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TGIF: Should the Caps make a play for Kesler?

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Saturday: Washington at Boston (1 p.m. ET)

The first two teams that came to mind after it was reported that Ryan Kesler had requested a trade out of Vancouver were Detroit and Columbus, mostly because he’s from Michigan and went to Ohio State. But if I had to pick one team that really needs a player like Kesler, Washington would be right up there. Possibly at the top of the list. For the most part, the Capitals’ postseason failures have been put on the shoulders of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. And while I don’t believe Ovechkin’s beyond criticism — sometimes his commitment to defense is abysmal, bordering on unfathomable — the Caps’ lack of playoff success is more about the players they don’t have than the ones they do. And right now they don’t have an elite two-way center like Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, or Pavel Datsyuk, all of whom have put their names on Stanley Cups in recent seasons. Kesler nearly did in 2011, the year he won the Selke Trophy. I’m not sure the Caps have the pieces to get Kesler, and I’m not sure he’d agree to go to DC. But if I’m George McPhee, I’m at least giving Mike Gillis a call.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Chicago (8 p.m. ET, NBC)

I’m curious to see how the Blackhawks do down the stretch and into the playoffs, particularly from a motivational standpoint. They’re already the defending Stanley Cup champs, and three of their key players — Duncan Keith, Toews, and Patrick Sharp — just won Olympic gold. I still remember Keith saying during the 2011 playoffs, not long after he’d helped Canada win Olympic gold in Vancouver and the ‘Hawks their first Cup since 1961, that he’d struggled with keeping focus and “just was not really … interested for whatever reason” during the 2010-11 season. Chicago lost in the first round to the Canucks soon after he said it. To me, teams like Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Jose have so much more to prove than the ‘Hawks. It’s tough to say how much of a factor that could be, if any. But there’s no denying it takes a massive physical and emotional commitment to win the Cup.

Sunday: Philadelphia at Washington (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Thursday’s 7-3 loss to San Jose was the Flyers’ 13th of the season by three goals or more. Only four teams — Edmonton, Florida, Buffalo, and Ottawa — have lost big more often than Philly. And that’s bad. But on the flip side, the Flyers have also won a good number of games (11) by three goals or more. In the entire NHL, Dallas (14W, 10L) is the only other team to hit double digits in both categories. All of which helps explain the feeling a lot of people have about the Flyers should they make the playoffs. Defensively, there are issues. But if they get decent goaltending from Steve Mason, with all the scoring ability they have, they could make a run.

Or, they could get swept in the first round.

Sunday: Ottawa at Vancouver (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

After shutting out the Blues on Wednesday, Eddie Lack will make his second straight start in goal for the Canucks Friday against Minnesota. Roberto Luongo will probably get the nod Sunday at BC Place, but the decision by coach John Tortorella to go with Lack against the Wild already has at least one Vancouver media member smelling another goalie controversy. I’m not sure I’d go that far — yet — but Lack does have better numbers (.924 save percentage) than Luongo (.917) this season. Hey, here’s a question: is a Luongo compliance buyout a complete non-starter for Canucks ownership this summer? To do it would cost just over $22 million, spread over 16 years, and that’s a lot of money. But if I were Gillis and I got the green light, I’d do it.

Sunday: Boston at NY Rangers (7 p..m. ET)

I definitely feel like Glen Sather is using the media to put a scare into Ryan Callahan. The Rangers’ general manager knows his captain wants to stay with the club, so it makes sense to threaten a trade to bring down his asking price. While I don’t believe Sather’s threat is an entirely empty one, it’s interesting that the two sides have been talking this week. Callahan has scored 20-plus goals three times, and we all know the way he sacrifices his body to block shots and get in on the forecheck. Which, in a bit of a Catch 22, is why he’s a risk to give a long-term deal. But, ultimately, you want to keep guys like that. I know it’s been reported there’s a “99 percent chance” he’ll be traded, but I’m more optimistic they’ll come to an agreement.

Seidenberg expected to sign with Islanders

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  Dennis Seidenberg #44 of the Boston Bruins skates against Mason Raymond #21 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Four of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Dennis Seidenberg is expected to sign with the New York Islanders after the World Cup, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

It’s a one-year, $1 million deal, per Dreger.

Seidenberg is currently playing a significant role for Team Europe, a surprise finalist against the heavily favored Canadians.

The 35-year-old defenseman was unexpectedly bought out by the Boston Bruins over the summer. He had two years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $4 million.

Seidenberg was a key part of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup champion team in 2011, but injuries limited him to just 61 games last season, and his average ice time fell below 20 minutes for the first time since he was with the Hurricanes in 2007-08.

He’ll likely take on a bottom-pairing role with the Islanders, below Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk, and Calvin de Haan. He may even be the extra defenseman, pushing the likes of Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Scott Mayfield for a spot in the lineup.

Related: Seidenberg shocked by Bruins’ decision

Devils bolster defense, ink Quincey to one-year, $1.25M deal

Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets
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New Jersey needed some blueline depth after this summer’s blockbuster Adam Larsson-for-Taylor Hall trade and now, they’ve addressed it.

On Wednesday, GM Ray Shero announced the club signed veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

Quincey, 31, spent the last four seasons in Detroit, emerging as a regular fixture on defense — but ’15-16 was hardly a positive campaign.

He missed 35 games with a serious ankle injury and, upon his return, never seemed to find his way into head coach Jeff Blashill’s good graces.

Blashill even scratched Quincey in Game 3 of Detroit’s opening-round playoff loss to Tampa, and didn’t provide a reason why — a pretty bold move for a player that, in ’13-14, appeared in all 82 games for the Red Wings, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night.

Overall, this move seems like a pretty reasonable gamble from the Devils. Quincey has his flaws, but the term is short and the money is relatively low.

(Especially considering Quincey’s coming off a two-year, $8.5 million deal that paid $4.25M annually.)

Shero could end up getting a nice return on his investment. Quincey projects  to challenge for top-four minutes in New Jersey, looking to break into a group that features the likes of Andy Greene, Damon Severson, John Moore and Ben Lovejoy.

Jon Merrill, Steve Santini and Brandon Gormley are also in that mix, though likely to be challenging for spots on the bottom pair.

Boucher: Phaneuf was ‘terrific coup’ for Sens

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Dion Phaneuf #2 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Safe to say Guy Boucher is a big fan of the trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa last season.

“Phaneuf has made a huge impact,” Boucher said of last season’s blockbuster swap with Toronto, per the Citizen. “It was a terrific coup by the organization being able to bring him in. We definitely, as a team, need that type of leadership — somebody who has been there, has a lot of character, with a voice that has impact.”

Boucher then confirmed Phaneuf would serve as an alternate captain this season. The 30-year-old will wear it on the road, while Kyle Turris will wear it at home. Veteran winger Chris Neil will be a full-time alternate.

So Phaneuf is taking on a bigger role, a story in itself considering he took on a pretty large one after joining the Sens last season. In 20 games, he averaged 23:10 TOI — up from the 22:02 he was playing in Toronto — and formed a consistent pairing with young Cody Ceci, the defenseman Ottawa took 15th overall at the 2012 draft.

Of course, not everybody thought the move was a big win.

Detractors pointed towards Phaneuf’s contract — a seven-year, $49 million pact that carries a $7 million AAV through 2021. It’s one of the most lucrative deals in the NHL, and gave Ottawa two of the 12 highest-paid blueliners in the league.

Considering the Sens finished 26th in the NHL last season in goals allowed, that last sentence is a tad embarrassing.

It was also clear Toronto wanted to make Phaneuf’s contract go away. He wasn’t going to be part of the rebuild and, while he’s still a useful and impactful player, he was a ghost of the team’s past. It was difficult to envision the new wave of Toronto’s young talent taking over, especially with Phaneuf (and Phaneuf’s presence) in the room.

But that same presence is considered a big plus in Ottawa.

The hope now, of course, is that Phaneuf will be more comfortable in the Canadian capital, having adjusted to the move and his new surroundings.

The World Cup seems destined to end with a quiet thud

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Stamkos #91 of Team Canada blocks Nino Niederreiter #22 shot on net during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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If Team Europe was ever going to make the World Cup final interesting, it was probably going to happen last night. The heavily favored Canadians were bound to come out a bit flat against a non-traditional opponent, and that’s exactly what happened in a less-than-electric Air Canada Centre.

But despite carrying the play for much of the first period, the underdogs trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. They would go on to lose, 3-1.

It could’ve gone a different way, but it didn’t.

“In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times,” said Team Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock. “I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.”

Team Europe’s coach, Ralph Krueger, was left to bemoan what could’ve been, while trying to build on the positives.

“I thought we could have tested (Carey) Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks,” he said. “But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.”

The problem for the Europeans is that they’re unlikely to catch their opponents on another off night. Expect a much more motivated, much less sloppy Canadian side in Game 2.

“For whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better,” said Babcock. “You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.”

Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto. A Canadian victory and that’s it for the tournament — one that started with a decent amount of positive buzz, thanks to a couple of spirited Canada-U.S. exhibition games and the high-flying exploits of Team North America, but seems destined to end with a quiet thud.

Unless, of course, the Europeans can find a way to push it to Game 3, but that was always an unlikely scenario. They had a chance to make things interesting on Tuesday. They probably won’t get another.

Related: Kesler was ‘really disappointed’ with World Cup atmosphere