Kekalainen: Underdog Finns ‘will bite everybody’s ankles and not let go’ at Olympics

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If you’re wondering about Finland’s approach to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, check out what assistant GM Jarmo Kekalainen had to say on Sportsnet’s Fan 590 radio today.

“It’ll be all about team. That’s our strength and we love to be the underdog,” Kekalainen explained. “We’re going to bite everybody’s ankles and not let go — that’s the only way we’re going to be successful.”

Though they like to fancy themselves underdogs, the Finns have been perennial medal contenders since NHL players began competing in the Olympics in 1998, capturing silver in ’98 and 2006 and bronze in 2010. At the upcoming ’14 tournament, the team will lean heavily on a number of players that’ve achieved success in past competitions, as Finland boasts one of the oldest and most-experienced rosters, featuring Teemu Selanne (43 years old), Sami Salo (39), Kimmo Timonen (38) and Olli Jokinen (35).

In terms of grit and scrappiness, the likes of veterans Tuomo Ruutu and Mikko Koivu will be heavily leaned-upon, though the latter’s participation is in question as he recovers from knee surgery.

This isn’t to say, however, that the Finns don’t have any youth coming through the ranks. Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh’s young star defenseman, and Florida’s leading scorer Aleksander Barkov both made the team despite being 19 and 18, respectively. Given their success at the NHL level this season, both should play prominent roles in Sochi.

And then, of course, there’s the goaltending.

Finland boasts arguably the greatest depth in the world at the position as Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen made the cut for the Winter Games. Considering the likes of Pekka Rinne (injured), Karri Ramo, Antti Raanta and Nicklas Backstrom were left off the team is evidence to just how much depth the Finns have in goal.

Kekalainen acknowledged its one of his team’s great assets.

“We have three great goaltenders,” he explained. “All have proven themselves in the NHL. It’s a big strength for our team.”

WATCH LIVE: 2017 NHL Draft – the first round

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Will the New Jersey Devils select Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick? Could another team swoop in and trade for a high choice, whether it be from the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, or someone else?

On a day of huge, often shocking trades, the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft still has potential to bring more twists and turns.

You can watch another important night in the NHL unfold on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Also, check out PHT’s draft tracker here. Note the current order of selections below.

PHT’s 2017 NHL Draft Tracker

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From the United Center in Chicago, it’s the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft!

Click back here throughout the night for all the latest picks, complete with draft profiles, stories and video from tonight’s broadcast on NBCSN.

1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona)
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins

Capitals re-sign Oshie for eight years, $46 million

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T.J. Oshie will be staying with the Washington Capitals for a very, very long time.

The team announced on Friday evening that it has signed the veteran forward to an eight-year contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $5.75 million.

That comes out to a total dollar amount of $46 million.

“T.J. is an invaluable member of our team and we felt it was imperative for us to re-sign him in a competitive free agent market,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement released by the team. “T.J. is a highly competitive player with a tremendous skill set; he epitomizes the kind of player our team must have in order for us to continue to put ourselves in a position to compete in this League.”

Oshie is coming off of a career year for the Capitals that saw him score 33 goals to go with 28 assists in only 68 games.

While the team is almost certainly ecstatic to bring him back (and better off in the short-term), that eight-year commitment could be a risky one long-term. While Oshie is still a top-line player and was one of the most productive forwards in the league this past season, he is also already 30 years old. Giving that much term to a player that has already celebrated his 30th birthday usually ends up becoming an issue before the contract expires. But that is still pretty far down the road, and the Capitals are a better team in the short-term with him back in the mix. If he proves to be an essential ingredient in maybe bringing a Stanley Cup to Washington, they certainly won’t complain about maybe having to deal with a bad contract in five or six years.

In two years with the Capitals he has 59 goals and 48 assists (107 points) in 148 games.

His re-signing with the Capitals also puts a pretty significant dent in the upcoming free agent class as Oshie was looking to be one of the most sought after players on the open market.

On Friday, shortly after the Blackhawks overhauled their roster, there was speculation they might make a run at him as a potential Artemi Panarin replacement. Obviously, they will have to now look elsewhere. With Oshie no longer available the biggest names that could be available would be Alexander Radulov (assuming he and the Montreal Canadiens can not come to terms) or Ilya Kovalchuk (if he makes a return to the NHL).

Barroway doing ‘what’s right’ for Coyotes

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CHICAGO — If it wasn’t clear that Andrew Barroway is running the show in Arizona, it sure is now.

Since Barroway bought out his minority partners earlier this month, the Coyotes have cut ties with captain Shane Doan, traded goalie Mike Smith, and parted ways with head coach Dave Tippett.

That is no coincidence. Doan, Smith, and Tippett were the old guard, and Barroway wants to chart a new path.

For the breakup with Tippett, Barroway cited “philosophical differences on how to build” the team.

“I mean, he’s 100 percent owner,” GM John Chayka said Friday before the NHL Entry Draft. “Usually those guys do have some influence. … I think he’s trying to do what’s right for the organization moving forward. He wants to help find us an arena and keep us (in Arizona) long term. He wants to help us build a team. He’s invested emotionally, financially, everything. I respect that about him.”

Read more: ‘It was the owner’s decision’

But the shakeup hasn’t been easy on Chayka, who now has to find a new head coach, in addition to everything else on his plate.

“I’m 24 hours past Dave Tippett, and he’s a tough guy to get over,” said Chayka. “I’m focused on picking the best player tonight, then going from there.”

The Coyotes have the 23rd overall pick tonight. That was the selection they got from Minnesota in the Martin Hanzal trade. Arizona’s pick, the seventh overall selection, went to the Rangers in today’s Derek Stepan trade.

Hectic times for the Desert Dogs.

Related: Coyotes acquire Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago