Flyers

NHL Notes: Jack Eichel, Sabres reportedly negotiating 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Jack Eichel, Sabres reportedly negotiating 8-year contract

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A person familiar with negotiations tells The Associated Press the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel are discussing a contract extension that could run the NHL maximum eight years.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the talks have been private since formal negotiations began a little over a month ago.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula declined to assess the status of negotiations except to say no deadline has been set and that both sides are committed to reaching a deal.

"I can tell you this, We want Jack and Jack wants to be in Buffalo," Pegula said during a news conference at the Buffalo Bills training camp site in suburban Rochester. Pegula also owns the Bills.

In a text to The AP, Eichel's agent Peter Fish wrote: "We are talking and I would say that we will be continuing to talk" (see full story).

Wild: Granlund says team ‘can do some damage’ in playoffs
This offseason for the Minnesota Wild was never going to be about making major additions.

This was simply the summer of maintenance and sustenance, with a new contract for Mikael Granlund one of the biggest priorities.

Now that Granlund has agreed to the deal, for $17.25 million over three years, the dynamic Finnish forward has his focus on a much deeper push by the Wild through the playoffs. Performing up to the value of the contract is not his concern.

Even without obvious roster upgrades after a five-game loss in the first round to St. Louis, the strength of the core that fueled a top-five finish in the NHL regular season has not diminished.

"There's always something to prove, but I think the biggest thing is as a team I really want us to make a deeper playoff run," Granlund said Wednesday on a conference call. "Obviously we need to make it to playoffs first, but I think we have a really good group of guys and we can do some damage" (see full story).

Penguins: Preseason game moved from ‘Hockeyville’ winner
PITTSBURGH -- A suburban Pittsburgh ice rink that won the right to host a Pittsburgh Penguins preseason contest will instead have to settle for a ticketed practice by the Stanley Cup champions after the facility was deemed unfit to host an NHL game.

Rostraver Ice Rink in Belle Vernon -- about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh -- won an online contest sponsored by Kraft to receive $150,000 worth of arena upgrades as well as a preseason game between the Penguins and the St. Louis Blues on Sept. 24.

Kraft announced on Wednesday it was moving the game from Rostraver Ice Rink to the Penguins' practice facility in Cranberry -- about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Members of the Belle Vernon community and youth hockey players from Rostraver Ice Garden will receive the majority of the game tickets.

The rink will still receive the upgrades. The Penguins will hold a practice at Rostraver on Sept. 24 as part of four days of festivities. Pittsburgh plans to bring its game-night entertainment operation -- including music, videos, anthem singer Jeff Jimerson, P.A. announcer Ryan Mill and the Penguins Ice Crew -- to a Rostraver youth hockey game that week.

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Replacing Wayne Simmonds on the power play may be one of the toughest assignments in the NHL.

After all, the guy is second to only Alex Ovechkin with 85 man-advantage goals since the 2011-12 season.

So when the predicament actually faced Dave Hakstol this week, the Flyers' head coach turned to … a 19-year-old rookie.

Why Nolan Patrick?

Three components of the decision stand out:

Intelligence factor
Leading up the NHL draft, the overwhelming strength of Patrick's scouting report was his hockey sense.

Those close to him, as well as draft experts, lauded Patrick for comprehending plays before they even happen and being above the ice in understanding spacing.

Those characteristics are crucial when having an extra man.

Patrick has two goals over two games filling in for the injured Simmonds on the Flyers' top power-play unit. Patrick exhibited his IQ with Thursday's game-winner, where he quickly planted himself right in front of the net, had the presence of mind to find the puck and then bury it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We told him, just stand in front, if you see a puck, bring it home," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We tried to simplify it for him and he's going to take care of it himself, he's a great hockey player. It's paying off for him."

All about the touch
Patrick has excellent hands.

Put him around the net, and he'll know how to deflect pucks and find holes in a goalie. His vision, skill and finesse are why he's regarded as such an all-around playmaker.

In Tuesday's win, Patrick found immediate success with the first power-play group. Making his way to the middle, Patrick took a Claude Giroux pass and showed off that touch, adeptly going top shelf as Carey Price went low.

Studying Simmonds' net-front proficiency hasn't hurt, either.

"I watch him every game, he's unbelievable there and good at tipping pucks and making plays," Patrick said. "You learn from just watching every day."

Building up the kid
With time, Hakstol and the Flyers have allowed for Patrick to become comfortable instead of putting the world on his shoulders from the get-go.

That's part of Patrick's makeup.

"He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself," Patrick's uncle, James, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last June

We're starting to see Patrick let loose.

As the Flyers have gradually upped his opportunity and responsibility, Patrick has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last 12 games after putting up six (two goals, four assists) over his previous 34.

Placing Patrick among the team's best talent on the man advantage will only help with his confidence moving forward, in all situations.

The Flyers' power play entered Friday with the NHL's sixth-best percentage at 21.6.

It'll need more of Patrick — but the Flyers couldn't have asked for a much better start to life without Simmonds over the next two to three weeks.