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NHL on NBCSN: Boudreau ‘nervous’ about going back to Anaheim

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Minnesota Wild at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Tonight will be the first edition of “Star Sunday” on NBCSN. The special feature will take place most Sunday’s throughout the rest of the regular season, and it will focus on one NHL superstar on each of the teams playing that night.

NBCSN will provide special access to pre-game player arrivals and interviews, exclusive pre-game features and “get to know” segments, which should be a whole lot of fun.

This evening’s  game will feature Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter.

“Ryan Kesler is smart in identifying matchups, and getting opponents off their game by being physical and nasty,” said NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire.” Ryan Suter is sneaky strong – not terribly large, but very tough to move, and doesn’t get beat very often in the corners. I’ll be watching for that when they’re on the ice together, to see how Suter and Kesler respond to the physical challenge from one another.”

Now, let’s get to the game.

The Wild are coming off a 4-3 OT loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, and if you think head coach Bruce Boudreau was satisfied with the loser point, guess again.

“I would rather have the other point,” Boudreau told the Minneapolis StarTribune. “Those are good accomplishments for one minute or one day, and everybody forgets about them. There’s only one accomplishment that you really want to get that people remember, and that’s the final one. That’s the one that counts.”

The Wild had their 12-game winning streak come to an end after they dropped a decision to the Blue Jackets on Dec.31, but Boudreau’s been frustrated with his team’s play since before the defeat on New Year’s Eve.

“I don’t like the trends that are happening in the last six games. If we want to be a legitimate good team, we’ve got to correct these things.”

There’s a good chance he’s referencing the team’s overall defensive game, which has slipped in the last little while. Minnesota has given up at four goals in each of their last four contests. They may be 2-1-1 during that span, but that can’t continue.

As for Boudreau, he’ll be making his return to Anaheim for the first time since being fired by the team last April.

“I’d lie to you if I wasn’t going to be nervous coming back,” Boudreau said, per the OC Register. “I was nervous coming back to Washington for the first time. I’m excited about it. You build up a lot of friendships in 4 1/2 years in one spot.”

The Ducks settled on Randy Carlyle as their new head coach and the results have started to come. They’ve won three straight games and are tied for the Pacific Division lead with 50 points (the Sharks have a game in hand).

One of the reasons the Ducks have been able to find some consistency in their game is because they’ve been getting some solid goaltending from both John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier.

With the off-season trade of Frederik Andersen to Toronto, Gibson was sort of handed the starting job. He got off to a slow start, but he’s starting to come around. He’s won three in a row and four of his last five. He hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 17.

“You don’t win without quality goaltending in the NHL,” Carlyle said after Friday’s win over Arizona. “(Gibson) and (Bernier) have both given us NHL quality goaltending. As I stated earlier, they would be 1A and 1B. You have to be happy with what they’ve been able to provide for us. Gibby’s been real strong for us as of late.”

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins