sheawebergetty

Cue the Shea Weber-to-Edmonton speculation

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Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish said yesterday that it “would help immensely” if the Oilers could acquire a “big stud defenseman.”

This, not surprisingly, has led to all sorts of speculation. Who could MacTavish target?

Well, longtime Oilers beat writer Jim Matheson has an idea: Nashville captain Shea Weber, who Matheson calls “one of the three or four best defensemen in the game.”

Aim high, right?

From the Edmonton Journal:

So if you’re Craig MacTavish, who’s untouchable?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Taylor Hall? Jordan Eberle? Justin Schultz? Nail Yakupov?

So we know MacTavish would give up his 2014 first-round pick, for a stud D-man. What else?

I’d say MacTavish would really need his arm cranked to move Hall or RNH. You’d be loathe to deal your No.1 centre or your emotional leader in Hall. And you outbid everybody in the NHL to sign Justin Schultz out of U of Wisconsin so you’d have to swallow hard to consider giving him up. Yakupov is not untouchable. I’d say, the Predators would jump through hoops to get Eberle and Schultz (the scorer on the wing and the puck-moving D-man). But, they’d still be missing a centre? They wouldn’t mind Sam Gagner. I’m sure the Predators have scouted tough defenceman Darnell Nurse and Swedish blueliner Oscar Klefbom, too, for prospects.

Granted, we still don’t know if Preds general manager David Poile is even willing to entertain offers for Weber. But here are a few reasons the Oilers might be able to tempt him:

— The Preds have a budget, and right now a lot of it is being used up by Weber, whose heavily front-loaded contract looks like this (per CapGeek):

source:

That’s a big nut for a team like Nashville, which, according to Forbes’ estimates, ranks near the bottom of the league in revenue.

— The Preds have Seth Jones now. No, he’s not an elite NHL defenseman yet. But the Preds aren’t an elite team either. It’s not like they’ll be making a run for the Stanley Cup this spring. In the Western Conference, they’re a long shot to even make the playoffs.

— The Preds need young, talented forwards. Badly. And the Oilers have plenty of those. Poile may not be interested in Yakupov (see: that whole experience with Alexander Radulov), but if MacTavish put Hall on the table?

And make no mistake, MacTavish would have to at least consider putting Hall on the table. This is Shea Weber we’re talking about. A guy that could — well, let’s use MacTavish’s words here — really “move the team forward in a rapid fashion.”

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.