All posts by Josh Wegman

Red Wings keep Howard off free-agent market with 1-year extension

The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday.

Howard's deal comes with a $5.1-million average annual value, but $1.1 million is based on playoff bonuses, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. If the Red Wings don't make the playoffs next season, Howard would receive no bonus and only get his $4-million salary, McKenzie adds.

The veteran goalie, who will turn 35 next week, has spent his entire career in the Motor City. He owns a .908 save percentage and a 3.05 goals-against average in 48 games this season.

Howard was set to hit the open market this summer and would've been a part of a free-agent goaltending class headlined by Sergei Bobrovsky, Robin Lehner, and Semyon Varlamov.

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Marchand voted best, worst trash-talker in NHLPA poll

Is it possible to be the best and worst at something?

According to the 2018-19 NHLPA Player Poll, the answer is yes. Boston Bruins super-pest Brad Marchand - one of the NHL's most polarizing players - was voted as both the league's best and worst trash-talker.

Here are the results for best trash-talker, based on 272 votes:

Player Team %
Brad Marchand BOS 21.3
Drew Doughty L.A. 11.8
Ryan Reaves VGK 5.5
Claude Giroux PHI 4.8
Nick Cousins ARI 3.3
Other N/A 53.3

The results for worst trash-talker - based on 256 votes - were a bit tighter:

Player Team %
Brad Marchand BOS 12.5
Antoine Roussel VAN 5.5
P.K. Subban NSH 5.1
Nick Cousins ARI 4.7
Brendan Lemieux NYR 3.5
Other N/A 68.8

Everyone knows Marchand likes to chirp on the ice, but apparently his tactics aren't for everyone. The same can be said for Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Cousins, who also surfaced on both polls.

Marchand was clearly pleased with the results.

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Pastrnak returns vs. Isles after extended absence

The Boston Bruins got their most lethal sniper back on Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

David Pastrnak returned after missing 16 games with a thumb injury. He'd been listed as a game-time decision.

The 22-year-old forward hadn't played since Feb. 10 after undergoing surgery, but he's still tied for the team lead in goals with 31. Overall, he has 66 points in 56 games this season.

Remarkably, the Bruins have gone 12-3-1 in his absence, although they had dropped three of their last four games entering Tuesday's action.

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Tarasenko returns vs. Oilers after 5-game absence

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury, the team announced.

The Blues sorely missed their leading goal-scorer; they won only one game in his absence while averaging just 2.2 goals per contest.

Tarasenko started the campaign slowly after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, tallying just 22 points in his first 37 outings. But the 27-year-old racked up 36 points in the 29 games that followed, helping the Blues catapult up the Western Conference standings and into a playoff spot.

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Report: Blue Jackets closing in on contract with top goalie prospect

Elvis could enter the building in the next couple of weeks.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on a one-year, entry-level deal with the organization's top goalie prospect, Elvis Merzlikins, according to The Athletic's Aaron Portzline.

Merzlikins is reportedly expected to fly to Columbus on Sunday or next Monday and then make his North American debut with the AHL's Cleveland Monsters either March 29 or 30 at Quicken Loans Arena. The Latvian has played in Switzerland's top professional league for the last six years.

Signing the 24-year-old now will burn his entry-level deal and make him a restricted free agent on July 1, Portzline adds.

Merzlikins, a third-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2014, is widely viewed as Columbus' goalie of the future. With Sergei Bobrovsky set to become an unrestricted free agent, that future could arrive as early as next season.

The 6-foot-3 Merzlikins has posted a save percentage of .920 or better in four of his six seasons with HC Lugano in the National League. Merzlikins has also shined on the international stage, registering a 1.50 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage in six games for Latvia at the 2018 World Championship.

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Fantasy: 5 moves you need to make in the championship round

Every Monday, theScore offers a weekly fantasy hockey column detailing a handful of moves you should make. This week's edition focuses on the championship round of the fantasy hockey playoffs. Ownership percentages and position eligibility are courtesy of Yahoo.

Scoop up Philipp Grubauer

Team: Avalanche
Position: G
Ownership: 31 percent

Grubauer's made a late-season charge to emerge as the Avalanche's undisputed No. 1 goalie. Across his last six games, he's posted three shutouts and a jaw-dropping .971 save percentage. Meanwhile, fellow netminder Semyon Varlamov owns an .899 save percentage over his last six starts.

Grubauer has started three of Colorado's last four games, and with four contests on the schedule this week, he'll likely make at least three appearances. The Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives, and will almost certainly ride the hotter goalie down the stretch.

Add Jakub Vrana

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Team: Capitals
Position: LW/RW
Ownership: 20 percent

The Capitals are the only team this week that'll partake in four games but not play on Thursday or Saturday - the busiest nights of the week.

That means you should have no problem getting Vrana - who's recorded a modest six points in his last 10 games - into your lineup four times. And if you're in a deeper league where Vrana's already been scooped up, turn to teammate Brett Connolly (4 percent owned), who has 10 points in his last 13 games.

Drop Sam Reinhart

Team: Sabres
Position: C/RW
Ownership: 62 percent

The Sabres have just one win in their last eight games, and they've been shut out three times during that span. The slump has unsurprisingly taken its toll on the top line - most notably Reinhart, who's posted only one point in his last eight games.

Meanwhile, Buffalo plays just twice this week, so the former second overall pick won't provide any more value in re-draft leagues this season.

Pick up Brendan Perlini

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Team: Blackhawks
Position: LW/RW
Ownership: 13 percent

Dylan Strome has endeared himself to Blackhawks fans since arriving in the Windy City, but the forgotten piece from the November trade with Arizona is beginning to emerge as a dangerous offensive threat. Perlini's scored eight goals while adding two assists across his last seven games, and he's currently rounding out a potent trio alongside Strome and Alex DeBrincat.

Chicago plays four games this week, and if you're able to squeeze Perlini into your lineup on every occasion, he needs to be added in all formats.

Discard Chris Kreider

Team: Rangers
Position: LW
Ownership: 67 percent

Anyone on the Rangers not named Mika Zibanejad can be dropped this week, and that includes Kreider. The veteran winger has notched a measly two points in his last 10 outings, and the Blueshirts have just two games on the docket this week.

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World juniors hero Kakko sets Finnish league record for goals by U18 player

Kaapo Kakko is carving out quite a legacy for himself in his homeland.

One of the top draft-eligible prospects in 2019, Kakko scored his 22nd goal of the season on Thursday, setting a new Liiga record for markers in a season by a player age 18 or younger.

Kakko passed some esteemed company along the way, according to Elite Prospects.

Player Season GP Goals
Kaapo Kakko 2018-19 45 22
Aleksander Barkov 2012-13 53 21
Joel Armia 2010-11 48 18
Patrik Laine 2015-16 46 17
Artturi Lehkonen 2012-13 45 14
Juga Jyrkkio 1976-77 34 14
Mikael Granlund 2009-10 43 13
Jari Torkki 1982-83 34 13
Jesse Puljujarvi 2015-16 50 13

Here's a look at the record-setting tally:

Kakko, a winger, likely won't drop below No. 2 at this year's draft. He and American Jack Hughes are considered the consensus top two prospects.

Kakko registered five points in seven contests for Finland at this year's World Junior Hockey Championship, including the winning goal in the waning minutes of the gold-medal game against the United States.

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Evander Kane announces death of daughter

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and his wife lost their unborn daughter, Eva, at 26 weeks.

Kane hasn't played since Feb. 26, as he was initially nursing a middle-body injury.

Teammate Erik Karlsson and his wife, Melinda, lost their son nearly one year ago.

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Kreider ejected for elbowing Pettersson in the head

Chris Kreider might receive a phone call from the NHL's head office on Thursday morning.

The New York Rangers forward was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing Vancouver Canucks phenom Elias Pettersson in the head on Wednesday night.

Here's a look at the play:

Pettersson went to the dressing room after the collision, but he returned before the end of the period. He missed time with a concussion earlier in the season after Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson slammed him to the ice.

The Canucks received another five-minute power play shortly thereafter, as Brendan Lemieux was ejected for this hit on Antoine Roussel.

Roussel also left the game.

The Rangers are the first team this season to have two different players receive a game misconduct in the same contest, according to Sportsnet Stats.

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Canucks scratch highest-paid player Eriksson vs. Rangers

Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson was a healthy scratch for the first time this season, sitting out Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

"I want to put (Markus Granlund) back in, and it’s not like I’m sitting here saying that Loui's played terrible," head coach Travis Green said before the game, according to Sportsnet's Brendan Batchelor. "But has he done enough where I can't take him out of the lineup?"

Eriksson has recorded just 10 goals and 12 assists over 69 games this season. He's been widely viewed as a disappointment after signing a six-year, $36-million contract on July 1, 2016. His $6-million cap hit is $500,000 more than Bo Horvat, the team's second-highest paid player.

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