NHL Report: January 17, 2008 – Metro US

NHL Report: January 17, 2008

Dion Phaneuf won’t be as rich as Alexander Ovechkin, but he won’t exactly be poor, either.

While the Washington Capitals re-upped Ovechkin for a mind-boggling $124-million for the next 13 seasons, Phaneuf is on the verge of re-signing with the Calgary Flames for a 10-year deal worth about $63-million.

The Flames are eager to get their talented defenceman to agree to terms so they could prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

The consensus in the NHL is that Phaneuf is the finest young defenceman in the league.

“I think he has enough offence that he’s somewhere between Scott Stevens and Larry Robinson in that Larry did play on the power play and was a puck-moving defenceman and Dion has that skill set,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. “Scott played on the power play, but he was very much a defending defenceman who would always play against the top competitors on the opposing team. Dion has that in his game, too.”

• The Colorado Avalanche are missing Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth, who are out with injuries, but sources say they could be adding another veteran who could at least partly make up for their absences.

The sources believe Peter Forsberg will soon return to the Avalanche as a free agent.

• Every follower of the NHL knows Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom is superb, and has been for more than 15 seasons, but, because he’s quiet and seldom attracts attention, it’s easy to take him for granted.

Not that Red Wings coach Mike Babcockdoes.

“Nicklas is so professional that he tapes his stick better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Babcock told NHL.com. “He does everything better, and it’s without effort.”

Lidstrom, 37, will start in his eighth All-Star Game next week and will appear in his 10th. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup champion and a five-time Norris Trophy winner. He’s the only European to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

He’s good. But Babcock is adamant that Lidstrom’s even better than you might think.

“He’s the best player,” Babcock said. “No one is as good as him. He doesn’t make mistakes. He just doesn’t make any mistakes.”

• Speaking of veteran star defencemen, the Anaheim Ducks’ Chris Pronger was honored in his home town of Dryden, Ont. in a cool way.

His high school rink was renamed the Chris Pronger Arena.

Sidney Crosby’s teammates with the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be in complete awe of him.

“He wants us to be prepared and he wants us to be focused,” Ryan Whitney said. “On the ice, he’s always going 100 percent every game. He always shows up. He doesn’t take any practice lightly. He looks to improve every day. That’s something you can take from him and want to work on yourself.”

“His leadership is just watching him on the ice and seeing how hard he works,” Erik Christensen said. “Every time he jumps over the boards, it’s like he’s shot out of a cannon. He never takes a shift off. ”

Marty York


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