ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 27: Jason LaBarbera #1 of the Phoenix Coyotes reacts as the puck shot by Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild gets past him in the final minute of the third period of the game on March 27, 2013 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Skyrocketing Wild beat plummeting Coyotes

24 Comments

It took some time for the new-and-improved Minnesota Wild to find their groove, but they certainly seem to have lately. Minnesota extended its winning streak to seven games with a 4-3 overtime victory at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.

They wouldn’t have prolonged the streak without some last-minute dramatics. Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who now has points in 12 of his last 15 games, found the back of the net with 54.3 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu assisted on that goal and went on to net the game-winner in overtime.

“I don’t know if we would have handled this as well, trailing in the third period, at the beginning of the season,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said in a Star Tribune report. “I just don’t think we played a good game, but we found a way to win.”

Minnesota is competing with the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead. Both teams have 42 points, but the Canucks have played in 33 games to the Wild’s 32.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes’ free fall continues. Although they did still end up with a consolation point, the Coyotes have now lost seven games in a row and are five points behind the eighth seed San Jose Sharks.

“We’re right at the cliff as far as I’m concerned,” Coyotes Don Maloney recently warned. “If we slide much further, all bets are off. We’re going to go out and find assets. This is reality.”

In other words, if the Coyotes don’t start winning immediately, they’ll become sellers. As it is, Maloney might already be convinced that trading for prospects, picks, and youngsters is his best bet.

Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

2 Comments

Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.

Report: Blackhawks, Rundblad agree to terminate contract

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty
6 Comments

The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.

Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.

It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.

Sydor named assistant coach of Blues’ AHL affiliate

OTTAWA, CANADA - OCTOBER 11: Assistant coach Darryl Sydor of the Minnesota Wild looks up at the jumbotron during a video review in a game against the Ottawa Senators, during the NHL home opener to kick off the Senators' 20th anniversary at Scotiabank Place on October 11, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.

The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.

Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.

“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”