Penguins fans

TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Edmonton at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET)

Look, we all know these two teams have been terrible. In fact, given expectations, they’re probably the two most disappointing teams in the NHL. Which is exactly why everyone should watch this game. Nothing like a good sports disaster. If the Flyers can’t get the offense going against Edmonton, we’re not sure there’s any hope for Claude Giroux and company. The Oilers rank dead last in the NHL in goals against (3.82) and, based on what we saw last night in Tampa Bay, it’s not hard to understand why:

Next time, maybe watch out for that Stamkos guy. Pretty good player.

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

The last time the Maple Leafs visited TD Garden, they experienced one of the most devastating moments in franchise history. Which, you know, was kind of a big deal at the time. We are, of course, referring to Game 7 of Toronto’s first-round matchup with the Bruins that the Leafs led 4-1 almost halfway through the third period. Yada, yada, yada, Boston ended up winning and making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where oddly enough the B’s were undone by their own third-period collapse. Sports!

Saturday: Pittsburgh at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

Time for a little Pens fans trolling. OK, here we go. Let’s see how upset they get when we suggest their precious Penguins have had the easiest schedule in the world and have been nowhere near as good as their 11-5-0 record indicates. Case in point, in 16 games, the Pens have only played three teams from the far superior Western Conference. They beat Edmonton by a goal at home. (Hey, congratulations.) They were badly outplayed, at home again, by the Canucks, even though they managed to win that one in a shootout. And they lost, 1-0 — yep, at home — to Colorado. Good luck against the Blues. Gonna need it.

Sunday: Washington at Colorado (8 p.m. ET)

The Caps won their fourth straight Thursday versus the Wild and, in a very related story, are starting to get scoring from guys not named Alex Ovechkin. Marcus Johansson, for example, has two goals in his last two games. Nicklas Backstrom has been putting the puck in the net. Joel Ward has five goals in his last nine games. As for the Avs, how will they react this weekend after losing 6-4 to Nashville on Wednesday? Everyone’s just waiting for them to fall apart, right? Worth noting: the Caps also play Saturday in Phoenix, so this could be a tough one fatigue-wise.

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

The Canucks — who finally beat San Jose Thursday night — finish off a tough four-game road trip versus the red-hot Ducks. Sunday’s will be the first of five Vancouver-Anaheim meetings this season. If you haven’t noticed, the Pacific Division continues to be an absolute monster. Here’s a stat to consider: The Ducks, Canucks, Coyotes, Kings, and Sharks are a combined 28-9-4 versus teams from the Eastern Conference. Seriously, imagine if the Penguins had to play good teams like those all the time. Would they even make the playoffs?

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

Vladislav Namestnikov
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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.

Journeyman enforcer Rosehill signs with Scottish team

Paul Bissonnette, Jay Rosehill
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Noted pugilist Jay Rosehill has followed in the footsteps of his fellow tough guys, and will try his hand overseas.

Specifically, in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the EIHL’s Scottish-based outfit in Braehead — the Clan — announced it had signed Rosehill for the upcoming campaign. The move comes after the 31-year-old spent each of the last two seasons with Philly’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.

Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.

Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:

As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.

 

 

Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.