Over the last few months, Henrik Lunqvist has intimated he didn’t want to discuss his contract status once the regular season began.
Today, made it official.
“This will be the last time you hear me talk about it,” Lundqvist told the Bergen Record. “Unfortunately we don’t have a deal right now. For me now it’s time to just focus on the game. I want to have all my thoughts on playing as well as I can and winning. That’s all my focus is. That’s all I care about.”
Lundqvist, 31, is in the final year of a six-year, $41.25 million deal that pays $6.875 annually. A Vezina finalist two years running — winning the trophy in 2011-12 — it’s expected he’ll become the NHL’s highest-paid goalie when he signs his new deal, surpassing the top current cap hit of $7 million that belongs to both Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask.
But for now, Lundqvist won’t wade into negotiations.
He did say the Rangers are free to speak to his representation — Newport Sports’ Don Meehan — but re-iterated that he won’t speak to the club or Meehan about a new deal.
“If they continue to talk, the Rangers and my agent, so be it,” Lundqvist explained. “But for me personally I’m not going to get involved. I’m not going to talk to my agent.
“Right now, all I care about is to play well.”
Most knew that, based on the visuals and stretchering off, the injury Kevin Fiala suffered during Nashville’s series-opening win over St. Louis last night was pretty bad.
Today, the Preds confirmed it.
Fiala suffered a fractured left femur on the play, one that will sideline him for the remainder of the year. The club went onto explain that the 20-year-old underwent successful surgery last night, and would soon be returned to Nashville.
It’s an incredibly unfortunate end to what was a promising campaign.
The 11th overall pick in 2014, Fiala scored 11 goals in 54 games for the Preds this year, and famously scored the OT winner in Game 3 of the opening round against Chicago.
Given the success they’ve had with Artemi Panarin, it’s not surprising to learn the Blackhawks are back scouting Europe for undrafted talent.
Per TSN, Chicago is on the verge of signing Czech League forward David Kampf to a two-year, entry-level deal. Kampf, 22, is coming off a solid campaign with Pirati Chomutov, establishing career highs in goals (15) and points (31) in just 51 games played.
A two-time member of the Czech team at the World Juniors, Kampf is listed at 6-foot-2, 192 pounds and should have a chance to push for minutes in Chicago next season.
It’s unrealistic to expect similar production to Panarin, who’s emerged as one of the club’s top scorers. But the talented Russian did come over from the KHL at around the same age as Kampf — Panarin was 24 when he signed — and, like Kampf, joined Chicago after posting personal scoring highs with his club team (SKA Saint Petersburg).
It’s also worth noting that Chicago GM Stan Bowman promised significant changes this offseason, following a disappointing first-round sweep at the hands of Nashville. The Kampf signing comes after the club fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen, and AHL bench boss Ted Dent.
The upper-body ailment that kept Karl Alzner out of most of Washington’s first-round series against Toronto will force him to miss the start of the second as well.
On Thursday, the Caps officially ruled Alzner out of tonight’s Game 1 versus Pittsburgh, per the Washington Post. The news comes after the 28-year-old participated in the morning skate, but was out mostly with the extras.
Alzner is now facing a near two-week layoff, having last played in Game 2 of the Leafs series on Apr. 15. He skated 26:17 that night in a double-OT loss, and hasn’t drawn back into the lineup since.
With him sidelined, the Caps have used Nate Schmidt on defense — and yielded solid results. Schmidt has good skating ability and foot speed, and he seemed to make a fairly significant difference against Toronto, as the Caps were often forced to try and match the younger and faster Maple Leafs.
Last summer’s Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson swap wasn’t popular in Edmonton, and it probably still isn’t now, but it likely stings a lot less today.
Larsson came up huge in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series against the Anaheim Ducks, as he scored a pair of goals and an assist in the 5-3 victory.
The 24-year-old’s first goal extended Edmonton’s lead to 3-1 in the third period, while his second tally gave them a 4-3 lead (it proved to be the game-winner) with under five minutes remaining in regulation.
Larsson finished Game 1 with a plus-2 rating, two shots on goal, three hits and two blocked shots in 18:47 of ice time (it’s the first time he’s played less than 21 minutes this postseason).
He now has four points in seven games during these playoffs, and he’s averaging 22:41 of ice time.
“We needed to improve our blue line and we needed to have an anchor back there and Larsson has become that,” said head coach Todd McLellan after his team’s win in Game 1, per the Edmonton Sun. “We could have kept floundering without fixing that hole and I think Peter Chiarelli and his staff did a tremendous job of addressing that issue. What he did to change the complexion of our team took a lot of courage. That’s not an easy thing to do when you are trading a player of Taylor’s caliber and popularity.”
Of course, we’ll never know if the Oilers would’ve made it this far had they not made that blockbuster deal last off-season, but it’s a good sign that Larsson has turned into a solid option for a team that was clearly lacking talent on defense.
Game 2 of the series will take place in Anaheim on Friday night at 10:30 p.m. ET. Don’t forget, you can stream the game via the NBC Sports app, which you can find right here.
—Todd McLellan named finalist for 2017 Jack Adams Award
—Oilers showed off their depth beyond McDavid in beating Sharks