Mike Halford

Justin Abdelkader

Abdelkader to replace Datsyuk as alternate captain in Detroit


The Red Wings have a new member of their leadership group.

On Tuesday, the club announced that Justin Abdelkader has been named an alternate captain, creating a triumvirate along with captain Henrik Zetterberg and fellow alternate Niklas Kronwall.

Abdelkader takes over for Pavel Datsyuk, who first donned an “A” in 2007 but relinquished the title upon retiring after last season.

It’s not surprising that Detroit went with Abdelkader for a leadership position.

The 29-year-old has spent his entire nine-year career with the Wings, appearing in 480 regular season contests and 64 playoff games. The rugged power forward has also come into his own over the last two seasons, posting 19 goals last year and a career-high 23 the year prior.

Abdelkader was also named to Team USA at the recently-wrapped World Cup of Hockey.

If there’s another reason for Abdelkader to wear a letter in Detroit, it’s his contract. Love it or hate it, his seven-year, $29.75 million pact looks like it’ll keep him in the Motor City for an awfully long time — 2023, to be exact.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, Abdelkader has a full no-trade clause through 2020.

NHL on NBCSN: Sabres, ‘Canes kick things off with Kraft Hockeyville game

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30:  (L-R) Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes, Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres, Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers in the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge during the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skill Competition at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Big night on Tuesday on a variety of fronts — NBCSN will begin coverage of the ’16-17 campaign with a preseason broadcast between Carolina and Buffalo, a game that holds special significance for the town of Marquette, MI.

Back in the  spring, Marquette’s Lakeview Arena was named the Kraft Hockeyville winner for 2016 and, along with $150,000 in arena upgrades, won the right to host an NHL exhibition game — tonight’s exhibition game, which will mark Jack Eichel‘s preseason debut after starring with Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.

You can catch the game on NBCSN starting at 7 p.m. ET, or watch online or via NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

No hearing for Gudas after Vesey hit


Controversial Flyers d-man Radko Gudas has avoided supplemental discipline for his hit on Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

The incident, which occurred late in the first period of Philly’s 4-3 OT win on Monday night, earned Gudas a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct. Gudas was also slapped with a five-minute fighting major for a scrap with big Rangers blueliner Dylan McIlrath.

Vesey was shaken up on the hit, but returned and finished the game with 15:10 of ice time, scoring his first professional goal in the process.

Unsurprisingly, each coach had a decidedly different view of the Gudas hit.

“I look at the play and it’s such a hard play for a defenseman,” Flyers bench boss Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “You’re going in with full momentum. A player holds, pulls up, slows up, turns, it’s a very difficult situation for a defenseman in that situation.”

As for Hakstol’s counterpart, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault?

“I’ve seen that hit many times before from that player,” Vigneault said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

As mentioned above, Gudas is a very polarizing player and one with a history of questionable hits. Known as one of the league’s most notorious checkers, he’s been in frequent meetings with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety — including last season, when he was suspended three games for an illegal check to the head of Mika Zibanejad.

Amid trade rumblings, Ducks giving young d-men ‘every opportunity’ to make team

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 26:  General manager Bob MurrayY of the Anaheim Ducks talks to the media during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Let’s piece some things together in Anaheim, shall we?

— Prized young d-man Hampus Lindholm, still without a contract, hasn’t reported to camp and is training in his native Sweden. The RFA blueliner is reportedly seeking an eight-year extension from the club, at a minimum of $6 million annually.

— Last week, NBC’s Pierre McGuire told TSN 1040 the Ducks are in trade talks with an Eastern Conference team “to unload a significant contract,” which would help them sign Lindholm and fellow unsigned RFA Rickard Rakell.

— Over the weekend, the Ducks iced three of their youngest (and brightest) d-man prospects: Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson, with head coach Randy Carlyle offering the following (per the O.C. Register):

“Those kids are all vying for a longer look and they’re going to cut their teeth in the NHL at some point,” Carlyle said. “It’s our job as an organization to make sure we don’t push people too quickly ahead. When they earn it, they get the opportunity.

“In today’s game, it’s a real luxury to have that quality of young player coming along. And we’re going to make sure that we give them every opportunity to prove to us that they can play in the league and hopefully they can continue to make these decisions tough ones.”

Interesting stuff.

Financially speaking, the Ducks are in a tough situation on defense. In June, they made Sami Vatanen their highest-paid blueliner — four years, $19.5 million, a $4.875M cap hit — putting him ahead of the likes of Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa ($4M per each, through 2018), Simon Despres ($3.7M through 2021) and Clayton Stoner ($3.25M though 2018).

Lindholm is expected to sign, and will undoubtedly surpass Vatanen as the club’s most expensive rearguard.

Which means a d-man could be on the move.

Fowler’s name has come up on several occasions. Earlier this summer, the 24-year-old said he was surprised he hadn’t been traded already, this after his name was tied to both the Red Wings and Canadiens.

Despres’ contract kicks in this year, and he doesn’t have a no-movement clause. Same with Stoner, who’s been a disappointment since coming over from Minnesota.

Bieksa would be tougher to trade, given he’s armed with a NMC and is starting to wear down with age, having turned 35 in June.

The bright spot for the Ducks is that they’ve got flexibility — and it’s on the cheap. Theodore, the 26th overall pick in 2013, made his big league debut last season and fared well, scoring eight points in 19 games while playing 14 minutes a night during the playoffs.

Theodore is still on his entry-level deal.

Mountour, 22, has yet to make his NHL debut but is also thought of highly, and is also on his ELC. Larsson, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, was signed to his ELC in May and, despite being just 19 years old, has good pro experience, having spent the last two years with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.

Add it all up, and the Ducks look primed to make a move.

Dan Boyle expected to announce retirement

Dan Boyle

Dan Boyle is ready to call it a career.

The Sharks have announced a press conference for Wednesday, in which the veteran defenseman is expected to announce his retirement.

Boyle, 40, spent six of his 17 NHL seasons in the Bay Area, where he enjoyed some of the finest moments of his career. He captured gold with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and helped the Sharks advance to consecutive Western Conference finals.

Undrafted out of Miami (OH) University, Boyle broke in with the Panthers during the ’98-99 campaign and went on to compile a very impressive career. He captured a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, played in a pair of All-Star Games and was named to two NHL second All-Star teams.

All told, he finished with 605 points in 1093 contests and, in his prime, was one of the league’s better offensive defensemen.

Boyle finished his playing days with the Rangers. Last year, he scored 10 goals and 24 points in 74 contests for the Blueshirts and went out with a bang, infamously calling out a pair of New York reporters during his end-of-year media availability.