Ryan Johansen: ‘My leg felt like it was about to explode’

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With the Stanley Cup Final heading back to Nashville, Predators’ center Ryan Johansen shed some light on the injury that knocked him out of the playoffs last round.

Johansen was diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome following Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, forcing him to undergo emergency surgery on his thigh. The timeline for a comeback is two-to-three months, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The injury started to develop after a hit in the second period of that game. By the time the game moved to overtime, he said, he could barely stand up.

He then went into further detail about what occurred immediately following the game, as the injury continued to worsen.

“Came off the ice, took my gear off right away. Went to the trainer’s room, they were looking at it. Looked like a bad charley horse. I was told right away, ‘Throw some ice on it, bend the leg a little bit, go about our business from there,'” said Johansen.

“I threw the ice on, took it off, walked to the shower. By the time I was done showering, putting on my underwear, I could barely stand up. My leg, it just felt like it was about to explode. It kept getting worse. Obviously, you know, I had to pop over to the hospital quick. They had to open me up.”

The Predators go back home for Games 3 and 4 of the series, trailing the Penguins 2-0, despite carrying the play for large portions of both contests in Pittsburgh. For the first time in these playoffs, Nashville is behind in a series.

Read more: Minus Johansen, Predators have ‘some big shoes’ to fill

With Johansen out, Colton Sissons stepped in to help fill the void as the Predators closed out the Ducks, recording a hat trick in the decisive game.

The Penguins, though, have been able to win twice thanks to the play of goalie Matt Murray, and sudden and timely goal scoring in the third periods at home. Pekka Rinne has gone from a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite to a shocking .778 save percentage after two forgettable performances in the final. Nahville’s coach Peter Laviolette isn’t publicly sharing who his starting goalie will be in Game 3.

Going back home, P.K. Subban has guaranteed a Preds win on Saturday. He has since doubled down on that.

Naturally, Johansen tried to stay positive with his message, even with his team down in the series and in desperate need of a win.

“As I know, they’re going to throw everything,” he said. “It’s going to be their absolute best effort. I can count on that from those guys, and the rest of the team can count on.”

Agent: Schultz likes Pittsburgh, but wants to be ‘rewarded’

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Justin Schultz took a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.

One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.

That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.

“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”

Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.

Schultz then added 13 more points in the playoffs, as the Penguins managed to win it all without Kris Letang.

For the record, Schultz wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Pens can afford to keep him, or if they’d be better off selling high in a trade.

“We’ll probably have some more direction here this week with where we’re going with [a possible extension],” Arnott said. “But we’ve had some good discussions.”

After Stepan trade, Zibanejad negotiations become even more crucial

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For a good while, the center position in New York was largely carried by the one-two punch of Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.

Now, the Derick & Derek show is no longer.

Stepan was shipped out during draft weekend in a blockbuster deal with Arizona. Brassard exited a year earlier in a move to Ottawa that brought Mika Zibanejad to the Blueshirts.

Zibanejad, 24, was acquired by GM Jeff Gorton in the hopes of one day becoming New York’s No. 1 center. He certainly showed he was capable this season — despite missing nearly 30 games with a broken fibula, he put together a fine offensive regular season and then surged in the playoffs, finishing with nine points in 12 games.

And now, a big negotiation sits on the horizon.

Zibanejad is a restricted free agent coming off a two-year, $5.25 million deal with a $2.625M cap hit. As we wrote earlier, Gorton is “open to anything” with regards to the extension, saying he’d be willing to go either short- or long-term.

One has to think Zibanejad has a ton of leverage. His acquisition price (Brassard) was significant, Stepan is now gone, and so too is depth center Oscar Lindberg, who was acquired by Vegas at the expansion draft. Right now, New York’s center depth consists of Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and maybe some spot duty from J.T. Miller.

Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at Friday’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year. But there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season, as Gorton could opt to send Andersson back to the Swedish League for further development.

The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring down the middle, unless someone thinks they can land Joe Thornton, and there’s no doubt Zibanejad’s seen the paydays scored by some other good, young, top-line centers. Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, while Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven.

Is Zibanejad at their level? If you surveyed folks around the league, the answer would be probably no. But he could be soon and, what’s more, the Rangers may be forced to pay him as if he already is.

Sabres bring back defenseman Fedun on two-year deal

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Taylor Fedun, the Sabres depth defenseman that was set to become a UFA on Saturday, has agreed to a two-year, two-way extension, Buffalo announced on Monday.

Fedun, 29, appeared in 27 games for the Sabres last year, splitting time between the NHL and the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. He was a very productive player for the Amerks, scoring 23 points in 29 games.

Moving forward, most expect Fedun to continue in the same role he served this year — a guy that can provide veteran stability at the minor league level, and fill spot duty at the NHL level when injuries strike.

Ottawa extends Pyatt — two years, $2.2 million

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Tom Pyatt, the veteran forward who enjoyed some success reuniting with Guy Boucher in Ottawa last season, has re-signed with the Sens on a two-year, $2.2 million deal, per TSN.

Pyatt was a steady contributor for the Sens, scoring nine goals and 23 points while appearing in all 82 contests. He averaged over 15 minutes per night and was a vital part of the club’s penalty kill, leading all forwards in blocked shots.

He also appeared in 14 playoff games, scoring twice.

Prior to playing in Ottawa, Pyatt had skated under Boucher in Tampa Bay. They spent parts of two years together with the Lightning, before heading off to Switzerland — Pyatt with Geneve Servette, Boucher with Bern SC.

Pyatt was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, but clearly liked the fit in Ottawa. He’ll get a pay bump — up from the $800,000 he made last year — a bit more long-term security, and possibly a bigger role with the Sens moving forward.

Ottawa has already stated it will cut ties with veteran tough guy Chris Neil, and decisions are still looming on UFA forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels.