Mike Halford

Henrik Lundqvist
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Rangers expect Lundqvist back by weekend


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault says goalie Henrik Lundqvist‘s neck spasms have subsided and he’s on track to return by this weekend.

And forward Rick Nash shouldn’t be far behind.

Vigneault provided the updates before the Rangers game at Buffalo on Tuesday, and after Lundqvist and Nash practiced on their own in New York.

Lundqvist missed his third game since experiencing spasms against Pittsburgh on March 3. After facing Buffalo, the Rangers are off until playing at Detroit on Saturday.

Nash is now listed as day to day, but Vigneault wasn’t sure whether he’ll be ready to play this weekend. Nash has been out since sustaining a bone bruise at Carolina on Jan. 22.

Defenseman Dylan McIlrath will miss a few weeks after he hurt a kneecap Sunday.

Report: Canucks sign towering KHL d-man Tryamkin (Updated)

2014 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
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After weeks of speculation, it appears the deal is done — Nikita Tryamkin, the hulking blueliner from Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in Russia, has reportedly agreed to his entry-level deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Per News 1130, it’s a two-year pact worth $1.6M. Tryamkin joins the Canucks after being released from the final two months of his KHL deal, and it’s believed there’s an out clause to return to Russia should he not crack the NHL roster to start next year.

It’s presumed Tryamkin will get a look with Vancouver this season, as the club is out of playoff contention and giving several youngsters their shots at the big league level.

Taken 66th overall at the ’14 draft, Tryamkin is listed at 6-foot-8, 267 pounds and has enjoyed a fine year with Avtomobilist in ’15-16. He had 11 points through 53 games, fairly impressive output from a young defenseman that only turned 21 in August.

Updated: Canucks GM Jim Benning told season ticket holders at a town hall meeting on Tuesday that the Canucks have filed a contract for Tryamkin.

Rangers announce McIlrath (knee) out ‘a couple of weeks’

St Louis Blues v New York Rangers
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Rugged New York blueliner Dylan McIlrath will be sidelined for the next while with a knee injury, head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed on Tuesday.

More, from Blueshirts United:

After being re-evaluated by team medical personnel McIlrath found out that his right kneecap injury is a bit more serious than first anticipated, though not considered to be a major setback either. The injured kneecap is not the same one he dislocated during prospects camp back in 2012. That injury, which necessitated surgery and forced him to miss half of the following season, was to his left kneecap.

When asked if this would open a spot among the team’s seven-man defense corps for fellow rookie Brady Skjei who was recalled on an emergency basis from Hartford on Monday, Vigneault would not provide a definitive answer, citing salary cap concerns first and foremost.

Skjei didn’t play in Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Islanders, the game in which McIlrath saw just 3:38 of ice time before exiting. That put quite a pinch on fellow blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle, who both finished with over 24 minutes each.

Moving forward, Skjei will play with veteran blueliner Dan Boyle on a pairing.

As for McIlrath, the knee injury derails his first full campaign at the NHL level. After making the Blueshirts out of training camp — had he not, the team would’ve been forced to expose him to waivers — he’s since appeared in 31 games, averaging just under 14 minutes per night.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
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Tonight at the Barclays Center, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the New York Islanders in what is a crucial tilt for Metropolitan Division and wild card playoff jockeying.

You can catch the game on NBCSN starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, or catch it live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.


Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins and Islanders meet in huge Metropolitan Division clash


Report: Kings, Lucic have ‘exchanged contract proposals’

Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic stands along the boards during warm ups prior to their NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins  in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Pending UFA Milan Lucic has made no bones about wanting to stick in Los Angeles beyond this season.

So, not surprisingly, his camp and the Kings are getting to work on a new deal.

Per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, L.A. and Lucic’s agent, Gerry Johannson, have “exchanged contract proposals,” noting that the two sides are very early in the negotiation process.

“I wouldn’t expect this to go fast,” LeBrun said on TSN’s Insider Trading panel. “Remember how long it took on [Anze] Kopitar? I think this might be a lengthy negotiation as well.”

Kopitar, who like Lucic entered this season as a pending UFA, spent over half the campaign without a new contract before signing a monster eight-year, $80 million extension in mid-January.

The Kings had cap concerns prior to the Kopitar deal, so it fair to assume they have even more now. As such, Lucic’s extension could be a tricky one to finagle, especially when it comes to term. The rugged power forward, who turns 28 in June, has put a lot of miles on his body and is coming off a short-term deal (three years) that paid well ($6 million) annually.

Lucic has done well this year to boost his value.

After a mediocre final campaign in Boston — scoring just 18 goals and 44 points in 81 games — there were concerns about his ability to produce. Well, Lucic has alleviated some of those concerns by scoring 15 goals and 40 points through 64 games, proving to be a nice fit within the Kings system (and for head coach Darryl Sutter).

The x-factor in all this, of course, is the potential to go to market. There would likely be suitors for Lucic’s services in free agency, and his hometown team — the Vancouver Canucks — have long been reported interested in bringing him aboard.