ll be playing in my first NHL game. I think that’s when I first realized.”

When the Oilers play at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the 18-year-old McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the most hyped player to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Penguins made his debut a decade ago.

Speaking in front of a crowd of reporters on Thursday following his team’s morning skate, the soft-spoken rookie admitted to having some butterflies but said he felt pretty good and was excited to get going.

“It’s just special,” McDavid said of his NHL debut. “I’m living out my dream, so there’s nothing better than that. I’m just really looking forward to tonight.”

McDavid will be centering the Oilers’ second line against the Blues with Taylor Hall on the left wing and Anton Slepyshev on the right. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, while Slepyshev will also be making his NHL debut on Thursday night.

“We all see what he can do in practice and the games,” Hall said of McDavid. “It’s important to remember he’s 18. I’m 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There’s going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he’s in a position to succeed and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan, hired in May after spending seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks, has already gotten accustomed to receiving questions about McDavid.

The first few questions McLellan was asked on Thursday were about the NHL’s most popular newcomer.

“What I’ve found with him is he’s working really hard to just be himself and fit in,” the coach said. “He doesn’t want to be special, he doesn’t want to be treated any differently but he obviously is. He’s trying to adapt to that and he’s doing a very good job of it personally and collectively I think our team has done a good job around him.”

McLellan said there are three levels of pressure surrounding him.

The first is McDavid’s individual expectations, which he is sure are extremely high. The second comes from the rookie’s teammates, coaching staff, organization and city of Edmonton.

“But where it really changes is the national, international and world-wide eyes being on him,” McLellan said. “How does that compare to some of the other players I’ve been around? I haven’t been around an 18-year-old who has had to deal with that. It’s new to all of us.

“I did spend some time talking to Sid (Sidney Crosby) about his experience and even since then the world’s really changed as far as media and social media and that type of stuff. This is a new adventure for everybody involved. I know Connor has the tools to handle the pressure and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”