Mike Halford

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 14: Chris Wideman #45 of the Ottawa Senators prepares for a faceoff against the New York Rangers during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on November 14, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Sens extend d-man Wideman: two years, $1.6M

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It’s taken a while, but Chris Wideman appears primed to stick at the NHL level.

Wideman, a longtime scoring ace in the American League, has inked a two-year, one-way extension with the Sens worth $1.6 million, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal carries an $800,000 average annual cap hit, and comes in Wideman’s first full season at the NHL level.

The 26-year-old, a fourth-round pick in ’09, has spent most of his professional career with the Sens’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton, where he emerged as one of the league’s best offensive defensemen. He was given the Eddie Shore award last season as the AHL’s top blueliner, after scoring 61 points in 75 games.

This year, Wideman has five goals and nine points through 44 games, averaging 13 minutes per night.

Wideman had previously been on a one-year, $600,000 deal and was set to become a restricted free agent at year’s end.

Staal (lower body) out, Skjei in for Rangers versus Devils

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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The Rangers are heading into New Jersey for a big rivalry game down a pair of regular d-men, as both Marc Staal and captain Ryan McDonagh will sit out tonight’s affair.

McDonagh was already ruled out, still feeling the effects of a Leo Komarov elbow.

Staal’s injury — not believed to be serious — was only announced recently, which does explain why the Blueshirts recalled blueline prospect Brady Skjei from AHL Hartford earlier today.

As a result, Keith Yandle will skate with Dan Girardi on a d-man pairing tonight, while Dylan McIlrath will go with Dan Boyle. Skjei will play alongside Kevin Klein.

 

Dallas has prospects ‘everybody wants,’ but Nill isn’t ‘giving them up’

Jim Nill
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At first glance, the Stars have the look of a deadline buyer — second in the Central Division, second in the Western Conference, trailing only defending champ Chicago in both.

But according to GM Jim Nill, the club might not be all that active by Feb. 29.

Why?

Because he’s loathe to part with the prospects his competitors want.

“We’ve got four young defensemen, five or six young forwards,” Nill said, per NHL.com. “We’ve got three or four guys in the top-20 scoring [Travis Morin, Brendan Ranford, Jason Dickinson] and another guy who’s out for the season in Devin Shore who was leading the league in scoring.

“When I talk about trades, when we got to make trades, that’s who everyone wants and I’m not giving them up. That’s too big a part of our future.”

It’s no secret both Nill and owner Tom Gaglardi are bullish on the club’s prospect pool. Last summer, Gaglardi raved about the club’s blueline depth, saying “we’ve got the deepest bench of defense prospects in the league quite honestly.”

As such, it wasn’t surprising to read this in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts column:

In preparing for “Headlines” last weekend, I asked which teams were most insistent about adding pieces. When it came to forwards, the teams mentioned most often were Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and the Islanders…

…On defence, it was Los Angeles, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Tampa Bay. No Dallas was interesting, especially since I linked Dan Hamhuis to them last week, so you wonder about your intel. But they didn’t get as many mentions.

All that said, Nill has been aggressive at past deadlines. Last year, he sent veteran winger Erik Cole to Detroit and, the year prior, traded Stephane Robidas to Anaheim and acquired Tim Thomas from Florida.

Goalie nods: After ripping ‘unacceptable’ officiating last night, Domingue goes back-to-back

Louis Domingue
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Last night, Arizona’s Louis Domingue sounded like a frustrated goalie following a 3-2 loss in Washington.

“I’m expecting that they treat every guy the same way, and I felt like because I don’t have many games in this league, I’m being treated differently,” Domingue said per Fox Sports, venting that officials didn’t blow play dead when Tom Wilson jostled away the puck from his glove, which led to a Mike Richards goal. “And I think that if [Braden] Holtby would’ve covered the puck this way, they would’ve [blown] the whistle right away. All game it was the same thing.

“I didn’t have the whistle. It’s just unacceptable that they don’t treat us the same way.”

Today, Domingue admitted he was a frustrated goalie.

“I know they have a tough job,” Domingue said, per AZ Central. “They do a good job at it. Sometimes after games, you get emotional. There’s stuff that you say, but I still think I had possession of the puck. I understand that they had a tough job, and it’s a fast game. I make mistakes.”

Later tonight, Domingue will try to right the ship.

The rookie netminder is back in goal in the second of a back-to-back as the Coyotes take on the Bolts in Tampa Bay. After winning January’s rookie of the month award, the 23-year-old has struggled through a rough February — he’s 3-5-1 and has allowed 29 goals on 272 shots over the nine-game stretch… for a save percentage of .893.

So maybe that’s part of the frustration, too.

For the Bolts, Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Both the Rangers and Devils are expected to go with their No. 1s in a rivalry game at Prudential: Henrik Lundqvist versus Cory Schneider.

Michal Neuvirth, who replaced Steve Mason against Toronto over the weekend, is back in goal for the Flyers. Cam Ward goes for the ‘Canes.

James Reimer goes for the host Maple Leafs tonight, while the Preds are likely to counter with Carter Hutton.

Petr Mrazek takes back the starter’s net when Detroit hosts Columbus. No word yet on a Blue Jackets starter (Joonas Korpisalo has started 12 straight, though).

Jaroslav Halak takes on Devan Dubnyk as the Isles play in Minnesota.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his fourth start since returning from injury when the Jets host the Stars. Antti Niemi is in goal for Dallas.

— The red-hot Craig Anderson (1.51 GAA, .951 save percentage over last three starts) goes for Ottawa in Edmonton. Cam Talbot starts for the Oilers.

— Joni Ortio gets a rare start as the Flames take on the Kings in L.A. Jonathan Quick will be in the other goal.

 

Ladd: ‘Kind of sad’ tonight could be last game in Winnipeg

Andrew Ladd
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Following tonight’s home date against the Stars, the Jets will set out on a pair of road games and won’t be back until Mar. 1.

Mar. 1, of course, being the day after the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

And you know what that means in Winnipeg — it means that, this evening, captain Andrew Ladd could very well be playing his last game in front the MTS Centre faithful.

As a Jet, that is.

“We haven’t been told that. But I guess I can kind of see the writing on the wall,” Ladd said on Tuesday, per the Sun. “I obviously hope it’s not. But I realize it has the potential of being my last.

“And it’s kind of sad to think about.”

By now you’re all probably familiar with the Ladd situation, but a quick refresher:

Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff had two key UFAs to sign this season in Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Money, logic and cap space suggested it might have to be one or the other, not both — and earlier this month, after Byfuglien signed a monster five-year, $38 million extension, Ladd’s writing appeared to be on the wall.

Ladd, of course, had a fairly big ask of his own: a six-year extension “with an average annual value north of $6 million,” per TSN senior correspondent Gary Lawless.

Contract talks between Winnipeg and the 30-year-old reportedly broke off in late January. Today, Ladd said he hasn’t received a new contract offer this week, adding he didn’t think there had been much in the way of negotiations since Christmas.

So, attention turned to Ladd as a potential trade deadline rental.

Several teams are reportedly in the mix, with Florida emerging as one that covets Ladd immensely. And it stands to reason that Cheveldayoff almost has to deal Ladd, primarily to avoid losing him for nothing in free agency — something that happened last year with Michael Frolik.

But despite all this writing on the wall, Ladd and his Jets teammates are still finding it difficult to fathom that, come Monday, the captain might be gone.

“It’s crazy to think we got to this point,” Blake Wheeler said, per the Sun. “I never imagined in a million years we’d be sitting here.”

Related: Coach Q thinks the ‘Hawks could use another forward or two