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Sharks, Demers avoid arbitration with two-year, $6.8M deal

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Jason Demers has been rewarded for his banner campaign.

Demers, who led all Sharks defensemen with a career-high 29 assists last year, has avoided salary arbitration by inking a two-year, $6.8 million extension with San Jose, the club announced on Wednesday.

“Jason has been a solid, offensive defenseman and is coming off a good season,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a statement. “His skill set and his age mesh well within our overall group and we’re happy to have him signed for two more years.”

Demers, 26, has spent his entire career in the Bay Area and is one of the club’s better success stories — a seventh-round pick at the ’08 Draft, Demers was named the Sharks’ rookie of the year in 2009-10 and has steadily grown into one of their most valuable rearguards, averaging nearly 20 minutes per game last season.

In related news, San Jose also re-upped with another RFA defenseman on Wednesday — Taylor Doherty, the team’s second-round pick (57th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Doherty, 23, has yet to make his NHL debut (spending his entire professional career with AHL Worcester), but Wilson suggested that next year could be one in which Doherty cracks the bigs.

“Taylor is a big body who has developed his game over the last several years,” said Wilson. “We look forward to watching him compete to make our club this coming season.”

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)