Tonight on NBCSN: Doubleheader action with Union-Princeton and Denver-UNO

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Tonight’s doubleheader features a Team USA World Junior gold medalist playing at a legendary rink in the first game and a WCHA showdown in the second.

Princeton Tigers (5-7-4) vs. No. 17 Union College Dutchmen (9-6-4) – 7:30 p.m. ET

The Dutchmen haven’t had quite the follow-up to their Frozen Four season last year. Union has won just once in their last eight games going 1-4-3 in that stretch. Sophomore Team USA star Shayne Gostisbehere has been part of a steady attack for the team scoring five goals with eight assists this year. If Union is going to snap out of it and start making another run for the NCAA tournament, doing damage in conference against teams like Princeton is the way to do it.

Princeton, meanwhile, are winners of two in a row beating out Ivy League rivals Harvard and Dartmouth. Back on December 1 they earned a 4-4 tie with Union in Schenectady. Now that they’re on a mini-roll and on their home ice at Hobey Baker Rink, they’re hoping to keep the good times going.

NHL prospects to watch: Union has a pair of them in Gostisbehere (Philadelphia) and freshman defenseman Tim Boyle (Ottawa). They also have solid undrafted players like Kyle Bodie, Wayne Simpson, and senior defenseman Greg Coburn, brother of Flyers blue liner Braydon Coburn. Last year’s Hobey Baker finalist Troy Grosenick still leads the way in goal.

Princeton rolls with Ottawa prospect, senior defenseman Michael Sdao. You’ll see their best offensive talent in forwards Andrew Calof, Tyler Maugeri, and Andrew Ammon. Senior goalie Mike Condon has been strong this season.

No. 9 Denver Pioneers (12-6-3) vs. No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (13-8-1) – 10:05 p.m. ET

The last time we saw Denver on NBCSN, I was busy throwing the hex on them as they tied Wisconsin 1-1. That came in the middle of a spell that saw them go winless in eight straight (0-5-3). Since then they’ve won three in a row with a  win over Boston University and a sweep of Cornell at home last weekend that didn’t sit too well with Big Red coach Mike Schafer.

Now they’re back into the WCHA schedule facing a Nebraska-Omaha team riding high off their weekend sweep of Colorado College last week. The Mavericks had a bit of bad news this week as Flyers prospect goalie Anthony Stolarz departed for the OHL. On the upside, recently absent goalie Ryan Massa has come back thanks to his departure.

NHL prospects to watch: Denver rolls with Kings prospect Nick Shore as he leads the team in scoring. Oilers prospect defenseman Joey LaLeggia is another guy to keep your eye on. Zac Larraza (F-Phoenix), Scott Mayfield (D-NY Islanders), Josiah Didier (D-Montreal), and Sam Brittain (G-Florida) are other prospects the Pioneers are rolling with.

UNO has Penguins prospect forward Josh Archibald to keep your eyes on. Senior defenseman Bryce Aneloski (Ottawa) is another guy who will see big minutes. Nick Seeler (D-Minnesota), Brent Gwidt (F-Washington), Tanner Lane (F-Winnipeg), and Brian Cooper (D-Anaheim) are the others to keep an eye on. Undrafted forward Ryan Walters is their go-to guy.

Agent: Schultz likes Pittsburgh, but wants to be ‘rewarded’

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Justin Schultz took a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.

One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.

That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.

“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”

Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.

Schultz then added 13 more points in the playoffs, as the Penguins managed to win it all without Kris Letang.

For the record, Schultz wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Pens can afford to keep him, or if they’d be better off selling high in a trade.

“We’ll probably have some more direction here this week with where we’re going with [a possible extension],” Arnott said. “But we’ve had some good discussions.”

After Stepan trade, Zibanejad negotiations become even more crucial

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For a good while, the center position in New York was largely carried by the one-two punch of Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.

Now, the Derick & Derek show is no longer.

Stepan was shipped out during draft weekend in a blockbuster deal with Arizona. Brassard exited a year earlier in a move to Ottawa that brought Mika Zibanejad to the Blueshirts.

Zibanejad, 24, was acquired by GM Jeff Gorton in the hopes of one day becoming New York’s No. 1 center. He certainly showed he was capable this season — despite missing nearly 30 games with a broken fibula, he put together a fine offensive regular season and then surged in the playoffs, finishing with nine points in 12 games.

And now, a big negotiation sits on the horizon.

Zibanejad is a restricted free agent coming off a two-year, $5.25 million deal with a $2.625M cap hit. As we wrote earlier, Gorton is “open to anything” with regards to the extension, saying he’d be willing to go either short- or long-term.

One has to think Zibanejad has a ton of leverage. His acquisition price (Brassard) was significant, Stepan is now gone, and so too is depth center Oscar Lindberg, who was acquired by Vegas at the expansion draft. Right now, New York’s center depth consists of Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and maybe some spot duty from J.T. Miller.

Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at Friday’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year. But there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season, as Gorton could opt to send Andersson back to the Swedish League for further development.

The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring down the middle, unless someone thinks they can land Joe Thornton, and there’s no doubt Zibanejad’s seen the paydays scored by some other good, young, top-line centers. Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, while Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven.

Is Zibanejad at their level? If you surveyed folks around the league, the answer would be probably no. But he could be soon and, what’s more, the Rangers may be forced to pay him as if he already is.

Sabres bring back defenseman Fedun on two-year deal

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Taylor Fedun, the Sabres depth defenseman that was set to become a UFA on Saturday, has agreed to a two-year, two-way extension, Buffalo announced on Monday.

Fedun, 29, appeared in 27 games for the Sabres last year, splitting time between the NHL and the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. He was a very productive player for the Amerks, scoring 23 points in 29 games.

Moving forward, most expect Fedun to continue in the same role he served this year — a guy that can provide veteran stability at the minor league level, and fill spot duty at the NHL level when injuries strike.

Ottawa extends Pyatt — two years, $2.2 million

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Tom Pyatt, the veteran forward who enjoyed some success reuniting with Guy Boucher in Ottawa last season, has re-signed with the Sens on a two-year, $2.2 million deal, per TSN.

Pyatt was a steady contributor for the Sens, scoring nine goals and 23 points while appearing in all 82 contests. He averaged over 15 minutes per night and was a vital part of the club’s penalty kill, leading all forwards in blocked shots.

He also appeared in 14 playoff games, scoring twice.

Prior to playing in Ottawa, Pyatt had skated under Boucher in Tampa Bay. They spent parts of two years together with the Lightning, before heading off to Switzerland — Pyatt with Geneve Servette, Boucher with Bern SC.

Pyatt was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, but clearly liked the fit in Ottawa. He’ll get a pay bump — up from the $800,000 he made last year — a bit more long-term security, and possibly a bigger role with the Sens moving forward.

Ottawa has already stated it will cut ties with veteran tough guy Chris Neil, and decisions are still looming on UFA forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels.