PHT Morning Skate: Titans QB Marcus Mariota and his offensive line helped fire up the crowd in Nashville

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–Elliotte Friedman came out with a new “30 Thoughts” blog. His main story focuses on Canucks defenseman Jordan Subban trying to model his game after Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. “It’s the way that he defends. He’s always in great position, always great with the stick. He plays hard and smart, he knows how to use his brain a bit more to slow down the game. I’m always trying to push the pace, so that’s something I’m going to watch.” (Sportsnet)

–Who says making trades is too hard? Each of the remaining teams in the playoffs has made a deal that’s had a huge impact on their team. The Penguins traded for Phil Kessel not too long ago, Ottawa nabbed Bobby Ryan, the Preds landed P.K. Subban and Ryan Johansen, and the Ducks went out and got Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. (Associated Press)

–It’s clear that to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, a team needs to have at least one defenseman. The last time a team won the cup without a true stud on the defense was back in 2006 when Carolina did it. Both the Penguins and Ducks don’t necessarily have a true go-to guy on the blue line in their lineup right now, so they’ll hope that they can get it done with a committee of players. (Canadian Press)

–The Edmonton Oilers had a successful year in 2016-17, but that comes at a price. Leon Draisaitl will become an RFA this summer, while Connor McDavid will need a new contract next year. We’re not sure what the numbers on those deals will look like, but we know that they’ll be high. “Cap-wise, we’re OK next year, we could basically stay the same, it’s the following year when Mr. McDavid’s contract will kick in, so I have to be cognizant of that. But we’ve got a lot of different rosters we’ve looked at in the sense, at numbers, numbers for specific guys, term. But the [NHL salary] cap is expected to stay flat or raise a little bit, so we’re working off $73, $74, $75 [million] and we’ll see where it’s at.” (NHL.com)

–The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin continues his division-by-division expansion draft preview. Yesterday, he looked at the Central Division. After struggling last season, Marcus Kruger could be selected by the Golden Knights. The same can be said for Dallas’ Cody Eakin. (The Hockey News)

–We’ve seen P.K. Subban make an appearance or two at Tennessee Titans games, but last night it was some of the Titans players that showed up for a Preds game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and his offensive line helped fire up the crowd in Smashville. They seem to be having a good time:

–Mariota and company ended up going home happy, as the Predators scored two goals in the third period to win Game 3 against Anaheim by a score of 2-1. You can check out the highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Swedish League champ sees another sign in NHL

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It’s an offseason of change for SHL champion HV71.

In the days following the league title, HV71 saw No. 1 goalie Linus Soderstrom sign his ELC with the Isles and d-man Andreas Borgman — the league’s rookie of the year — ink with the Leafs.

Earlier today, HV71 winger Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal with San Jose. Shortly after that, Columbus announced it inked Sandberg’s running mate up front, Kevin Stenlund, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Stenlund, 20, was the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick (58th overall) at the 2015 draft. He’s coming off a good year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and games played during the regular season, then adding 10 points in 16 playoff appearances.

And he might have a chance to build on that campaign.

Per the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets expect Stenlund to play next year in Sweden, rather than try to make the move overseas. It’s possible the Isles could make the same decision with Soderstrom — meaning it’s not all bad for HV71.

 

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.

 

Sharks keep stockpiling European free agents, land Sandberg

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Doug Wilson is at it again.

On Thursday, the Sharks GM confirmed yesterday’s news — the signing of Czech d-man Radim Simek — and announced that Swedish forward Filip Sandberg had agreed to a two-year deal.

“Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space,” Wilson said in a release. “He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players.

“We are excited for him to join our organization.”

Sandberg, 22, is fresh off a Swedish League title with HV71. The club announced Sandberg would be headed overseas last week, but didn’t divulge what team had signed him.

It wasn’t surprising NHL clubs had interest. Sandberg had a good offensive campaign in Sweden, scoring 25 points in 52 regular season games, then broke out for six goals and 14 points in 16 playoff contests.

Prior to this year, Sandberg twice represented Sweden at the World Juniors, including the 2013 tournament where the country won silver. He finished with two goals in six games playing alongside the likes of Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.

As for Simek, he inked a one-year deal.

“Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge,” said Wilson. “We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America.”

Simek just finished representing his native Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, where he had two points in eight games.

According to a report from Radio Praha, the Sharks beat out the Rangers to acquire Simek. Passed over in his draft year, the 24-year-old has spent his entire pro career with Liberec Bili Tygri.

As mentioned above, Wilson has done well finding European skaters in their early-to-mid-20s, ones that can contribute right away at the NHL level: Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, most specifically.

The hope now is that Simek and Sandberg will continue that trend.