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Sens’ Ryan faces career crossroads

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In good times and bad, it seems like odd moments just seem to follow Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan.

He’s made good on his status as the No. 2 pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, yet he’s also the guy who was selected after Sidney Crosby. Being overshadowed by big-name Canadian players probably became old hat for Ryan over the years, as his impressive feats (four 30+ seasons in Anaheim) were glossed over a bit because Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were even better.

Of course, then the awkwardness shifted to being dismissed compared to other Americans, as he was a controversial snub for the 2014 Olympic team.

Big payday coming?

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to forget that Ryan ranks as one of the best young power forwards in the league. He also carries the rare strength of being a fairly reliable peformer among more brutish finesse players who often see their production come and go.

This brings up a tough question heading into the 2014-15 season in which his current contract expires: how much, exactly, is he worth?

At 27, Ryan is currently scheduled for unrestricted free agency. It’s difficult to imagine him hitting the free market, as even the best available UFA talent usually consists of players who’ve already reached their 30’s.

Seriously, take a second to study the players who hit free agency during the prime years who actually made a difference and didn’t defect to the KHL. All things considered, Ryan could command quite a ransom if he makes it that far, which is probably a strong argument for why he should think long and hard about whether or not he wants to stick around in Ottawa.

Should he stay or go?

One big argument “for” is that he’d remain one of the team’s biggest stars. There’s something to be said for being the “big man on campus,” which is a title Ryan would likely share with Erik Karlsson and maybe another player or two.

Unless they can convince him to maintain his relative bargain $5.1 million cap hit, the Senators might benefit from seeing what he can do in 2014-15, too. Ryan remains a potent scorer (23 goals in 70 games last season), even with all the turbulence of last season, from being snubbed to being traded. Sure, an elite season could prove costly, but if his reps want a big contract anyway … why not make sure this is the right fit?

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Whatever way this shakes out, it should be an interesting – maybe even intense – situation to watch.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.