Central Division Shakedown

Every Tuesday, Predlines will be bringing you the latest news and analysis from the Central Division. Because the Predators success largely depends on the failures of our divisional opponents, we need to track their every move throughout the regular, post and off season. If we’ve left something of note out, contact us at [email protected]

Chicago Blackhawks

As the Blackhawks continue to implode (woot! woot!), three-time Stanley Cup winner, John Madden signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild making the number of Blackhawk regulars returning to the ice in new uniforms this season startling. The center will earn a little over $1 million. But on the bright side for Chicago faithful, over the last few weeks the Blackhawks have signed a half dozen players for around the league minimum including former Predator prospect, and first round selection of the New York Rangers, Hugh Jessiman.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 10: Rod Brind'Amour #17 of the Carolina Hurricanes battles John Madden #11 of the New Jersey Devils in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2006 NHL Playoffs on May 10, 2006 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Hurricanes won 3-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo: Yardbarker)

Another signing of note since last week for the Blackhawks was Igor Makarov who signed a two-way deal. The 22 year old was Chicago’s second selection (33rd overall) in the 2006 entry draft. Makarov scored 5 goals and added 4 assists in 51 games in the KHL last season. He has a shot at making the roster due to the exodus from Chicago so we’ll see if he can replace those less than stellar numbers with something a little more impressive.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Last last Tuesday afternoon, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager, Scott Howson, announced that Rob Riley would be the new head coach of the Springfield Falcons, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Blue Jackets.

For the last 4 seasons, Riley worked as a regional scout for the Blue Jackets, but Riley has a lot of experience behind the bench having been the head coach of Army from 1986-2004.

You can tell it is an otherwise very slow week for the Columbus Blue Jackets when I need to include that the team announced on their website a couple players would be attending last Sunday’s Irish Festival. Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett were in attendance to sign autographs.

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit’s front office had a busy week. We already discussed Friday’s anticipated Modano signing last Tuesday, so we’ll leave that one at that… but last Wednesday, Darren Helm signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings. An interesting fact, Darren Helm has been a regular in the post season for Detroit, banking 53 career playoff games which totals more than half of his NHL regular-season total of 98 games. Helm will make $912, 500 and is finally on a one-way contract.

Chris Chelios has made his retirement official. Nathan provided some analysis on that decision. Detroit has added the future hall of famer to its front office, but in what capacity has yet to be released to the public.

Chelios played in the league for 26 NHL seasons. He won the Stanley Cup 3 times, once with the Habs (1986) and twice with Detroit (2002 and 2008) and played 1,651 regular-season games, scoring 185 goals, 948 points, and an amazing plus-350 career rating.

The trend of recycling old players (I’m looking at you Flames) has continued with the Red Wings signing defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year contract. The 35 year old was drafted 9th overall by the Ducks in 1996. Salei was injured for the majority of the season last year, though he was able to captain the Belarus hockey team at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Salei previously played for the Red Wings between 2002-04. Salei’s deal is reportedly worth $1.1 million.

St. Louis Blues

The Blues had a pretty minor week, signing and trading players who are likely to fill out their farm team’s roster for the upcoming season. Defenseman T.J. Fast was sent from St. Louis to Florida for forward Graham Mink. Mink is a 31 year old and this can only be seen as a depth move by the club since Mink has spent the last 9 seasons in the AHL.

Former Predator Dave Scatchard also signed with the Blues last week. Can anyone forget that game were Scatchard was directly responsible for a goal on our own end and he was benched the rest of the game, subsequently sent down to Milwaukee and never heard from again? Better luck to Scatchard in St. Louis!

Finally, the Blues announced that Bill Armstrong will be their Director of Amateur Scouting. Armstrong started with the Blues in 2004 as an amateur scout.

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