Dallas signs Jason Spezza to four-year, $30 million extension


The Dallas Stars have inked Jason Spezza to a four-year, $30 million contract extension, according to the Dallas Morning News and TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The Stars are expected to make the news official today. (Update: It’s official.)

Spezza’s $7.5 million annual cap hit will represent a mild increase over his current average salary of $7 million in his expiring seven-year deal. The cap hit will put him on par with Pavel Datsyuk and Steven Stamkos, although Stamkos’ contract will expire in the summer of 2016 and he’s expected to get a substantial raise in his new deal. Spezza also comes with a marginally higher cap hit than Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan and Boston’s David Krejci, who will both make an average of $7.25 million annually in their seven and six-year deals respectively that start in 2015-16.

The 31-year-old forward was acquired by the Dallas Stars in the summer of 2014 after he demanded to be traded out of Ottawa. The Stars sent Alex Chiasson, Ludwig Karlsson, Nicholas Paul, Alexander Guptill, and a 2015 second round draft pick to the Senators in order to acquire him. The hope was that Spezza could help take the Stars to the next level after they were eliminated in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.

Dallas has gotten off to a rough 7-9-4 start this season, but Spezza has largely lived up to expectations with four goals and 18 points in 20 games.

Spezza is currently projected to be consume the largest cap hit of any Stars’ player in 2015-16 and that’s a title he might hold for a couple years as Tyler Seguin comes with a $5.75 million cap hit through 2018-19 and Jamie Benn can’t get a raise from his current average salary of $5.25 million until his current deal expires in the summer of 2017.


Here’s Stars GM Jim Nill in a release:

“Jason is a world-class player and his commitment to the organization is a reflection of what we are building in Dallas. The professionalism and production he brings to our group is key for our success moving forward and we value the leadership he brings to our team.”

Datsyuk out again with groin injury


Pavel Datsyuk is too hurt to play.


Red Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed to reporters that Datsyuk will miss tonight’s game in Columbus. Veteran forward Dan Cleary will apparently draw into the lineup.

Datsyuk, 36, has appeared in just 10 of Detroit’s 17 games this season. He missed the first five with a separated shoulder. Then, after returning for seven, he missed two more with a groin injury, before returning again.

It’s that same groin issue that will reportedly keep him out of the lineup tonight.

The Red Wings also play Thursday in Winnipeg.

Datsyuk back for tonight’s big clash vs. Chicago

Pasha’s back.

On Friday, Pavel Datsyuk will return from a two-game absence when Detroit takes on Chicago in the latest installment of a heated rivalry. Datsyuk, who’s missed the last two games with a groin ailment, has only played eight games this season (he was dealing with a shoulder problem earlier) but has been electric when in the lineup, scoring five goals and 10 points while averaging over 19 minutes per night.

He’s probably looking forward to getting a shot at Chicago.

The 36-year-old has faced the Blackhawks 61 times over his career and has fared quite well, with 15 goals and 47 points. Tonight also represents one of the rare times the two teams meet under the NHL’s new alignment; a storied rivalry, Red Wings-Blackhawks doesn’t happen as often as it used to now that the clubs are in opposite conferences — but that doesn’t mean the matchup is any less significant.

“Really excited, really looking forward to playing Chicago,” Tomas Tatar said, per the Free Press. “They have a really good team, so it’s nice to play against them. And I think, for our fans, it’s huge, too.

“We have big rivalry.”

Injured again, Datsyuk hopes to be ready for Friday


Only six days ago, we did a PHT Extra about the Detroit Red Wings’ impressive start to the season, which had been led by star forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

It did come with one caveat, though.

“The only thing,” I said, “you just gotta keep your fingers crossed that these two can stay healthy.”

Well, apparently not enough of you crossed your fingers, because Datsyuk, 36, has missed the last two games with a groin injury.

“I don’t know when Pavel’s coming back, if he’s coming back,” coach Mike Babcock said over the weekend. “I don’t know what’s going on there. I just try to have the best lineup I can.”

The good news? The Wings don’t play again until Friday versus Chicago, and per the Detroit News, Datsyuk is hoping to be ready to go by then.

From the News:

Datsyuk said the groin was bothering him “a little bit” on the three-game road trip last week, but really was a concern during Friday’s morning skate.

“It happened so fast,” said Datsyuk, who believed it was the right call to get off the ice and even miss a couple games, in hopes of remaining healthy long-term.

The Red Wings are off Tuesday and will skate again Wednesday, and Datsyuk plans to go full force in that workout.

“It’s hard to say when I will get back, but I felt good (Monday),” Datsyuk said. “I didn’t skate full (out) but at least now I can skate. We’ll see what happens Wednesday.”

Datsyuk has only played eight games this season. He missed the first five after separating his shoulder in the preseason. Don’t be surprised if his health is a story all season, given the trend.

Injuries limited both Datsyuk and 34-year-old Zetterberg to just 45 games each in 2013-14.

Via TSN, here’s Datsyuk’s injury log since 2011:

Nov 07, 2014 Groin, day-to-day.
Oct 21, 2014 Missed 5 games (separated right shoulder).
Apr 04, 2014 Missed 16 games (sore right knee).
Feb 06, 2014 Missed 14 games (lower body injury).
Dec 10, 2013 Missed 7 games (head injury).
Feb 17, 2013 Missed 1 game (shoulder injury).
Mar 17, 2012 Missed 11 games (arthroscopic knee surgery).
Jan 12, 2012 Missed 1 game (lower body injury).
Apr 03, 2011 Missed 7 games (lower body injury).
Feb 07, 2011 Missed 3 games (hand injury).
Jan 28, 2011 Missed 16 games (broken right hand).

Get your game notes: Red Wings at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• NYR has lost its past two games, both in shootouts (1-0 vs. WPG last Saturday and 4-3 on Monday against STL). The Rangers have several key absences to their blueline, as 4 of their 6 opening night defensemen were out of the lineup for Monday’s game against STL.

• Captain D Ryan McDonagh separated his shoulder in last Saturday’s loss to WPG. He is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

• Veteran D Dan Boyle broke his hand in the first game of the season and remains sidelined.

• D Kevin Klein was also injured in the Jets game. Klein suffered a foot contusion blocking a shot and is considered day-to-day.

• D John Moore will serve the 3rd game of his 5-game suspension after last week’s illegal hit on MIN F Erik Haula.

• This has forced many NYR defensemen into new roles:

— D Conor Allen, 24, was recalled from Hartford (AHL) on Nov. 2 and played in his 4th career NHL game on Monday, logging 13:03 TOI. Allen signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 following his career at the University of Massachusetts.

— D Dylan McIlrath, 22, was also recalled last Sunday, and played 8:02 against STL – his 3rd career game. He was NYR’s 1st round pick (10th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft.

— D Mike Kostka has more NHL experience (66 career GP), but also began the season in the AHL. Kostka also played at UMass, and is now on his 4th NHL team in his 3rd season.

— D Matt Hunwick began the season as the Rangers’ 7th defensemen, but has played over 24 minutes in each of NYR’s last two games. This is Hunwick’s 8th NHL season – and his 1st in NYR – after stints in BOS and COL.

• DET will be playing on back-to-back nights following last night’s 3-1 loss in Ottawa.

• Like NYR, the Red Wings have dropped their past two games – 3-2 (SO) to BUF on Nov. 2 and 3-1 to OTT yesterday. DET has not lost three straight games or two consecutive regulation games yet this season.

• G Jimmy Howard stopped 29 of 31 shots last night, but lost his second straight start. The Red Wings will turn to backup G Jonas Gustavsson for tonight’s game against NYR.

• Gustavsson shut out TOR in his first start on Oct. 18 but gave up 3 goals on 16 shots in his only other start, a 4-2 DET loss in PHI on Oct. 25.


• 579th regular-season meeting

• 1st of 3 meetings this season. Final 2 games (Dec. 6 and Mar. 4) are in DET.

• Last season, NYR went 3-0-0 against DET, including shutouts in both games at MSG (1-0, 3-0).

• The Rangers have won 4 straight overall against DET. They have not won 5 straight against DET since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.

• DET last win at NYR: 3-1 on Dec. 6, 2009 (0-2-1 since).

•NYR has held DET scoreless for the past 144:58 dating back to last season.

• NYR: D Matt Hunwick is a Warren, MI native and played 4 seasons in the NCAA for the Michigan Wolverines.


• Both DET and NYR enter tonight on 2-game losing streaks.

• DET: 17-7-6 record in back-to-back games last season (7-5-3 in the 2nd game of back to backs).

• NYR: Including playoffs, the Rangers have sold out 138 consecutive games at MSG.

• NYR: Head Coach Alain Vigneault will be coaching his 900th career game tonight.


• DET: D Kyle Quincey (ankle) has missed two straight games and is day-to-day.

• NYR: Captain D Ryan McDonagh (separated shoulder) will be out for 3-4 weeks.

• NYR: C Derek Stepan (broken leg) has been IR all season. He has been cleared for contact but has yet to participate in a contact practice.

• NYR: D Dan Boyle (hand) was injured on opening night and is now skating in a non-contact jersey.


• DET: C Pavel Datsyuk has 3 goals, 5 assists, and a +3 rating in 10 career games vs. NYR.

• DET: LW Henrik Zetterberg, RW Johan Franzen, RW Gustav Nyquist, and Datsyuk all went scoreless against NYR last season.

• NYR: G Henrik Lundqvist had shutout victories in both of his starts against DET last season.

• NYR: LW Rick Nash has 25 goals and 47 points in 55 career games vs. DET. His 25 goals are tied for the most he has against any other NHL team (w/ CHI).


• The Red Wings’ first line of Captain LW Henrik Zetterberg (15 points), C Pavel Datsyuk (10 points), and RW Justin Abdelkader (10 points) are the top 3 scorers for DET this season.

• Datsyuk began the season on injured reserve with a separated shoulder, but has put up 5 goals and 5 assists in 7 games since rejoining the lineup. His 5 goals and 10 points are both T-2nd on DET.

• Datsyuk had opened his season with points in 6 straight games before being held off the score sheet on Tuesday in the loss to Ottawa.

• Zetterberg has 4 goals and 11 assists through 12 games. His 11 assists and 15 points are tops on the Red Wings, and he is currently T-5th in NHL scoring.

• Abdelkader has benefitted from time alongside Datsyuk and Zetterberg; the 27-year old has never scored more than 10 goals or 28 points in an NHL season, but already has 5 goals and10 points through 12 games.

• RW Gustav Nyquist leads DET with 7 goals this season. He has also scored 4 of the Red Wings’ 5 PPG this season.

• Last season, Nyquist led DET with 28 goals despite only playing 57 games.

• G Jonas Gustavsson (1-1-0, 1.45 GAA, .935 SV%, 1 SO ) is scheduled to make his third start of the season for DET.


•  Like Detroit, the Rangers’ top line of LW Rick Nash (12 points), C Derick Brassard (9 points), and RW Martin St. Louis (8 points) are also 1-2-3 in scoring on the team so far this season.

• Nash leads NYR in goals (9) and points (12). He is 2nd in the NHL in goals, trailing only Corey Perry’s 11.

• Nash started with 8 goals through his first 7 games, but has just 1 goal in his past 4 games.

• All of Nash’s 9 goals have come at even strength, tops in the NHL.

• Nash is the only NHL player with an active streak of 10 straight 20-goal seasons.

• D Dan Girardi has been counted on for extra minutes while the NYR defense remains injured. Girardi played at least 32:58 in each of the Rangers’ last two games.

• The last Ranger to log at least 30 minutes of ice time in 3 consecutive games was Brian Leetch, who did so in 8 straight games in Dec. of 2000.

• G Henrik Lundqvist (5-3-1, 2.85 GAA, .902 SV%, 2 SO) has all 5 Ranger wins in net. While Lundqvist already has 2 shutouts this season, he has also given up 3+ goals 5 times in his first 9 games.