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Red Wings updates: Meeting with Athanasiou, Kronwall on the mend

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If nothing else, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland will fly, er, go the extra mile to try to settle things with RFA Andreas Athanasiou.

Holland flew to Toronto for a face-to-face meeting with Athanasiou on Saturday, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.

St. James passes along some reasonably optimistic updates from Athanasiou’s camp and also reports that the two sides have discussed deals that would last either one or two years. (The two-year version would carry a $1.9 million cap hit, according to St. James. This would make some sense in that it would parallel what the Calgary Flames gave Sam Bennett.)

There’s clearly still some work to do, especially with the KHL leering as at least a minor threat, yet this seems to be fairly positive.

The overall picture for the Red Wings is gloomy heading into 2017-18, however, because of updates like these.

It’s good that Jeff Blashill isn’t too concerned about Niklas Kronwall, although you must wonder if there’s a hint of resignation in such an update.

Sad or at least halfway-negative updates may simply be a way of life for the Red Wings when it comes to the health of Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.

Actually, one cannot help but wonder if the Kronwall and Athanasiou scenarios could even blend together.

What if, say, the Red Wings put Kronwall on LTIR, thus opening up some extra space to squeeze Athanasiou under the cap? Kronwall’s $4.75M cap hit runs for two more seasons, and the impression is that he’s legitimately not so healthy.

The counterpoints are pretty natural, especially if the Red Wings really aren’t accepting the likely reality that they’re not really a viable playoff team any longer. If they continue to fight that probability, then they’d want Kronwall to nurse a shaky defensive unit to a slightly higher level, even if it means dealing with him being in and out of the lineup for health reasons.

If nothing else, it would be refreshing to see the Red Wings apply some creative thinking to their many issues, as the status quo seems pretty glum at times.

At least there’s that shiny new arena …

Stanley Cup odds: Penguins open training camp as favorites to win again

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With NHL training camps opening this week the folks at Bovada released their latest Stanley Cup odds for the 2017-18 season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins open up as the odds on favorites (7/1) to win the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.

No team has won three Stanley Cups in a row since the early 1980s New York Islanders.

The Penguins underwent a lot of changes this offseason, losing Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, and Ron Hainsey off of their roster while, to this point, only adding Matt Hunwick, Ryan Reaves and Antti Niemi. They still have pretty big openings at their third-and fourth-line center spots. But they are still returning a great team overall and will be getting a healthy Kris Letang back after he missed the second half of the 2016-17 season and all of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup playoff run, as well as a full season from playoff standout Jake Guentzel.

Just behind the Penguins are the Edmonton Oilers who open as 9/1 favorites to win, the Chicago Blackhawks at 12/1, the Dallas Stars at 12/1 and the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals all at 14/1.

It’s a little surprising to see the Blackhawks so high given their questionable depth and the fact they haven’t been out of the first round of the playoffs in back-to-back years. The Dallas Stars are once again hyped up following a busy offseason full of blockbuster moves but it remains to be seen if this will be the year their performance on the ice matches the preseason hype.

The Detroit Red Wings, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Las Vegas Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks all open up with the worst odds at 100/1.

Here are the complete odds, via Bovada.

Pittsburgh Penguins —  7/1
Edmonton Oilers — 9/1
Chicago Blackhawks — 12/1
Dallas Stars — 12/1
Anaheim Ducks — 14/1
Nashville Predators — 14/1
Tampa Bay Lightning — 14/1
Toronto Maple Leafs — 14/1
Washington Capitals — 14/1
Minnesota Wild — 18/1
New York Rangers — 18/1
Columbus Blue Jackets — 20/1
Montreal Canadiens — 20/1
Los Angeles Kings — 22/1
Boston Bruins — 25/1
Calgary Flames — 25/1
San Jose Sharks — 25/1
St. Louis Blues — 28/1
Florida Panthers — 40/1
Ottawa Senators — 40/1
New York Islanders — 50/1
Philadelphia Flyers — 50/1
Winnipeg Jets — 50/1
Buffalo Sabres — 66/1
Carolina Hurricanes — 66/1
Detroit Red Wings — 100/1
Arizona Coyotes — 100/1
Colorado Avalanche — 100/1
Las Vegas Golden Knights — 100/1
New Jersey Devils — 100/1
Vancouver Canucks — 100/1

Devils sign Severson for six years, $25 million

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New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero wrapped up a pretty busy offseason on Monday morning with the report that the team has signed restricted free agent defenseman Damon Severson to a six-year contract.

The contract will pay him a total of $25 million.

Following the trade of Adam Larsson to Edmonton last summer, Severson took on a significantly larger role on the Devils’ blue line this season. He became a 20-minute per night play and basically replaced Larsson’s role and production on defense.

He appeared in 80 games for the Devils, averaging more than 20 minutes of ice-time per game, and scoring three goals to go with 28 assists. He is only 23 years old so he should just now be entering the prime of his career for the Devils. The contract might look like a bit of an overpay in the beginning, but if he continues on his current path and takes another step forward this year it should be a fair long-term deal for both Severson and the team.

With Severson’s deal now completed the Devils can enter training camp this week wrapping up a strong offseason that has seen them add Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle, Drew Stafford, and the top pick in the draft, Nico Hischier.

Now that Severson is signed the top remaining restricted free agents are David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins), Marcus Foligno (Minnesota Wild), Nikita Zadorov (Colorado Avalanche) and Andreas Athanasiou (Detroit Red Wings).

Agent: Parenteau accepts PTO with Red Wings

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After splitting time between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators last season, P.A. Parenteau has another opportunity in front of him.

The veteran forward will attend Detroit Red Wings training camp on a professional tryout, agent Allan Walsh announced via Twitter on Wednesday evening.

The Red Wings have since announced the deal, while confirming that they have signed forward David Booth to a PTO, as well.

Parenteau is now 34 years old. A two-time 20-goal scorer during his career, Parenteau had 13 goals and 27 points with the Devils before he was acquired by the Predators ahead of their playoff run.

He recorded one assist in eight regular season games with Nashville and appeared in five post-season games.

The Red Wings, who are currently facing a salary cap crunch, have 11 forwards under contract for the upcoming season, per CapFriendly.

That doesn’t include restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou, who reportedly also has offers from teams in the KHL.

There is expected to be added competition for roster spots up front for Detroit when training camp opens, after standout AHL playoff performances from Tomas Nosek, Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov put them in position to perhaps crack the NHL roster in October.

Report: Athanasiou KHL rumors persist, Sam Bennett could go overseas too

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TSN’s Darren Dreger provided two updates that sound pretty unsettling for the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames when it comes to their respective negotiations with RFAs Andreas Athanasiou and Sam Bennett respectively.

Athanasiou, 23, has seen his name float around in KHL rumors already this summer, in part because the Red Wings are in such a tight cap situation.

Well, the bad news is that the rumblings are only growing stronger that he might go overseas, according to Dreger.

Ouch. Dreger’s report gets backup about the “probability” of a departure to the KHL here by the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James.

Interestingly, Dreger also reports that Bennett is considering going overseas – though not necessarily to the KHL, although that might be the ideal option – because there’s a “sizable gap” between what Bennett and the Flames see as an appropriate deal.

There are some differences between the two players. Athanasiou is 23 and was a fourth-rounder; Bennett is 21 and was the fourth overall pick in 2014.

Even so, they’re both RFAs without a ton of leverage, and they likely believe that modest numbers set in 2016-17 are only the tip of the iceberg for their skill-sets.

As a fun coincidence, each player is from Ontario. This is a generalization, but in many situations, it’s more common for an international player to ponder going overseas – sometimes close to their birthplaces – when contract talks stall. This happens less frequently with North American players in the very beginning of their primes, at least when they have the choice.

In the case of Bennett in particular, such a contract might be modeled a lot like lockout-era deals, where he can get released from a pact if he comes to terms with the Flames.

For the Red Wings, they risk losing a speedy, if a bit raw, talent on a roster that could use more youthful optimism. The Flames have their sights set higher, so it would sting to be without Bennett, especially if he takes a much-anticipated leap forward to become a true difference-maker.

Stay tuned.