Jason Brough

Blackhawks GM not upset about Panarin’s bonus

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If Blackhawks rookie Artemi Panarin finishes in the top 10 in scoring among NHL forwards, he’ll receive a $1.725 million bonus that could force his club into making some tough decisions this summer.

And it’s looking right now like he’ll achieve that goal.

However, that doesn’t bother Chicago GM Stan Bowman.

“Our team wouldn’t be where we are without him,” Bowman told Blackhawks Insider (audio).

“What he’s done here as a rookie, I don’t want to say it’s unprecedented, but it hasn’t happened in a long, long time for a guy, his first year in the league, to finish in the top 10 in scoring. That’s why those bonuses are rarely earned. He’s done something very, very special this year.”

Bowman — a guy who’s rather familiar with having to make tough decisions in the offseason — is just going to take whatever happens in stride.

“As far as this summer,” he said, “there’s so many unknowns in the situation. We don’t know what the salary cap’s going to be, so at this point it’s premature to assume anything. We’ll get that figured out in due time. We always find a way to make that work.

“But that’s not the focus right now. We’re excited for Panarin and I’m glad that he keeps scoring. We keep winning games when he keeps scoring and setting up plays, so we hope there’s more of that to come.”

Chicago has one game left in the regular season, Saturday in Columbus.

Looking at the Blackhawks’ cap situation, they have a number of pending unrestricted free agents, including deadline acquisition Andrew Ladd, who would like to be more than just a rental.

But it’s pending RFA Andrew Shaw that some feel the ‘Hawks may have to trade, a la Brandon Saad. Though Shaw won’t command the kind of money that Saad got from the Blue Jackets, he’ll certainly get a raise from his current salary of $2.5 million. 

The ‘Hawks have also said they’d like to get Panarin’s contract extended this summer. He’s currently signed through next season.

Goalie nods: Kasdorf to make NHL debut for Sabres

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 25:  157th overall pick Jason Kasdorf by the Winnipeg Jets looks on during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Only one game in the NHL tonight, and it’s not exactly a big one.

Except, of course, if you’re Sabres goalie Jason Kasdorf, who will make his NHL debut tonight against Columbus.

Kasdorf was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. A few years later, he was sent to Buffalo as part of the Evander Kane trade. Earlier this month, after finishing his fourth season at RPI, he signed his entry-level contract.

“I’ll definitely be nervous but I kinda like the feeling of being nervous going into games so I’m feeling pretty good,” Kasdorf told the Buffalo News.

Another rookie, Joonas Korpisalo, will be in goal for the Blue Jackets.

Related: Lehner has ankle surgery, done for season

Hynes named USA head coach for world championship

John Hynes smiles after being announced as the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils during an NHL hockey news conference, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP

New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes has been named head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team for the upcoming World Championship in Russia.

“John has been involved with U.S. teams on multiple occasions in the past and we’re excited to have him leading our team at the men’s world championship,” said USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson. “John’s teams are always well prepared and his extensive knowledge of our player pool is a big benefit as well.”

From the press release:

Hynes will be making his debut as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He previously spent six seasons (2003-09) behind the bench as a head coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, and during that time led the U.S. to three medals at the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship (gold—2006, silver—2004, bronze—2008). In 2004, he helped the U.S. to its first-ever gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach. Hynes was previously named an assistant coach for the U.S. team that will compete in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

The United States opens the tournament on May 6 versus Canada in Saint Petersburg.

Earlier this week, Carolina head coach Bill Peters was named head coach for Team Canada.

To rest, or not to rest, healthy players in meaningless games

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his first goal of the season with Kris Letang (58) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Pittsburgh Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
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John Torchetti doesn’t intend to rest any of his healthy players on Saturday, even though the Wild have nothing to gain by beating the Calgary Flames.

Minnesota is locked into the second wild-card spot in the West. In the first round of the playoffs, the Wild are going to play the winner of the Central Division, be that Dallas or St. Louis. Nothing that happens Saturday can change that.

Torchetti, a Boston native, is familiar with a team that’s played a few meaningless games at the end of the regular season.

“Probably the most successful team in the NFL is the [New England] Patriots,” Torchetti said, per the Star Tribune. “They play everybody [in the] last game of the year.”

Sure, but only for the first half. (And there was that one time with Wes Welker…)

It actually sounds like goalie Devan Dubnyk could get the Tom Brady treatment on Saturday, playing only part of the game before giving way to backup Darcy Kuemper. So it’s not like Torchetti doesn’t recognize the situation.

The Wild aren’t the only NHL squad that have nothing left to gain or lose in the regular season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are locked into second in the Metropolitan Division. So, will stars like Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang suit up Saturday against a desperate Flyers team? The Bruins and Red Wings sure hope they will.

The Flyers also play Sunday in Brooklyn, potentially needing a win to grab a playoff spot. So, what if the Islanders are already locked into third in the Metropolitan? At the very least, John Tavares could have his ice time limited.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind. Should be an interesting weekend for a few teams.

Flyers need that ‘killer instinct now’

Shayne Gostisbehere, Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
AP

With a win tonight over the worst team in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers would greatly improve their chances of making the playoffs.

Should, on the other hand, they blow it against the visiting Maple Leafs, there’s no telling what could happen in their final two games of the regular season. The Flyers host red-hot Pittsburgh Saturday, then play in Brooklyn Sunday against an Isles side that’s already guaranteed its spot in

the postseason.

As you surely know by now, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Boston are all fighting for the final two playoff spots in the East, meaning one of those teams is going to end up disappointed.

“We have to have a killer instinct now,” Flyers goalie Steve Mason said, per CSN Philly. “We can’t let these games get away from us.”

Especially tonight’s game, against a Toronto squad that was built to be bad. The Leafs have dropped six of their last seven in regulation, including last night’s 5-1 loss to Columbus that left their head coach, Mike Babcock, fuming.

After Babcock’s tongue-lashing, don’t be surprised if the Leafs are a touch more competitive tonight. The Flyers should still beat them — they’d better beat them– but they’ll need to be sharper than they were last night in Detroit, where they were shut out, 3-0, by the Red Wings.

“We still know we have everything in our control,” said captain Claude Giroux. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get any points (in Detroit), but we’ve got three games left and we know we can do this.”

Related: Bergeron calls on the Bruins to “go out there and do it”