2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal

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While a possible Wednesday salary arbitration session with Chris Kreider looms ominously for the New York Rangers, they avoided at least one messy confrontation today. The team signed Mats Zuccarello to a one-year, $3.5 million deal according to various sources including the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

Rangers GM Glen Sather has developed a reputation for occasionally disastrous splashy free agent signings, rampant cigar chewing, and most important in this situation: tough negotiations with his restricted free agents. That seemed to come through in this situation, as Zuccarello will bring home about $1 million less than his reported asking price of $4.5 million.

That’s not a bad deal for a 26-year-old who led a roster full of far-more-expensive players in regular season scoring with 59 points in 2013-14.

(It’s also difficult to put a price on an under-sized player who prompts nicknames like “Frodo from Modo.”)

Brooks reports that the two sides are likely hoping to hammer out a longer-term deal to supplement this single-year commitment, although nothing official can be inked until the calendar turns to 2015.

Again, this is a big relief for a Rangers team that is seeing some serious turnover after giving the Los Angeles Kings a good fight in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Sather’s work is far from done; the Bergen Record reports that a Kreider deal is unlikely to happen today (leaving either a zero-hour deal or an awkward arbitration as the two options) and Derick Brassard’s hearing takes place next Monday.

The Record points out that the Rangers haven’t seen a player go to arbitration since Nikolai Zherdev in 2009 and haven’t accepted an award since Sean Avery’s session back in 2007.

A varied scoring attack was a big reason why the Rangers went so deep into the playoffs, so locking up a significant part of that group is a big win for Sather during a trying summer.

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.)