Ryan Dadoun

Brandon Sutter

Canucks ink Brandon Sutter to five-year, $21.875 million extension

26 Comments

The Canucks believe recently acquired Brandon Sutter is a “foundation piece” and now they’ve ensured that he’ll be spending his prime years with the team.

Vancouver announced that Sutter has agreed to a five-year, $21.875 million contract extension. He still has a season remaining on his two-year, $6.6 million deal, so Sutter is now under Vancouver’s control through 2020-21.

Sutter, 26, is a two-way center that scored 21 goals and 33 points in 80 contests with Pittsburgh last season while playing primarily on the Penguins’ third line. He has 98 goals and 185 points in 495 career games.

The Canucks acquired him on July 28 along with a third-round draft pick in exchange for forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a second-round pick.

In Vancouver, Sutter is projected to play on the second line so that 20-year-old Bo Horvat is facing less pressure.

Poker star Daniel Negreanu plans to buy slice of Vegas franchise

Daniel Negreanu
7 Comments

Daniel Negreanu has made a fortune playing Poker and he plans to put some of that money towards buying a portion of Bill Foley’s Las Vegas NHL franchise.

Of course, that franchise doesn’t exist yet and while the league plans to focus exclusively on bids from Foley and Quebecor (Quebec City), there’s no guarantee that the NHL will expand at all in the near future. Still, Negreanu would put the odds of Las Vegas being granted a team — which he thinks should be called the Rat Pack — at 99.9%.

“I just don’t see it not happening,” he told the Toronto Sun. “We have a solid owner, an arena (nearing completion on the Strip with 17,500 seats for hockey) and we sold 13,000 season tickets.

“Vegas has 2.2 million people. It’s a sports town. We’ve been starving for a professional franchise of any kind for many years.”

Negreanu added that in addition to owning a stake in the franchise, he has interest in having a hockey talk show.

If Las Vegas gets a team, it’s possible that will begin play as early as 2016-17.

Related: Quebecor seeks partners in Quebec City bid

Seguin on 2014-15: ‘We felt we could outscore every team’

Tyler Seguin
11 Comments

The Dallas Stars already had a dynamic one-two punch in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin when they added Jason Spezza last summer. Having that trio leading the charge offensively created a lot of hype about the team going into the 2014-15 campaign and listening to Seguin, it sounds like they bought into it to their detriment.

“We felt we had all these top players, all this firepower that could score a ton of goals. Automatically in training camp we were scoring a ton, but we weren’t focusing on defense,” Seguin told Sportsnet.

“That’s not the on the coaches or GMs at all. That was all on us. We felt we could outscore every team.”

In their first eight games, the Stars had scored a remarkable 28 goals and yet they were still a so-so 4-2-2 because they had surrendered as many markers. Then their offense trailed off briefly and it became apparent they weren’t ready to win low scoring games. Through Dec. 31, the Stars had a 17-14-5 record, but had only won three times when scoring two or fewer goals. By that point they were ninth in goals scored (106) and the fourth worst team in goals allowed (117).

“We were scoring a lot but not winning games because we can’t play defense,” Seguin said. “Last year, our start was terrible. I don’t think we had the right attitude in training camp, and I think that’s going to be a huge stressing point [this] September.”

Dallas has once again had an active summer, adding forward Patrick Sharp, defensemen Johnny Oduya and Stephen Johns, and goaltender Antti Niemi. This is a team with plenty of potential, but they also have a lot to prove.

Looking to make the leap: Dylan Larkin

Dylan Larkin
5 Comments

Detroit has a reputation for letting its players over ripen in the minors before allowing them to crack the team’s roster, but how much of that is philosophy and how much of it is necessity?

As a consequence of making the playoffs every year and often trading the first-round pick, the reality is that the Red Wings have to draft projects rather than players that are close to being NHL-ready. They nearly missed the postseason in 2013-14 though and on top of that the New Jersey Devils were forced to drop to the 30th spot as punishment for their original attempt to sign Ilya Kovalchuk, which led to the Red Wings possessing the 15th overall selection — their highest since 1991.

The Red Wings took Dylan Larkin with that pick, a skilled forward and a potential fan favorite thanks to his Michigan roots. He attended the University of Michigan in 2014-15 as a freshman and recorded 15 goals and 47 points in 35 contests. Afterwards, he joined the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins for their playoff run, scoring three goals and five points in six games.

“Dylan did a real good job when he stepped in for us in the AHL playoffs,” then Griffins and current Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said, per NHL.com. “To step in and have the impact he had, he didn’t look good as a young player. He was good.

“How close is he? He’s certainly close. What does that mean come camp? We’ll see. Everybody takes different journeys to the get to the NHL. How quickly those journeys are depends on the player and the work they put in this summer.”

That being said, Red Wings GM Ken Holland is predicting that it will be tough for Larkin to make the opening game roster. Part of that is due to Detroit’s logjam up front as it already has 16 forwards signed to one-way contracts. Given that, it will be tough for any rookie to make the team.

Still, if one can break through, it would likely be Larkin.

It’s Detroit Red Wings Day at PHT

150805 mrazek
15 Comments

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Detroit Red Wings.

After Detroit just barely managed to squeak into the playoffs in 2013-14, it seemed reasonable to wonder if its longstanding postseason streak dating back to the 1990-91 campaign was drawing to a close. However, the Red Wings’ efforts to rebuild on the fly continued and at first it looked like they would far exceed expectations.

Detroit got off to a 17-6-5 start, prompting Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to call the ’14-15 squad their best team since they went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009. The following day Detroit began a six-game losing streak and while that wasn’t the start of a collapse for the Red Wings, it did illustrate that this was an inconsistent team.

Further complicating matters was the decline of goaltender Jimmy Howard, who posted a 2.99 GAA and .896 save percentage in 21 games after the all-star break. That prompted Detroit to lean on 23-year-old Petr Mrazek instead. The young netminder helped keep Detroit above water in the playoff race as its 43-25-14 record secured the squad a postseason berth by a four-point margin.

That set up a first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Mrazek starting between the pipes. Detroit held its own against the eventual Stanley Cup finalists and Mrazek certainly had his moments as he posted two shutouts and turned aside 15 of 16 shots in Game 7. The one shot that got by him was all it took though as Lightning netminder Ben Bishop denied all 31 of the Red Wings’ shots on goal.

And with that, Detroit suffered its second straight first-round exit.

Off-season recap

The Detroit Red Wings’ playoff appearance streak started well before Babcock took over as the Red Wings’ bench boss, but he kept that legacy going for another decade and now he’s gone. Following Babcock’s decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit appointed Jeff Blashill to serve as the team’s second bench boss since the start of the salary cap era.

He’s inherited a team with some talented young players, but also two superstars in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk that are in the twilight of their careers. On the plus side, GM Ken Holland has provided Blashill with some reinforcements to aide in his rookie campaign.

Detroit signed offensive defenseman Mike Green to a three-year deal, $18 million deal and added veteran center Brad Richards to a one-year contract. Both could prove to be valuable additions with Green aiding Detroit with the man advantage and providing them with a right-handed shot from the blueline while Richards might serve on the second-line, allowing Datsyuk (once he’s healthy) and Zetterberg to play together.

With those additions, Detroit will attempt to build on its 2014-15 run and win its first playoff series since 2013.