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Detroit hopes Ott will spark league-worst power play

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Last month, we wrote about Detroit’s struggling power play — ranked 29th in the NHL at the time — and things haven’t gotten better since.

In fact, they’re worse.

The Red Wings now own the league’s worst PP, sitting dead last at 11.7 percent. They scored just two goals with the man advantage in all of December, and didn’t exactly flip the script with the calendar, going 0-for-3 in a Centennial Classic loss to the Leafs on Jan. 1.

Desperate times? Desperate measures. At Tuesday’s practice ahead of tonight’s game in Anaheim, the Red Wings put veteran grinder Steve Ott on a power play unit.

More, from the Detroit News:

“Frustration doesn’t do anybody any good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “What you can do is find ways to be successful. We look at every which way we can find ways to where we can be successful.”

Putting Ott on net-front, with Niklas Kronwall, Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar gives the Red Wings a rugged player who will retrieve the puck, something the Red Wings have lacked.

“We don’t spend enough time in the zone and there are two reasons for that,” Blashill said. “We don’t retrieve enough pucks, so he (Ott) can certainly help with retrieving pucks, and the other is the break in. Those are two things we have to make sure we do a better job of.

Ott’s appeared in 33 games this year and, all told, received a grand total of 102 seconds of power play time. He also hasn’t scored a PPG since the ’13-14 campaign.

That said, if you go back far enough, the 34-year-old does have some history of power play success. He had eight PPGs in Dallas one season — granted, it was six years ago — and has carved out a reputation as a guy unafraid to do the dirty work, go to the greasy areas, and all the other hockey cliches you’ve come to know and love.

And really, Detroit needs to try virtually anything at this point. Their power play issues date all the way back to last year, when the club went an awful 1-for-25 in an opening-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.