<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Justin Abdelkader, Corey Crawford, Viktor Svedberg

Will ‘Hawks be forced to send down Svedberg?

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The Chicago Blackhawks have some decisions to make on the blue line.

With Duncan Keith cleared for contact and Michal Rozsival close to returning too, what of the seven healthy defensemen they currently have?

We’ll assume Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor Daley, and Trevor van Riemsdyk aren’t going to the AHL.

That leaves David Rundblad, Viktor Svedberg, and Erik Gustafsson. Two of them may have to go. Only Svedberg and Gustafsson are exempt from waivers.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

In theory, this is one of those “good problems” Joel Quenneville frequently talks about — an embarrassment of riches. But the problem is, the Hawks’ rookies on two-way contracts (Svedberg and Gustafsson) have played better than the Hawks’ veterans on pricey one-way deals (David Rundblad and Trevor Daley). Quenneville said the pending moves will be as much business decisions as they are hockey decisions. Asked specifically if he wanted Svedberg to stay with the team, Quenneville was terse.

“I could say that, yeah,” he said. “But will that happen? I’m not sure.”

Svedberg has played 14 games. The giant Swede logged 20:12 in Sunday’s win over Edmonton. He’s played as much as 22:08, paired mostly with Seabrook.

To keep Svedberg, the Blackhawks could always risk exposing Rundblad to waivers, or they could explore trading one of their surplus d-men. But typically teams like to have as many NHL-ready defenders as possible. Chicago’s defensive depth was very much under the microscope during last year’s playoffs, even if it didn’t prove fatal, thanks to Keith.

No excuses: Hextall tees off on Flyers

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The fallout from Tuesday’s “unacceptable” performance versus Colorado continued today in Philadelphia, the day after Flyers coach Dave Hakstol put his squad through a punishing practice.

This morning, it was GM Ron Hextall’s turn to weigh in.

“Accountability is demanded of each other and yourself,” Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “There’s nights when it’s hard to go out there and play. You don’t feel good, you travel, you’re tired or whatever it is. You know what? Too bad. You’ve got to go out there and play your ass off.”

The Flyers host the Capitals tonight.

Related: Reminder to Flyers fans — stay patient

Bruins sign three to ELCs, including two first-rounders

Zachary Senyshyn, Jake Debrusk

The Boston Bruins announced today that they’ve signed forwards Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn, as well as defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, to entry-level contracts.

DeBrusk and Senyshyn were drafted 14th and 15th overall, respectively, in the 2015 draft. Boston’s other first-round pick, d-man Jakub Zboril, was signed in July.

Lauzon was taken in the second round, 52nd overall.

Datsyuk expected to play Friday

Pavel Datsyuk,
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Pavel Datsyuk is expected to make his Red Wings season debut Friday versus San Jose.

“I believe 13 is playing tomorrow,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said today.

Datsyuk has missed the Wings’ first 15 games while recovering from offseason ankle surgery. The 37-year-old will likely start by playing the wing on the top line, centered by Henrik Zetterberg.

The Wings went an acceptable 8-6-1 in Datsyuk’s absence, but they required excellent goaltending to do it. Detroit has been outshot by an average of 32.4 to 25.3, the worst differential in the league.

We’ll see tomorrow if one of the greatest two-way forwards in NHL history can do anything about that.

Holland on Abdelkader extension: ‘It’s hard to find big people that can score 20 goals’

Justin Abdelkader
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The Red Wings made it official today, announcing they’ve signed forward Justin Abdelkader to a seven-year contract extension.

It was reported yesterday that the two sides were closing in on a deal.

Abdelkader will make $29.75 million over those seven years, garnering a cap hit of $4.25 million.

It’s a lengthy commitment by the Wings to the 28-year-old, who’s only had one NHL season with more than 10 goals. He tallied 23 last year.

Wings GM Ken Holland thinks the contract is justified.

“He’s 28 years of age and if he hit the open market, and a team wanted to pry him out of Detroit — it’s hard to find big people that can score 20 goals,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press.

Abdelkader has four goals in 15 games this season, putting him on pace to score around 20.