James O'Brien

Zac Rinaldo
AP

Busy wire day, too: Laich clears, Berra and Rinaldo on waivers

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A busy day heading into the twilight of the trade deadline brings about other moves, including a boatload of activity on waivers.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie makes it easy for us all by compiling them all in a handful of tweets.

Waived, according to McKenzieAlex Stalock, Reto Berra, Rene Bourque, Mike Brown, David Warsofsky, Adam Cracknell, Adam Pardy and Zac Rinaldo.

Berra’s an interesting consideration, as he’s shown flashes of brilliance despite arguably being a little pricey when it comes the the assets Colorado spent to acquire and then keep him.

Stalock is noteworthy as he was part of the James Reimer trade, but won’t get an immediate look in Toronto.

Finally, Rinaldo tends to make waves when he plays in the NHL …

Clearing waivers, via McKenzie: Maxime Talbot, Chris Porter and Brooks Laich.

Laich is playing for Washington as of this writing.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks on NBC

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russia, attempts to hit the puck in the air with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4), from Sweden, behind, in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-1. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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While the Washington Capitals continue to distance themselves from the rest of the NHL atop the standings, the Chicago Blackhawks dropped the gauntlet close to the trade deadline.

Adding Andrew Ladd to the Blackhawks’ mix brings the defending champion up another level, and that’s scary for the rest of the West.

It also spices up an already intriguing Sunday matchup on NBC, as Capitals vs. Blackhawks could very well be the matchup hockey fans see in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s so much talent on both sides that you should tune in either way.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

There are also two games on NBCSN today.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (link here)

Then: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (link here)

Flyers re-sign Raffl to reported three-year, $7.05M extension

Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) maintains control of the puck against New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Trade deadline talk was interrupted, at least briefly, with a wave of bad puns.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed winger Michael Raffl to a three-year contract extension on Sunday, allowing people to make unimaginative raffle jokes.

(OK, some of them were probably pretty solid. Not enough of them are David Bowie related, however.)

The contract totals $7.05 million, which entails a $2.35 million cap hit, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

With this addition, the Flyers have $62.97 million in cap space devoted to 17 players, according to Cap Friendly’s numbers.

Of course, that number could go down if the Flyers, ugh, raffle off a few players during the trade deadline.

Not much progress between Bruins, Eriksson (so stay tuned)

Boston Bruins' Loui Eriksson (21), of Sweden, and Dennis Seidenberg (44), of Germany, celebrate after Ericsson scored a goal against the Dallas Stars in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP
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There are plenty of other trade deadline scenarios to follow,* yet the situation between Loui Eriksson and the Boston Bruins is especially captivating.

One obvious reason is that Eriksson ranks among the best players available and may just be the gem of the potential trade targets list as of today.

The other plays into the drama: it seems like this scenario features quite a few twists and turns. The drama may ratchet up a notch on Sunday, too.

TSN’s Darren Dreger painted a dire picture for Bruins fans hoping that Eriksson sticks around:

Saturday

Sunday

That’s not to say that every report indicates a lack of any progress:

If you’re hoping that Eriksson will spoil the surprise … well, you’re out of luck.

Of course, sometimes the off-the-ice stuff feels like just as much of a game. With that in mind, there might just be some “momentum shifts” today, so keep your eyes peeled.

* – Two examples: Dan Hamhuis and the Canucks along with Brandon Pirri‘s future in Florida …

How the Penguins aim to fix Justin Schultz

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Remember when Justin Schultz came into the NHL riding tidal waves of hype?

The Edmonton Oilers went all-out in courting him; even Wayne Gretzky called him to cajole Schultz into joining the cause.

The Oilers gave him ample opportunities to make things right, pointing out his Norris potential and giving him more power play time than anyone else.

After even Schultz acknowledged recent struggles, the Oilers sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round pick, and many jeered at an offensive defenseman whose stats have often been disappointing.

So, the question is: how are the Penguins going to approach the 25-year-old defenseman who often receives derisive jokes about not being a defenseman?

If nothing else, Schultz told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he’s excited to join the Penguins, and how to find/rekindle his game.

“Really excited. Really excited to come to Pittsburgh. I think it will suit my game well,” Schultz said. “I got to the NHL by being a good offensive defenseman. That maybe got away from me a little bit this year. Hopefully, I’ll get it back and not be a liability defensively but want the puck and go.”

GM Jim Rutherford believes that a change of scenery “is going to be good,” but TSN’s Darren Dreger laid out more specifics about how the team actually aims to get the most out of Schultz.

Gonchar may relate to at least some of what Schultz is going through as an offensive defenseman.

Perhaps Schultz will also benefit merely from being less of a go-to guy with the Penguins, as Kris Letang will continue to shoulder far more of the scoring expectations.

Maybe the biggest factor of all is motivation: as a pending free agent, Schultz has a lot of money to gain in nailing this opportunity.