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Calder Cup win, bounty of picks show pluses of Red Wings rebuild

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This post is part of Red Wings Day on PHT…

When you consider their investments in veteran players and the fact that they’re spending right about to the cap ceiling, there are certain signs that maybe the Detroit Red Wings aren’t fully committed to a rebuild.

There are plenty of indications that GM Ken Holland thinks he can have his cake and eat it too, which someone might deem a “reload” rather than a rebuild.

(Check out this poll regarding the Red Wings’ rebuild to delve deeper into that debate.)

While some elements of this gameplan seem dubious – to the point that fans are losing faith in Holland & Co. – there are at least a few reasons to feel a little better about other facets of how the organization is trying to turn things around.

Some pluses in the slow-building approach

Red Wings fans might, at times, be frustrated with the patient way this franchise brings prospects along. Anthony Mantha stands as an example of the sort of prospects many believe deserved more recent NHL reps rather than longer runs in the AHL.

That said, at least there are some signs that this development mindset isn’t all bad.

While it’s dangerous to put too much emphasis on this … hey, the Grand Rapids Griffins did win the AHL’s Calder Cup last season, doing so for the second time in five seasons. McDonald’s celebrations were had and good dogs enjoyed moments with the trophy.

Oh yeah, and Tyler Bertuzzi blew up with 19 points in as many AHL playoff games, while Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk both showed signs of possibly being ready to make the jump (or … the leap?) in the near future.

As the former coach of their AHL team, Jeff Blashill likely already has some relationships with these players too, which could conceivably dull the learning curve if these guys make it through training camp.

It remains to be seen if one or more of those top guys can become difference-makers for the Red Wings proper, but it never hurts to see your prospects collecting hard-earned hardware.

A bounty of picks

It’s been noted at PHT and the Detroit News, among other places, that some rated the Red Wings as “losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft. Red Wings SBNation blog Winging it in Motown gave them a D+.

Even some of the kinder reviews seemed a bit muted at times.

Here’s the thing, though: drafts are comically difficult to rate in the moment, and the 2017 edition might be one of the more difficult ones to prognosticate.

Beyond lottery-type picks, it’s not that outrageous to view draft picks as “dart throws,” and the Red Wings ended up sending 11 at the board, which tied them with the New Jersey Devils as the second-most of this past year. Detroit also has an additional second-round pick heading into 2018, and could build those reserves up some more.

If you believe that the Red Wings still rank in the upper-crust as far as development goes, then they might just make the most of what could be called a “quantity over quality” crop.

***

Look, there are still a lot of reasons to cringe at the Red Wings’ long-term outlook, especially when it comes to contracts that will stay on the books for far too long. The consensus is that Detroit should either make some significant tweaks or blow things up altogether.

Even so, it’s not like the Red Wings are making nothing but mistakes. There might still be some hope for this franchise yet, although you have to dig deeper to find silver linings after a couple decades of brilliant hockey.

The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.