Mike Halford

Travis Zajac, Kyle Palmieri, Jiri Tlusty, Eric Gelinas, Jacob Josefson
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Devils will re-sign leading scorer Palmieri

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In January, Devils GM Ray Shero said there was a “very good” chance pending RFA Kyle Palmieri would stick in New Jersey.

Now, Shero is all but guaranteeing it.

“We’ll get him signed,” is what Shero said at Monday’s GMs meetings in Florida, per NHL.com.

Palmieri, 25, has enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first year back in New Jersey. A Montvale native, he’s notched a career-high 25 goals and 45 points this season, making good on the pedigree that saw Anaheim take him in the first round — 26th overall — of the 2009 draft.

Stuck behind a glut of quality offensive players with the Ducks, Palmieri never enjoyed the expanded role he’s currently filling with the Devils. His TOI per game has jumped to 17:03 per night — compare that with his previous high of 14:03 in Anaheim — and his 25 goals put him ahead of the likes of Jonathan Toews, Max Pacioretty and James Neal on the NHL leaderboard.

“I don’t want to put a timetable on it or take Kyle’s eye off the ball here in terms of how he’s playing,” Shero said of contract talks back in January. “When you trade for someone like him, that’s what you’re looking to add to your team and I think it’s been a good fit for him and for us.”

Negotiations do promise to be interesting.

Palmieri’s in the last of a three-year, $4.4 million deal with a $1.46M cap hit and, per NorthJersey, he’s “open to signing a long-term extension that would take him beyond when he’d be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.”

One would assume he’s in line for a tidy raise, but the term will be interesting. Last summer, Shero inked d-man Adam Larsson to a six-year, $25 million extension, his first major contract extension since coming aboard as GM.

It’s also worth noting Palmieri has arbitration rights, though it sounds like Shero and the Devils don’t want to go that route.

Pens ink Rust, Kuhnhackl, Wilson to two-year extensions

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (c) celebrates his empty net goal at 19:21 of the third period against the New York Rangers and is joined by Bryan Rust #17 (l) and Tom Kuhnhackl #34 (r) at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2016 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh made a pretty telling move on Monday, re-upping with a trio of young forwards: Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson all inked two-year extensions with the club, per Pens PR.

As the below infographic shows, the three have been instrumental in Pittsburgh’s recent string of quality play (and, quality results):

It’s not surprising to learn all three spent time in AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year under current Pens head coach Mike Sullivan. Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston as bench boss in mid-December, obviously saw something in Rust, Kuhnhackl and Wilson in the American League and correctly assumed it would translate well to the NHL level.

That something?

Energy, mostly.

The trio has given a shot in the arm to Pittsburgh’s forward group — especially the bottom six — and at no time was that more evident than Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers at MSG. Wilson was a scratch, but Rust and Kuhnhackl combined for three points, with both assisting on Sidney Crosby‘s empty-net marker to seal the victory.

Rust beat out Rangers d-man Dan Boyle to wave off an icing call, and Khunhackl flipped the puck back to Crosby, who deposited into the open goal.

As for the money on these extensions?

Detroit pulls about-face, recalls prized prospect Mantha

2013 NHL Draft
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Back in mid-February, a Michigan Live article noted that — despite scoring his first pro hat-trick for AHL Grand Rapids — Anthony Mantha was unlikely to be brought up to play for the Detroit Red Wings.

Well, things have changed.

On Monday, Detroit announced it had recalled Mantha, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward taken 20th overall at the 2013 draft.

The recall comes after a disheartening 1-0 loss to Toronto on Sunday, a game in which the Red Wings failed to put a single puck past Jonathan Bernier, despite firing 38 shots on net. The recall also comes with the club fighting for its playoff life — Detroit heads into Monday night’s action three points clear of Philly for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have two games in hand.

So needless to say, Mantha’s NHL debut could come in a pretty crucial moment. The Wings take on the Flyers on Tuesday, at Wells Fargo.

A former Quebec League scoring sensation — a two-time 50 goal scorer for Val d’Or — Mantha came to the Red Wings organization high on hype, but struggled in his first professional season at the AHL level.

This year, though, things have turned around. The 21-year-old has 21 goals and 45 points through 56 games, sitting third on the team in scoring.

Tarasenko, Trocheck, Kinkaid named NHL’s three stars of the week

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St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 13, the league announced on Monday.

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Tarasenko tied for the League lead with 3-3—6 in three games to power the Blues (41-20-9, 91 points) to a trio of wins and a share of first place – in terms of points – in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Trocheck paced the NHL with five assists and tied for the League lead with six points in three games to lift the Panthers (38-21-9, 85 points) to five out of a possible six standings points.

Kinkaid went 2-0-0 with a 0.48 goals-against average, .981 save percentage and one shutout to lead the Devils (33-29-7, 73 points) to a perfect start on their three-game road trip through California.

Tarasenko now sits at 33 goals on the year with 12 games left to play, meaning he’s within striking distance of matching — or surpassing — the career-high 37 he scored a year ago.

 

Report: Brenden Morrow to announce retirement

Brenden Morrow
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Looks as though Brenden Morrow is hanging up his skates.

Morrow, a 16-year veteran currently without a contract for this season, will make an announcement on Thursday through the Dallas Stars organization — and, per the Morning News’ Mike Heika, it’s believed Morrow will officially retire from the NHL.

Morrow, 37, appeared in 991 games over a pretty solid career, most of which was spent with Dallas. He appeared in a pair of Stanley Cup Finals — one with the Stars in his first year in the NHL, one with the Lightning in his last — and captured gold with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

A former first-round pick, Morrow’s best year came during the 2007-08 campaign, when he posted a career-high 74 points, finishing seventh in Selke voting.

That effort came during the midst of his seven-year run as Dallas’ captain — only Derian Hatcher had a longer stint wearing the “C” since the club moved from Minnesota.