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Baggie Day Buzz: Larkin of Red Wings mulling trip to World Championship | NHL.com

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Detroit Red Wings

Dylan Larkin just finished one of the toughest NHL seasons of his career. Now he must decide if he’s done for the season.

The Red Wings captain said Thursday he’s interested in joining USA Hockey for the 2024 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic next month, but he’s not sure if his health will allow it.

“I really have to see where my body is and what the doctors say at my exit physicals,” the center said. “I haven’t ruled it out — it is going to be a health issue.”

Larkin had a grueling season on and off the ice. He sustained two significant injuries — a concussion and a lower-body injury — and also had to deal with he and his wife losing a baby in December.

“This one was one of the most difficult years of my life, and I don’t like to talk about that,” he said. “My wife was so strong, and that let me come back from the injuries and give it everything I had in the last month.

“The end was a lot of fun, but it [stinks] that we didn’t get a reward.”

Detroit (41-32-9) won its last three games of the season, two in overtime, one in a shootout, but still will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of the Washington Capitals, who clinched the second wild card into the playoffs from the East, holding the tiebreaker with five more regulation wins.

Larkin, who finished with 69 points (33 goals, 36 assists) in 68 games, isn’t the only Red Wings player considering the World Championship. Defenseman Moritz Seider (Germany) and forward Lucas Raymond (Sweden) said they would like to play if their contracts are completed in time.

Forward Alex DeBrincat (United States) is leaning against going because of his newborn, and goalie Alex Lyon (United States) said he would consider an offer. — Dave Hogg

St. Louis Blues

Drew Bannister will be a candidate for the coaching position with the Blues, a list general manager Doug Armstrong said “isn’t extensive.”

Bannister went 30-19-5 after taking over for Craig Berube, who was fired Dec. 14; Bannister was named interim coach at the time.

St. Louis finished the season 43-33-6 but will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season.

“I talked to Drew in the last week or so and told him that he’s going to be a candidate for the head coaching job,” Armstrong said. “I feel that for the process it’s necessary to interview a few people, but what I told him is when we made the coaching change, I was creating a list and the list was deep and extensive and as I watched him perform and I watched our team perform, I started to cross names off that list, and now Drew is one of a very small number of people I want to talk to moving forward.

“I thought he did a very good job. I thought he was able to put a balance of pushing and prodding to get the best team on the ice every night with throwing a little bit of hope out there and a blind eye to putting young players in situations they haven’t been in and living with the results. I think that’s how you grow.”

Armstrong said he also would entertain signing forward Pavel Buchnevich to a contract extension.

The 29-year-old, who had 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) in 80 games this season, will be entering the final year of a four-year, $23.2 million contract ($5.8 million average annual value) next season.

“We’ll approach him,” Armstrong said. “I’m a big Pavel fan. … I would like him to be here. I have to sell him on why, and then we have to sell each other on why we can be comfortably uncomfortable with the financial deal that we can make, but I’m a big Pavel fan.” — Lou Korac

Pittsburgh Penguins

Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic each said he would like to return to the Penguins as part of a goalie tandem next season.

Jarry, normally viewed as the No. 1, was 19-25-5 with a 2.91 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and six shutouts — which tied for the NHL lead — in 51 games (48 starts) this season, his eighth in Pittsburgh.

Nedeljkovic was 18-7-7 with a 2.97 GAA, .902 save percentage and one shutout in 38 games (33 starts). He started the final 13 games, going 8-1-3.

“That doesn’t diminish our belief in Tristan at all,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We chose to go with what we deemed the hot hand down the stretch. That’s not a slight on Tristan by any stretch.”

Jarry signed a five-year, $26.875 million contract ($5.375 million average annual value) on July 1, 2023.

“I obviously signed long-term because I want to be here,” Jarry said. “That was my thought and my goal. I want to remain a Penguin, and that was always my thought from the beginning.”

Nedeljkovic signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract the same day.

“I’d love to come back,” Nedeljkovic said. “I’d love to be back in a Penguins sweater and pick up where we left off this year. It’s hard to not want to come back and play with the guys that you have in this room.”

Pittsburgh (38-32-12) finished three points behind the Capitals for the second wild card from the East and will miss the postseason for the second straight time following 16 consecutive playoff appearances. — Wes Crosby

Ottawa Senators

Jakob Chychrun is unsure about signing a contract extension in the offseason.

“It’s a tough question,” the 26-year-old defenseman said Thursday. “I mean, I don’t know. I honestly have not thought about that. I know I have one more year left, and like I said, there haven’t even been talks of an extension or anything, so I haven’t really gotten my head wrapped around that idea. So it’s tough to sit here and act like I have. I don’t know. I’m just going to kind of take it day by day and see if and when we have those talks and go from there.”

Chychrun, who led Ottawa defensemen in scoring with 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games this season, can become an unrestricted free agent after next season. He was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on March 1, 2023.

Center Shane Pinto, who can become a restricted free agent after this season, was a little more enthusiastic about his future in Ottawa.

“I’ve said it before: I want to be here,” said the 23-year-old, who had 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 41 games this season. “I love the boys, I love the community, I love the organization. So you know, that’s between my agent and the organization and we’ll see what happens.”

The Senators (37-41-4) will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the seventh season in a row. — Callum Fraser

Philadelphia Flyers

Rasmus Ristolainen is expected to be ready for training camp in September after having surgery Thursday to repair a ruptured triceps tendon.

Recovery is expected to take three months.

The defenseman last played Feb. 10, and missed the final 29 games of the season because of the injury.

The 29-year-old had four points (one goal, three assists) in 31 games. He missed the first 20 games of the season because of a lower-body injury, making his season debut Nov. 25.

Philadelphia (38-33-11) will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. — Adam Kimelman

Buffalo Sabres

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is open to signing a long-term contract with the Sabres.

The goalie can become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights after this season.

“I think that’s what everybody wants, to sign a long-term contract,” he said Thursday. “I like Buffalo. I’ve spent more or less five years here in camps and even playing now. I like it here. I think we have a really, really good group of guys here who signed for a longer contract. In the end, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I for sure would not be against it.”

His representatives and the Sabres are in the early stages of discussions.

“We have started to kind of see what we want to do here and started the talks, but nothing too crazy yet,” Luukkonen said.

The 25-year-old, a second-round pick (No. 54) by Buffalo in the 2017 NHL Draft, emerged as the No. 1 goalie after starting the season third in the three-goalie rotation, behind Devon Levi and Eric Comrie. He played an NHL career-high 54 games (51 starts) and finished 27-22-4 with five shutouts, tied for second in the NHL with Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets entering Thursday. He also had a 2.57 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in his fourth NHL season.

“The biggest thing is just kind of proving to myself and everybody else that I can be a starter in this league and a good a starter, too,” Luukkonen said. “I feel like my numbers were good this year and I feel like I had a good number of great games, and I helped the team to win pretty much every night. So, I think just kind of finding my confidence and being a confident goalie out there was the biggest thing for me this year.”

Buffalo (39-37-6) finished sixth in the Atlantic Division and will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 13th straight season, which is an NHL record. — Heather Engel

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