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.

Agent: Schultz likes Pittsburgh, but wants to be ‘rewarded’

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Justin Schultz took a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.

One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.

That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.

“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”

Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.

Schultz then added 13 more points in the playoffs, as the Penguins managed to win it all without Kris Letang.

For the record, Schultz wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Pens can afford to keep him, or if they’d be better off selling high in a trade.

“We’ll probably have some more direction here this week with where we’re going with [a possible extension],” Arnott said. “But we’ve had some good discussions.”

After Stepan trade, Zibanejad negotiations become even more crucial

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For a good while, the center position in New York was largely carried by the one-two punch of Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.

Now, the Derick & Derek show is no longer.

Stepan was shipped out during draft weekend in a blockbuster deal with Arizona. Brassard exited a year earlier in a move to Ottawa that brought Mika Zibanejad to the Blueshirts.

Zibanejad, 24, was acquired by GM Jeff Gorton in the hopes of one day becoming New York’s No. 1 center. He certainly showed he was capable this season — despite missing nearly 30 games with a broken fibula, he put together a fine offensive regular season and then surged in the playoffs, finishing with nine points in 12 games.

And now, a big negotiation sits on the horizon.

Zibanejad is a restricted free agent coming off a two-year, $5.25 million deal with a $2.625M cap hit. As we wrote earlier, Gorton is “open to anything” with regards to the extension, saying he’d be willing to go either short- or long-term.

One has to think Zibanejad has a ton of leverage. His acquisition price (Brassard) was significant, Stepan is now gone, and so too is depth center Oscar Lindberg, who was acquired by Vegas at the expansion draft. Right now, New York’s center depth consists of Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and maybe some spot duty from J.T. Miller.

Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at Friday’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year. But there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season, as Gorton could opt to send Andersson back to the Swedish League for further development.

The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring down the middle, unless someone thinks they can land Joe Thornton, and there’s no doubt Zibanejad’s seen the paydays scored by some other good, young, top-line centers. Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, while Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven.

Is Zibanejad at their level? If you surveyed folks around the league, the answer would be probably no. But he could be soon and, what’s more, the Rangers may be forced to pay him as if he already is.

Sabres bring back defenseman Fedun on two-year deal

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Taylor Fedun, the Sabres depth defenseman that was set to become a UFA on Saturday, has agreed to a two-year, two-way extension, Buffalo announced on Monday.

Fedun, 29, appeared in 27 games for the Sabres last year, splitting time between the NHL and the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. He was a very productive player for the Amerks, scoring 23 points in 29 games.

Moving forward, most expect Fedun to continue in the same role he served this year — a guy that can provide veteran stability at the minor league level, and fill spot duty at the NHL level when injuries strike.

Ottawa extends Pyatt — two years, $2.2 million

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Tom Pyatt, the veteran forward who enjoyed some success reuniting with Guy Boucher in Ottawa last season, has re-signed with the Sens on a two-year, $2.2 million deal, per TSN.

Pyatt was a steady contributor for the Sens, scoring nine goals and 23 points while appearing in all 82 contests. He averaged over 15 minutes per night and was a vital part of the club’s penalty kill, leading all forwards in blocked shots.

He also appeared in 14 playoff games, scoring twice.

Prior to playing in Ottawa, Pyatt had skated under Boucher in Tampa Bay. They spent parts of two years together with the Lightning, before heading off to Switzerland — Pyatt with Geneve Servette, Boucher with Bern SC.

Pyatt was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, but clearly liked the fit in Ottawa. He’ll get a pay bump — up from the $800,000 he made last year — a bit more long-term security, and possibly a bigger role with the Sens moving forward.

Ottawa has already stated it will cut ties with veteran tough guy Chris Neil, and decisions are still looming on UFA forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels.