Mike Halford

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Detroit needs to discuss retiring Fedorov’s No. 91, says Holland

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Currently, the Red Wings have seven retired numbers hanging from the rafters.

Could there soon be an eighth?

Earlier this week, GM Ken Holland told 97.1 The Ticket he “certainly” thinks the organization needs to discuss retiring Sergei Fedorov’s No. 91.

“He had a tremendous career and I think he was one of the best players in the history of the Red Wings franchise,” Holland said. “Certainly I think that Mrs. Ilitch, Chris Ilitch, Tom Wilson, Jim Devellano, myself, all the people that are involved probably have to have a conversation about Sergei.”

Fedorov spent 10 years in Detroit, racking up a number of accolades. He captured three Stanley Cups, two Selke Trophies and was the ’94 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP.

In 2015, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Under normal circumstances, those accomplishments alone would make Fedorov a slam dunk. But his history with the Red Wings is complicated. He signed an offer sheet with Carolina in ’97 — one the Wings ultimately matched — and left the organization in 2002-03, to sign in Anaheim.

He also spent time with the Blue Jackets and Capitals before calling it a career.

As mentioned above, Detroit has retired seven jerseys: Nicklas Lidstrom’s No. 5, Steve Yzerman’s No. 19, Sid Abel’s No. 12, Terry Sawchuk’s No. 1, Alex Delvecchio’s No. 10, Ted Lindsay’s No. 7 and Gordie Howe’s No. 9.

Report: Buffalo didn’t contact Tocchet for head coaching gig

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Many assumed Pittsburgh assistant coach Rick Tocchet was a candidate for the Sabres’ vacant head coaching gig, given his ties to new Buffalo GM Jason Botterill.

Turns out that’s not the case.

Per TSN, the Sabres didn’t reach out to Tocchet for the bench boss job. It was widely assumed Botterill was waiting for Pittsburgh’s playoff run to finish to speak with him.

The two are, as mentioned above, quite familiar with each other. Botterill spent 10 years in the Penguins’ front office prior to moving to Buffalo, and Tocchet has spent the last three years behind the team’s bench.

The 53-year-old is held in pretty high regard. He’s got a wealth of experience from his playing days — over 1,100 NHL contests — and has managed to survive two different coaching changes in Pittsburgh. Tocchet came in under Dan Bylsma, was retained to work on Mike Johnston’s staff, then retained again when Johnston was replaced by current head coach Mike Sullivan.

Today’s news certainly makes it sound like Nashville assistant Phil Housley — a former Sabre — would be the leading candidate for the job.

More: Sabres reportedly waiting to interview Housley

After 16 years, Sens part ways with Neil

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One of the longest tenured players in Senators history is no longer.

Chris Neil, the veteran tough guy that appeared in over 1,000 contests over the last 16 years, won’t be brought back for another season, his agent told the Ottawa Citizen.

Neil, 37, met Monday with Sens GM Pierre Dorion, who informed him of the club’s decision. It came after Neil played just 53 contests last season, this after appearing in 80 during the ’15-16 campaign.

“They had a meeting with him and told him, ‘We don’t think you’re going to be happy with this role’,” agent Todd Reynolds explained. “Neil said, ‘Yeah, I don’t think I would be either and it’s probably not what I’d like to endure for a year’.

“(They agreed) let’s just mutually go our separate ways here and see if something better is out there for you where they’re going to give you eight, nine or 10 minutes a night possibly.”

Neil is expected to test free agency this summer, as he isn’t ready to retire.

If he does land somewhere else, it’ll be strange seeing him in a different uniform.

Neil was taken by Ottawa in the sixth round of the 1998 draft, and made his NHL debut three years later. He’s been one of the club’s most recognizable players ever since, in large part to his pugilistic ways. During the 2003-04 campaign, Neil fought a remarkable 24 times.

He currently sits third on the franchise’s games played leaderboard — trailing only Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson — and is Ottawa’s all-time leader in penalty minutes.

 

Predators to start negotiations with Johansen, Arvidsson next week

David Poile won’t have much time to ruminate on Nashville’s Stanley Cup Final defeat.

Just days after his club lost in Game 6 to Pittsburgh, the Predators GM was back at work, mapping out a course of action for what promises to be an extremely busy rest of June.

“We have a few contracts to do. The most notable are Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson,” Poile said on Wednesday, per NHL.com. “We’ll meet with them in Chicago [at the draft] to start that process next week.”

The Johansen extension will be a big one.

The 24-year-old is a bonaifde No. 1 center, coming off a year in which he co-led the team in scoring — 61 points, tied with Arvidsson — and was dynamic in the playoffs before undergoing season-ending thigh surgery in the Western Conference final.

A restricted free agent, Johansen is coming off a three-year, $12 million pact with a $4M average annual cap hit. The real question now is how big a raise he’ll get, and how long the term will be. Other teams have invested heavily in top-line centers around the same age — Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven — so this figures to be an expensive negotiation for Poile.

Arvidsson’s will be a different, as he’s coming off his entry-level deal. But he too is in line for a pay bump, given he led the Predators with 31 goals during the regular season, impressing onlookers with his mix of skill and relentless puck pursuit.

Finally, there’s the future of team captain Mike Fisher. He’s currently without a contract for next season and, given he just turned 37, there have been discussions about him contemplating retirement. Poile said the Preds want Fisher back, but haven’t spoken to him yet.

“We’d like to give him as much time as he needs to make a decision,” Poile said.

Wild have big decision to make on Niederreiter

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Hopefully Chuck Fletcher has a good phone plan.

The Wild GM, like his counterparts across the league, has a very busy few weeks ahead with the expansion draft, entry draft and free agency. But Fletcher’s job might be more difficult than most, given two of his best offensive weapons — Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiterare restricted free agents, and need new deals.

The Niederreiter situation is especially compelling.

His agent, Andre Rufener, told the Star-Tribune they want to avoid arbitration, and hope to get a long-term deal done Minnesota. Rufener also addressed trade reports involving his client, explaining that — while he doesn’t envision a deal happening — he is aware that Niederreiter’s in demand across the NHL.

More: Wild GM ‘all ears’ for trade offers ahead of expansion draft

“We’re just taking this as a positive thing,” Rufener said. “There’s interest in him across the league.”

It’s easy to see why. Niederreiter is only 24 and has cracked the 20-goal plateau in each of his last three seasons, scoring a career-high 25 last year.

As such, one would expect him to get a significant raise from the three-year, $8 million deal he just wrapped. That one carried a $2.67M average annual cap hit. Assuming Granlund will also get a hefty pay bump, Fletcher might need to seek some sort of financial relief — which is why there are rumblings of the Wild asking Jason Pominville, he of the $5.6M cap hit, to waive his no-movement clause for the expansion draft.

(Fletcher also needs to figure out his logjam on defense, and reports suggest Boston has discussed acquiring Jonas Brodin.)

The interesting thing about Minnesota’s forward situation is the boatload of talent in reserve. Prospects Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway, Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson-Ek are all on the horizon. Kunin, the 15th overall pick in 2016, already turned pro and played 12 games with AHL Iowa. Eriksson-Ek made his NHL debut last year, and saw time in the playoffs as well.

So yeah, Fletcher has calls to make. Lots of them.