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TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Detroit at Boston (7 p.m. ET)

The Red Wings get their first look at the B’s as Eastern Conference foes. Though we wonder if fatigue may be a factor for Mike Babcock’s troops — Detroit played Wednesday at home and is in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes Friday night before traveling to Boston. Wasn’t the schedule supposed to be easier in the new conference? As for the Bruins, they should be feeling pretty good after Thursday’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay to open their season.

Saturday: Buffalo at Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET)

Despite no shortage of power-play opportunities, the Sabres could only muster 20 shots versus Detroit in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday. Like the Wings, Buffalo plays Friday (at home versus Ottawa) before traveling for a tough game Saturday. Meanwhile, the Pens couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, beating New Jersey 3-0 Thursday as much-maligned Marc-Andre Fleury got the shutout. By the way, Pittsburgh plays seven of its first 10 games at home and doesn’t travel outside its time zone until Nov. 9 (St. Louis).

Saturday: Philadelphia at Montreal (7 p.m. ET)

Danny Briere faces off against his old Flyers mates. That’s one angle. Another involves the chatter that Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette is very much on the hot seat. Last night on TSN’s Insider Trading (video), Darren Dreger cited a sense of “impending doom” around the organization and suggested the Flyers need to have a winning record by the 10-15 game mark of the season, or we may see a new man — potentially Craig Berube — in charge behind the bench.

Saturday: Edmonton at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Both teams opened their seasons with losses. Whoever loses this one (on national TV in Canada, no less) is going to hear about it. The Oilers really should’ve won their first game, but they blew a 4-2 lead to the Jets on Tuesday. As for the Canucks, they looked good for the first 10 minutes of last night’s contest in San Jose, but turnovers ultimately cost them in a 4-1 loss to a Sharks side that should be very good this season. “We have a lot to learn with tenacity and consistently being on pucks,” said new Vancouver coach John Tortorella after the game.

Sunday: Anaheim at Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET)

Teemu Selanne returns to the city in which he first starred, almost certainly for the last time as an NHLer. We suppose there’s a chance the two teams meet in the playoffs, or even that Selanne changes his mind and doesn’t retire, but there’s a reason ticket prices are through the roof for this one. The Ducks don’t go back to Winnipeg again this season.

Rangers bring back forward Marek Hrivik

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 09:  Marek Hrivik #46 of the New York Rangers skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Red Wings 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Rangers announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Hrivik to a new contract. The term and financial details of the deal were not released.

Hrivik signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and ended up playing five games for the Rangers. He had one assist and a plus-3 rating during his time in the NHL.

The young forward was an important part of New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Hrivik finished his AHL campaign with 12 goals and 29 assists. He tied for the team lead in assists and finished third in points.

If you go by Hrivik’s tweet, it appears as though he signed a one-year contract:

Now that Hrivik is re-signed, the Rangers have no more free agents of any kind, per General Fanager.

Report: Stone and Coyotes agree to one-year, $4M deal

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Another day, another scheduled arbitration hearing avoided.

According to multiple reports, defenseman Michael Stone and the Arizona Coyotes have settled on a one-year, $4 million deal, well ahead of their scheduled arbitration hearing set for Aug. 4.

Stone, 26, was a restricted free agent coming off a three-year contract with an AAV of $1.15 million.

Last season in Arizona, he hit new career highs in points with 36 and assists with 30. He also logged some heavy minutes, playing more than 22 minutes per game, which was second behind only Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That includes being used on both the power play and penalty kill.

Just more work done for the Coyotes on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, they announced they had signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a six-year contract extension, worth a total of $23.1 million.

Related: Coyotes’ defensive makeover continues with Luke Schenn signing

‘Nothing’s different’: Dale Tallon says he still has final say in Panthers’ personnel decisions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Dale Tallon, General Manager of the Florida Panthers, speaks on the phone on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Despite having a terrific season in 2015-16, the Florida Panthers made a number of changes to their front office. Some of the moves include: Tom Rowe being promoted to general manager, Dale Tallon being named the director of hockey operations and Eric Joyce and Steve Werier serving as assistant general managers.

There’s a lot of confusion as to who gets to make the final call on player personnel decisions in Florida, but Tallon tried to clear that up during a radio interview with 560 WQAM on Thursday.

“It allows me to focus on what I do best,” Tallon said of the front office changes. “And that’s evaluate, travel, scout and give us information on players that will help us win a championship and keep us as a top team for the next 15 years.

“I have a lot to say. I’m a stubborn guy, I have opinions, I have strong opinions and I let them know where I stand and I let them know how I feel. That’s the way it is. The bottom line is what’s best for the team.”

When asked if he still has the final say on personnel decisions, Tallon said: “yes, I do”.

When pressed on the issue, Tallon said this:

“Like I said, it’s by committee, we do it together. We’ve always done that. Nothing’s different. We’ve got great support and things are terrific. We’re really excited about our future, we’re excited about having a chance to win this year.”

It seems curious that the Panthers made all these changes after finally having success and qualifying for the playoffs, but they appear to have strong, committed owners, who are willing to do whatever it takes to put a winning product on the ice. We’ll soon find out if the changes were for the better or not.

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Update: Coyotes sign Connor Murphy to six-year extension

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 18:  Connor Murphy #5 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Washington Capitals at Gila River Arena on November 18, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Capitals defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Coyotes GM John Chayka is putting the finishing touches on a productive off-season. Chayka was able to acquire Alex Goligoski, re-sign Shane Doan, sign Jamie McGinn, he improved his position in the draft by acquiring Pavel Datsyuk and also signed former King Luke Schenn.

Now, it sounds like he’s close to locking up another piece of the puzzle. Connor Murphy‘s agent, Brian Bartlett, believes that his client will have a new deal with the Coyotes by the end of the week, according to Arizona Sports 98.7. 

UPDATE: The Coyotes announced that they’ve re-signed Murphy to a new six-year contract reportedly worth $23.1 million (3.85 AAV).

“We are extremely pleased to sign Connor to a long-term contract,” said Chayka, in a team release. “At only 23, Connor has established himself as a very good NHL defenseman. He’s a great skater, a fierce competitor and he has an excellent work ethic. We look forward to him taking the next step and having him on our blue line for many years to come.”

Murphy is coming off his entry-level deal. He scored six goals and 17 points in 78 games with Arizona last season. The 23-year-old was the Coyotes’ first round pick, 20th overall, back in 2011.

The Coyotes now have two restricted free agents to sign before the start of the season, as defenseman Michael Stone and forward Tobias Rieder also need new deals.

Stone and the Coyotes are scheduled to go to arbitration on Aug. 4, while negotiations between the club and Tobias Rieder don’t seem to be going very well.