Jason Brough

Rangers cut bait on McIlrath, trade him to Panthers

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The New York Rangers have traded defenseman Dylan McIlrath to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Steven Kampfer and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report the trade. The condition on the deal is that McIlrath plays 30 NHL games this season. If that condition isn’t met, no draft pick will be exchanged, per McKenzie.

It’s an interesting swap in that both McIlrath and Kampfer have already been on waivers this season. McIlrath, 24, cleared two weeks ago and was assigned to AHL Hartford. Kampfer, 28, cleared yesterday and can now be sent to the AHL as well.

The fact the Rangers were able to get a pick out of the Panthers, albeit just a conditional seventh-rounder, suggests that McIlrath is the more valuable of the two d-men. Florida’s management, which has made no secret of its belief in analytics, may have been intrigued by McIlrath’s solid possession numbers last season, not to mention his size and toughness.

For the Rangers, the trade closes the book on McIlrath, whom they selected 10th overall in 2010.

Detroit’s new arena to cost more than expected, but not for taxpayers

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DETROIT (AP) Officials say the cost of building the Detroit Red Wings’ new arena has jumped by $105 million to nearly $733 million.

The city’s Downtown Development Authority says the revised estimate to build the Little Caesars Arena for the NHL team reflects the specific cost of materials, permits, design refinements and subcontractor agreements. The Detroit News says city documents indicate other construction costs could rise.

Officials say the revision does not indicate massive cost overruns, nor does it mean taxpayers will face additional expenses.

From the News:

“The increases represent enhancements or changes that our private partner, Olympia Development of Michigan, will be paying for — as they are required to do under our contract,” said Moddie Turay, executive vice president for real estate for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation — which administers the Downtown Development Authority — in a written statement Thursday.

Olympia Development is the development arm of the Ilitch family, whose holdings include the Red Wings, Little Caesars pizza, MotorCity Casino Hotel and other Detroit property.

“What we are really seeing here is how public support of a transformational project is already leveraging more private investment than originally promised,” Turay said. “Every new dollar invested by Olympia also creates potential new opportunities for Detroit-based subcontractors and Detroit residents.”

Construction on the new arena began last year and the venue is scheduled to open next fall.

The owner of the Detroit Pistons has said that team is close to a deal to move the NBA franchise and suggested it could also play at Little Caesars Arena next season.

Related: So much nostalgia during Red Wings’ last opener at Joe Louis Arena

Five NHL team stats you may find interesting

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129.9% — The combined power play and penalty kill rates of the Columbus Blue Jackets, by far the highest in the NHL. The Jackets’ power play is converting at a ridiculous 39.3 percent, while their PK is a very respectable 90.6 percent. Young center Alexander Wennberg leads all NHLers with eight PP assists, and nobody would’ve predicted that. So yeah, Torts’ job is probably safe for now. Amazing what a 10-0 win can do for a team. (Also, a really good rookie defenseman.)

80.7% — The lowest combined rate, which belongs to the Calgary Flames. It’s still early in Glen Gulutzan’s tenure as head coach, but that’s not particularly encouraging, given Bob Hartley lost his job in part due to poor special teams. Last season, the Flames had the 22nd-ranked PP and 30th-ranked PK. This season, the PP and PK are 30th and 29th, respectively. So if anything, the Flames’ special teams have taken a step back.

-5.4 — The shot differential of the Montreal Canadiens, who have only lost one game in regulation. Which is to say, welcome back, Carey Price! Because the only team with a more negative shot differential than Montreal is Arizona (-6.3), and the Coyotes (4-7-0) are dead last in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks (9-3-1) are another winning team with a negative shot differential (-4.1). In a related story, Corey Crawford was named the NHL’s second star for last week.

$6.3 million — The combined cap hit of Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri, and Mika Zibanejad, four new Rangers forwards who have combined for 19 goals and 19 assists in 13 games. Granted, there are performance bonuses attached to Vesey’s contract, and Zibanejad will require a hefty raise next season, but hats off to general manager Jeff Gorton for getting creative with a team that appeared to be in trouble after last season.

.864 — The Flyers’ team save percentage, the lowest in the league. What’s especially perplexing is that Philly had the same two goalies last season, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, and their team save percentage was .915, tied for fifth overall. Wish we could explain it, but we can’t. At least nothing has changed in Carolina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Dallas, Toronto and Arizona. Those six teams all ranked in the bottom 10 of save percentage last season, and they do again this season.

NHL odds: Desjardins replaces Torts as most likely to be fired first

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John Tortorella is no longer the favorite to become the NHL’s first coaching casualty of the season. Torts has been replaced by Vancouver’s Willie Desjardins, who’s now getting 2/1 odds from online bookmaker Bovada.

The Canucks have lost nine games in a row, and have just one regulation victory in their first 13. So it’s no surprise that Desjardins is on the hot seat, even if Vancouver’s management and ownership may deserve the lion’s share of the blame for the team’s direction.

Desjardins was hired by the Canucks in 2014, after Tortorella was fired. Vancouver made the playoffs in Desjardins’ first season, but lost to Calgary in the first round —  a series in which Desjardins’ tactics and deployment were heavily criticized.

The honeymoon over, the Canucks proceeded to have a nightmarish 2015-16 season. However, injuries were blamed for the team’s 28th-place finish and Desjardins was not fired.

Instead, Desjardins was asked by management to play with better defensive structure. Though things looked promising for the first four games of the current season, all Vancouver wins, that optimism was extremely short-lived.

As for Tortorella, his prospects have improved since the Blue Jackets lost their first two games. Columbus is now 5-3-2, with a 10-0 destruction of Montreal among its victories.

The full list of odds:

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Colorado will ‘ride’ Pickard, who’s off to hot start for Avs

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It’s always interesting when a backup goalie gets off to a hot start, and it’s even more interesting when there’s a struggling starter, too.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Colorado, where Calvin Pickard (3-0-0, .946) will get the nod against the Coyotes tonight, while Semyon Varlamov (2-6-0, .881) sits and watches.

“If we have a hot goalie,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post, “then we’ll ride him and kind of move on from there on a week-to-week basis.”

Pickard is certainly hot. He shut out the Wild on Saturday, then relieved Varlamov Sunday and didn’t allow a goal in a period of work.

Pickard, 24, is actually just picking up where he left off last season, which he finished with a .922 save percentage in 20 appearances. He re-signed for two years over the summer, for a cap hit of just $1 million. He’ll still be a restricted free agent when his contract expires.

Varlamov, meanwhile, is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $5.9 million. And with 320 career NHL starts to his name, the 28-year-old’s body of work is obviously much larger than Pickard’s.

But it does bring up an interesting scenario, should Pickard continue to play well. Would the Avs consider protecting him over Varlamov in the expansion draft?

It’s probably too early to ask that question, but hey, we asked it anyway.

The Avs continue their four-game home stand Friday against the Jets. The Bruins visit Sunday, the Kings Tuesday.