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Report: Predators struggle to avoid losing key player to expansion draft

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After a painful defeat in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the Nashville Predators might end up being one of the biggest losers of the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft, too.

On Friday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Predators GM David Poile hadn’t enjoyed success trying to entice Vegas GM George McPhee to lay off one of his unprotected players. With the deadline looming in a few hours – it’s at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday – TSN’s Darren Dreger updates that Poile still hasn’t had any luck.

MORE: Two (technically three) big expansion draft deadlines for Saturday.

The Predators are almost certain to protect their outstanding defensive quartet of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm along with the rising to forward line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg. With that in mind, they can only protect one other forward, so it seems plausible that they’d risk losing one of James Neal or Calle Jarnkrok.

… Unless they could sweeten the deal for McPhee, which so far sounds unlikely.

It’s difficult to resist making this about McPhee getting “revenge” on Poile for the highway robbery trade that sent Martin Erat to the Washington Capitals and Forsberg to the Predators. Perhaps that has nothing to do with it … but maybe it has a little bit to do with it?

UpdateNo progress … yet.

Tough calls

If Poile’s forced to choose between protecting Jarnkrok or Neal, there are reasons to consider both. Neal is a significant power forward who’s been reliable for at least 20 goals each season. His $5 million cap hit lasts through next season. Jarnkrok’s skills are a little subtler, yet he’s also locked up for quite some time at a cheap clip.

Naturally, Poile has a few more hours to adjust course.

He could trade one of Neal or Jarnkrok before the trade freeze to avoid losing an asset for nothing.

The Predators may also do something really bold to shake things up and instead protect only three defensemen, but it’s difficult to imagine the team making another franchise-defining move.

Even if they lose one of those players, the future still looks pretty bright for this franchise. Successful teams tend to lose supporting cast members, although the expansion draft would likely sting more than allowing a guy to leave via free agency.

Canucks name new head coach of AHL affiliate

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The Vancouver Canucks have finally settled on a head coach for their AHL affiliate.

Today, Trent Cull was named new bench boss of the Utica Comets.

Cull replaces Travis Green, the new head coach of the Canucks.

“Trent is a passionate head coach with significant AHL experience,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said in a release. “He understands the development path of a young player, including the challenges they face, and has been a part of many successful organizations. Trent is a teacher with a positive, energetic work ethic. We’re excited to welcome him and his family to our organization.”

The past four seasons, Cull has been an assistant coach for AHL Syracuse. The Crunch made it all the way to the 2017 Calder Cup Final, where they lost to Grand Rapids.

Cull, 43, has never been a head coach in the AHL, though he did hold that role for three years with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves from 2010-13.

It’s believed the Canucks’ first choice for the Utica job was Rocky Thompson. However, Thompson chose instead to become head coach of Vegas’ AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Construction worker dies after fall at Detroit arena

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DETROIT (AP) A worker has died after falling 75 feet at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.

Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.

The arena will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.

More on the story from the Detroit Free Press

Habs extend De La Rose — one year, $725,000

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Montreal secured some forward depth on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Jacob De La Rose.

De La Rose, 22, was taken 34th overall at the 2013 draft and has appeared in 64 games for Montreal over the last three seasons. He had a nice debut for the club in ’14-15 — appearing in 33 regular-season contests, and 12 playoff games — but has since spent the majority of his time in AHL St. John’s.

That might not be the case moving forward, however.

De La Rose’s deal is worth $725,000 (per TSN) and, importantly, is of the one-way variety. There could be more opportunities at forward next season. Montreal has already said it’ll pass on bringing back UFAs Brian Flynn and Dwight King, and it’s unclear if the club will get a deal done with Alexander Radulov.

It’s also unclear what GM Marc Bergevin plans to do with Alex Galchenyuk, who’s been the subject of numerous trade rumors.

Even after bad season in Buffalo, Kulikov generating strong interest as UFA

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Dmitry Kulikov had a bad season in Buffalo. There’s no debating that.

Not only did the defenseman struggle statistically, finishing minus-26 with just two goals and three assists, he also had trouble staying healthy, appearing in just 47 games for the Sabres.

But despite all that, Kulikov seems to be generating plenty of interest as an unrestricted free agent. Presumably, the hope among his many suitors is that he can bounce back, so long as he’s put in a better situation.

Kulikov is still just 26. And before he was traded to Buffalo a year ago, he’d had a number of respectable seasons with the Florida Panthers.

It’s why the Sabres were so happy to get him.

“He’s a good player,” then-GM Tim Murray said last June, per NHL.com. “I like guys that are honest, I like guys that are hard to play against, I certainly like guys that can make a tape-to-tape pass, and with our forwards, I think if he can make a tape-to-tape pass, good things are going to happen in transition with the skill and speed we already have here, so he’s just a great fit.”

Of course, it wasn’t a great fit, and Murray is no longer the GM.

As for Kulikov, there’s “about a dozen” interested teams, according to his agent. Ottawa and Winnipeg are believed to be among them.