Dennis Seidenberg

PHT Morning Skate: Lindholm on Viking clap; Malkin eyeing Saturday return

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Elias Lindholm on returning to Carolina for the first time since mocking the Hurricanes’ Viking clap after a February game: “I don’t know if I would have done it again. But it just happened. That time I got some heat for the fans in Carolina after the trade because I didn’t want to sign there. They booed twice during the game, and then I went up to Dougie (Hamilton) there and we were hitting each other with crosschecks here and there at the end of the game. I was kind of fired up and went with the flow.” [Sportsnet]

Evgeni Malkin returned to Penguins practice on Monday and hopes to be back in the lineup for their Saturday afternoon game against the Oilers. [Tribune-Review]

• Dennis Seidenberg has retired after 15 NHL seasons and is joining the Islanders as part of their player development staff. [Islanders]

• Are we witnessing Jonathan Drouin’s breakout year? [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

• Former Sabres head coach and current Coyotes assistant Phil Housley is happy for the team’s success this season, but isn’t looking into the past. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

Connor Carrick of the Devils will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. [Devils]

Logan Couture on the Sharks’ scoring issues: “That’s been a story this season, we aren’t finishing. I can’t be sitting at one goal right now. (Hertl) is at three, Timo’s at two. We’ve got to score some more goals. We’re at 12 games in and I can’t be sitting at one goal.” [NBC Sports Bay Area]

• Paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, Ryan Straschnitzk is heading to Thailand later this week for surgery that could help restore some of his movement. [Airdrie Today via CP]

• Would Eugene Melnyk ever sell the Senators? [Spector’s Hockey]

• An early season examination of the Panthers. [Panthers Parkway]

• Duante Abercrombie is taking the next step toward his NHL coaching dream with an assistant gig with NCAA Division III Stevenson University. [NHL.com]

• A look at some of the big summer moves that have yet to pay off. [Featurd]

• Joel Farabee has been impressing his Flyers teammates since being recalled from the AHL. [Inquirer]

• Goalies are the focus in this week’s fantasy hockey report. [RotoWorld]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Seidenberg says trade rumors were ‘a slap in the face’

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Suffice to say Dennis Seidenberg wasn’t happy about hearing his name in trade talks this summer.

“If I had heard it from the GM then I would have been concerned, but the thing that bothered me was that people even talked about it. That’s kind of a slap in the face. It means you’re not playing your best, and you obviously want to play to a level where people don’t question you,” Seidenberg told the Boston Herald. “On the other hand, you have to focus on your own game and not worry about what people say. If it comes from the top, then you have to be worried about it, but I’ve never heard anything.

“I’ve read it and I saw it, but at the end of the day, I have to focus on what I have to do.”

Seidenberg, 34, is coming off an up-and-down campaign, his first full season since tearing his ACL in ’13-14. His play, age and cap hit — $4 million through 2018 — led many to speculate he could be on his way out of town, especially with the B’s pressed so close to the cap ceiling.

Trade fires were further stoked when, just prior to March’s trade deadline, Seidenberg said he’d waive his no-trade clause if asked. A few months later, he again responded to trade rumblings, this time insisting he wanted to stay in Boston.

Since then, much has changed on the Bruins’ defense.

Dougie Hamilton was traded to Calgary, Matt Bartkowski signed in Vancouver and when the dust settled, Seidenberg emerged as a key component of a defense that looks to be comprised of himself, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Matt Irwin.

So now, the veteran German rearguard can focus on taking those trade rumors and using them as fuel for a bounce-back campaign.

“You never like people to write those kinds of things about you,” he said. “It just means that you have to work harder and do better.”

Bruins’ biggest question: Is the blue line good enough?

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It was no coincidence that the Bruins missed the playoffs after trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders in October.

Boychuk’s departure left a big hole in Boston’s top four, one that became even more pronounced when Zdeno Chara was injured a short time later.

Now consider that young Dougie Hamilton is gone from the B’s, too. Last season, Hamilton led all Boston d-men with 42 points in 72 games, while logging an average of 21:20 per game.

Minus Boychuk and Hamilton, the Bruins have been left with Chara, who’s 38, Dennis Seidenberg, who’s 34, plus Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller.

Of those nine defensemen, only two — Chara and Seidenberg, neither young anymore — have ever averaged more than 20 minutes per game in a full NHL season.

Hence, the ongoing speculation that GM Don Sweeney will sign a veteran free agent, someone like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, or Marek Zidlicky. (The B’s were believed to be in talks with Mike Green, before he signed with Detroit.)

But regardless if that happens or not, expect the Bruins to make some tweaks to their system.

“At times, we probably got a little bit too stationary on our breakouts,” Sweeney said, per the Boston Globe. “We need to be in motion a little bit.”

Of course, for any system to be successful, it needs the right horses. And as it stands today, the Bruins’ stable of defensemen is more questionable than it’s been in quite some time.

Related: Vote on whether the Bruins’ Stanley Cup window has closed

Bruins in talks with veteran d-man Zidlicky

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Per TVA, Boston GM Don Sweeney said he’s had discussions about bringing defenseman Marek Zidlicky to Boston.

Zidlicky, 38, split last year between New Jersey and Detroit, and showed relatively well upon getting dealt to the playoff-bound Wings. He had 11 points in 21 regular season games — averaging over 18 minutes a night — but was a bit of a disappointment in the playoffs, going scoreless in the first six games of the Tampa Bay series before missing Game 7 with an injury.

The former Wild and Predators blueliner has played each of the last two seasons on one-year, $3 million deals with an additional $1M in performance bonuses.

In Boston, Zidlicky would provide even more veteran experience to a group that already includes 38-year-old Zdeno Chara and 34-year-old Dennis Seidenberg. He’d also fill some of the offensive and PP duties that Dougie Hamilton had prior to his trade to Calgary.

While some are clamoring for the B’s to go younger to fill the Hamilton void — like, say, still-unsigned UFA Cody Franson — Zidlicky would likely be a cheaper option, and one seeking less term.

Related: B’s among five or six teams in on Franson, who’s ‘sick of doing one-year deals’

B’s among five or six teams in on Franson, who’s ‘sick of doing one-year deals’

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One of the biggest fish left in free agency says more than a few lines have been cast his way.

Cody Franson, the 27-year-old UFA defenseman that’s still yet to sign, says he’s been speaking with five or six teams about possibly signing — a group that includes the Boston Bruins.

“With the trade they made with [Dougie] Hamilton and some of the other stuff they’ve done, they’re one of the teams that we’re in talks with,” Franson told TSN 1040 Vancouver on Tuesday. “Boston would be an interesting spot. It’s obviously an awesome city, and they’ve got a great organization and all those things that come with it.”

It’s not surprising Boston’s in the mix. The club’s blueline has been badly depleted since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 — gone from that team are Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Matt Bartkowski. That’s left the B’s in a rather precarious spot; if the season started today, Boston’s top-four would be comprised of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid.

Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin would (presumably) be battling for spots Nos. 5 and 6.

Franson’s also a good fit to replace Hamilton. Both are rangy, right-hand shots with offensive upside… thing is, it might not work financially. The Bruins have just under $5 million in available cap space, and it sounds like Franson is looking for a deal with a fair amount of money — and something more long-term.

“Obviously, I’d like to get something a little more than one year,” he said. “I’m sick of doing one-year deals.”

Per an earlier report from PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban, it’s believed Pittsburgh and Buffalo are also interested in Franson.