Discuss: Blackhawks crush Wild in Game 5 to end series

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The Chicago Blackhawks were nearly impossible to beat in the regular season and the Minnesota Wild couldn’t solve them in the playoffs. The Blackhawks cruised to a 5-1 victory in Game 5 to eliminate the Wild from the postseason.

Chicago’s only loss came in overtime and Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford allowed just seven goals this series.

Marian Hossa was the hero in this contest, netting Chicago’s first goal of the game and adding an insurance goal at 6:26 of the second period. He also picked up an assist.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Wild goaltender Josh Harding wasn’t at his best tonight, but he held his own against Chicago for most of the series. Still, would things have gone differently if Niklas Backstrom was available?
  • Given recent history, it almost feels like the Chicago Blackhawks’ victory over the eighth seed Minnesota wild was in defiance of the odds. Going into the 2013 campaign, three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost their first-round series.
  • Wild defenseman Ryan Suter logged 27:51 minutes in this game. He deserves a lot of credit for playing huge minutes in this series and just being an all-around great acquisition for Minnesota in his first season with the team.
  • All the same, is this campaign a big setback after inking Suter and Zach Parise to massive contracts over the summer, should this season be regarded as a big disappointment for the Minnesota Wild? Or should it be dismissed as a transitional year towards something greater?
  • After getting no points in his first four games of the postseason, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews registered two assists tonight.
  • If nothing else, the Minnesota Wild played a disciplined game. They were eliminated with the least penalty minutes per postseason contest in the league.
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Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.