NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates a second period goal by teammate Marc Staal #18 in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 16, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Plenty of key RFAs left to sign


As we noted in the post about Zach Bogosian signing with the Jets, only two restricted free agents that filed for arbitration remain headed for a hearing — Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (hearing Wednesday) and Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser (hearing Tuesday).

However, there remains a lengthy list of noteworthy RFAs without arbitration rights that still don’t have a contract for 2013-14 — a list that includes Alex Pietrangelo, Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, Marcus Johansson, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, Cody Hodgson, Jared Cowan, Magnus Paajarvi, and Chris Tanev.

It’s no huge surprise that any of the above players remain unsigned. There’s still plenty of time before training camp starts and the real poker game begins.

This past season, Montreal defenseman PK Subban didn’t agree to a new contract with the Canadiens until he’d missed four games of the regular season. Subban went on to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best blue-liner.

The year before, it was Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings that engaged in a prolonged negotiation. The Kings, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup.

That’s not to say every negotiation will end up with the two sides coming to an agreement. The Leafs, for example, could reportedly be forced to trade Franson.

There also remains the possibility of an RFA signing an offer sheet, as Nashville defenseman Shea Weber did last year with the Flyers before the Predators matched.

Granted, offer sheets aren’t typically presented unless there’s a reasonable chance of actually landing the player. And with that in mind, there doesn’t seem to be a prime candidate for one this summer.

But if we had to pick a vulnerable team, it may be the Toronto Maple Leafs, with both Franson and Kadri still unsigned (plus Fraser) and not a ton of cap space with which to work.

The Rangers are another team that’s close to the cap; however, the chances of New York allowing Stepan to get signed away are practically nil.

Related: Blues GM vows to do ‘what is necessary’ to re-sign Pietrangelo

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?