Ryan Dadoun

Auston Matthews

Top 2016 draft prospect Matthews considers playing in Europe

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While the lead up to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has been dominated by stories about Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the 2016 draft discussion could be primarily about Auston Matthews. Well before the 2016 draft talk really starts to heat up though, Matthews might make headlines for a different reason.

Although Matthews is being pursued by the WHL Everett Silvertips and several NCAA schools, he’s also considering offers from the Swiss League, according to family advisors Pat Brisson and Judd Moldave.

“It should be resolved in a short matter of time,” Brisson told The Hockey News.

Matthews would be entering uncharted territory for a highly regarded North American prospect if he decides to spend his draft year in Europe. However, there would certainly be advantages to him if he decides to go that route.

One of the most obvious is that it would provide him with an opportunity to play against men, given that in North America his options would be limited to the Major Junior and NCAA as opposed to the AHL. Keep in mind that Matthews, 17, only missed the cutoff for the 2015 draft by two days and has been compared favorable to Eichel.

Playing in Switzerland in particular might be desirable because the teams are so close to each other that it’s not uncommon for players to be able to participate in a road game and still sleep in their own bed that same night. Matthews already has some experience playing there too as a member of Team USA in the world under-18 tournament.

That being said, fielding offers from Swiss teams isn’t the same as pulling the trigger. Matthews might still end up going with one of the many North American options available to him.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Canadiens

Vladislav Namestnikov, Alex Galchenyuk
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Down 3-0 in the second round series, Montreal finally solved goaltender Ben Bishop on Thursday en route to a decisive 6-2 victory. As one-sided as that game was though, Montreal is still down 3-1. Can the Canadiens really beat the Lightning three more times in a row?

Montreal’s quest to make some history will continue in Game 5 tonight. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET and will air on NBCSN. However, you can tune in as early as 6:00 p.m. ET for pregame coverage. You also have the option of streaming it via NBC Sports Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some relevant links:

Habs’ Beaulieu available for Game 5

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

Cooper replies to Subban’s ‘horseshoe’ remark about Bishop

Petry: ‘Hope is definitely alive’ for Habs

Stamkos: ‘We got what was coming’

Hansen’s Seattle arena proposal might not get public funding

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A group trying to bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle led by Chris Hansen reached a “major milestone” on Thursday with the release of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Hansen called it “a green light for us to continue moving forward,” but his goal of building an arena in the SoDo neighborhood might still face some significant roadblocks. Notably, it sounds like the city might not go forward with its earlier pledge to provide $125 million in bonds to help fund the arena.

“This deal’s just not doable, at least as it’s constructed today,” said Tim Burgess, the president of the Seattle City Council, according to the Seattle Times. “I wouldn’t say it’s dead. But we are not going to go ahead with this arena without substantial changes. And there are no plans right now for those.”

The problem is that when the city agreed to partially fund the arena, it was with the idea of drawing in an NBA team. However, because there are no NBA expansion plans right now, the focus has shifted to trying to lure an NHL team first. Seattle mayor Ed Murray has already said that he’s willing to listen to reconsider the memorandum of understanding if an NHL-first proposal comes forward, but Burgess seems less optimistic about the City Council agreeing to such a change.

“We specifically wrote the idea of a hockey-only or hockey-first arena out of the agreement three years ago,” Burgess said. “We did that because it’s very weak financially. It’s just too risky for the city.”

He added, “If we’re going to do hockey, there would have to be a substantial lowering, if not elimination, of the public investment.”

The fact that there’s now a competing project in nearby Tukwila might also be a factor. That arena would reportedly be constructed using only private funds, so it might be seen as a more favorable option to some on the City Council for that reason.

Related:

Prospective Seattle NHL owner has an arena Plan B

Sweep leaves Wild feeling ‘sick’

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Four
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“You almost needed two pucks in that series. We’ve come a long way since then.”

That was Zach Parise comparing the Minnesota’s 2013 first round loss to the Blackhawks to this year, per the Star Tribune. He said that just before Minnesota’s latest series against Chicago began.

In the end, Minnesota was not only eliminated by Chicago for the third straight year, but also suffered the indignity of being swept.

“Didn’t do nearly enough. Don’t know how else to characterize it. It’s tough to dissect it right now.”

That was Parise tonight, per the Wild’s Twitter feed. And that’s one of more subdued comments from the Wild.

“I’m sick. It’s a sick feeling,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk told ESPN’s Joe McDonald.

“It’s a bad dream,” defenseman Ryan Suter said.

On the one hand, the fact that Minnesota even made the playoffs this year is an accomplishment given its rocky start and beating the St. Louis Blues in the first round was no small feat either. At the same time, when the Wild signed Parise and Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, it was with the hope that would help turn them into serious Stanley Cup contenders. It was reasonable to assume that it would take time to build around them, especially seeing as the Wild still had a fair number of promising young players working their way up, but they’re three years in at this point.

“Right now we’re a good team and we have to find a way to be the best team,” Wild coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff.

Suter is 30 years old while Parise will turn 31 in July and in the young man’s NHL, that’s something worth keeping in mind, especially because their contracts are relics of the old CBA era. Parise and Suter’s deals are so long because it makes their annual cap hit more manageable early on, but that hit has the potential to look bad as they age and potentially play well below the roughly $7.5-million annual level. In other words, they were made to be beneficial in the short and mid-term, but had the potential to be significantly detrimental in the long-term.

That’s not to suggest that the Wild are already fading into the sunset, but they do have a specific window of opportunity with them and with each failed campaign, it’s getting smaller.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” Suter said. “We need to look at ourselves in the mirror.”

Despite stunning Wild finish, ‘Hawks eliminate them for third straight year

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The Minnesota Wild went into this series hoping this year would be different. After being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 and 2014 playoffs, Minnesota certainly seemed to be in a better position.

The Wild finished the season with a 28-9-3 run. They beat the Central Division winning St. Louis Blues in six games. They had more experience this time around. They weren’t dealing with goaltending injuries. Surely this year would be different.

No.

Chicago forwards Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp played at their typical high level while goaltender Corey Crawford successfully put his rough first round behind him. At the other end of the ice Devan Dubnyk, who got a Vezina Trophy nomination off the strength of his superb second half in 2014-15, couldn’t consistently hold his own against the Blackhawks.

In a last gasp, the Wild scored two goals in the final three minutes of play, but it was too late as their season ended with a 4-3 loss to Chicago. In the end, Marian Hossa’s shorthanded goal on an empty net proved to be the winner. Before that, Kane provided the Blackhawks with a key insurance goal midway through the third period:

Chicago has become the first team to eliminate the same opponent in three consecutive years since Toronto did that to Ottawa in 2000-02, per the NHL Communications Department.

This also means that the Blackhawks have advanced to the Western Conference Final for the fifth time in seven years. That’s a remarkable stretch of playoff success, especially in the salary cap era.

Questions remain for Chicago going forward, not the least of which is what its defense will look like if Michal Rozsival misses a lengthy period of time due to what looked like a pretty bad ankle injury. For now though, Chicago can take a breather as it waits to see who will emerge victorious from the series between Calgary and Anaheim.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.