DougArmstrong

Petro redux? Blues in no rush to re-sign Schwartz, Sobotka, Berglund

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St. Louis has a gameplan in dealing with restricted free agents, and it doesn’t sound like GM Doug Armstrong is going to deviate from it this summer.

“No,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch when asked if there was any urgency to sign RFAs Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund. “I wouldn’t expect the RFAs to get done — just based on history — until July and August, and as we saw last year with Alex [Pietrangelo] into September.”

Ah yes, the great Alex Pietrangelo summer saga of ’13, which gave us the following:

June: Blues: We’ll match any offer sheet to Pietrangelo

July: Blues GM vows to do ‘what is necessary’ to re-sign Pietrangelo

Aug. 4: Blues GM says ‘nothing to report’ on Pietrangelo contract talks

Aug. 6: Blues GM aims to sign Pietrangelo by training camp

Aug. 22: Blues, Pietrangelo might just settle for a ‘bridge’ contract

Aug. 26: Pietrangelo ‘not even thinking about holding out’

Sept. 4: Armstrong: Pietrangelo ‘will be a St. Louis Blue when he plays hockey again’

Sept. 11: Blues negotiations with RFA Pietrangelo ‘broken off for now’

Sept. 11: It’s ‘back to the drawing board’ for Blues and Pietrangelo

After missing the start of training camp, Pietrangelo agreed to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal on Sept. 13.

It’s doubtful any of St. Louis’ current RFAs will have as complex a negotiation as Pietrangelo, a 23-year-old Norris-caliber defenseman represented by Newport Sports’ Don Meehan, who’s client base included two of the highest-profile d-man holdouts in recent memory: Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty (who missed almost the entire 2011 preseason, including five exhibition games) and Montreal’s P.K. Subban (who missed the first four games of last season).

History also suggests St. Louis does occasionally get its RFAs signed quickly. Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk were extended in June of last year, and the Blues avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart by signing him to a new deal in mid-July.

That said, Armstrong still figures to have some lengthy negotiations this offseason.

Schwartz, 21, had a breakout campaign this year, scoring 56 points in 80 games and looks to be a tricky negotiation given he’s heading into his second NHL contract. Sobotka’s a versatile guy that fills numerous roles for the Blues up front, and is probably looking for a raise on his next deal (having made $1.3 million in each of the last three seasons.) Berglund, meanwhile, has never fully lived up to his pedigree (25th overall pick in 2006) and has seen his offensive numbers dip recently after scoring 21 goals as a rookie and a career-high 22 in 2010-11.

Add it all up, and it could be another long summer for RFAs in St. Louis.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay