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Thread: Cnotes Off Season News, Notes, Rumours !

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  1. #1 Cnotes Off Season News, Notes, Rumours ! 
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    Las Vegas may get franchise goalie
    June 20, 2017



    George McPhee can't wait to fill the white board, the one in the Vegas Golden Knights' expansion draft room. On Wednesday night, the staff will start adding the names of players who will become part of the expansion team for its first NHL season.


    ''We're going to put our team together and we'll watch it come to life in front of us,'' McPhee said.


    What will that team look like when it takes the ice in early October? It won't have all the top-end talent available because side deals will allow Vegas to stockpile draft picks and prospects for the future, but it will probably be the most competitive expansion team in the league's history.


    ''I'm really pleased with what's available,'' McPhee told reporters in Las Vegas on Sunday. ''This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights, and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice.''


    Here's a projection of who the inaugural Golden Knights might snap up by Wednesday night:


    GOALTENDERS (MINIMUM 3)


    SURE BET:
    Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury seems like the most reliable pick on the board, a recognizable face of the franchise who can easily start 50-60 games and give the Golden Knights chances to win. Fleury waived his no-movement clause so the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't have to force another trade, and the 32-year-old can go back to being a clear No. 1 goalie.


    WORTH THE GAMBLE: Fleury could be joined by an established 20-something backup, like Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth, Detroit's Petr Mrazek, Colorado's Calvin Pickard or New York's Antti Raanta.


    McPhee and Vegas goaltending coach Dave Prior have connections to Neuvirth and Washington's Philipp Grubauer from drafting them with the Capitals. McPhee described Neuvirth as ''almost technically perfect.''


    ''It was just about him growing up and maturing,'' McPhee said at the scouting combine. ''We thought that when that happened, he'd be an outstanding goaltender. And he's at that point now. He can be really good.''


    ROLLING THE DICE: Maybe Vegas wants to groom its starter of the future, in which case Grubauer, Boston's Malcolm Subban, Detroit's Jared Coreau or Toronto's Antoine Bibeau could fit the bill.


    DON'T SLEEP ON: Vegas controls the trade market and can make some extra picks to flip a goalie or two. Arizona and Philadelphia are in need of starters.


    DEFENSEMEN (MINIMUM 9)


    SURE BET:
    Assuming Anaheim has already worked out a trade to keep Vegas away from Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson - perhaps at the cost of a first-round pick - there are still plenty of young, affordable defensemen to choose from along with some veterans. Dion Phaneuf refusing to waive his no-movement clause forced Ottawa to protect him and expose 31-year-old Marc Methot.


    Minnesota's plethora of blue liners made Matt Dumba, 22, and Marco Scandella, 27, available unless the Wild is willing to fork something over, and 25-year-old right-shooting Trevor van Riemsdyk from Chicago seems ticketed for the Golden Knights.


    WORTH THE GAMBLE: With speed, skating and puck-moving skills a priority, Detroit's Xavier Oullet (23), Washington's Nate Schmidt (25) and Montreal's Nikita Nesterov (24) all could fit well. Want some more size and physicality? Vegas could look at Boston's Colin Miller (24), Edmonton's Griffin Reinhart (23) and Buffalo's Zach Bogosian (26).


    ROLLING THE DICE: Pending free agent Kevin Shattenkirk of the Capitals wants to be a No. 1 defenseman and could get that role in Vegas.


    ''It's a very interesting situation,'' Shattenkirk said. ''Usually, you're talking to teams or thinking of teams and you have some sort of idea of how they're built or their history or whatever it may be, and they are completely fresh.''


    DON'T SLEEP ON: The Golden Knights will be young, but San Jose's David Schlemko (30) and Paul Martin (36) and New Jersey's Ben Lovejoy (33) are veteran options.


    FORWARDS (MINIMUM 14)


    SURE BET:
    This is where elite talent already under contract is hard to find, outside of maybe Nashville's James Neal, a 10-time 20-goal scorer, and 32-year-old Minnesota center Eric Staal. Vegas could use free agency to stock its top forwards, as it already has by signing Vadim Shipacyhov out of the KHL.


    WORTH THE GAMBLE: Among established NHL forwards, Vegas has the pick of two 26-year-olds from Florida: right winger Reilly Smith and center Jonathan Marchessault, who set career highs with 30 goals, 21 assists and 51 points last season and is the biggest bargain in the league at $750,000. With so many Cup teams built down the middle, Dallas' Cody Eakin (who McPhee also drafted), Minnesota's Erik Haula and St. Louis' Jori Lehtera could help both present and future.

    ROLLING THE DICE:
    Vegas can build a young nucleus with some intriguing possibilities, assuming Columbus has persuaded McPhee not to take 17-goal scorer Josh Anderson and the New York Islanders have worked out a way to keep 56-point producer Josh Bailey. One-time prospects Marko Dano from Winnipeg, Mikhail Grigorenko from Colorado and Nail Yakupov from St. Louis might benefit from bigger opportunities under coach Gerard Gallant.


    DON'T SLEEP ON: If Vegas is indeed getting Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger, he's a nice depth player at 27, and Montreal's Tomas Plekanec, who is 34, satisfies a veteran component and could fit perfectly as the franchise's first captain.
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    NHL notebook: Coyotes decline to offer Doan new pact
    June 19, 2017



    Longtime captain Shane Doan will not be returning to the Arizona Coyotes even if he is not selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday's expansion draft.


    Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway announced in a statement on Monday that the team will not offer a contract to the 40-year-old Doan, who was told over the weekend that he is no longer part of the team's plans.


    "The time has come for us to move on and to focus on our young, talented group of players and our very bright future," Barroway said. "This was a very difficult decision given what Shane has done for the Coyotes and his unparalleled importance to the organization. With that said, this is necessary to move us forward as a franchise."


    Doan, who has given no clear indication of whether he plans to continue playing, has been with the team for all of his 21 seasons in the NHL dating to when the franchise was still based in Winnipeg.


    Doan is the franchise leader in a number of categories, including games played (1,540), goals (402), assists (570) and points (972).


    --Former NHL coach and player Ron Wilson and longtime Boston University coach Jack Parker head a five-member class for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.


    The class, announced by USA Hockey, also included longtime NHL player Scott Young, three-time Olympic women's team coach Ben Smith and Kevin Collins, a retired NHL referee.


    Wilson played seven seasons in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Stars. A defenseman known for a blistering slap shot, he had 19 goals and 71 points in 113 NHL games. He also played parts of four seasons in Switzerland.


    Parker compiled an 894-474-115 record at Boston University in a career that started in 1973-74 and ended with his retirement in 2012-13. His 897 victories are third all-time and the most by a coach at one school.


    --The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Joonas Lyytinen to a two-year entry-level contract.


    Lyytinen, 22, played his fourth season with KalPa of the Finnish League in 2016-17, helping the club to a silver medal while tying for fourth in postseason points with seven (two goals, five assists) among defensemen. He also tied for seventh in the league with eight goals and 14th in points (24) among defensemen during the regular season.


    The Espoo, Finland, native was selected by Nashville in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft. Lyytinen represented Finland in the 2015 World Junior Championship on a team that included current Predators backup goaltender Juuse Saros.
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    Coyotes won't offer captain Shane Doan a contract
    June 19, 2017



    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Shane Doan was showered with tributes and applause following the final game of the 2016-17 season, the big send-off coming just in case the Arizona Coyotes captain decided to retire.


    Doan still hasn't decided if he will retire, but he won't play for the Coyotes if he does come back.


    The Coyotes issued a statement Monday saying the team will not offer Doan a contract, ending a 21-year relationship that began before the franchise moved to the Valley of the Sun.


    ''The time has come for us to move on and to focus on our young, talented group of players and our very bright future,'' Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in the statement. ''This was a very difficult decision given what Shane has done for the Coyotes and his unparalleled importance to the organization. With that said, this is necessary to move us forward as a franchise.''


    The Coyotes have been in rebuilding mode since a run to the 2012 Western Conference finals, a span of five playoff-less seasons that led the franchise to skew toward younger players.


    The Coyotes traded 33-year-old Mike Smith, their No. 1 goalie the past five seasons, to Calgary on Saturday and left Doan unprotected in the NHL expansion draft on Sunday. They parted ways - at least on the ice - with their 40-year-old captain a day later, leaving Doan to decide whether to retire or join another team.


    ''On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to sincerely thank Shane for everything he's done for the Coyotes on and off the ice the past 21 years,'' Barroway said. ''Shane is a Valley icon who had an incredible career and was one of the best captains to ever play in the NHL.''


    The Winnipeg Jets drafted Doan with the seventh overall pick of the 1995 NHL draft and the native of Halkirk, Alberta, followed the team when it moved to the desert and changed names a year later.


    Doan became an Arizona icon through the years through his hard-working mentality, professionalism and connection with the community. The bruising forward was known as one of the NHL's best captains, a leader in the locker room and the ice who earned respect across the league.


    Doan had one of the best seasons of his career in 2015-16, finishing with 28 goals and 19 assists, but was limited to six goals and 21 assists last season. He agreed to waive his no-trade clause for the first time last season for a chance to play for a Stanley Cup, but no teams were interested.


    Doan could end up with a job in the Coyotes' front office should he decide to retire.


    Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to become Arizona's captain with Doan no longer on the team.


    ''Shane deserves an enormous amount of credit for keeping the Coyotes in the Valley and for growing the game of hockey in Arizona,'' Barroway said. ''He is beloved by our fans, corporate partners and the media and has been a tremendous leader for us in the community, and a great role model for kids. We wish him and his family all the best in the future. He will be a member of our Pack forever.''
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    Sharks face key decisions with two vets
    June 16, 2017



    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Joe Thornton is expected to be healthy at the start of training camp despite undergoing offseason surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee.


    Where Thornton and longtime San Jose teammate Patrick Marleau will be playing remains an open question as they head toward unrestricted free agency.


    ''They've meant a lot to us, they mean a lot to us,'' general manager Doug Wilson said Friday. ''It goes back to making this a place where players want to play. It's great when players want to be here, players of their ilk who have set the standard for everyone else. We're exploring it, trying to do everything we can to make the best decision for this franchise. They have choices also obviously. But they know how we feel about them.''


    Thornton had a salary cap hit of $6.8 million and Marleau was at $6.7 million last season in the final year of three-year deals that were signed on the same day in 2014. Both players will be 38 at the start of next season, raising questions about how long the Sharks will want to commit and how much money they will be willing to pay.


    Marleau is coming off a 27-goal season and still has the speed to keep up with much younger players in today's faster game. Thornton scored just seven goals - his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 - but is still an elite playmaker and had 43 assists.


    There is also the injury to consider with Thornton, who tore the MCL and ACL in his knee on April 2 but still returned to play the final four games of a first-round playoff loss to Edmonton.


    ''Jumbo's doing extremely well,'' Wilson said. ''He's been in here every day, looks really good. I don't think there's any doubt he'll be ready and fit to start the season. The work that he's put in already, that's pure Jumbo. He loves the game. I see him every day here at the rink.''


    The two have been the faces of the franchise, with Marleau joining as the No. 2 overall pick in 1997 and Thornton being acquired in a trade from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005.


    San Jose has made three trips to the conference finals with both players on the roster and went to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago before losing to Pittsburgh in six games.


    Thornton recorded his 1,000th career assist last season and ranks in the top 25 all-time in assists (1,007, 13th place) and points (1,391, 22nd place).


    Marleau scored his 500th career goal last season and is 41st all-time with 508 in his career.


    More importantly, they have set the standard for scores of teammates in San Jose to emulate and have become fan favorites. But the decision on their future will be solely a hockey one not a marketing one, according to Wilson.


    ''These guys have been cornerstones of this franchise. We operate under a cap system which is different from many, many years ago when those choices maybe come into play,'' Wilson said. ''You sometimes have to make tough decisions. Make no mistake about our respect and appreciation for them will never end. Under a cap system we'll see and we'll navigate ourselves through this. We've been very fortunate to have players like this play at as a high a level as they have. How important they are to this franchise will not be forgotten. When it comes to making the hockey decisions, we have to make the decisions under this system, the cap system that makes sense.''


    In other news:


    - Wilson said he has a good idea who he will protect in the expansion draft but that could change depending if any deals are made with Vegas or another team.


    ''We feel we're pretty comfortable,'' he said. ''We know we're going to lose a good player. So is every team, so that's part of the expansion process. There's lots of talks, lots of communication. We do think we've prepared for this pretty well.''


    - The team has begun negotiating long-term extensions with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones. The two are entering the final year of their contracts and can sign extensions beginning in July.


    - The team has also begun interviewing candidates to replace assistant coach Bob Boughner, who was hired as the head coach in Florida. Wilson said he wants to find someone to specialize with the defensemen and penalty kill.
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    NBA Draft Props analysis
    June 19, 2017



    The deepest draft in years will certainly yield gems for the teams at the top and should deliver a few profitable opportunities for you to wet your beak on props.


    Although shops will likely offer varying proposition wagers come Thursday, the numbers this column will work with were available at BetOnline.ag Monday afternoon.


    Boston has already made major waves by trading the No. 1 pick away, preferring to cash in on Philadelphia's devotion to guard Markelle Fultz as the player they want to pry from this class. The 76ers moved the No. 3 pick and a future first-round pick with "favorably protected rights" to the Celtics for the right to draft the Washington freshman.


    GM Danny Ainge believes he'll get a player that he possibly would've selected first at No. 3, so he's going all-in on Fultz potentially not developing into the can't-miss standout that most project he'll be. Whether he selects Kansas wing Josh Jackson, North Carolina forward Jayson Tatum or even UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, this decision will always hang over his head.


    Fultz is -5000 to hear his name first and will. It's his job to make the decision look foolish, while Ainge will move forward with a player he likes third while adding another future lottery pick that can potentially sweeten the deal when packaged with all of his many other pieces to land Boston a long-coveted franchise player.


    After the Lakers make their choice between Ball and Jackson -- and it would surprise me if it wasn't the Chino Hills star, Ball -- the Celtics are likely to decide between Jackson, an Ainge-type player, and Tatum a skilled combo forward who would definitely give the Celtics a piece they currently lack.


    Suns GM Ryan McDonough has called this a Top-3 draft in terms of talent since he entered the league in 2003, widely considered the best in this century since it included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, among others. That means there will be a piece he likes at No. 4, where Jackson, Tatum, Kentucky point guard DeAaron Fox and anyone else they may have grown enamored with will undoubtedly fall.


    It would be surprising to see the Suns pull the trigger on Fox, but a team that likes the UK point guard would be wise to swing a deal because he won't slip past the Kings at No. 5. That makes the draft props of Fox and Tatum interesting because both are being listed at 4.5. Currently, I'd have to ride with Tatum over Fox as the player who goes first.


    Florida State's Jonathan Isaac, a 6-foot-11 pterodactyl of a combo forward whose raw skills merit a look, has said he's only working out for the top four teams, which makes his prop (6.5) awfully intriguing. The Suns have reportedly met with him twice, but they drafted two versatile frontcourt pieces last year in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. Orlando could take the Seminoles standout, which would please many in the fan base who got a good look at him all year.


    Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (7.5), Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk (8), N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (8.5) and French League standout Frank Ntilikina (9.5) are among players listed among the Top 10, and I recommend taking the under on Monk, an elite scorer who could go as high as No. 6 to Orlando but shouldn't get past the Knicks at 8, which gets you a push.


    It will be interesting to see whether Markkanen, a native of Finland, or the Belgian-born Ntilikina will be the first European-born player selected, so there's no great feel there at the moment. Duke's Luke Kennard (12.5) is the draft's top shooter at a time when that skill is in higher demand than ever before, but there is enough depth that he could potentially fall out of the lottery.


    Duke forward Harry Giles (15.5), at one point the No. 1 prep prospect in this class before injuries derailed him, could also be a lottery selection despite having a limited impact with the Blue Devils due to a knee injury that may scare teams off. Still, he's a marvelous athlete who plays with great energy when healthy and looms as a risk-reward play that should land him in the top-half of the first round.


    As things stand, this first round should feature the most freshmen ever, shattering the mark of 13. Since everyone understands this, the number being placed at 16.5 seems a little high. The number of internationals selected has been set at 4.5, and with clarification as to who is considered what since there are a few gray areas, take the over on that.


    Among colleges, Duke (3.5), Kentucky (2.5), UCLA (2.5) and UNC (1.5) each have props up on the number of first-rounders they'll produce. While Tatum, Kennard and Giles are locks, it's unlikely that freshman guard Frank Jackson will sneak in the Top 30.


    Riding rival North Carolina looks like the lock of the prop game, since you can expect both freshman center Tony Bradley and small forward Justin Jackson to represent the defending champs among the top 30 picks.


    Jackson (19.5) is a fantastic individual value play since he's climbing up draft boards with his potential as smart, valuable wing, while Bradley should be selected somewhere in the 20s by a team interested in his size and agility since he projects as a standout rebounder.


    Meanwhile, the overs for the 'Cats, and Bruins look strong since I expect Kentucky big man Bam Adebayo to be selected, joining Fox and Monk as draftees. Forwards Ike Anigbobu and TJ Leaf should join Ball and rep UCLA.
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    What offseason? A week after Finals, the NBA in overdrive
    June 20, 2017



    Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez are on the move. Dwyane Wade is opting in. Pau Gasol is opting out. The Los Angeles Lakers provided the clearest indication yet that Lonzo Ball is their guy.


    The NBA offseason is already in overdrive.


    A dizzying series of moves came on Tuesday. Howard got traded by the Atlanta Hawks to the Charlotte Hornets, who acquired the eight-time All-Star center for a package that included Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli.


    And Lopez - another center - is leaving Brooklyn and headed to the Lakers, part of a deal that has D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov going to the Nets.


    That leaves the Lakers with a clear need at point guard, a problem they will likely rectify on Thursday when they presumably will take Ball with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. It was a big move for the Lakers in another way; Mozgov is still owed $48 million over the next three seasons, while Lopez's contract will expire after next season.


    Howard will be playing for his third team in three seasons following a disappointing homecoming in Atlanta. He signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Atlanta and then sat out the fourth quarter in two of six playoff games in the Hawks' first-round loss to Washington.


    ''Let the madness begin,'' Portland guard CJ McCollum said. ''Draft week is always the most interesting time of the year.''


    Madness is right.


    Barely a week after the Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in three years, the rest of the league is maneuvering like mad.


    Along with the trades, confirmed by people with direct knowledge who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither deal was formally announced, Gasol opted out of his $16 million deal for next season with San Antonio - but intends to sign a new multiyear deal with the Spurs that will reduce his annual salary but give him more security, and presumably give his team a chance to add a big-time free agent this summer. Wade told the Bulls he will take his $23.8 million deal for next season, a decision he had until next week to make.


    And Minnesota parted ways with Nikola Pekovic, waiving him in what could be the last act of a career that was derailed by foot and ankle problems over the past three seasons. Pekovic missed all of last season and played only 12 games the previous season.


    All this comes with Paul George's status in Indiana most uncertain and with many trade rumors swirling there, the belief by many across the league that Jerry West joining the Clippers' front office could help their pursuit of LeBron James in the summer of 2018, and the ongoing watch in New York of what the Knicks will do - if anything - with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.


    It's not like Monday was a slow day, either.


    That was when Philadelphia and Boston completed the deal that sent the No. 1 overall pick to the 76ers - giving them the chance to take Markelle Fultz, and allowing the Celtics to choose likely either Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson at No. 3, which they got in the swap. The Celtics said they think the player they take at No. 3 would likely have been the player they used the No. 1 pick on anyway, so they called it a win-win move.


    Then came Monday night's news that the Cleveland Cavaliers were parting ways with general manager David Griffin after three straight trips to the NBA Finals, a move that James clearly was not happy about. Cleveland then talked with former All-Star guard Chauncey Billups on Tuesday about a job in the front office.


    To think, summer doesn't even start until Wednesday.


    The draft is Thursday.


    The league's inaugural after-the-season awards show is Monday.


    Free agency and the new collective bargaining agreement start on July 1.


    ''Wow,'' Phoenix guard Devin Booker said on Twitter.


    It wasn't clear what Booker was exactly referring to, though he probably said it a few times Tuesday.


    Wow, indeed.
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    Hawks trade Howard to Hornets
    June 20, 2017



    The Atlanta Hawks traded center Dwight Howard and the 31st pick in Thursday's draft to the Charlotte Hornets for forward Miles Plumlee, swingman Marco Belinelli and the 41st pick, according to multiple reports.


    The 31-year-old Howard, who signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Atlanta last July, averaged 13.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 74 games during the 2016-17 season. Charlotte will be Howard's fifth team after spending his first 13 seasons with Orlando (eight), the Los Angeles Lakers (one), Houston (three) and Atlanta (one).


    Plumlee, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract last season, averaged 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds across 10.8 minutes in 2016-17. He began last season with the Milwaukee Bucks before being dealt to Charlotte before the trade deadline.


    Belinelli averaged 10.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes last season. He comes with a $6.6-million cap hit as his three-year, $19 million contract expires after the 2017-18 season.
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    76ers appear poised to take Fultz at No. 1
    June 20, 2017



    PHILADELPHIA -- For the second consecutive year, the Philadelphia 76ers will have the first overall pick in the NBA draft.


    Last season, the Sixers selected LSU standout Ben Simmons, though he never played after suffering a broken bone in his foot toward the end of training camp.


    When the ping-pong balls landed in the 2017 draft lottery, Philadelphia came away with the No. 3 overall pick this year. But president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, allowing the Sixers to move up two spots to No. 1 again.


    It looks like Philadelphia is prepared to take Washington guard Markelle Fultz at No. 1. Paired with Simmons, the Sixers seem to have a rising backcourt for the next 10-to-12 years.


    Colangelo was rather vague when meeting with the media. That happens in the days leading up to the draft.


    "Most importantly we're taking the next step, I believe, in formulating a solid young core of players that ultimately will lead to a successful and sustainable product," Colangelo said. "That's our goal and that's where we want to be. With the certainty of No. 1, we know we control our circumstances."


    While Simmons missed the season, center Joel Embiid was limited to 31 games because of injuries. Forward Jahlil Okafor struggled with a balky knee. Philadelphia stumbled to 28 wins, putting its total number of victories at 75 over the last four seasons.


    The Sixers were fortunate in the lottery once again and seem primed to take another step with a high-caliber type of player at No. 1.


    "A lot of things are lining up, with hopefully good reason, again to be able to have the opportunity be able to select No. 1 and control our destiny," Colangelo said. " And then have Ben Simmons, and Jerryd Bayless, and others that will be either acquired in the trade or free agency join this mix, along with that developing core that was there, with a healthy Joel Embiid.


    "There's a lot of excitement and a lot of reason to move forward with a much further idea of what we have. Again, it is somewhat circumstantial that we're here. Nobody is angry about being here."


    If Philadelphia takes Fultz as expected, the rest of the top five in the draft appears to look like this: the Los Angeles Lakers selecting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball at No. 2; the Celtics taking Kansas guard/forward Josh Jackson at No. 3; the Phoenix Suns picking Duke forward Jayson Tatum at No. 4; and the Sacramento Kings selecting Kentucky guard De'Aaron Fox at No. 5.


    Of course, Florida State's Jonathan Isaac, Kentucky's Malik Monk and North Carolina State's Dennis Smith could all sneak in the top five because anything is possible on draft night.


    This is a particularly crucial draft for the Sixers. It's year five of coach Brett Brown's era and time to start winning for a fan base which has had to "Trust The Process," in honor of former general manager Sam Hinkie.


    Philadelphia also owns four second-round picks, acquired in previous trades with the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz. They could attempt to package some draft picks and move up for another potential first-round pick.


    Clearly, the focus is on the No. 1 choice, also known as Fultz.


    "It's great excitement, obviously," Colangelo said of the buzz of having the top pick. "We have a much better idea of where we are today than just a few days ago and, again, sitting in the No. 1 spot, we couldn't be in a better place. So, we know where we are, we've got pick certainty now and we can zero in on the fine details of that selection now.


    "And plan -- we can get a head start on planning for some of the things that follow that can also help us with our trade thoughts and free-agent thoughts moving forward."
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    Baynes declining option, becoming free agent
    June 20, 2017



    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Detroit backup center Aron Baynes is declining his player option for next season and becoming a free agent.


    Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons' coach and team president, confirmed the move Tuesday. The 30-year-old Baynes averaged 4.9 points in 75 games last season and has been a capable backup to Detroit star Andre Drummond over the past two years. Baynes has had to play crucial minutes at times, when Drummond was limited late in games because of his poor foul shooting.


    Detroit also has 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic, who can play a bigger role backing up Drummond if the Pistons lose Baynes. Marjanovic appeared in 35 games last season.


    **********************




    AP source: Dwyane Wade opts in for 2nd year with Bulls
    June 20, 2017


    CHICAGO (AP) Dwyane Wade has told the Chicago Bulls that he is exercising his $23.8 million option and will remain with them next season, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.


    The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the Bulls nor Wade had spoken publicly about the matter. Wade had until next week to decide whether to opt in or become a free agent.


    Wade averaged 18.3 points on 43 percent shooting last season, his first with the Bulls after 13 years in Miami. He missed 11 games in March with a fractured elbow, but he returned for Chicago's final three games to help the Bulls make the playoffs.


    Wade made $23.2 million this past season. He turns 36 in January.


    ******************************


    NBA notebook: Lakers acquire Lopez from Nets
    June 20, 2017



    The Los Angeles Lakers hold the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but they did not wait until Thursday night to begin reshaping their roster.


    The Lakers have reached an agreement to trade point guard D'Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for center Brook Lopez and the 27th selection in this year's draft, The Vertical reported Tuesday.


    Trading Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, all but assures that Los Angeles will select point guard Lonzo Ball of UCLA at No. 2 Thursday. It also gives the Lakers three first-round selections in the draft.


    Russell averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists in his second season with the Lakers and the 7-foot-1 Mozgov averaged 7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots last season.


    The 7-foot Lopez represents a dramatic upgrade for Los Angeles, particularly at the offensive end. He averaged a team-high 20.5 points last season for Brooklyn and owns career averages of 18.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in nine seasons with the Nets.


    --Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade is reportedly leaning toward exercising his $24 million player option to remain with the franchise next season.


    The 35-year-old Wade has until June 27 to make a decision.


    The Chicago native averaged 18.3 points in his first season with the Bulls. He played in 60 games and was sidelined late in the season with a fractured elbow. The scoring average was the second lowest of his 14-year career.


    Wade told the Bulls he didn't want to be part of a rebuilding process, so the former Miami Heat star is certainly closely watching the situation involving All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. The Bulls are shopping Butler leading up to Thursday's NBA Draft and the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly expressed interest.


    --Pau Gasol will decline a $16.2 million contract option for next season and become a free agent, but he is expected to re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs on a long-term deal, according to multiple reports.


    The 36-year-old center intends to negotiate a lower annual salary so that the Spurs are able to offer free agents more money this offseason, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Gasol averaged a career-low 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 64 games (39 starts) in his first season with the Spurs last season.


    Former All-Star David Lee is also expected to opt out of his deal with San Antonio. Lee's option for next season is worth $1.6 million. The 34-year-old averaged 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 79 games last season.


    --The Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers have begun discussing the possibilities of a Paul George trade, according to multiple reports.


    George recently relayed to the Pacers that he won't re-sign with the club after the 2017-18 season and added that he hopes to sign with the Lakers as a free agent. With Thursday's NBA draft approaching, Indiana is investigating whether it can trade the four-time All-Star forward to the Lakers either before the draft or on draft night.


    The Pacers are apparently asking for the No. 2 overall pick in the draft that belongs to the Lakers, as well as forward Brandon Ingram, who was the No. 2 overall pick in last season's draft. The Lakers aren't interested in that scenario as they have the knowledge that George could be had on the free-agent market 13 months from now.


    Indiana also has engaged in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other teams reported to have interest are the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards.


    --Kristaps Porzingis may not be long for New York as Knicks president Phil Jackson is considering trading the 7-foot-3 Latvian and has been fielding trade calls ahead of the draft, according to multiple reports.


    Porzingis, 21, has not been in contact with anybody within the Knicks' front office since the end of the season. He skipped exit meetings with Jackson and the team due to his frustration with the Knicks' dysfunction.


    The former fourth-overall draft pick in 2015 has averaged 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks over 138 games in his first two seasons with the Knicks. Last season, Porzingis averaged a career-high 18.1 points, 7.2 boards and two blocks in 66 contests.


    --Aron Baynes is set to become a free agent as the Detroit Pistons center will decline his $6.5 million player option, according to The Vertical.


    Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy has said repeatedly that he expected the 30-year-old Baynes to opt out and seek a better deal, the Detroit Free Press reports.


    The 6-foot-10 Baynes averaged 4.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 75 games (two starts) last season with the Pistons. He has career averages of 5.2 points and 4.1 boards in 295 games over five seasons with the Pistons and San Antonio Spurs.
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    Monday’s six-pack


    — Mookie Betts knocked in 8 runs Sunday, tied for most-ever in one game by a leadoff hitter.


    — Houston Rockets will have three players making $20M+ next season.


    — Kyle Schwarber at AAA Iowa: 10-26 with four homers. He’ll be back soon.


    — Detroit 103, New York 78— Knicks are terrible, even in summer league.


    — Vince Carter was a TV analyst yesterday on NBA TV; he had zero idea that Canyon Barry shoots his foul shots underhanded. Way to be prepared.


    — Arizona State got a commitment from the best basketball-playing 9th grader in the country. Not sure why a kid would commit that early, but Kyree Walker did.


    ******************************************


    Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend…….

    13) Colorado Rockies lost eight games in a row recently and the bandwagon was quickly emptying. Baseball season is very long, though; here is what I mean…….


    2012 Giants went 2-7 from June 29-July 8; they won the World Series
    2013 Cardinals went 0-7 from July 26-31; they lost the World Series.
    2014 Giants went 2-9 from June 23-July 4; they won the World Series.
    2015 Mets went 0-7 from June 17-24; they lost the World Series.
    2016 Cubs went 1-9 from June 30-July 9; they won the World Series.


    Every team hits a rough patch during the season, even the really good ones.


    12) Major league teams are 76-228 this season when they score two runs in a game; Cardinals are 7-2 at home when they score two runs.


    11) Miami Marlins said Brewers’ PH Jonathan Villar had too much pine tar on his bat, so when Marcell Ozuna batted for the Marlins, Milwaukee returned the favor and had two of his bats taken out of play for the same reason. Ozuna then used one of Giancarlo Stanton’s bats and hit a homer to give the Marlins a 7-3 lead. Weird gamesmanship.


    10) Odd Fact of the Day: In the last 40 years, only twice has a team broken a losing streak of 8+ games on its manager’s birthday. Both times, in 2008 and 2017, the manager was Bud Black.


    9) Brewers’ pitcher Zach Davies got 30 called strikes from plate umpire Joe West Saturday, which is really unusual; only third time this season a pitcher got 30 called strikes in one game. Dallas Keuchel, Alex Cobb were the other two pitchers.


    8) Odd to see the Michigan Wolverines’ football team ranked #127 out of 130 I-A team in terms of experience this season- they only have one starter back on defense.


    7) Random All-Star Game fact: Rosters have been reduced from 34 to 32 players this year and every team has be represented.


    6) Alex Rodriguez hit six home runs on his birthday, more than any major leaguer hit on their birthday.


    5) Chris Paul talked free agent PJ Tucker into choosing Houston over Toronto; he took $32M for four years from the Rockets, turned down $33M for three years from Toronto.


    You do the math. Tucker must like hanging around with Chris Paul..


    4) Padres called up reliever Kevin Quackenbush from AAA Sunday, the 5th time they’ve called him up this season. Unfortunately, he’s also been sent out five times.


    3) Mets-Nationals have an 11am game on the 4th of July (Tuesday). Lot of stuff going on in the nation’s capital, so they play the game earlier in the day.


    2) NBA happenings:
    — Andre Iguodala gets three years, $48M to stay with the Warriors
    — Kyle Korner gets three years, $22M to keep shooting jumpers in Cleveland.
    — Jodie Meeks gets $7M for two years from Washington
    — Taj Gibson gets two years, $28M from Minnesota
    — Serge Ibaka gets three years, $65M to stay in Toronto; Kyle Lowry gets three years, $100M to stay with the Raptors.
    — Denver Nuggets sign Paul Millsap; three years, $90M. Good day for the Millsaps.


    1) If you watch Ray Donovan on Showtime, the new season starts August 6, and Susan Sarandon is joining the cast, which is excellent news.
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    Former Flyers forward Lyubimov returns to Russia
    July 3, 2017



    MOSCOW (AP) Former Philadelphia Flyers forward Roman Lyubimov has decided to return to Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.


    CSKA Moscow announced Monday that Lyubimov signed a three-year deal with the team. Agent Dan Milstein said on Twitter that Lyubimov went home for a chance to play in the Winter Olympics.


    NHL players will not participate in the Olympics for the first time since 1994. Lyubimov is the first player to state that intention as a reason for leaving the league.


    The 25-year-old Lyubimov had four goals and two assists in 47 games with Philadelphia last season. He had seven goals and seven assists in 52 games during his last KHL season with CSKA Moscow in 2015-16.


    **********************


    Capitals sign RW Smith-Pelly, F Albert
    July 3, 2017



    The Washington Capitals signed right winger Devante Smith-Pelly and forward John Albert to a one-year, two-way contracts on Monday.


    Smith-Pelly's deal is worth $650,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 at the American Hockey League level. Albert's contract is for $650,000/$220,000.


    Smith-Pelly, 25, registered nine points (four goals, five assists) in 53 games with the New Jersey Devils last season. During the 2015-16 season, the 6-foot, 215-pounder recorded 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 64 games for the Montreal Canadiens and Devils, earning career highs in goals, points and game-winning goals with five.


    Smith-Pelly owns 77 points (33 goals, 44 assists) in 266 career NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal and New Jersey. The Scarborough, Ontario, native was drafted by Anaheim in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2010 NHL draft.


    Albert, 28, recorded 155 points (68 goals, 87 assissts) in 283 career AHL games with St. John's and Manitoba. The Cleveland, Ohio, native played in Finland for Karpat during the 2016-17 season, collecting 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists).


    The 5-11, 190-pound Albert was drafted by Atlanta in the sixth round in 2007. During the 2013-14 season, he appeared in nine games with the Winnipeg Jets and scored a goal. Prior to turning professional, Albert played at Ohio State.


    ***********************

    Jagr, Kovy among biggest FAs left in NHL
    July 3, 2017



    A busy weekend to kick off NHL free agency has left a few prominent players still looking for landing spots, and teams still needing to fill some holes.


    The leftover list is a who's who of stars from previous decades, notably Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, while Montreal is working to bring back Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov. Now that Joe Thornton has returned to San Jose and Patrick Marleau has moved on to Toronto , much of the intrigue has been taken out of the offseason.


    There are still a few big loose ends to address with two months left before training camp, though:

    OLD FISH



    Outside of 30-year-old Radulov, the most productive players remaining on the market are on the downside of their careers: Jagr at 45, Iginla at 40, Markov at 38 and Thomas Vanek at 33. Then there are 40-year-olds Shane Doan and Matt Cullen and 37-year-old Mike Fisher trying to decide whether to play another year.


    Cullen in particular showed he still has something left by helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons. He could help any contender.


    ''Cully was just such an amazing friend and an amazing teammate that no one would be surprised, at least that played with him, if he came back,'' said former Penguins center Nick Bonino, who signed a $16.4 million, four-year deal with the Predators. ''Physically, he's in great shape. I think for him, it's mentally if he wants to do another season of it.''


    Jagr won't be back with Florida, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he won't consider signing him for a second tour in Philadelphia.


    A couple of young players worth watching are former top prospects Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, who weren't given qualifying offers as restricted free agents. Yakupov and Grigorenko are 23, could come cheap on prove-it contracts and still contribute after rocky starts to their NHL careers.

    KOVALCHUK BACK TO KHL?



    Ilya Kovalchuk has been exploring a return to the NHL, but there's no evidence that's going to happen next season. The New Jersey Devils own the Russian forward's rights for one more year, and GM Ray Shero said it's first up to agent Jay Grossman to talk to interested teams about Kovalchuk before he even gets involved to potentially work out a trade.


    That hasn't happened yet.


    ''I assume at some point in the next few days, we should have a real good indication of what's going on or what he's going to do,'' Shero said.


    Kovalchuk could play one more season in the Kontinental Hockey League and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018 at age 35, when he'd also be eligible for an incentive-based contract.


    CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS


    Washington is making some major changes, which have less to do with an early playoff exit than an impossible salary-cap situation. Either way, the Capitals still need to confront some things. After signing right wing T.J. Oshie ($46 million/eight years), defenseman Dmitry Orlov ($30.6 million/six years) and center Evgeny Kuznetsov ($64.2 million/eight years), they cleared over $4.5 million in cap space by trading forward Marcus Johansson to New Jersey, but they can't be done.


    Washington has about $9.2 million to sign restricted free agent forward Andre Burakovsky and goaltender Philipp Grubauer and have enough remaining to fill out the roster with at least five other players.


    TRADE MARKET


    July has become a popular time for significant trades because teams have more cap space to maneuver than at the deadline. Because the expansion draft froze player movement for almost a week in June, there has been plenty of chatter, and the deals are expected to continue.


    Vegas has already flipped defensemen - Marc Methot to Dallas, Trevor van Riemsdyk to Carolina, Alexei Emelin to Nashville and David Schlemko to Montreal - and acquired center Marcus Kruger from Chicago. The Devils are still looking for a defenseman and could use their forward depth to acquire one.


    And then there's Colorado center Matt Duchene, who was at the epicenter of trade talk in February and still hasn't been dealt. Columbus, Pittsburgh and Nashville have been rumored as potential destinations for Duchene.


    ''I don't create the rumors and I don't really comment on them, so it doesn't really matter to me on rumors,'' Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said. ''You guys will know if we decide to make a move that we think improves our club.''

    EXTENSION SEASON

    New contracts signed already that kick in for the 2018-19 season include Canadiens goaltender Carey Price's $84 million over eight years, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's $56 million over eight years and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones' $34.5 million over six years. Price's new $10.5 million cap hit ties him with Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the highest in the league - for now.


    That's because the Edmonton Oilers are expected to soon finalize a deal with 20-year-old captain and Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid that could be worth in the neighborhood of $12 or 13 million. Edmonton also has to sign restricted free agent forward Leon Draisaitl this summer, and that won't come cheap.


    John Tavares' situation with the New York Islanders bears watching, with speculation that he'll go into next season without an extension. Tavares is a nearly irreplaceable franchise player, though he has to believe that the Islanders are building a Cup contender in order to commit long term.
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    Sharks re-sign Thornton, Leafs get Marleau
    July 2, 2017

    The San Jose Sharks retained one of the franchise's cornerstone players and lost one in moves announced Sunday.


    The Sharks re-signed free agent center Joe Thornton to a one-year, $8 million contract after they lost free agent left winger Patrick Marleau to the Toronto Maple Leafs.


    Marleau, 37, signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Leafs.


    "Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it's only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward," general manager Doug Wilson said. "He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game.


    "He has helped lead this team to new levels and continues to be one of the top two-way centers in the league. His leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise's success, and we're excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose."


    Thornton, 38, and Marleau had been together with the Sharks since 2005. They helped lead San Jose to three conference finals and one Stanley Cup Final.


    Thornton's production dropped off some last season. His seven goals were the fewest since he broke into the NHL as a rookie during the 1997-98 season, but he contributed 43 assists.


    A left knee injury limited his effectiveness during the playoffs this year. Thornton had surgery in the offseason and hopes to be ready to go by training camp.


    Thornton ranks among the NHL's career leaders in assists (1,007) and points (1,391). He's also the franchise leader in goals, games and points.


    Marleau had been an iron man with the Sharks, producing 508 goals and 574 assists during his long career while rarely missing a game. Last season, he scored 27 goals in 82 regular-season games.


    "I think I've worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision over the last couple of days," Marleau said.


    Marleau joins the up-and-coming Maple Leafs, who made it into the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs last season led by young star Auston Matthews.


    "Patrick has been a pillar of this franchise since he was drafted as a 17-year-old in 1997, and has become one of the elite players in our team's history," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "He owns nearly every offensive record in Sharks history, scored some big goals for our team and helped shape San Jose into a true hockey city.


    "While we were hoping he would choose to return to San Jose, we wish him the absolute best.""


    ************************


    Capitals re-sign Kuznetsov, trade Johansson to Devils
    July 2, 2017



    The Washington Capitals made two significant moves on Sunday during the NHL's free agency period, starting with left winger Evgeny Kuznetsov signing an eight-year, $62.4 million contract to stay with the team.


    Kuznetsov's salary will count $7.8 million against the team's salary cap through the 2024-25 season. The Capitals will need to make more roster moves to get below the $75 million cap for next season.


    That's a big reason the Capitals traded forward Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday for second- and third-round picks in the NHL draft in 2018.


    That move will save the Capitals about $4.58 million in cap space.


    The 26-year-old Johansson totaled a career-best 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists) while playing in all 82 regular-season games last season for the Capitals, who reached the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He added two goals and six assists in the postseason.


    In 501 career NHL games, all with the Capitals, Johansson has 102 goals and 188 assists. He was drafted in the first round by Washington in 2009.


    The 25-year-old Kuznetsov was a restricted free agent. The new contract makes him Washington's second-highest paid player behind captain Alex Ovechkin.


    Last season, Kuznetsov had 19 goals and 40 assists for 59 points. In 261 career NHL games with the Capitals, he amassed 182 points on 53 goals and 129 assists. He led the team in points with 77 in 2015-16.


    "Evgeny is a premier center in the NHL and we are pleased that he will remain in Washington for at least the next eight years," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. "It is difficult to find a player of his caliber, who is in his prime and makes his teammates better. Evgeny plays with a tremendous skill, speed and tenacity needed to win in the NHL."


    The Capitals have lost winger Justin Williams to the Carolina Panthers, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the New York Rangers and Karl Alzner to the Montreal Canadiens since free agency began.
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    Capitals sign Kuznetsov to $62.4M deal
    July 2, 2017



    ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) As the Washington Capitals closed in on a big-money, long-term deal with Evgeny Kuznetsov, they explored ways to make sure they could afford it under the salary cap.


    On Sunday, the Capitals signed Kuznetsov to a $62.4 million, eight-year deal and made room for the talented Russian center by trading forward Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils for 2018 second- and third-round picks. The back-to-back Presidents' Trophy winners committed $7.8 million per season to Kuznetsov, $5.75 million to right winger T.J. Oshie and $5.1 million to Dmitry Orlov and had to do something.


    ''You can't argue with signing Orlov and Oshie and Kuznetsov,'' Devils general manager Ray Shero said. ''Good teams like Washington, all teams have to do it at some point: You're making decisions and rearranging the furniture. There's a salary cap. And if there wasn't, I'm pretty sure Marcus would still be in Washington.''


    Signed through 2024-25, Kuznetsov is now the second highest-paid player on the Capitals roster behind only captain Alex Ovechkin's $9.54 million cap hit and ahead of center Nicklas Backstrom's $6.7 million. The 25-year-old had 19 goals and 40 assists for 59 points last season. In 261 NHL games with the Capitals, he has 182 points on 53 goals and 129 assists, and he led the team in points in 2015-16.


    ''Evgeny is a premier center in the NHL, and we are pleased that he will remain in Washington for at least the next eight years,'' GM Brian MacLellan said. ''It is difficult to find a player of his caliber, who is in his prime and makes his teammates better. Evgeny plays with a tremendous skill, speed and tenacity needed to win in the NHL.''


    There was no doubt the Capitals would agree to a long-term deal with Kuznetsov, even amid interest from Russia's Kontinental Hockey League in him and Orlov, who signed for $30.6 million over six years. After giving Oshie $46 million over eight years and still needing to re-sign restricted free agent forward Andre Burakovsky and goaltender Philipp Grubauer, Washington cleared roughly $4.58 million in cap space by sending Johansson to New Jersey.


    The Capitals got Florida's second-rounder and Toronto's third-rounder next year after not having a pick in the first three rounds of this year's draft. The Devils get a 26-year-old Swede coming off a career-high 58-point season.


    ''It's a trade that obviously helps both teams,'' Shero said. ''Washington with their cap and being able to trade a great player like Kuznetsov and certainly a team like ours taking advantage of that and adding a real good young player and an up-and-coming player in Marcus.''


    Shero said he'd been monitoring the Capitals' salary-cap situation for some time. Washington lost in the second round for the second consecutive year, but changes were coming no matter the playoff result.


    The Capitals already couldn't afford to bring back winger Justin Williams and defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner. Williams signed a $9 million, two-year deal with Carolina, Alzner a $23.125 million, five-year deal with Montreal and Shattenkirk a $26.6 million, four-year deal with the New York Rangers.


    The Devils were in on Shattenkirk, but when that didn't happen, upgrading their forward depth by getting Johansson was the next step. New Jersey has missed the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, so taking advantage of a perennial contender's jam is just part of the process to try to get back in the postseason mix.


    ''I've been on the other end,'' said Shero, who won the Stanley Cup in 2009 as the Pittsburgh Penguins' GM. ''Washington's got a real good team. I want to get there. But this is where we are.''
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    NHL notebook: Canadiens G Price lands 8-year extension
    July 2, 2017



    The Montreal Canadiens signed goaltender Carey Price to an eight-year, $84 million contract extension on Sunday to keep him with the team through the 2025-26 season.


    The deal is worth a reported $10.5 million per year starting with the 2018-19 season.


    Price, 29, completed his 10th season in the NHL, all with the Canadiens, in 2016-17. He maintained a record of 37-20-5 in 62 games, posting three shutouts, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.


    Since 2007-08, Price owns a 270-175-55 record in 509 regular-season games, with a 2.40 GAA and a .920 save percentage. He ranks fourth in Canadiens history with 39 shutouts.


    --The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for future considerations.


    Kruger, 27, registered 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 398 career regular-season games with Chicago in seven seasons, including winning two Stanley Cup titles. He had five goals and 12 assists in 70 games in 2016-17.


    The 6-foot, 186-pound Kruger just completed the first year of a three-year deal that carries a salary-cap hit of $3.083 million. The Blackhawks reportedly were over next season's salary cap of $75 million by about $2.1 million before the trade.


    --The Florida Panthers announced Saturday night that they are parting ways with veteran Jaromir Jagr.


    The future Hall of Famer turned 45 in February and is no longer the scoring threat he was in his prime. He ranks third in NHL history with 765 goals and second with 1,914 points.


    Jagr, a 10-time All-Star, scored 16 goals and 46 points this past season. He played two-plus seasons with the Panthers.


    Jagr recently said on Twitter that he hopes to play next season.


    --The Panthers signed forward Sebastian Repo to a three-year, entry-level contract.


    Repo, 21, appeared in 46 regular-season games for Tampere Tappara of Finland's Liiga, collecting 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists), and he appeared in eight games with the Lahti Pelicans, posting three assists. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound native of Lahti, Finland, registered six goals and one assist in 18 playoff games with Tampere en route to a Liiga Championship.


    Repo was originally selected by Florida in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft.
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    Rangers, Stars winning NHL free agency
    July 2, 2017



    Several big winners in the first hours of the NHL's free-agent signing period didn't even have to move.


    From Carey Price to Cam Fowler to Evgeny Kuznetsov, a bunch of veterans got paid by their current teams when the free-agent floodgates opened during the weekend. Several clubs moved quickly to lock up proven quantities, often a full year before they even got the chance to hit the open market.


    The free-agent period has been even quieter because not many big names are available. Teams also did much of their roster shuffling earlier in the summer to prepare for the Vegas Golden Knights' expansion draft.


    So while the first flurries of free-agent movement aren't quite as exciting as in past years, a few teams and players distinguished themselves with their early offseason maneuverings - and a few left themselves with work to do.


    WINNER: New York Rangers. They landed the biggest prize on the market in Kevin Shattenkirk, who clearly wanted to come home to play on Broadway. The puck-moving defenseman should be a big boost to an already-strong roster, and New York didn't have to break the bank or lock in for more than three years to get him. The Rangers also re-signed Brendan Smith earlier, further bolstering their defense.


    LOSER: Montreal Canadiens. They locked up the extraordinary Price, one of the NHL's elite goalies, but paid an extraordinary price to do so. That reported $84 million commitment won't make it easier for the Habs to keep Andrei Markov and Alex Radulov, who combined to score 90 points for Montreal last season, but are now looking elsewhere. It's tough to win every game 1-0, even against talent-depleted rosters in a post-expansion season in the low-scoring modern NHL.


    PUSH: Chicago Blackhawks. They got the band back together with the acquisitions of Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad, but they lost quality NHL players in Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin, along with Marian Hossa's unfortunate woes. Perhaps the Blackhawks needed a roster shakeup after their postseason pasting from Nashville, but Chicago could be playing it too safe by sticking with its old favorites.


    WINNER: Dallas Stars. GM Jim Nill has checked the most important boxes on his presumptive list of offseason priorities. After landing franchise goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Marc Methot before free agency, he signed center Martin Hanzal to add depth down an already strong middle and another 20 goals to their offense. The pieces appear to be in place for a playoff contender.

    LOSER:
    Colorado Avalanche. It's been a rough nine months in the Rockies. After a horrific 48-point regular season and a depressing fall in the NHL draft lottery, the Avs lost valuable goalie Calvin Pickard to Vegas in the expansion draft. During the free-agent weekend, Colorado acquired Colin Wilson from Nashville and signed journeyman goalie Jonathan Bernier. Meanwhile, Matt Duchene remains squarely on the trading block. It's tough to see improvement.


    PUSH: San Jose Sharks. Joe Thornton is staying in the South Bay on a one-year deal, but Patrick Marleau is gone from the franchise that has employed him since 1997. General manager Doug Wilson also paid top dollar in long-term extensions for defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic - he got more money than the Ducks' Fowler, who's five years younger - and goalie Martin Jones. Marleau is gone, but the Sharks' core is largely locked in, for better or worse.

    WINNER:
    Nashville Predators. Nick Bonino is a gritty veteran forward who should fit splendidly into a winning core, and Alexei Emelin could slot in well on an already formidable blue line. Even with their free-agent losses, the Western Conference champions probably got better.

    LOSER:
    Washington Capitals. The NHL's best regular-season team has lost veteran forward Justin Williams and defensemen Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Shattenkirk during the offseason. Washington locked down Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov with top-dollar deals befitting their talents, but still consuming a chunk of the payroll. The Caps also kept T.J. Oshie, but only with a head-scratching contract. Washington still has a strong talent base, but it took a hit.


    PUSH: Pittsburgh Penguins. The two-time Stanley Cup champions had to make several tough decisions this summer, and they ended up losing a significant portion of their title-winning supporting cast, including Bonino, Chris Kunitz, Marc-Andre Fleury, Trevor Daley and Ron Hainsey. But backup goalie Antti Niemi is on board, and GM Jim Rutherford re-signed defenseman Justin Schultz. The departures will clear playing time for Pittsburgh's next generation - and as long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are on the ice, the Penguins can probably change on the fly.
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    Blackhawks ship F Kruger to Las Vegas
    July 2, 2017



    The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday in exchange for future considerations.


    Kruger, 27, registered 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 398 career regular-season games with Chicago over seven seasons, including winning two Stanley Cup titles. He had five goals and 12 assists in 70 games in 2016-17.


    The 6-foot, 186-pound Kruger just completed the first year of a three-year deal that carries a salary-cap hit of $3.083 million. The Blackhawks reportedly were over next season's salary cap of $75 million by about $2.1 million prior to the trade.


    "We thank Marcus for his many contributions to our team -- most notably, two Stanley Cup Championships," general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "His work ethic, reliability and strength as a two-way player made him a valuable member of the organization. We wish him the best with Vegas."


    The Stockholm, Sweden, native was a member of the Blackhawks' 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup championship teams, collecting six goals and 10 assists in 87 career postseason games.


    Kruger was drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL draft.


    ************************


    Habs lock up G Price on 8-yr, $84M deal
    July 2, 2017



    The Montreal Canadiens signed goaltender Carey Price to an eight-year, $84 million contract extension Sunday to keep him with the team through the 2025-26 season.


    The deal is worth a reported $10.5 million per year starting with the 2018-19 season.


    Price, 29, completed his 10th season in the NHL, all with the Canadiens, in 2016-17. He maintained a record of 37-20-5 in 62 games, recording three shutouts, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.


    Price was one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the best goaltender in the NHL. He took part in his fifth All-Star Game.


    Since 2007-08, the 6-foot-3, 226-pound Price owns a 270-175-55 record in 509 regular-season games, with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He ranks fourth in Canadiens history with 39 shutouts.


    During the 2014-15 season, Price set a Canadiens record for a goaltender with 44 wins, and earned the Hart, Vezina, Jennings and Ted Lindsay trophies.


    Price, a native of Anahim Lake, British Columbia, was the Canadiens' first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2005 NHL draft.


    On the international stage for Canada, Price has won the gold medal at the 2007 World Junior Championship, at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and at the World Cup of Hockey last September. He also helped the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs win the Calder Cup in 2007.


    **************************


    Penguins sign D Schultz to three-year deal
    July 1, 2017



    The Pittsburgh Penguins signed restricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, the team announced on Saturday.


    The contract has an average annual value of $5.5 million and runs through the 2019-20 season.


    Schultz recorded career highs in goals (12), assists (39), points (51), plus-minus (plus-27) and power-play points (20) in 78 games last season with the Penguins. The 26-year-old is coming off a one-year, $1.4 million deal.


    "Justin plays a very important role for our team," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "It's very good to know that he will be returning to us for the next three years."


    Schultz has collected 41 goals and 119 assists in 344 career NHL games since being selected with a second-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 draft. He was unable to agree to a contract with the Ducks and later signed with Edmonton and spent four seasons with the Oilers.


    Schultz was ultimately dealt to the Penguins at the trade deadline for a 2016 third-round pick.
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    Mason, Elliott cash in on robust free agent goalie market
    July 1, 2017



    Brian Elliott looked at the free agent landscape for goaltenders and knew it wasn't pretty.


    There were only a handful of openings for starters or in platoon situations, making the process plenty stressful for him and his goaltending counterparts around the NHL.


    Even in this climate, the goaltending market was robust on the first day of free agency as Elliott signed a two-year deal with Philadelphia, Steve Mason with Winnipeg and Ryan Miller with Anaheim.


    ''With the spots open to play a majority of the games and be a major contributor and not a backup, there weren't that many spots,'' Elliott said after signing a $5.5 million deal worth $2.75 million each season with the Flyers.


    ''You kind of knew what was out there and knew what everybody was thinking, so you just make your decision from there.''


    Though there were no deals of any kind beyond seven years or more than $30 million, it was a big day for the goaltending carousel.


    Despite an inconsistent season, Mason cashed in with an $8.2 million contract to start for the Jets, and despite being on the verge of turning 37, Miller got $4 million from the Ducks to split time with John Gibson.


    Mason got the biggest contract among free agent goalies even after his .908 save percentage ranked 34th among those with at least 30 appearances last season.


    Five teams expressed serious interest, and Winnipeg was willing to pay him $4.1 million a season to shoulder the load and mentor young Connor Hellebuyck.


    ''At 29 years old right now, I feel I'm entering the prime of my career,'' Mason said. ''I can come up with the big saves that we can need on any given night that can help us get over the edge here.''


    Elliott had a number of teams calling about him after an up-and-down season with the Calgary Flames that ended with a first-round sweep. The 32-year-old has led the league in save percentage twice and will be given the chance to win the No. 1 job for the Flyers, competing against Michal Neuvirth in a market that's no stranger to goalie controversy.


    While Mason said upon leaving Philadelphia that he didn't think a platoon works, Elliott pointed to the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup with a two-goalie system as evidence.


    Explaining his roller-coaster career that led to this free agent opportunity wasn't so easy.


    ''I'd write a book if I knew that,'' Elliott said. ''Everybody's been the best goalie in the NHL one night and everybody's been the worst. ... The NHL, there's so much pressure on every night that you have to perform.''


    Miller has endured that pressure as the starter in Buffalo, St. Louis and Vancouver and found a home in Anaheim close to where actress wife Noureen DeWulf works. A good fit for his family also got Miller a two-year deal that's increasingly rare for goalies in their late 30s.


    ''I was exploring what people were open to, and the Ducks were open to that,'' Miller said. ''I feel like I have a lot of hockey left in me. I've been able to take care of myself. I can still play at a fairly high level.''


    The biggest goalie contract of the day belonged to the San Jose Sharks' Martin Jones, who was extended for $34.5 million on a deal that kicks in for the 2018-19 season and counts $5.75 million per season after that. GM Doug Wilson said Jones plays big when it matters.


    Not long ago Jones was a backup in Los Angeles to Jonathan Quick, and on Saturday a handful of current or new backups got good money. Jonathan Bernier signed a $2.75 million, one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche, Chad Johnson got $2.5 million next season from the Buffalo Sabres and Anders Nilsson got $5 million over two years from the Vancouver Canucks.


    ''I had good conversations with different agents, with different goaltenders, but Jonathan Bernier, he's a guy that we thought was a good fit for us, especially with his experience,'' Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said. ''With (Semyon Varlamov) coming back (off surgery), we don't want him playing much more than 50 games. Jonathan played almost 40 games last year for Anaheim, so we know he can do it.''


    Former Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec signed a $1.3 million, one-year deal to be Henrik Lundqvist's backup with the New York Rangers, Darcy Kuemper signed for $650,000 with the Kings and Antti Niemi went from being bought out by the Dallas Stars to taking a $700,000, one-year deal to join the Penguins and play behind Matt Murray.


    The shifting goalie landscape means Mason and Miller are moving into more mentorship roles at this stage of their careers as they try to compete for jobs at the same time. Mason pointed to teaching young Anthony Stolarz the ropes in Philadelphia, and Miller had a similar circumstance in Vancouver with goalie of the future Jacob Markstrom.


    ''My role is going to change, and I'm aware of that heading into it,'' Miller said. ''You need to play the best you can to give your guys a chance to win. That's still a priority. That's what I'm focusing on. If I can help John along the way, I hope to.''
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    Golden Knights get to know each other in development camp
    July 1, 2017



    LAS VEGAS (AP) While the rest of the NHL chased veteran players in free agency, the Vegas Golden Knights finished up the franchise's first player development camp Saturday with optimism for their young future.


    The expansion club's prospects spent the week working out at the diminutive Las Vegas Ice Center, about 15 minutes southwest of T-Mobile Arena and 10 minutes from its nearly-completed practice arena. The rink was packed with fans when the Golden Knights held intrasquad scrimmages over the final three days of camp.


    Vegas general manager George McPhee wasn't active in the veteran free-agent market, only signing six players to minor-league deals. Although he took plenty of calls and swung a trade to send defenseman Alexei Emelin to Nashville for a third-round pick, McPhee largely used the week to learn more about the talent in the Golden Knights' system.


    ''I hope they had a great week,'' McPhee said of his youngsters. ''I hope they learned something while they were here, hope they got to know future teammates, hope that for the rest of the summer they do what we've instructed them to do, in terms of training and eating right and accelerate their development process. It's been nice to be able to be here and focus on these players that are here.''


    The lone player in Golden Knights camp with any NHL experience was Alex Tuch. He wasn't expected to attend after being acquired in an expansion draft trade with Minnesota last week, but the 21-year-old forward showed up anyway.


    ''I wanted to get my bearings under me, get the lay of the land and everything,'' said Tuch, who played six games for the Wild last season. ''I hadn't been to Las Vegas at all, so I wanted to get the feel of that, see how the weather is, which is pretty nice. It's a brand-new organization, a lot to learn, new set of eyes, new management, new coaching staff, and that was my first thought coming in, that it would be awesome to get some more experience and comfortability with the staff and management coming into training camp.''


    Tuch said the Golden Knights' camp was a bit different than the three he has attended in the past, in that they involved more conditioning drills and were overall a bit more grueling. This week was more about fundamentals and going through seminars with coaches and guest clinicians, not to mention bonding with a group of players who barely knew one another.


    ''They're not trying to kill us,'' said Tuch, who had 37 points in 57 games with Iowa in the AHL last season. ''It's a learning experience. This has been a real good camp. Everybody has worked hard and you can see everyone wants to be here and wants to make an impact. There's a lot of younger guys ... and I think everyone has learned a lot this week.''


    Tuch was an elder statesman in camp with the likes of 18-year-old Cody Glass, Vegas' first-ever draft selection. The Portland Winterhawks center was chosen sixth overall last week, and while he probably won't see any NHL action for a couple of years, the camp was a key milestone.


    ''I think the week went by really fast, but it was a really good experience,'' Glass said. ''For me, I was just trying to take it all in. Getting into those games, obviously there's some strength-related issues I need to work on. To get to the next level you've got to be bigger and faster, and that's why in the summertime, that's a huge thing for me.''


    The Golden Knights are two months away from their first training camp, but they've already got most of their inaugural core in place from the expansion draft. McPhee won't stop looking for talent.


    ''We talked to people, but we just didn't see a fit with anyone for our club this year,'' McPhee said. ''We'll keep talking to clubs. If there is a deal there that makes sense, we'll move the player. If not, we'll keep him until we get to camp. We did really well in expansion ... so why don't we just see how they can do?''


    Vegas retained just under $1.2 million of Emelin's salary
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    End of an era: Jagr's time in Florida is over
    July 1, 2017



    Jaromir Jagr gave the Florida Panthers some star power, helped them win a division championship and unquestionably played a role in energizing what had been a stagnant fan base.


    And now his tenure with the Panthers is over.


    Making official what was suspected for some time, the Panthers revealed Saturday that they are going forward without the future sure-fire Hall of Fame forward. On a day dominated by free-agent signings - like adding forwards Evgeny Dadonov, Radim Vrbata and Micheal Haley - the biggest news out of Florida was that Jagr is no longer in the Panthers' plans.


    ''I can't say enough. It was an honor to be touched by a legend,'' said general manager Dale Tallon, who ultimately made the call to move on. ''I was torn. It was a tough couple weeks, or months, whatever it was. Can't thank him enough. What he did for our kids, for myself and everyone in this organization, you can't measure it.''


    Jagr was with the Panthers for 2 1/2 seasons. He'll turn 46 next season, still wants to play and is coming off a 46-point season for a Florida team that wasn't exactly loaded with offensive weaponry. But in the end, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press, the two sides were simply too far apart on financial terms to make any more talks feasible.


    Jagr was a massive presence in the locker room, and teammates picked his brain constantly about his obsession with fitness and how he keeps his game as sharp as possible. He's the No. 2 all-time scorer in NHL history, behind only Wayne Gretzky.


    ''I think it's time now for our guys to take over,'' Tallon said. ''Our core young guys need to take over this team.''


    Tallon said the Panthers needed to get younger and faster - part of the thinking behind both the decision to move on from Jagr and to give forward Jussi Jokinen a buyout on Saturday. The 34-year-old Jokinen had 28 points in 69 games last season.


    ''It's just a matter of going in a different direction,'' Tallon said.


    Dadonov is the most likely candidate to join young standouts Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida's top line, filling the role that Jagr has held.


    Dadonov is starting his second stint with the Panthers after being out of the NHL for more than five years. Dadonov appeared in 55 games for Florida between 2010 and 2012, with 10 goals and 10 assists. He's spent the past five seasons in Russia's KHL, with 101 goals and 123 assists in stints with Donbass and St. Petersburg.


    ''In all the three world championships I've been involved with with Team USA, he's been the best player in the tournament,'' Tallon said. ''He's a totally different player than when he first came over.''


    Vrbata is 36, but is coming off a 20-goal season with Arizona. And with forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith now gone to Vegas, Florida needed to find more scorers.


    ''Dale is excited about this team,'' Vrbata said. ''And so am I.''
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    Ducks to sign G Miller, ink D Fowler to extension
    July 1, 2017



    Ryan Miller has agreed to sign a two-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, the team announced Saturday.


    Terms of the goaltender's contract were not released by the team, but TSN reports Miller's deal is worth $4 million.


    The Ducks also signed defenseman Cam Fowler to an eight-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season. Fowler will receive $52 million over the life of the deal, the Orange County Register reported.


    Miller, 36, won the Vezina Trophy as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 2010 and ranks 19th all-time in NHL history with 358 victories.


    The 14-year veteran is 358-262-73 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in 709 career games.


    Miller entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick of the Sabres in 1999 and spent his first 10 1/2 seasons with Buffalo. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues during the 2013-14 season and signed with the Vancouver Canucks as a free agent the following season.


    Last season with the Canucks, Miller posted a subpar 18-29-6 record with a 2.80 GAA and a .914 save percentage over 54 games.


    Fowler, 25, was a first-time All-Star with the Ducks last season after totaling a career-high 11 goals and 28 assists (39 points) in 80 games. He spent his first seven NHL seasons with Anaheim, totaling 45 goals and 172 assists (217 points) in 494 games.


    "Cam Fowler is the type of player we want here long term," Ducks executive vice president and general manager Bob Murray said. "He has the obvious skill set, but also tremendous character and a drive to succeed. As good as he is, he's not yet in his prime years, so we know the best is yet to come."


    Anaheim went 46-23-13 (105 points) to win the Pacific Division and finish third in the Western Conference last season. The Ducks advanced to the Western Conference finals before being eliminated by the Nashville Predators in six games.
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    Sharks lock up key cogs Vlasic, Jones with long-term deals
    July 1, 2017



    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks opened free agency Saturday by signing long-term contracts that will keep two key players off the open market next summer.


    The Sharks signed shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to a $56 million, eight-year contract and goalie Martin Jones to a $34.5 million, six-year deal. Both players had one year remaining on their contracts and got modified no-trade clauses.


    ''They were really important,'' general manager Doug Wilson said. ''These are guys who fit for now and the future. They are core pieces for our team at key positons.''


    The Sharks did not reach deals with longtime stalwarts Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau before they hit the open market officially. San Jose has offers out to both players but Wilson wouldn't comment about where negotiations stand.


    Marleau has been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 and has 508 goals in his career. Thornton was the top pick by Boston that same year and came to San Jose in November 2005. He ranks in the top 25 all-time in assists (1,007, 13th place) and points (1,391, 22nd place).


    The team has made three conference finals with the duo and went to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to Pittsburgh in 2016.


    ''I'd love them to be back,'' Vlasic said. ''If they're not, I totally understand the game. We'll try to find other guys in the league or in our system to fill the roles as much as they can.''


    If Thornton or Marleau leave, the Sharks will have to replace their scoring. The defense should be in good shape for years to come thanks to the new deals with Vlasic and Jones and an eight-year extension for Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns last November.


    The Sharks also have key forwards Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture under contract for two more seasons and several young players they hope will develop in the next few years.


    ''That's a good starting point,'' Vlasic said. ''We've been competitive every year since I've been on this team. I don't see us dropping off in the near future and I see us being very competitive many years down the road.''


    The 30-year-old Vlasic was a second-round pick by San Jose in 2005 and became a constant presence on the blue line the following year. If he finishes this contract with San Jose he will spend 20 seasons with the Sharks.


    Vlasic has played 812 games over 11 seasons and is usually tasked with shutting down the opponent's top scorers. He had six goals and 22 assists last season, while blocking 146 shots and playing more than two minutes a game short-handed.


    ''Marc-Edouard is one of the most respected players in the league, certainly one of the best defenseman,'' Wilson said. ''Not only the best stopper against other teams' top players but he can move pucks. We expect even more offense going forward. We think he's coming into prime of his career.''


    The 27-year-old Jones has been a rock in goal since being acquired in a trade with Boston two years ago that included a first-round draft pick for a player who had never been a consistent starter in the NHL.


    Jones backed up San Jose's belief in him and helped the team reach the Cup Final in 2016 and the playoffs this past season.


    ''Ultimately he plays big when it matters,'' Wilson said. ''That's always been his history. Obviously we don't get to the Stanley Cup Final two years ago without him. The ultimate compliment for a goalie is that a team loves playing in front of him and trusts him. He has that.''


    Jones leads the NHL with 130 games started the past two seasons and is tied for second with 72 wins. He has allowed 2.33 goals per game with the Sharks.


    ''All I have to worry about is focusing on playing hockey right now,'' he said. ''It's important. I didn't have a lot of doubts it wouldn't get done anyway. But it's nice to get it out of the way and just focus on hockey.''
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    NHL notebook: Avalanche sign former No. 1 overall pick Yakupov
    July 4, 2017



    The Colorado Avalanche signed former top overall pick Nail Yakupov to a one-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.


    Yakupov, a forward, collected just nine points (three goals, six assists) in 40 games with the St. Louis Blues last season. The 23-year-old Russian, who is coming off a two-year, $5 million contract, was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer until the Blues opted against sending him a qualifying offer.


    "Nail is a young, skilled winger who will add depth to our lineup," Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said. "We look forward to seeing him at training camp."


    Yakupov has yet to live up to expectations since being selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the first overall pick of the 2012 draft. He spent four seasons in Edmonton before being traded to St. Louis in October for forward Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick of the 2017 draft. Yakupov has recorded 53 goals and 67 assists in 292 career contests with the Oilers and Blues.


    --The San Jose Sharks signed forward Brandon Bollig to a one-year contract, the team announced.


    Financial terms were not disclosed for Bollig, who recorded 11 goals, 11 assists and 136 penalty minutes in 60 games last season with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.


    The 30-year-old Bollig spent his previous two campaigns with the Calgary Flames, collecting three goals and six assists in 116 games.


    A Stanley Cup champion with Chicago, Bollig notched 10 goals, 13 assists and 392 penalty minutes in 241 career contests with the Blackhawks and Flames.


    --The Carolina Hurricanes acquired center Marcus Kruger from the Vegas Golden Knights for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft.


    Kruger recorded five goals, 12 assists and a plus-7 rating in 70 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 27-year-old is set to enter the second campaign of a three-year deal worth $9.25 million with a cap hit of $3.083 million.


    Kruger also represented his home country of Sweden for the 2017 IIHF World Championship, where he won the gold medal along with fellow Hurricanes Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask and Joakim Nordstrom.


    A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Kruger has collected 33 goals, 72 assists and 176 penalty minutes in 398 career games with the Blackhawks.


    --The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Michael Latta to a one-year, two-way contract.


    Terms of the contract were not disclosed for Latta, who notched four goals and 17 points in 113 games over three seasons with the Washington Capitals from 2013-2016.


    Latta, a former third-round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2009 draft, split last season with the Ontario Reign and Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
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    2017-18 Season Win Totals
    September 17, 2017



    The 2017-18 NHL season begins in October as the Pittsburgh Penguins shoot for its third consecutive Stanley Cup title.


    The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag released season win totals for all 29 teams in the league, including the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Not surprisingly, Vegas is listed with the lowest win total in the league at 26, while the Avalanche (who finished with the least amount points in the NHL) are the only other squad below 30 wins by getting posted at 29.


    On the high end, the Capitals were one of four teams to reach the 50-win mark last season and are the only squad to be listed above 50 at BetOnline.ag with 50 victories. The upstart Oilers have the highest win total in the Western Conference at 47, while the defending champion Penguins sit at 46.


    Listed below are the odds in alphabetical order per BetOnline.ag.


    Regular Season Wins



    Anaheim Ducks
    Over 46 Wins -115
    Under 46 Wins -115


    Arizona Coyotes
    Over 33 Wins -115
    Under 33 Wins -115


    Boston Bruins
    Over 44 Wins +100
    Under 44 Wins -130


    Buffalo Sabres
    Over 37 Wins -130
    Under 37 Wins +100


    Calgary Flames
    Over 42 Wins -115
    Under 42 Wins -115


    Carolina Hurricanes
    Over 41 Wins -115
    Under 41 Wins -115


    Chicago Blackhawks
    Over 44 Wins -130
    Under 44 Wins +100


    Colorado Avalanche
    Over 29 Wins -115
    Under 29 Wins -115


    Columbus Blue Jackets
    Over 46 Wins +100
    Under 46 Wins -130


    Dallas Stars
    Over 43 Wins -115
    Under 43 Wins -115


    Detroit Red Wings
    Over 34 Wins +105
    Under 34 Wins -135


    Edmonton Oilers
    Over 47 Wins -115
    Under 47 Wins -115


    Florida Panthers
    Over 38 Wins -115
    Under 38 Wins -115


    Los Angeles Kings
    Over 40 Wins -115
    Under 40 Wins -115


    Minnesota Wild
    Over 46 Wins +100
    Under 46 Wins -130


    Montreal Canadiens
    Over 44 Wins -145
    Under 44 Wins +115


    Nashville Predators
    Over 44 Wins -115
    Under 44 Wins -115


    New Jersey Devils
    Over 31 Wins -130
    Under 31 Wins +100


    New York Islanders
    Over 42 Wins +105
    Under 42 Wins -135


    New York Rangers
    Over 44 Wins -115
    Under 44 Wins -115


    Ottawa Senators
    Over 40 Wins -115
    Under 40 Wins -115


    Philadelphia Flyers
    Over 38 Wins -130
    Under 38 Wins +100


    Pittsburgh Penguins
    Over 46 Wins -115
    Under 46 Wins -115


    San Jose Sharks
    Over 43 Wins -115
    Under 43 Wins -115


    St. Louis Blues
    Over 44 Wins -115
    Under 44 Wins -115


    Tampa Bay Lightning
    Over 44 Wins -130
    Under 44 Wins +100


    Toronto Maple Leafs
    Over 44 Wins +100
    Under 44 Wins -130


    Vancouver Canucks
    Over 30 Wins -130
    Under 30 Wins +100


    Vegas Golden Knights
    Over 26 Wins -130
    Under 26 Wins +100


    Washington Capitals
    Over 50 Wins +115
    Under 50 Wins -145


    Winnipeg Jets
    Over 41 Wins -115
    Under 41 Wins -115


    Odds subject to change
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    NHL Note - Anaheim Ducks Beauchemin, Francois
    August 22, 2017

    D Francois Beauchemin is returning for a third stint with the Anaheim Ducks, who signed him to a one-year contract Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but deal is worth a reported $1 million with an additional $500,000 that can be earned through performance incentives. Beauchemin, 37, appeared in 525 career NHL games with Anaheim, recording 179 points (53 goals, 126 assists), and he was a member of the 2007 Stanley Cup champions.


    ---------------------------


    NHL Note - Colorado Avalanche Kerfoot, Alexander
    August 24, 2017



    F Alexander Kerfoot signed a two-year, entry-level contract through the 2018-19 season, the Colorado Avalanche announced Thursday. Kerfoot became a free agent last week when his rights with the New Jersey Devils expired. New Jersey initially selected the now-23-year-old British Columbia native in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. "We are thrilled that Alexander decided to sign with the Avalanche," Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said. "He's a highly skilled, playmaking center who is responsible at both ends of the ice. We look forward to seeing him take the next step of his hockey career with our organization."


    ------------------------------


    NHL Note - New Jersey Devils Butcher, Will
    August 28, 2017

    D Will Butcher, the 2017 Hobey Baker Award recipient, agreed to a two-year, entry-level contract with Devils on Sunday.


    Butcher will receive an average annual salary of $925,000. The 22-year-old was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, but elected not to sign with the club and became an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16. A college player has four years to sign with the team that drafts him before he can become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16 of that fourth year.


    Butcher spent four seasons with the University of Denver and served as team captain in 2016-17, helping the Pioneers win the NCAA national championship. He collected seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games last season.


    --------------------------------


    NHL Note - New York Rangers Pirri, Brandon
    August 30, 2017



    F Brandon Pirri is returning to the Florida Panthers on a professional tryout, the team announced Tuesday. Pirri collected eight goals and 10 assists in 60 games with the New York Rangers last season.


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    NHL Note - Arizona Coyotes Doan, Shane
    August 31, 2017



    RW Shane Doan, the former Arizona Coyotes captain, announced his retirement from the NHL after 21 seasons.


    The 40-year-old Doan only played for the Coyotes during his career, dating back to before the franchise moved from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. The forward was the seventh overall pick by the Jets in 1995. Doan had been an unrestricted free agent after the Coyotes informed him on June 19 that they would not be re-signing him to focus on younger players. He made his announcement in a first-person letter to fans published in the Arizona Republic. Doan is the team's career leader in games played (1,540), shots (3,945), goals (402), assists (570), points (972), power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (69). He is tied for 14th for most games played in NHL history.


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    NHL Note - Pittsburgh Penguins Archibald, Josh
    September 1, 2017

    F Josh Archibald cherished his day with the Stanley Cup, although it's highly unlikely his three-week-old child will retain the memory. Archibald, 24, and his wife had Brecken baptized in the Stanley Cup during a ceremony held in Brainerd, Minn. While babies have "celebrated" with the Stanley Cup over recent years, Archibald's baptism is believed to be the first such event since 2008. At that time, Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrong arranged for his seven-week-old niece to be baptized after the Red Wings defeated Pittsburgh in the final.
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    Blue Jackets lock up top-line center Wennberg for 6 years
    September 1, 2017



    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed free-agent center Alexander Wennberg to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.


    The Blue Jackets announced the deal Friday, locking up their top-line center through the 2022-23 season, with a cap hit of $4.9 million a year. The 22-year-old Swede was a key part of a young team that set franchise records for wins and points and advanced to the playoffs last year.


    Wennberg posted NHL career highs in 2016-17 with 13 goals and 46 assists for 59 points and a plus-9 plus/minus rating in 80 regular- season games. In his third year in the league, he led Columbus in assists and finished second in points to Cam Atkinson.


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    Canucks sign Thomas Vanek to 1-year deal, $2 million deal
    September 1, 2017



    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Thomas Vanek and the Vancouver Canucks agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal Friday.


    The 33-year-old forward had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games last season with Florida and Detroit.


    ''Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we're excited to add his offence and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards,'' Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. ''His skill and ability to contribute on the scoresheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year, and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game.''


    The former University of Minnesota star from Austria has 333 goals and 364 assists in 885 regular-season games with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Montreal, Minnesota, Detroit and Florida.


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    NHL Note - Arizona Coyotes Duclair, Anthony
    September 4, 2017



    F Anthony Duclair signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it was reported to be a one-year, $1.2 million deal. "We are very pleased to sign Anthony to a new contract," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. "Anthony is a highly skilled forward with great speed and scoring ability. We are confident that he can be an impact player for our team and look forward to having him in our lineup this season."


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    Canucks: We're not trading Sedins
    September 5, 2017



    Henrik and Daniel Sedin will not be asked to waive their no-trade clause this season, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said.


    Both Swedes, who will turn 37 on Sept. 26, are entering the final season of their respective four-year, $28 million contracts.


    "We're not moving the Sedins unless they come to me at some point and they say, 'Well, we want to move on,'" Benning told Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver. "When we've talked to them, we're not going to go to them and ask them to waive their no-trade. We're not going to approach them for them to move on to another team."


    Daniel and Henrik were selected with the respective second and third overall picks of the 1999 NHL draft. Henrik, the team's captain, tops the franchise in points (1,020), assists (783) and games played (1,248) while Daniel is first in goals (370) while his assists (616), points (986) and games plaed (1,225) rank second.


    Last season was not a particularly productive one for the Sedins, as Henrik recorded just 50 points (15, goals, 35 assists) in 82 games while Daniel mustered just 44 (15 goals, 29 assists).


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    Red Wings sign D Russo to two-year contract
    September 6, 2017



    The Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms with defenseman Robbie Russo on a two-year contract Wednesday.


    The deal reportedly will pay Russo a salary of $650,000 when playing for the Red Wings, and $125,000 this season and $250,000 next season at the American Hockey League level.


    Russo, 24, appeared in 19 games for the Red Wings at the end of the 2016-17 season, making his NHL debut on March 7, averaging 16:04 time on ice and recording two penalty minutes, 18 shots on goal, 24 hits and 13 blocked shots.


    The 6-foot, 195-pound Russo played in 58 games with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016-17, picking up 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists) and 37 penalty minutes in 58 games and earning a spot at the AHL All-Star Classic.


    Russo also skated in 19 postseason games with Grand Rapids, registering seven assists and 22 penalty minutes to help the Griffins to their second Calder Cup championship in five seasons.


    Russo owns 71 points (12 goals, 59 assists) and 79 penalty minutes in 129 regular-season games for Grand Rapids and 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 28 AHL playoff contests.


    Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL draft, Russo joined the Red Wings as a free agent on Aug. 16, 2015. The Westmont, Ill., native spent four seasons at the University of Notre Dame prior to signing with Detroit.


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    Senators' Karlsson has no timeline to return after surgery
    September 6, 2017



    NEW YORK (AP) Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson has no timetable to get back on the ice following offseason foot surgery.


    Karlsson, the runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, said Wednesday he hasn't been able to do anything for three months since the operation in June to repair torn tendons in his left foot. The 27-year-old played with foot fractures and torn tendons during the playoffs as the Senators reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.


    ''It's going to be a while,'' Karlsson said in an interview with The Associated Press at the annual NHL/NHLPA media tour. ''We'll see when I can start skating again. We don't have a timeline for that, either. I think once I do that, we will know a little bit more clearly when I'll be able to play again.''


    At the time of the surgery, Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion forecast a four-month recovery that would allow Karlsson to start the regular season. With the Senators opening Oct. 5 against Washington, that's now in doubt.


    Karlsson, who came back from a torn Achilles tendon in 2013, hopes taking it slow ensures this won't be a long-term problem. The smooth-skating Swede who was third among defensemen with 71 points last season was glad the injury came at a time that allowed him to focus on his wedding and isn't worried about having no target return date.


    ''It's actually been pretty nice,'' Karlsson said. ''Sometimes you put timelines and you expect certain things and with injuries you're always going to have things that are not going to go the way that you want. And I think with this we've been really good in taking our time and making sure that this is not something that's going to affect me down the road.''


    Despite playing with so many foot problems, Karlsson led all defenseman with 18 points in the playoffs. Ottawa lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime, and Karlsson earned a lot of respect around the league by playing and performing well while injured.


    ''You can't help but respect a player like that that plays in a ton of situations and just seems to be so effective and make it look it easy at times even when it was known that he was injured and he was playing through it,'' said Ryan McDonagh, whose New York Rangers lost to the Senators in the second round. ''I've played through injuries similar to my foot, too, in past playoffs. It was pretty incredible to see the things he was able to do.''


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    Parros to head NHL's Player Safety
    September 7, 2017



    Former enforcer George Parros was named as the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, the league announced Thursday.


    Parros will take the place of Stephane Quintal, who is stepping down to pursue other opportunities within the game. Quintal, however, has agreed to remain with the department through the end of the 2017-18 season to assist in the transition.


    "George possesses one of the brightest and most innovative young minds in our game," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "He has immersed himself in all aspects of player safety during the last 12 months and his selection to run this department not only will maintain the stability and consistency in decision-making that have been essential to the department's success but also will enable it to continue evolving in step with our game.


    "We thank Stephane for the passion and dedication he brought to the National Hockey League from the day he first joined us soon after the Department of Player Safety's inception in 2011 and since taking over as the head of the department three years ago. We expect Stephane will play a valuable role in the transition process and we intend this season to utilize his many talents and relationships in the game to further other league initiatives outside of player safety as well."


    The 37-year-old Parros, who served as director of the department under Quintal, racked up 1,092 penalty minutes - including 150 fighting majors - in his nine-year NHL career.


    Parros won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, finishing with 36 points before retiring from the NHL in 2014.


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    Ryan Ellis out 6 months after surgery
    September 7, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis will need a full six months to recover from offseason knee surgery, and general manager David Poile says they don't expect him back until possibly 2018.


    Poile gave an update on injuries Thursday to Ellis and new center Nick Bonino after a rookies' practice. Both were hurt during the Stanley Cup Final that Nashville lost in six games to Pittsburgh , and Bonino was playing for the Penguins.


    ''The discussion with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery,'' Poile said of Ellis.


    The original timetable called for a recovery of four to six months. Poile said the Predators and doctors feel Ellis will need the full six months to recover.


    ''Ryan is not skating yet, probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there,'' Poile said. ''We don't expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe the New Year, maybe right around Christmas time.''


    Ellis scored 38 points in 71 games last season, but he was even better during the playoffs. Ellis tied Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen for third among the Predators with 13 points. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Ellis paired with Mattias Ekholm to help anchor the Nashville defense along with All-Star P.K. Subban and Romani Josi.


    The defenseman even played despite being hurt in the decisive Game 6 before having surgery. His recovery is why the Predators traded with the Vegas Golden Knights to acquire defenseman Alexei Emelin.


    ''Obviously we had a little bit of a heads up and that is really one of the reasons why we got Emelin from Las Vegas to add to not only our depth but the quality of our defense,'' Poile said.


    The general manager says Bonino, who broke a foot in the final, will not be playing in any preseason games. The Predators signed Bonino away from Pittsburgh with a four-year, $16.4 million deal in July as protection when captain Mike Fisher later announced his retirement.


    ''We are very hopeful that he will be ready at or near the beginning of the season,'' Poile said.


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    Crosby hangs with rookies as Pens prep
    September 7, 2017



    CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby likes his summers short. Really short. Short summers for Crosby means long playoff runs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, ones that usually end with parades through the city in mid-June, the Penguins captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.


    There is no other feeling like it. So the question isn't why would Crosby want to cut the celebration short, but why would he want to put off starting the process all over again?


    So just 88 days after Pittsburgh closed out Nashville in six games to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby found himself out on the ice with assorted prospects, many of whom have little chance of making it to the NHL this season.


    That didn't stop Crosby and his familiar No. 87 jersey serving as perhaps the most decorated ''welcome wagon'' in professional sports. For the better part of an hour the face of the game skated with the newcomers. Later in the afternoon the more established players went through a workout of their own, well aware of the message Crosby's appearance in the building earlier in the day sent.


    ''I think that's where it starts with this team,'' said forward Carl Hagelin after a voluntary workout. ''Any new guy that comes up or any new guy that gets traded here, they get treated extremely well by Sid first of all and then the organization. You kind of follow his lead. There's a good culture within this locker room and within this organization. When you get here, you've got to follow or you're going to get left behind.''


    Crosby makes it a point to be the first one to extend a hand, even though it can make for occasionally awkward moments, particularly for players like forward Ryan Reaves. The Penguins acquired Reaves from St. Louis over the summer looking to give their lineup a physical presence. The issue, of course, is that part of Reaves' responsibilities during his time in St. Louis was making Crosby as uncomfortable as possible whenever the two teams met.


    ''I would say me and Sid's relationship before this was rocky,'' Reaves said with a laugh. ''But I don't know many people that like me on the ice though. But we've hung out a couple times. Really nice guy for sure.''


    Reaves joined some of his new teammates in a fantasy football draft over the weekend. Reaves believes he has an eye for talent. He also has an eye for leadership. He wasn't exactly surprised when he arrived at the rink and Crosby was already out there working with kids who may never actually play alongside him.


    ''That's why he's the best in the world,'' Reaves said. ''He does things like that and he makes the younger guys better and he pushes everybody to be the best. He's the best in the world for a reason.''


    One intent on guiding the Penguins to a third consecutive Cup, something that hasn't been done since the New York Islanders ripped off four straight in the early 1980s, long before the salary cap came around, a move designed to level the playing field both financially and competitively. It didn't look like that last spring as the Penguins raced by Columbus, outlasted Washington and Ottawa then pulled away from the upstart Predators in the final.


    ''Last year everyone said it was impossible to do, winning two in a row,'' said Hagelin, whose empty-net goal in the final seconds of Game 6 quieted the ''Smashville'' crowd and clinched Pittsburgh's fifth Cup. ''Everyone is going to come after you. Now we're used to that and we're expecting the same thing this year. There's going to be no surprises this year obviously.''


    Doing it means enduring training camp, a six-month regular season followed by eight more weeks in the crucible of playoff hockey. The Penguins were supposed to be too tired from the Cup run in 2016 to do it again. And yet they did. As the official opening of camp looms, the lure of history is giving even established players like Hagelin a dose of adrenaline.


    ''Usually this time of year, you have such a short summer, maybe you're kind of dreading it a little bit,'' Hagelin said.


    Not Hagelin. He missed a chunk of the regular season and the playoffs with injuries but returned in time to make an impact in the final, his legs a blur as he sped away from the Predators to flip in the goal that secured his name on the Cup for a second time.


    ''Focusing on coming out and getting a good start, that's usually the tough part, to have every guy on the same page in the beginning of the year to really dig down and make sure you win those games,'' he said. ''That's our goal. After that we just keep playing and keep getting better, that's the type of team we're trying to be.''
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