Looking to make the leap: Dylan Larkin

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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.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.