Get your game notes: Red Wings at Blackhawks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

MATCHUP/TOP STORYLINES

• Both 3rd in their respective divisions…CHI has 2 more points this season but has played 2 more games.

• Top PP (DET) vs. top PK (CHI)…1st meeting of season: DET 0-3 on PP (4-1 home win on Nov. 14)

• Last game: On Monday night, DET lost to MTL, 2-0…On Sunday afternoon, CHI beat PIT, 2-1 (SO).

• Tonight DET-CHI meet for the 729th time in the reg.-season – tying BOS-MTL for most in NHL history.

• Before DET was relocated to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season, DET and CHI were in the same division for 31 consecutive seasons, most recently together in the Central Division from 1993-2013.

• DET minor slump only sees a tougher road ahead…1 week ago the Wings were considered one of, if not the, hottest team in the league having won 9 of 10…since last Wednesday however:

• DET: 3-game losing streak (0-2-1)

• Worst stretch since dropping 6 straight in mid-December (0-2-4).

• DET last lost consecutive games in regulation back on Mar. 25 & 27, 2014.

• Despite the slump, the Wings are still well positioned in the Atlantic but face a brutal upcoming schedule:

• Detroit is through 3 games of a 12-game stretch in which it faces 10 teams currently in a playoff position, including 3 of the top 5 teams in the NHL (NSH, MTL, ANA).

• Tonight’s game is the start of a 6-game road trip (ties a season high) where DET will leave the Midwest and head west (@ DAL next on Saturday) before a California trip through ANA, LA & SJ, and then close out the stretch at league-leading NSH…DET is not home again until Mar. 4 vs. NYR.

• Who is in net for DET?…Last Wednesday, All-Star selection Jimmy Howard returned for the Wings, after injuring his groin back on Jan. 10 (missed 10 games), when he played the 3rd period at PIT for Petr Mrazek, who was pulled (4 GA). Howard has started DET’s 2 games since and fared much better in his 2nd start: vs. WPG on Sat.: 4 GA on 38 shots (5-4 SO loss) vs. MTL on Mon.: 1 GA on 28 shots (2-0 loss)

• Mrazek, who started all of Detroit’s games while Howard was out, has been sent back down to Grand Rapids (AHL) after going 8-2-0 with a 2.78 GAA since Jan. 13.

• Hawks 2-0-2 so far on the home stand: Tonight CHI plays its 5th gm of a season-high (and long; 16-day) 8-gm home stand…CHI got off to a poor start with consecutive losses, though both in extra time (to AZ & VAN), but has won 2 straight & looks for its first 3-gm win streak since running off 8 straight wins from Nov. 26 – Dec. 11.

• Central Division scope: Though the Hawks have points in 6 straight games (4-0-2 record), reaching 1st place in the Central is looking increasingly less likely.

DETROIT TEAM/PLAYER NOTE

• DET ranks first in the league on the power-play at 26.0%. The Wings PP goal streak of 5-games was snapped vs. MTL but they are still 7-for-their-last-20 (35.0%) over the last 6 games.

• Tomas Tatar has 7 points (2G-5A) over his last 6 games.

• Tatar has 41 points in 55 GP this season (23G-18A) establishing new career highs in goals & points.

• Henrik Zetterberg has 51 points (19G-32A) in 53 career games vs. CHI

• No active player has ever scored more goals in a Red Wings uniform against CHI than Zetterberg.

• His 51 points are the 3rd-most among active players vs. CHI (D. Legwand – 62, R. Nash – 52)

• Pavel Datsyuk has 7 pts (2G-5A) in his last 7 games including a 3-point performance (2G-1A) vs. WPG on Sat.

• Datsyuk is in the top-3 on the team in goals, assists & points despite playing just 44 of the team’s 55 games.

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Chicago has the league’s best penalty kill at 87.9%. The team is 14-for-15 on the PK (93.3%) in the last 8 games.

• Patrick Kane has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games and ranks 1st in the NHL in scoring with 63 points.

• No American has ever won the Art Ross Trophy, and only one American (Billy Burch from Yonkers, NY in 1925 playing for the Hamilton Tigers) has won the Hart Trophy as league MVP (Kane is from Buffalo, NY)

• Stan Mikita in 1968-69 was the last Blackhawk to lead the league in scoring.

• Marian Hossa was held without a point vs. PIT snapping a 4-game goal/point streak in which he had 8 points (7 goals) including 3 straight 2-goal games to begin the stretch.

• Hossa became the 6th Blackhawk all-time with a multi-goal game in 3 straight team games of one season.

• Hossa’s performance last week earned him the NHL’s first star of the week.

• Back in 2008-09, Hossa had 71 points (40G-31A) as a member of the Red Wings. Hossa signed with DET as a free agent, lost to PIT in the SCF that season, then signed a 12-year deal with Chicago, where he has been ever since.

• Career vs. DET: 27 points (11G-16A) in 33 games.

• 19 points (5G-14A) in 22 games vs. DET since 2009-10.

• Jonathan Toews has 5 points (1G-4A) during a 4-game point streak after going the 4 previous games without a point.

• Career vs. DET: 25 points (11G-14A) in 34 games.

• Brandon Saad has 4 points (1G-3A) during a 3-game point streak and 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games.

• Saad needs 2 goals to tie his career high of 19 set last season.

• Patrick Sharp, last season’s team leader in goals (34) & points (78), has been quiet lately (0 points in last 5 games) but has 35 career points (16G-19A) vs. DET (46 GP)…Sharp scored the shootout winner vs. PIT after Toews & Kane made their attempts.

• Since returning from a foot injury which kept him out for 3 weeks (occurred Dec. 1), Corey Crawford has finally gotten back on track:

Golden Knights sign defenseman Engelland to one-year deal

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LAS VEGAS (AP) The Vegas Golden Knights signed defenseman Deryk Engelland on Tuesday to a one-year deal for the upcoming season.

The contract includes a $700,000 base salary and incentives that could bring the total value of the deal to $1.5 million.

The 37-year-old Engelland played in 74 games last season and finished with 12 points and 18 penalty minutes. He set career-marks with 152 blocked shots and 165 hits.

The Knights took Engelland during the 2017 expansion draft.

The team also acquired goaltender Garret Sparks from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward David Clarkson and a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NHL entry draft.

Trade: Clarkson contract back to Toronto; Vegas opens up space

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Nostalgia is in the air, as “The Lion King” remake is in theaters, so maybe it’s time to cue “The Circle of Life.”

In a peculiar bit of salary cap management, David Clarkson – er, David Clarkson’s contract – and the Toronto Maple Leafs are back together again. While Garret Sparks goes to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Maple Leafs receive a fourth-round pick for their troubles.

Maple Leafs get: Clarkson’s contract ($5.25M for one more season), Vegas 2020 fourth-round pick.

Golden Knights receive: Cap relief even though they were going to send Clarkson to LTIR; a decent goalie consideration with Garret Sparks.

This is all about cap and asset management for both teams.

Clarkson was headed to LTIR whether his contract stayed in Vegas or matriculated to Toronto, and now his deal can be neighbors with Nathan Horton after they were exchanged. The Maple Leafs still have some work to do, naturally, as they need to fit Mitch Marner into the mix. The numbers might melt your brain a bit.

The Golden Knights still need to sort out their own issues with Nikita Gusev lingering as a fascinating RFA, and that resolution hasn’t come yet. In the meantime, or maybe instead, the Golden Knights took advantage of extra wiggle room to bring back veteran (and Vegas-loving) defenseman Deryk Engelland for a cheap deal.

Depth goaltending also buzzed around these moves.

Again, Sparks represents an interesting consideration for Vegas, as Malcolm Subban hasn’t been an unqualified solution as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup. Perhaps Sparks would end up prevailing after both of their contracts expire following the 2019-20 season?

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs opened up room for a depth option as well, as they confirmed that Michal Neuvirth has been invited to training camp on a PTO.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

It kind of makes you want to dig up that Charlie Kelly mailroom conspiracy board to try to cover all the ins and outs, but the bigger picture takeaway is that the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights continue to work on their cap conundrums, and this trade was really just another step in the process.

At least it was a pretty odd and funny step, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Predators are being bold with term; are they being smart?

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If nothing else, the Nashville Predators aren’t afraid to be bold.

In a vacuum, the Colton Sissons signing isn’t something that will make or break the Predators’ future. That seven-year, $20 million contract has inspired some fascinating debates, but the most interesting questions arise around GM David Poile’s larger team building, and his courageous decisions.

As we’ve seen, Poile doesn’t just lock up obvious core players to term, he frequently gives supporting cast players unusual security, too.

This signing seems like a good excuse to dive into the Predators’ biggest offseason decisions, and also ponder maybe the biggest one of all: what to do with captain Roman Josi, whose bargain contract will only last for one more season.

The interlocking P.K. Subban, Matt Duchene, Roman Josi situation

By any reasonable estimate, the Predators got hosed in getting such a small return for Subban in that deal with the Devils.

Of course, the Predators’ goal wasn’t necessarily to get a great return for Subban, but instead to get rid of Subban’s $9M to (most directly) sign Matt Duchene, and maybe eventually provide more leeway to extend Josi.

There was some argument to trading away Subban, as at 30, there’s a risk that his $9M AAV could become scary.

The thing is, the Predators only seemed to expose themselves to greater risks. It remains to be seen if Matt Duchene will be worth $8M, even right away, and he’s already 28. Roman Josi turned 29 in June, so if Josi’s cap hit is comparable to Subban’s — and it could be a lot higher if Josi plays the market right — then the Predators would take even bigger risks on Josi. After all, Josi’s next contract will begin in 2020-21, while Subban’s is set to expire after 2021-22.

So, in moving on from Subban to Duchene and/or Josi, the Predators are continuing to make big gambles that they’re right. Even if Subban really was on the decline, at least his deal isn’t going on for that much longer. Nashville’s instead chosen one or maybe two even riskier contracts at comparable prices, really rolling the dice that they’re not painting themselves into a corner.

There’s also the scenario where Josi leaves Nashville, and things could get pretty dizzying from there.

Even if you look at it as a Matt Duchene for P.K. Subban trade alone, that’s not necessarily a guaranteed “win” for Nashville. It’s all pretty bold, though.

[This post goes into even greater detail about trading Subban, and the aftermath.]

Lots of term

Nashville doesn’t have much term locked in its goalies Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, which is wise, as goalies are very tough to predict. Those risks are instead spread out to a considerable number of skaters, and Poile’s crossing his fingers that he’s going to find the sweet spot with veterans, rather than going all that heavy on youth.

The long-term plan has frequently been fruitful for the Predators, as Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25M for five more seasons) and Filip Forsberg ($6M for three more seasons) rank as some of the best bargains in the NHL. Josi’s $4M is right up there, though that fun ride ends after 2019-20.

Your mileage varies when you praise the overall work, though, because some savings are offset by clunkers. It stings to spend $10.1M in combined cap space on Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino, especially since $16M for Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen ranks somewhere between “the price of doing business” and “bad.”

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

So that’s the thing with locking down supporting cast members. It’s nice to have a defensive forward who seemingly moves the needle like Colton Sissons seems to do …

… Yet is he a bit of an extravagance at $2.857M per year? Again, that’s a matter of debate.

The uncomfortable truth is that, if the Predators are wrong about enough of these deals, then it’s that much tougher to wiggle your way out of mistakes. Yes, maybe the Predators can move Sissons if he slides, but you risk falling behind the pack if you lose value propositions too often.

Will that be the case with the Predators? We’ll have to wait and see, and the most fascinating test cases come down the line. If it doesn’t work out next year, in particular, then things could pretty uncomfortable, pretty quickly.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sissons, Predators agree to seven-year, $20 million deal

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We see long-term deals with high annual average values.

We see short-term deals with lower annual average values.

But rarely do we see long-term deals with low annual average values. Like less than $3 million low.

Yet, despite the rarity of such a pact, David Poile and the Nashville Predators have become some sort of trendsetters in getting plays to sign lengthy deals worth a pittance annually.

Colton Sissons becomes the second in the past three years to sign on with the Predators long-term at a small AVV. Sissons new deal, avoiding arbitration, is a seven-year contract worth $20 million — an AAV of $2.85 million.

“Colton will be an important part of our team for the next seven seasons, and we are happy he has made a long-term commitment to our organization and the city the Nashville,” Poile said. “He’s a heart and soul player who is versatile and can fill many important roles on our team, including on the penalty kill and power play. His offensive production has increased each season, and he remains an integral part of our defensive structure down the middle of the ice. Colton is also an up-and-coming leader in our organization, which is something we value strongly.”

Poile seems to have no issue signing depth guys to lengthy deals. In 2016, he signed Calle Jarnkork to a six-year deal worth $12 million. In fact, he’s the only general manager to pull of such moves.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Both players have chosen security over maximizing earning potential.

Sissons, 25, had a career-year last season, scoring 15 goals and 30 points in 75 games.

His AAV is in the ballpark of what was projected. Evolving Wild’s model had him making $2.65 million. What wasn’t foreseen is that term.

EW’s model projected a three-year contract for Sissons with a 30.2 percent probability of coming to fruition. But what percentage of chance did EW give a seven-year contract? 0.4 percent.

Anything is possible, kids.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck