Quenneville thinks Hossa ‘could be’ the next Jagr or Selanne

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CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, I took some heat for writing that Marian Hossa’s age would be a challenge for the Blackhawks in the coming years.

In reality, I meant it as a compliment. Hossa is 36. He can’t play forever, because nobody can. It’s the same argument I’ve made when it comes to Zdeno Chara in Boston.

Some players are so important to their teams that when they get to a certain age, it’s only natural (for me at least) to question how much longer they’ve got as elite players.

Well, last night, Hossa showed that he’s still capable of an elite performance. Even if he did miss an open net, the oldest forward on his team played the most of any forward (23:56). He also finished with two assists, including a perfect pass to set up Brandon Saad on a one-timer for the Blackhawks’ second goal.

So, given how he played, and given what I’d written, I asked coach Joel Quenneville today if he thought Hossa could be the next Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne, the rare forward that can play at a high level into his late 30s, or even into his 40s.

“He could be,” said Quenneville. “He loves the game. He does a nice job of taking care of himself, preparing so he can go into games and be great, do the best he can each and every night.

“He had the puck a lot last night. Had an outstanding chance early. Stayed with it. I thought that line was dangerous at times. He was very effective last night.”

For the record, I stand by my argument. Hossa proved last night that he remains a very good player. However, he also remains human. Among active players, only Jagr (202) has appeared in more playoff games than he has (191).

Hossa fans should take it as a compliment when people wonder how long he’s got left as a great player. It means his importance has been appreciated.

PHT Morning Skate: Messier gives McDavid advice on making the leap to the NHL

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Six-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier had a chance to give top prospect Connor McDavid some advice when the two met for the first time on Monday in Chicago. Messier passed along some advice that he learned from hanging out with Wayne Gretzky during their early years in Edmonton. Despite all the sponsorship, fan and media demands, Gretzky was always the most prepared come game time.

“Listen, I’m not trying to cram 40 years of experience down into one five-minute brief meeting, but I think it is important for him to know that he can say ‘no’ sometimes,” said Messier. (Sportsnet)

Jaromir Jagr has a story on why Mario Lemieux came out of retirement during the 2000-01 season. (Bar Down)

Here’s another look at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 3 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks:

Gordie Howe ‘comfortable and happy’ after second stem cell treatment. (The Hockey News)

Chicago’s Navy Pier salutes Blackhawks on ferris wheel. (Puck Daddy)

So far, contract talk is all about term for Panthers, Huberdeau

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Despite missing the playoffs, the Florida Panthers made some nice strides in 2014-15, and Jonathan Huberdeau was a big part of that climb. Now the two sides need to determine how his next contract will go.

At 22, Huberdeau is a restricted free agent. The leverage is largely on Florida’s side, even considering the fact that the young forward led the team in scoring by ten points with a career-high 54.

As the third pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, the belief is that Huberdeau will only get better from here. So what kind of price is right?

It turns out that the biggest issue is actually term, or at least that contract talks won’t really kick off until the two sides agree on that direction. Panthers GM Dale Tallon told the Miami Herald that the team is pretty open-minded when it comes to the length of a deal.

“The biggest thing is agreeing on terms, and once we figure that out we’ll start talking numbers,” Tallon said. “We’re looking at a bridge [contract] or something a little longer or a long-term contract. We’re open to anything. We’ll get something done that’s best for both of us.”

His RFA status limits his leverage, yet at just 22, there are quite a few ways things can go. (A longer deal might not be so bad since he’s so far from unrestricted status.)

Aside from Brian Campbell’s notorious (and soon to expire) $7.14 million cap hit, the Panthers don’t boast a ton of big-money contracts (unless you count Roberto Luongo’s deal, which is more about term). That situation can change as Florida’s young players mature, so Huberdeau’s next contract could very well be the benchmark for other important pieces of the Panthers’ future.

Hanifin feels he has NHL ‘mindset,’ but won’t be ‘mad’ if he goes back to college

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CHICAGO — Noah Hanifin wants to play in the NHL next season. That’s his goal.

That being said, if he’s drafted by a team that feels he should spend a bit more time developing his game, he’ll take the team’s advice. The Boston College defensemen feels he’s ready, but he also knows the NHL is a different beast.

“Making that jump, you have to be very mature,” Hanifin said Monday. “In college, it’s fun and stuff, you’re playing with your buddies. For some guys, that’s kind of the end of it. They just want to get their degree. If you want to make that jump, you have to realize what you’re getting into. If you’re going to take someone’s spot, he could have a family, kids. It’s a big deal. It’s a business. That takes a while for some guys to grasp that idea.”

“I think I am at that mindset right now,” he added. “What I got at B.C. this year was great for me. I felt like I got a lot better. If a team wants me to go back and do that again, I’m not going to be mad about that. I’ll be happy to keep going back and working hard. I have plenty of time. I’m 18 years old.”

The list of 18-year-old defensemen who’ve had big seasons in the NHL is a fairly short one. Phil Housley did for the Sabres in 1982-83. Ditto for Bobby Orr with the Bruins in 1966-67. And, of course, Aaron Ekblad did it this past season for the Panthers.

“I like watching him a lot,” Hanifin said of Ekblad. “He’s an offensive defenseman, but he’s a big, strong guy. He played a ton of minutes in Florida. It just shows, if you have what it takes, you can do it at that age. It’s not impossible to do.”

But many of the top blue-liners you see playing today needed more seasoning. Duncan Keith, to name just one, was drafted in 2002; his first season with the Blackhawks wasn’t until 2005-06.

“No matter what happens, you have to have a belief in yourself,” said Hanifin. “You have to know everything happens for a reason.”

Related: Difference of opinion: Craig Button has Hanifin 12th on final draft rankings

PHT Morning Skate: Coach’s challenges and Brian Boyle’s hair

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Could Duncan Keith be the greatest Chicago Blackhawks defenseman ever? (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Coming soon to the NHL: the coach’s challenge? (The Hockey News)

This puppet rendition of Jaromir Jagr MIGHT give you nightmares. (Puck Daddy)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been rewarded for being patient regarding drafting Russian players, especially Nikita Kucherov. (Sportsnet)

Seriously, Jimmy Fallon (or at least one of his writers) really thinks that Brian Boyle looks like a Disney prince, most specifically “Alladin.” He argues as much in the Stanley Cup Superlatives: