Cross Checks: Dallas Stars

Central Division wrap

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13
9:14
AM ET
video Trending Up
  • Peter Laviolette: Laviolette’s first week as coach of the Nashville Predators (at least the first week that actually counts) has gone according to plan with the Predators starting the season 2-0-0 with wins over the Ottawa Senators and the Dallas Stars.
  • Minny’s blue line: With the announcement that the Minnesota Wild inked 21-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin to a six-year contract extension, the team further solidified its defense -- anchored by stalwart Ryan Suter -- for years to come. The Wild lead the Central Division with four points and a plus-8 goal differential after their first pair of games this season.
  • Corey Crawford: The Chicago Blackhawks netminder was tested in his first game of the season against the Dallas Stars and he was credited with helping the team “steal” two points. Crawford made 32 saves and went on to stop 21 of 23 shots in a 6-2 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
Trending Down
  • Colorado Avalanche: Plenty of people predicted that we would witness a regression by the Avs after a stunning about-face last season. Well, that certainly seems to be the case with Patrick Roy's squad still searching for its first win of the season following a pair of losses -- both shutouts -- to begin the 2014-15 slate.
  • Power play in the 'Peg: Granted, the Winnipeg Jets are likely to experience a whole host of issues this season with expectations pretty low, but the team’s power play is already off to a rough start. The Jets are 0-for-9 on the man advantage through their first three games of the season.
  • Stars’ offense: The Dallas Stars were a preseason darling with a bevvy of bold moves made to improve an already potent offense. But adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky to the mix has yet to yield the desired results. The Stars have managed only three goals in their first two games.
Injury Update
  • Versteeg out three weeks: Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg is expected to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury, according to coach Joel Quenneville.
  • Kane suffers knee injury: Though it is not believed to be too serious, Winnipeg’s Evander Kane left the team’s first game of the season with a knee injury. According to the Winnipeg Sun, Jets coach Paul Maurice said Kane will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks.
What to Watch For
  • Tough trip: The Minnesota Wild face a tough task ahead with a West Coast road trip this week that features stops in both Anaheim and Los Angeles. Should be interesting to see how netminder Darcy Kuemper fares against the big boys out in California after stopping all 46 shots he faced in his first two games of the season.
  • Home Sweet Home: The Jets have a favorable schedule to pad some points if they make the most of the opportunity. Winnipeg begins a five-game homestand against the Nashville Predators on Friday. The Jets also have five days to regroup and recover following their 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.


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It was only one game, but opening the season with a convincing victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions in Los Angeles is about the best way possible to help turn the page on a summer full of drama for the San Jose Sharks.

Just playing games again should help change the focus from all that has transpired.

"Yeah, it’s just nice to play games now," Sharks star Joe Thornton told ESPN.com Thursday. "All that stuff that happened in the offseason is finally over. And now we can just play hockey."

The summer’s lowlight for Thornton was getting the captaincy stripped. Veteran teammate Patrick Marleau also had his alternate captain's "A" taken away.

But when they hit the ice for warm-ups Wednesday night, there was Thornton and Marleau each wearing an "A" as one of the four alternates for the season, along with Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Interesting, right?

"They want Patty and me to be part of the leadership group again, which is certainly cool by us," said Thornton.

What matters most to Thornton is that his own teammates wanted him to get a letter.

As Vlasic explained to ESPN.com, the players on the team were involved in giving feedback to the coaching staff, and it resulted in identifying a number of leadership candidates, not just the four players who ultimately received an "A," but also guys such as Logan Couture, Scott Hannan and Tommy Wingels.

"We waited until warm-up yesterday to put the actual letters on the sweaters, but we had been working on it throughout training camp," Vlasic said. "The coaching staff wanted to get feedback from the players to see what they thought. We were working on it until the very end. I think we did a good job with what we decided.

"Obviously we only have four players wearing letters, but Couts [Couture] has as much responsibility as us because the players believe in him. The players believe in other players as well, even though they don’t have letters on their sweaters. We took our time and we made a good decision. And you know, we could have a captain within the next couple of weeks, the next couple of months, there would be a captain eventually named."

MACKINNON ON THE WING
[+] EnlargeNathan MacKinnon
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesNathan MacKinnon is working hard at improving on faceoffs in the hopes of moving back to center.
Interesting to see Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy decide to move Nathan MacKinnon to the wing to start the season and play Ryan O'Reilly at center on that line.

There was no hiding MacKinnon’s excitement last month at the players' tour in New York when he talked about going back to his natural center position this season.

And certainly, he may very well end up back at center soon enough. But for now, he starts on the wing -- not that the kid would ever complain.

"It’s not that big a deal, I think the media is making it bigger than how we feel about it internally as an organization," Roy told ESPN.com in French on Thursday.

Roy explained the move in saying O'Reilly is strong on faceoffs, which should help that line in terms of puck control off the draw. But once the puck is dropped, Roy says, MacKinnon still has lots of freedom around the ice to do his thing.

"And who knows, if he isn’t back at center in a couple of weeks, I mean, it’s not a big deal," Roy said. "It just means we’ve got different options on that line."

MacKinnon continues to work hard at faceoffs in practice. It reminds me of when a young Sidney Crosby made such an effort to improve himself in that area as well.

KADRI (OFFSIDE) GOAL
Nazem Kadri's goal Wednesday night resulted from a zone entry that was offside.

It’s a play that remains outside the scope of video review, at least for this season.

But a league source confirmed Thursday that the hockey operations department is cataloging those types of plays and will present to the general managers at the November and March meetings clips of plays that could be handled with expanded video review. The Kadri goal is already part of what will be a long file of clips. It’s as if there’s a shadow video operation happening all season. It’s a neat idea.

It could result in a coach’s challenge, long debated, finally becoming reality next season.

COLE SCRATCHED
Veteran winger Erik Cole had a strong training camp with the Dallas Stars and was slated to start the season on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.

But he was in street clothes Thursday night when the Stars opened their season against the Chicago Blackhawks, scratched by coach Lindy Ruff because he missed a team practice Monday.

Cole had flown home to see his family in Raleigh, North Carolina, and his flight back to Dallas on Monday was apparently delayed.

This is a team trying to become a contender, and this was the coach sending a message to the whole team with his decision on Cole.
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New team, new city, new country, new school, new house, but luckily for Jason Spezza, at least one same linemate who ended the campaign with him in Ottawa last season.

Don't underestimate the importance of having Ales Hemsky on his right side as Spezza adjusts to playing for an NHL team other than the Ottawa Senators for the first time in his career.

"That's probably been the biggest thing so far," Spezza told ESPN.com on Tuesday from Dallas. "When you make such a big change, everything is new, except for the fact I'm playing with Hemmer still. It's really been a blessing to have a guy that I feel familiar with."

Spezza and Hemsky hit up an instant chemistry late last season after the Senators got the Czech winger in a trade from Edmonton. Ironically, it's because of that chemistry that Sens GM Bryan Murray was hoping to bring Hemsky back to play with Spezza. That was before learning that Spezza wanted out.
[+] EnlargeJason Spezza
Glenn James/NHLI/Getty ImagesJason Spezza is looking forward to suiting up for the high-flying Stars.


Hemsky instead followed Spezza to Dallas, giving the Stars a tantalizing one-two punch on their top two lines with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top unit with sophomore Valeri Nichushkin. Erik Cole will likely begin the season complementing Spezza and Hemsky.

Questions remain as far as how this team will defend. But scoring goals? That should not be a problem.

"I think we can be a dynamic offensive team," Spezza said. "The fit is really good for me that way. [Head coach] Lindy [Ruff] wants us to play up-tempo, pressuring the puck, stuff that I'm comfortable doing. I think we're a team that can give other teams headaches nightly if we can take care of the puck in our end. Once we get on the attack, there aren't many teams that might be better than us that way."

For Spezza, it all lines up beautifully. After years of always drawing the toughest matchup from the other team as far as the top defense pair or the top checking line, he'll at least share that chore with Benn-Seguin, if not benefit most nights as other teams pick their poison and likely match up their best with Benn-Seguin.

Plus, the style of play Ruff wants to use suits Spezza just nicely.

"I really like the way Lindy wants us to play," Spezza said. "I think it really suits my game. The way he coaches is something that fits my game naturally. It's a nice starting point for sure."

According to a Western Conference scout, it could turn out to be a good fit, given the strengths of the teams out west.

"He is a big-body center, which helps in the Western Conference against the Getzlafs, Kopitars, Thorntons," the scout wrote in an email to ESPN.com. "He gives them a veteran presence for a young group, allows Ruff the ability to move Seguin's line around, [to] pack more offensive punch, which takes some pressure off Seguin ... . [He] will help balance their lineup and put guys into the right fits [and] is familiar with few players in that lineup, which helps. [He] has been a strong faceoff guy in Ottawa. [The] Stars' power play was just middle of the pack, so he can help that push upward in that category. He might just flourish with less pressure and [on a] non-Canadian team where the focus has been on him since day 1."

All in all, it should mean an increase in offensive productivity from Spezza, who tallied 66 points (23-43) in 75 games last season. Take the over this season on that point total.

And it just so happens he's in a contract year.

He would easily be the headliner next July 1 on what is otherwise a rather thin UFA crop when it comes to high-end talent, but whether or not he actually gets there, well, that remains to be seen.

The Stars intend on having Spezza hang around longer than one season.

"They've expressed that they want to talk [extension]," Spezza said. "And we have all intentions of talking. But it's just I want to get comfortable first, and get started. It's really not a big concern of mine right now. I'm not naive, I know as the season goes on it'll become more of a talking point. But at this point, I'm just worried about playing and getting comfortable. If we start winning games, it's going to be a good fit for both sides. It's just a matter of getting comfortable first. There's no point in rushing into anything."

Getting comfortable means off-ice, too. He's got kids ages 4, 2 and 4 months old. They moved into their house in Dallas in late August to begin their new life away from Canada's capital.

"I say it's been a pretty smooth transition, although it's my wife that's done most of the work," Spezza, 31, said with a chuckle. "We're settled. The kids are in school. Everyone is getting comfortable."

After years in the spotlight in hockey-crazed Ottawa, it's clear that Spezza appreciates the quiet life he's entering.

"It's been nice to come to the rink and work and nobody knows me here," he said. "It's been nice that way. We've enjoyed it."

Don't get him wrong -- he would never take back his years in Ottawa. But the time was right for a move.

"Ottawa is a great place to play, I really enjoyed playing in Canada and the scrutiny that came with it," Spezza said. "But you almost don't realize how much you go through day to day until you get away from it. You realize how much more laid-back it can be in another setting. I wouldn't change it, but I'm welcoming the change right now."

And so are the Stars.video
Ryan Johansen isn’t the only restricted free agent who remains unsigned in the NHL.

Not sure I can remember the last time there have been this many RFAs still unsigned with preseason underway, but whether it’s the effect of the new collective bargaining agreement or not, a handful of players are still waiting for new deals.

[+] EnlargeRyan Ellis
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesRyan Ellis had his best season in 2013-14, with six goals and 21 assists in 80 games.
In Nashville, blueliner Ryan Ellis, 23, still doesn’t have a deal with the Predators.

"This is clearly one of those cases where we want to pay him X and he wants Y," veteran Preds general manager David Poile told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We’ve tried to justify our position, they’ve tried to justify their position, and we just disagree.

"I mean, we’re not trading him. We want him. He really played well at the end of last year. I think with Peter Laviolette's new system, it plays really well into Ryan’s game. The sooner we get it done, the better it will be for everybody."

Poile would not discuss specifics, but it’s thought the Preds have offered two-, three-, four- and five-year deals, so there are options on the table and it may not necessarily end up being a two-year bridge deal. I say that because you have to assume the four- and five-year deals are worth more money per year than the two-year offer.

Elsewhere
• Center Cody Eakin and defenseman Brenden Dillon, both 23 and RFAs, aren’t close to new deals with the Dallas Stars. What’s interesting is that both players are represented by Jarrett Bousquet, who happens to be based in Dallas. Eakin switched agents last season, leaving Gerry Johannson for Bousquet. That doesn’t appear to have made things any easier for the Stars. You get the sense, though, that Dallas GM Jim Nill is willing to be patient and wait this out.

• Similarly in Boston, the Bruins have a pair of unsigned players in forward Reilly Smith and blueliner Torey Krug, both 23. A source told ESPN.com on Tuesday that there is nothing new on either front, very much status quo for the time being. Given Boston’s tight cap situation, not sure you can bank on the Bruins changing their position much.

• Blues RFA forward Jaden Schwartz, 22, continues to wait things out. I’m surprised this one has lasted as long as it has. It never felt like both sides were that far apart, but as of Tuesday still no deal. Word is the Blues improved their offer to north of $2 million last week. My guess is Newport Sports (Wade Arnott), which represents Schwartz, would prefer somewhere north of $2.5 million, so both sides are still in the ballpark of half a million apart per season on a two-year bridge deal. It doesn’t seem like much, but it remains an important gap.

• A quick follow-up on Johansen: Sources confirmed the counteroffer from the player’s camp is two years and $9.5 million in total, so a $4.75 million average. It’s believed to be $3.5 million in the first year and $6 million in Year 2 (when he’s eligible for salary arbitration). The Jackets as of Tuesday are remaining firm on their offer of two years at $3 million per. Neither side sounds one bit willing to move at this point. So it’s a waiting game, and a very bitter one at that.

Junior-eligible players
One issue that crops up from time to time every September is that of junior-eligible players and the rules that govern them in the CBA. Quite simply, if a player remains junior-eligible, he either has to make the NHL roster (past the nine-game NHL regular-season audition) or return to junior.

But what if a prospect can’t learn much by going back to junior for a fourth year, yet perhaps isn't ready for full-time NHL duty? In other words, he's in between. Why can’t he play in the AHL to further develop his skills?

Case in point, Max Domi, 19, and the Arizona Coyotes. Perhaps Domi will make the Coyotes outright and it’s a moot point. But if he doesn’t, he will need to go back for a fourth year of junior where, frankly, he has very little to prove.

"It's hard to imagine any NHL GM would argue against adding additional flexibility to the current CHL rule," Coyotes GM Don Maloney told via email to ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We all understand top junior players are valuable assets for their junior Clubs. However, for any elite junior player who has played three full CHL seasons (in Max Domi’s case, three straight Memorial Cup appearances), the option to place the player (perhaps restrict it to one player per Club) in the AHL would be invaluable to us and a real benefit to the player’s development."

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that while the issue comes up from time to time, it hasn’t warranted enough support to change the existing rule with the Canadian Hockey League.

"I don't think this is as big an issue as you think -- although people always focus on it this time of year," Daly said via email. "We actually surveyed the GMs before last year's CHL deal and it wasn't an overwhelming need.

"Any change -- even on a restricted or limited basis -- would be devastating to the CHL. So, no, I don't see this changing in the near future (and at least for the term of this CHL Agreement)."

No question you understand where CHL clubs are coming from, but if a new rule limited exceptions to one prospect per NHL team, I don’t see that as that big a deal. Food for thought ...

Offseason player movement of all 30 teams

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
1:59
PM ET
Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny USA TODAY SportsRyan Kesler and Paul Stastny will be wearing different colors this season.
ANAHEIM DUCKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 14: Acquired C Louis Leblanc from Montreal for a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
June 27: Acquired C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in 2014.
June 30: Acquired C Nate Thompson from Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay’s 4th- and 7th-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Clayton Stoner (Minnesota) and G Jason LaBarbera (Chicago).
July 9: Signed LW Dany Heatley (Minnesota).
Offseason Departures
RW Teemu Selanne (retired); C Saku Koivu (retired); C Nick Bonino (traded to Vancouver); D Luca Sbisa (traded to Vancouver); D Stephane Robidas (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); G Jonas Hiller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C Mathieu Perreault (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Daniel Winnik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C David Steckel (unrestricted free agent); D Nolan Yonkman (unrestricted free agent).

ARIZONA COYOTES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 29: Acquired C Sam Gagner and RW B.J. Crombeen from Tampa Bay for a 6th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed C Joe Vitale (Pittsburgh), G Devan Dubnyk (Montreal), G Mike McKenna (Columbus) and D Andrew Campbell (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
C Mike Ribeiro (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Radim Vrbata (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); G Thomas Greiss (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Andy Miele (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); LW Tim Kennedy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); LW Paul Bissonnette (unrestricted free agent); C Jeff Halpern (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Morris (unrestricted free agent); RW Brandon Yip (unrestricted free agent).

BOSTON BRUINS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Christopher Breen (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW Jarome Iginla (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); D Andrej Meszaros (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); LW Shawn Thornton (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); G Chad Johnson (unrestricted free agent, signed NY Islanders); D Corey Potter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); RW Nick Johnson (unrestricted free agent).

BUFFALO SABRES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Brian Gionta (Montreal), LW Matt Moulson (Minnesota), D Andrej Meszaros (Boston) and C Cody McCormick (Minnesota).
July 1: Acquired D Josh Gorges from Montreal for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
July 3: Signed D Tyson Strachan (Washington).
July 13: Signed C Zac Dalpe (Vancouver).
July 23: Signed D Andre Benoit (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
D Christian Ehrhoff (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kevin Porter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); C Cory Conacher (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW John Scott (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); RW Matt D’Agostini (unrestricted free agent); C Zenon Konopka (unrestricted free agent); LW Ville Leino (unrestricted free agent); D Jamie McBain (unrestricted free agent); D Alexander Sulzer (unrestricted free agent); D Henrik Tallinder (unrestricted free agent).

CALGARY FLAMES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Brad Treliving general manager.
June 28: Acquired LW Brandon Bollig from Chicago for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed LW Mason Raymond (Toronto), D Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh) and G Jonas Hiller (Anaheim).
Aug. 23: Signed RW Devin Setoguchi (Winnipeg).
Sept. 5: Signed D Corey Potter (Boston).
Offseason Departures
LW Mike Cammalleri (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); C Ben Street (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Joey MacDonald (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); D Chris Butler (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Christopher Breen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Boston); LW T.J. Galiardi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Blair Jones (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Shane O’Brien (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Smith (unrestricted free agent); RW Kevin Westgarth (unrestricted free agent).

CAROLINA HURRICANES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Ron Francis general manager.
June 19: Named Bill Peters head coach.
July 1: Signed C Brad Malone (Colorado) and G Drew MacIntyre (Toronto).
July 2: Signed C Jay McClement.
July 3: Signed D Tim Gleason.
Offseason Departures
G Justin Peters (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Manny Malhotra (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); LW Brett Sutter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); LW Drayson Bowman (unrestricted free agent); RW Radek Dvorak (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Komisarek (unrestricted free agent); C Andrei Loktionov (unrestricted free agent); RW Aaron Palushaj (unrestricted free agent).

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Brad Richards (NY Rangers), C Cody Bass (Columbus) and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Tampa Bay).
July 2: Signed D Kyle Cumiskey (Modo, Sweden).
Aug. 18: Signed G Michael Leighton (HC Donbass, KHL).
Offseason Departures
LW Brandon Bollig (traded to Calgary); G Jason LaBarbera (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); G Nikolai Khabibulin (unrestricted free agent); D Sheldon Brookbank (unrestricted free agent); C Michal Handzus (unrestricted free agent); C Brad Mills (unrestricted free agent).

COLORADO AVALANCHE
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired C Daniel Briere from Montreal for RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired D Brad Stuart from San Jose for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 6th-round pick in 2017.
July 1: Signed RW Jarome Iginla (Boston), D Zach Redmond (Winnipeg), D Bruno Gervais (Philadelphia), C Jesse Winchester (Florida) and C Ben Street (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW PA Parenteau (traded to Montreal); C Paul Stastny (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andre Benoit (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Brad Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); LW David Van der Gulik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); D Matt Hunwick (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (retired); D Cory Sarich (unrestricted free agent).

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 23: Acquired LW Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia for LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Toronto for RW Matt Frattin.
July 4: Signed C Brian Gibbons (Pittsburgh).
Offseason Departures
LW R.J. Umberger (traded to Philadelphia); D Nikita Nikitin (traded to Edmonton); RW Matt Frattin (traded to Toronto); C Derek MacKenzie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); RW Jack Skille (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Nick Schultz (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); LW Blake Comeau (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Cody Bass (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); G Mike McKenna (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona).

DALLAS STARS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson from Ottawa for RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Anders Lindback (Tampa Bay), RW Ales Hemsky (Ottawa) and RW Patrick Eaves (Nashville).
Offseason Departures
RW Alex Chiasson (traded to Ottawa); C Chris Mueller (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); C Dustin Jeffrey (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); D Maxime Fortunus (unrestricted free agent); LW Ray Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Aaron Rome (unrestricted free agent); G Tim Thomas (unrestricted free agent); G Cristopher Nilstorp (unrestricted free agent).

DETROIT RED WINGS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Kevin Porter (Buffalo).
July 2: Signed C Andy Miele (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C David Legwand (unrestricted free agent, signed by Ottawa); RW Daniel Alfredsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Todd Bertuzzi (unrestricted free agent); C Cory Emmerton (unrestricted free agent); RW Mikael Samuelsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Jordin Tootoo (unrestricted free agent).

EDMONTON OILERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 25: Acquired D Nikita Nikitin from Columbus for a 5th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 29: Acquired RW Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay for C Sam Gagner.
July 1: Signed D Mark Fayne (New Jersey), LW Benoit Pouliot (NY Rangers) and D Keith Aulie (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
LW Ryan Smyth (retired); C Sam Gagner (traded to Tampa Bay); D Taylor Fedun (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); D Anton Belov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ben Eager (unrestricted free agent); D Mark Fraser (unrestricted free agent); D Denis Grebeshkov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Jones (unrestricted free agent).

FLORIDA PANTHERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 21: Named Gerard Gallant head coach.
July 1: Signed C Dave Bolland (Toronto), LW Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh), LW Shawn Thornton (Boston), C Derek MacKenzie (Columbus), D Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles) and G Al Montoya (Winnipeg).
Offseason Departures
D Tom Gilbert (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); C Jesse Winchester (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Scott Clemmensen (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); RW Krys Barch (unrestricted free agent); D Matt Gilroy (unrestricted free agent); C Scott Gomez (unrestricted free agent); D Ed Jovanovski (unrestricted free agent); D Ryan Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Mottau (retired).

LOS ANGELES KINGS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Adam Cracknell (St. Louis) and LW David Van der Gulik (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
RW Linden Vey (traded to Vancouver); D Willie Mitchell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); D Andrew Campbell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); C Colin Fraser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis).

MINNESOTA WILD
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Thomas Vanek (Montreal), D Stu Bickel (NY Rangers) and LW Brett Sutter (Carolina).
July 11: Signed C Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver).
Aug. 1: Signed D Justin Falk (NY Rangers).
Offseason Departures
LW Matt Moulson (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Clayton Stoner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); LW Dany Heatley (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); D Nate Prosser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Cody McCormick (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Ilya Bryzgalov (unrestricted free agent); C Jake Dowell (unrestricted free agent); RW Carson McMillan (unrestricted free agent); LW Mike Rupp (unrestricted free agent).

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Colorado for C Daniel Briere.
July 1: Signed C Manny Malhotra (Carolina), D Tom Gilbert (Florida) and G Joey MacDonald (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
C Daniel Briere (traded to Colorado); D Josh Gorges (traded to Buffalo); C Louis Leblanc (traded to Anaheim); LW Thomas Vanek (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Brian Gionta (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Devan Dubnyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); RW Mike Blunden (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); C Ryan White (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Francis Bouillon (unrestricted free agent); D Douglas Murray (unrestricted free agent); RW George Parros (unrestricted free agent); C Martin St. Pierre (unrestricted free agent).

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 6: Named Peter Laviolette head coach.
June 27: Acquired LW James Neal from Pittsburgh for RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling.
July 2: Signed C Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg).
July 7: Signed D Anton Volchenkov (New Jersey).
July 15: Signed C Mike Ribeiro (Arizona) and C Derek Roy (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
RW Patric Hornqvist (traded to Pittsburgh); C Nick Spaling (traded to Pittsburgh); RW Patrick Eaves (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Michael Del Zotto (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia).

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Mike Cammalleri (Calgary), RW Martin Havlat (San Jose) and G Scott Clemmensen (Florida).
Offseason Departures
D Mark Fayne (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Anton Volchenkov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); G Martin Brodeur (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Carter (unrestricted free agent); LW Rostislav Olesz (unrestricted free agent).

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 1: Acquired G Jaroslav Halak from Washington for a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Chad Johnson (Boston), C Cory Conacher (Buffalo), RW Jack Skille (Columbus) and LW Harry Zolnierczyk (Pittsburgh).
July 2: Signed C Mikhail Grabovski (Washington) and LW Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto).
Offseason Departures
G Evgeni Nabokov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Radek Martinek (unrestricted free agent).

NEW YORK RANGERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Dan Boyle (NY Islanders), D Mike Kostka (Tampa Bay), D Matt Hunwick (Colorado), C Chris Mueller (Dallas), LW Tanner Glass (Pittsburgh) and G Cedrick Desjardins (Tampa Bay).
July 16: Signed C Matthew Lombardi (HC Geneve-Servette, Switzerland).
July 19: Signed RW Lee Stempniak (Pittsburgh).
Sept. 11: Signed LW Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
RW Derek Dorsett (traded to Vancouver); C Brad Richards (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Brian Boyle (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Anton Stralman (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); LW Benoit Pouliot (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Justin Falk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Arron Asham (unrestricted free agent); LW Daniel Carcillo (unrestricted free agent); D Raphael Diaz (unrestricted free agent); C Darroll Powe (unrestricted free agent).

OTTAWA SENATORS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Dallas for C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson.
July 4: Signed C David Legwand (Detroit).
Offseason Departures
C Jason Spezza (traded to Dallas); RW Ales Hemsky (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Joe Corvo (unrestricted free agent); LW Matt Kassian (unrestricted free agent).

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 7: Named Ron Hextall general manager.
June 23: Acquired LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Columbus for LW Scott Hartnell.
July 1: Signed C Blair Jones (Calgary).
July 2: Signed D Nick Schultz (Columbus).
Aug. 5: Signed D Michael Del Zotto (Nashville).
Aug. 7: Signed C Ryan White (Montreal)
Offseason Departures
LW Scott Hartnell (traded to Columbus); LW Tye McGinn (traded to San Jose); RW Steve Downie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kris Newbury (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Hal Gill (unrestricted free agent); RW Adam Hall (unrestricted free agent).

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 6: Named Jim Rutherford general manager.
June 25: Named Mike Johnston head coach.
June 27: Acquired RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling from Nashville for LW James Neal.
July 1: Signed D Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo), G Thomas Greiss (Arizona) and LW Blake Comeau (Columbus).
July 2: Signed RW Steve Downie (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
LW James Neal (traded to Nashville); D Matt Niskanen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Brooks Orpik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Joe Vitale (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); D Deryk Engelland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Brian Gibbons (unrestricted free agent, signed by Columbus); LW Jussi Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Harry Zolnierczyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Lee Stempniak (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Chris Conner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); G Tomas Vokoun (unrestricted free agent); RW Chuck Kobasew (unrestricted free agent); LW Taylor Pyatt (unrestricted free agent).

SAN JOSE SHARKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW John Scott (Buffalo) and D Taylor Fedun (Edmonton).
July 2: Acquired LW Tye McGinn from Philadelphia for a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Offseason Departures
D Brad Stuart (traded to Colorado); D Dan Boyle (traded to NY Islanders); RW Martin Havlat (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); LW John McCarthy (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); LW Bracken Kearns (unrestricted free agent); RW Matt Pelech (unrestricted free agent).

ST. LOUIS BLUES
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft from Toronto for D Roman Polak.
July 1: Signed C Paul Stastny (Colorado) and C Jori Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL).
July 4: Signed LW John McCarthy (San Jose).
July 16: Signed D Chris Butler (Calgary) and RW Benn Ferriero (Vancouver).
July 21: Signed C Jeremy Welsh (Vancouver).
July 22: Signed D Nate Prosser (Minnesota).
July 29: Signed C Peter Mueller (Kloten, Switzerland).
Sept. 5: Signed C Colin Fraser (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
D Roman Polak (traded to Toronto); C Derek Roy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); LW Brenden Morrow (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); RW Adam Cracknell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); G Ryan Miller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); LW Vladimir Sobotka (restricted free agent, signed by KHL Avangard Omsk); C Keith Aucoin (unrestricted free agent); D Carlo Colaiacovo (unrestricted free agent).

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 27: Acquired D Jason Garrison, LW Jeff Costello and a 7th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for a 2nd-round pick in 2014.
July 1: Signed D Anton Stralman (NY Rangers), C Brian Boyle (NY Rangers), G Evgeni Nabokov (NY Islanders) and RW Mike Blunden (Montreal).
July 11: Signed LW Brenden Morrow (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
C Nate Thompson (traded to Anaheim); RW B.J. Crombeen (traded to Arizona); RW Teddy Purcell (traded to Edmonton); G Anders Lindback (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Keith Aulie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Mike Kostka (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Cedrick Desjardins (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Ryan Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Tom Pyatt (unrestricted free agent); D Sami Salo (unrestricted free agent).

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Roman Polak from St. Louis for D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Matt Frattin from Columbus for RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) and C Leo Komarov (Dynamo Moscow, KHL).
July 3: Signed C Mike Santorelli (Vancouver) and C Petri Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk, KHL).
July 22: Signed LW David Booth (Vancouver).
July 28: Signed C Daniel Winnik (Anaheim).
Offseason Departures
D Carl Gunnarsson (traded to St. Louis); RW Jerry D’Amigo (traded to Columbus); LW Mason Raymond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); G Drew MacIntyre (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Jay McClement (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); D Tim Gleason (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Dave Bolland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Nikolai Kulemin (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Paul Ranger (unrestricted free agent); C Jarred Smithson (unrestricted free agent).

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 21: Named Jim Benning general manager.
June 23: Named Willie Desjardins head coach.
June 27: Acquired C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft from Anaheim for C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in 2015.
June 27: Acquired RW Derek Dorsett from NY Rangers for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 28: Acquired RW Linden Vey from Los Angeles for a 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Ryan Miller (St. Louis).
July 2: Signed C Dustin Jeffrey (Dallas).
July 3: Signed RW Radim Vrbata (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C Ryan Kesler (traded to Anaheim); D Jason Garrison (traded to Tampa Bay); LW David Booth (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Mike Santorelli (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Zac Dalpe (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Jordan Schroeder (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Benn Ferriero (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Jeremy Welsh (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andrew Alberts (unrestricted free agent); LW Pascal Pelletier (unrestricted free agent); D Yann Sauve (unrestricted free agent).

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 26: Named Brian MacLellan general manager and Barry Trotz head coach.
July 1: Signed G Justin Peters (Carolina), D Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh), D Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) and RW Chris Conner (Pittsburgh).
July 3: Signed LW Tim Kennedy (Arizona).
July 4: Signed C Kris Newbury (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
G Jaroslav Halak (traded to NY Islanders); C Mikhail Grabovski (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Tyson Strachan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Julien Brouillette (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); RW Dustin Penner (unrestricted free agent); C Nicolas Deschamps (unrestricted free agent); C Peter LeBlanc (unrestricted free agent); C Ryan Stoa (unrestricted free agent).

WINNIPEG JETS
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim).
Aug. 1: Signed LW T.J. Galiardi (Calgary).
Aug. 8: Signed D Julien Brouillette (Washington).
Offseason Departures
D Zach Redmond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Al Montoya (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); C Olli Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Devin Setoguchi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C James Wright (unrestricted free agent).

Top four moments from NHL Player Tour

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
4:00
PM ET
video
NEW YORK -- We got a chance to talk to a number of NHL stars over two days at the NHL offices, and here are some of the notable moments from our discussions.

SCOTT BURNSIDE: My player tour highlight? Really enjoyed chatting with defending rookie of the year Nathan MacKinnon and hearing him talk about his relationship with fellow Nova Scotian Sidney Crosby. The two work out during the summer, although MacKinnon always lets Crosby do drills first, a nod to his experience. The best part of the conversation, though? Hearing that MacKinnon, who lived with veteran netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere last season, is moving in with Maxime Talbot. We’re guessing there will be more than a few laughs had in that abode.

CRAIG CUSTANCE: This is a great event because players are relaxed, and there's all kinds of optimism with the season looming. My highlight was conversations with two big personalities on defense in Montreal's P.K. Subban and Ottawa's Erik Karlsson. Both were great talkers, and both among the most dynamic at their position. Subban had a great line when it was pointed out to him that he doesn't have to worry about Shawn Thornton's water bottle attacks when he's playing the rival Bruins this year. He quickly responded, "I don't mind him squirting me with water in Florida because it's hot there. Not so much in Boston," Subban joked. He's a great player who welcomes the pressure and responsibility that comes with his new contract and high expectations in Montreal. "In 2007, I promised Montreal Canadiens fans that I would bring a Stanley Cup back to Montreal, I don't shy away from that promise," he said. "I stay true to it. That's my goal."

PIERRE LEBRUN: One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing the pride that exuded from Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky when he recalled being part of Russia’s gold-medal winning squad from the 2014 IIHF world championship in Belarus. Obviously winning the worlds doesn't erase the immense disappointment Russia felt at its dismal Olympic performance in Sochi. But Bobrovsky said winning at worlds at least helped restore some measure of pride for Russian hockey fans, and it meant a lot to him, as well. North American fans have never understood how big the IIHF event is every spring but, for a player overseas, it’s a huge deal. You could really tell that in seeing Bobrovsky talk about it Tuesday. Neat.

KATIE STRANG: Sometimes it's tough to discern a player's true personality and countenance when he's mired in a 10-game losing streak or locked into a nasty playoff battle, but catching him at this event is always a fun time. The player who impressed me most during the NHL Player Tour was Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin, who was truly an engaging, charismatic and candid interview. We covered topics ranging from his beach volleyball prowess (yes, he employs a jump serve), Michael Del Zotto's eating habits, his budding Twitter friendship with Dez Bryant and his success this past season in Dallas. What struck me most is that despite all the scrutiny Seguin has endured in recent years -- unceremoniously thrown under the bus after being traded from Boston -- he hasn't shut down and buttoned up to satisfy some arbitrary idea of what an NHL player should be. He's matured, yes, but he hasn't sacrificed his personality in the process. I think we'll see some more great moments out of him this season. And I couldn't believe how many guys lauded Jamie Benn as one of their top players to watch. You really get the sense that there are some big things brewing down in Dallas.

Joe NieuwendykAP Photo/Bill JanschaFormer Stars player and GM Joe Nieuwendyk is back in the NHL after a year away from the league.
Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk took a full season away from the NHL, although he never stopped watching hockey.

But Nieuwendyk needed a year away to recalibrate after being fired as general manager of the Dallas Stars following the 2012-13 season, spending some time with his family, before taking on his next challenge.

His next gig will allow him to stay in Dallas with his family while at the same time reconnecting with the NHL.

"I enjoyed my year with helping my son’s hockey team, and now I can continue to do that,” Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com this week after being named pro scout/adviser to Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.

"I had breakfast with Ronnie in the spring and we continued to talk during the summer. I have a lot of respect for Ron,’’ Nieuwendyk said. "I played with him on the Leafs in ’04, and we have mutual friends who work for him in Carolina. It just feels like something I wanted to do and hopefully I can help him any which way I can.’’

When Jay Feaster was fired as GM in Calgary last season, rumors -- well-founded ones -- spread that Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke had great interest in bringing former Flames star Nieuwendyk in as Feaser's replacement.

While Nieuwendyk has never talked publicly about that specific possibility, it is clear he’s not ready yet to jump back into that demanding lifestyle of running an NHL team.

His new job with the Hurricanes will provide the best of both worlds: a link to NHL management and the chance to continue to help coach his 12-year-old’s hockey team and spend time with his three kids in Dallas.

"This gives me an opportunity to stay involved in the game, being part of upper management conversations with Ronnie,’’ Nieuwendyk said. "I think that’s a good role for me at this point. I love helping my son’s team out; that’s been a lot of fun.

"I’ll be based in Dallas, I’ll see games here and keep an eye on the Western Conference a little bit for Ronnie,’’ Nieuwendyk added. ``A big part of this, though, will be just to have to some real good conversations with Ron. I know he doesn’t have a deep staff. So any time I can be a sounding board for him, he’s probably going to go through a lot of the same things I went through as a (rookie) GM. We just have a good relationship. He’s a sharp guy and a classy guy, I think he’s going to be fine.’’

The Bruins' cap challenges
The Bruins remain cap-challenged on the eve of training camp and it’s likely they’ll move a body or two over the next month or so to give themselves some breathing room.

That’s a must when you consider that restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug remain unsigned. Plus there’s the fact Boston's getting dinged $4.7 million in cap carryover bonus overages from last season.

It's a good bet a trade happens here at some point sooner rather than later. From chatting to sources around the league this week, the names we keep hearing that the Bruins are listening on are defensemen Johnny Boychuk ($3.36 million cap hit), Adam McQuaid ($1.56 million) and Matt Bartkowski ($1.25 million). All three are unrestricted free agents a year from now.

The Bruins likely have a pretty good idea from chatting to teams all summer long what deals they can make for either of those players. The question now is which one or two they can live without, leaving them with the best possible group intact.

The end for Whitney?
Is the Wizard nearing retirement? Tough to tell at this point but it’s possible Ray Whitney has played his last NHL game.

"I’m not sure yet, and I’m not really tipping my hand one way or the other,’’ Whitney told ESPN.com on Thursday. "I’m in shape, I’m skating, but I’m not too worried. There’s obviously limitations to where I would go, but I’m not out there searching for anything, either.’’

The sense at this point is that if a team calls, he’ll listen, but he’s not ordering his agent J.P. Barry to drop everything, either.

"I won’t continue to skate for much longer,” Whitney said quite candidly. "My interest in playing drops with each week that I don’t get something, so I won’t be pressing too much.’’

The 42-year-old had 32 points (9-23) in 69 games with the Dallas Stars last season, although it was clear he wasn’t a fit there anymore. He did put up nearly a point a game in the lockout season just the year before and had 77 points (24-53) in 82 games with the Arizona Coyotes in 2011-12. He can surely help somebody’s power play.

Just a guess here, but given that Whitney and his wife and kids live in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Coyotes are probably one of the teams he’d be open to signing with. However, a source told ESPN.com that Arizona does not have any interest.

Hopefully Whitney catches on with another club, but if this is the end, what a career it's been. He won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and totaled 1,064 points (385-679) in 1,330 career regular-season games with San Jose, Edmonton, Florida, Columbus, Detroit, Carolina, Arizona and Dallas.

Bertuzzi's focus back on ice
Now that Todd Bertuzzi’s settlement with Steve Moore is signed, sealed and delivered, his camp can focus on hockey matters.
With the possibility of a trial this fall keeping Bertuzzi occupied in recent months, there really wasn’t any point in trying to talk to NHL teams about the UFA winger this summer.

But now that a trial has been avoided, Bertuzzi’s agent, Pat Morris of Newport Sports, told ESPN.com Friday that his client hopes to catch on with an NHL team.

"Todd wants to continue playing,” Morris said. "He’s skating and is in great shape. A lawsuit is no longer an issue. We’ll see what transpires in the coming weeks.”

Easier said than done, of course. The 39-year-old was limited to 16 points (9-7) in 59 games last season in Detroit and that comes after the lockout year in which he played only seven games because of injury.

But Morris says Bertuzzi is skating and is ready to go. It won’t be back in Detroit, though, where the Wings have a plethora of forwards and are still waiting to hear on whether Daniel Alfredsson.
Hockey has taken a back seat for former Dallas Stars captain Mike Modano.

The 44-year-old Hall of Famer and his wife, professional golfer Allison Micheletti (daughter of former NHLer Joe Micheletti), recently celebrated the birth of twins Jack and Kate.

But even while juggling a pair of newborns, Modano has time to get excited about the changes underway for a Dallas Stars team building toward the future.

[+] EnlargeMike Modano
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMike Modano amassed 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 NHL games.
Last summer, newly hired general manager Jim Nill acquired Tyler Seguin via trade with the Boston Bruins, a move that was met with some skepticism because of questions about Seguin's character.

Seguin, however, thrived and helped make the Stars one of the most exciting young teams. And the club made the playoffs for the first time in six years.

This summer, Nill added another elite center, trading for Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza to give the Stars a formidable one-two punch down the middle. Nill also signed skilled winger Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal.

"I think it's been very positive, a kind of piece-by-piece process, but that pretty much goes with a lot of teams rebuilding. Bits and pieces become available, there are big trades to acquire the personnel you want and Jim did that with the Seguin deal," Modano told ESPN.com in a phone conversation. "Energetic youth comes in and kind of has a lot of work ethic, and obviously this summer [Nill] gets that No. 2 center, so taking care of Spezza was a big deal.

"They have the pieces and the personnel, it’s just a matter of whether it will come together."

Trades for top playmaking centers like Seguin and Spezza don't come by often and they aren't easy to make, but Modano -- who helped bring Dallas a Stanley Cup in 1999 -- wasn't surprised Nill was able to pull it off in consecutive offseasons.

Modano, regarded as one of the best U.S.-born centers to play the game, has known Nill for a long time and knows he has a savvy hockey mind. Nill understands how to treat his players, as well as the business side of the game.

"I think it says a lot about Jim Nill. Good GMs around the league have a way of luring good players to play for their organization," said Modano, who had 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 NHL games. "That comes with his history with the [Detroit Red] Wings, working with [GM] Kenny Holland, [owner Mike] Ilitch.

"You create some opportunities for individuals getting a second chance or reinventing themselves as players. He's kind of got that asset to him that he's able to do that and get them excited about being here. The stability with ownership here, that does a lot, too."

Nill and the Stars' ownership can't really afford to sit back and be patient, though. Given the absurd level of competition in the stacked Central Division, teams feel tremendous pressure to make themselves better with each offseason.

"The division is fast, skilled, big, a lot of those components," Modano said. "You try to keep up with the Joneses or you get passed by."

But he doesn’t see that happening. He thinks the Stars should be able to earn another postseason berth in 2015.

"If they can get out of the gates strong the first few months, they can give themselves some breathing room," Modano said. "Though they still might have to scratch and claw down to the last week."

Just this past year, Modano has taken on the role of executive adviser and alternate governor with the Stars. It allows him to be around the team and help out more than he did immediately after retiring in 2011. He might become more involved in the future, but for right now he is happy with how things are going.

After all, having two newborns doesn’t leave him much free time. Or sleep, for that matter.

"As time goes by, there are little niches I enjoy doing that hopefully evolve into something, a bigger responsibility going forward, down the road," Modano said. "But for right now, I'll keep doing what I've been doing."

Hair bands and hockey hair: a marriage made in heaven. So, we're dropping the needle on 30 songs that say something about each of the 30 teams -- using nothing but cheesy videos from the 1980s. The Western Conference list is below, so feel free to mullet over. (Eastern Conference is here.)



ANAHEIM DUCKS: "Maniac," Michael Sembello

Those crazy kids on the left coast will try pretty much anything. Which means it's all or nothing for the Ducks, who, if it weren't for their downtown neighbors, might be living the high life instead of never seeing the third round. But real life is hard, so that's why the Ducks went out and got Ryan Kesler and are sticking with young hotshots John Gibson and Fredrik Andersen in net, no matter what. And they mean it this time. Carpe diem, ducklings!

On the ice-blue line of insanity, it's a place most never see
It's a hard-won place of mystery, touch it but can't hold it
You work for your life for that moment in time, it could come or pass you by
It's a push of the world, but there's always a chance




ARIZONA COYOTES: "Livin' On A Prayer," Bon Jovi

Arizona Coyotes, Phoenix Coyotes ... does it really matter? With the team's arena deal hitting an unexpected bump in the road recently, this team's off-ice fortunes continue to cloud the future. Not to mention that said arena is still so far out in the boonies that no one goes to the games.

We've got to hold on to what we've got
'Cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot



CALGARY FLAMES: "Holding Back The Years," Simply Red

What's the deal with these perennially lousy teams in Alberta? Not all the Brian Burkes in the world seem to able to fix this broken franchise. Jarome Iginla must be so happy he's not there anymore.

Holding back the years
Chance for me to escape from all I've known
Holding back the tears
'Cause nothing here has grown
I've wasted all my tears
Wasted all those years
And nothing had the chance to be good
Nothing ever could yeah



CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: "U Can't Touch This," MC Hammer

"The Blackhawks are so good." "Break it down, ESPN.com!" "They are so good, no one in the West will be able to touch them. Er, until the playoffs." "You had me and then you lost me, ESPN.com!"

Cold on a mission so fall them back
Let 'em know that you're too much
And this is a beat, uh, you can't touch



COLORADO AVALANCHE: "Beat It," Michael Jackson

Time to see what you're made of, Avs. You had an overachieving season followed by a disappointingly early departure from the playoffs. How you respond after all the Patrick Roy glass-pushing and novelty wears thin will reveal your true character. Show us how funky strong is your fight. And, by the way, let's see you do it without Paul Stastny.

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it



DALLAS STARS: "Hip To Be Square," Huey Lewis And The News

We're watching you, Tyler Seguin. The fate of the Stars rests on your considerable shoulders. Show us what you've got.

I used to be a renegade, I used to fool around
But I couldn't take the punishment and had to settle down
Now I'm playing it real straight, and yes, I cut my hair
You might think I'm crazy, but I don't even care
Because I can tell what's going on



EDMONTON OILERS: "We're Not Going to Take It," Twisted Sister

All those high draft picks, all those low places in the standings, all that disappointment for a passionate fan base, all those seasons of missing the playoffs. Will the fans bail on the Oil?

If that's your best
Your best won't do



LOS ANGELES KINGS: "We Are The Champions," Queen

C'mon, you knew this one was coming: Kings, Queen, defending champions. But, seriously, can anyone dethrone the Kings?

We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions



MINNESOTA WILD: "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band

Who's playing net here? Is it a revolving door again? That never works.

I heat up, I can't cool down
You got me spinnin'
'Round and 'round
'Round and 'round and 'round it goes
Where it stops nobody knows



NASHVILLE PREDATORS: "Notorious," Duran Duran

The Predators never seem to learn. A couple of years ago, they brought in bad boys Andrei Kostisyn and Alexander Radulov late in the season, and their late-night carousing -- in the playoffs, no less -- helped bring the previously rolling Preds machine to a grinding halt. Now, they sign Mike Ribeiro and his ambiguous "behavior issues." Ribeiro -- whose camp sought out the Predators -- says he's changed his ways. Whatever. GM David Poile must be the king of second chances, or he likes living life on the edge.

That's why I've done it again
No-no-Notorious



ST. LOUIS BLUES: "Don't You Want Me," Human League

"Sorry, Ryan Miller, but we've decided to go in another direction. It just wasn't a good fit. No, no, it was us, not you. Yes, we can certainly be friends."

Don't, don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me
Don't, don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me



SAN JOSE SHARKS: "The Breakup Song," The Greg Kihn Band

Some feel the underperforming Sharks would be best to start from scratch. Will fans forgive them if they don't?

Now I wind up staring at an empty glass
Uh uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh
Cause it's so easy to say that you'll forget your past
Uh uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh



VANCOUVER CANUCKS: "Separate Ways," Journey

Poor Canucks fans. Too many good goalies, not enough good goalies, fired coach goes to the Cup finals with another team ... so confused by the unrequited love they have for their mixed-up team. Everyone who comes to this team and isn't a twin seems to eventually go his separate way.

Troubled times
Caught between confusions and pain, pain, pain
Distant eyes
Promises we made were in vain
In vain, vain



WINNIPEG JETS: "The Way It Is," Bruce Hornsby and the Range

You know the Jets aren't really that far away from being the Thrashers, right? And you remember how crappy the Thrashers were, right? This team seems to spin its wheels no matter where it is or who is coaching it. Shame, really.

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is



The St. Louis Blues made quite the splash Tuesday, signing the most coveted center on the unrestricted free-agent market, Paul Stastny.

Just imagine had they also traded for Jason Spezza on top of that?

That’s exactly what the Blues would have attempted had the Ottawa Senators not dealt him so early in the day.

The priority in St. Louis was to make sure Stastny was going to sign there, but a source told ESPN.com the Blues would have also circled back to the Senators after that to inquire about what it would take to get Spezza as well.

Go big or go home, right?

At the end of the day, I’m not convinced the Blues would have offered as impressive a package as the Stars did, so the Senators probably made the right decision to trade with Dallas.

More on the Stars later. But let’s finish up with the Blues first. Major kudos to GM Doug Armstrong for sticking to his guns on not signing any contract past four years with Stastny. That was really important to Armstrong, but it’s hard to have that kind of self-control on July 1 when sometimes your emotions get the better of you with all the money flying around the NHL. He gave Stastny top dollar, averaging $7 million per year, but was able to get the term he wanted at four years, buying exactly the best four years of Stastny’s career from age 28 to 32. That’s mighty impressive.

At the end of the day, Stastny could have gone elsewhere for more term, but the Blues were the runaway front-runners if he was going to leave Colorado. He grew up in St. Louis and had long ago made that club a target if he couldn’t say with the Avs. He didn’t stay because Colorado just couldn’t move enough on term or salary to ever really come close.

Now the Blues will likely feature a top line of Stastny between Alex Steen and David Backes.

Stastny wasn’t the only free-agent center signed on this day by St. Louis. While it didn’t get nearly as much fanfare, the Blues were through-the-roof delighted to get Jori Lehtera to finally sign and leave overseas, where he has been a consistent top point producer in the KHL and before that the Finnish League. The Blues drafted him in 2008 but failed in a few attempts to get him to come over. Now he’s arriving as a matured, 26-year-old pivot who may turn some heads next season.

And those stars …
So in a league where team execs will always tell you it’s impossible to acquire top-end centers, Stars GM Jim Nill has picked up Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza within 12 months.

"Jim Nill is doing an incredible job there," a rival GM said Tuesday night.

The funniest thing about the Spezza trade is that, as late as Saturday, Nill was under the impression that Spezza didn’t want to go to Dallas. There was some miscommunication or confusion with Ottawa on that. Once that got cleared up over the weekend, Nill got back hard into the Spezza situation.

There had also been some dialogue with San Jose previously regarding Joe Thornton, but Jumbo still isn’t ready to leave the Sharks. So Spezza certainly made plenty of sense for the Stars, who tried to keep up with a Western Conference arms race at center.

With Ales Hemsky also signed Tuesday, you’ve got yourself a Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin pairing on the top line perhaps and Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky on the second unit. Um yeah, there’s a few goals there.

Blackhawks get Richards
Word is Brad Richards had solid interest from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, but in the end he was really sold on having a chance to win another Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Conversations with Hawks GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville over the past few days were all Richards needed to take a one-year flyer with the perennial Cup contenders.

To me, that’s a great fit for both sides and a smart play by Bowman to make it work at $2 million.

Brodeur still waiting
Martin Brodeur told us before free agency he knew he’d have to be patient once the market opened, and that patience is certainly being tested.

Tampa Bay was looking for a backup and spoke to Brodeur's camp, but then chose to go with Evgeni Nabokov.

The Pittsburgh Penguins talked to Brodeur’s camp but couldn’t make the money work, so they signed Thomas Greiss instead.

You have to believe there’s room somewhere for the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie, even at the age of 42, but it appears it’s not going to be easy.

Habs deal GorgesS
It wasn’t an easy few days for Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin after word leaked out of an attempted trade of Josh Gorges to Toronto, only to have the veteran defenseman block the deal to the Maple Leafs via his partial no-trade clause.

Word first leaked Saturday via TSN’s Bob McKenzie and, while it produced angry comments from Gorges, the Habs hung in there with Toronto for a few days, allowing the Maple Leafs to try to convince Gorges to change his mind. Bergevin waited until Tuesday morning, but when he was told the answer was still no from Gorges (the Habs it appears would have gotten Cody Franson in return), Montreal quickly turned its attention to Buffalo and got a deal done for a second-round pick in 2016. The Canadiens eventually got their right-handed defenseman elsewhere when they signed Tom Gilbert.

Many Habs fans and even some Montreal players are not happy to see the popular Gorges go. But with four more years on his deal at $3.9 million per season, Bergevin and the Habs front office made a calculated yet unpopular decision that Gorges’ play in the last two years of that deal would not warrant the cap hit, not to mention the necessity to open up more playing time on the left side of defense for youngster Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.

Said one Western Conference GM: "I think Bergy did the right thing even if it was tough to do. Gorges is a warrior, but those miles will catch up to him."

Meanwhile, another popular player also left town Tuesday: Habs captain Brian Gionta joins Gorges in Buffalo via free agency, signing a three-year deal worth $4.25 million per season. A source told ESPN.com the Canadiens didn’t waiver from offering Gionta only a one-year extension, so that decision to leave was fairly simple for Gionta.

Between both veteran players, that’s a lot of leadership out the door and certainly two players that teammates valued. I’d say the risk here isn’t so much on the ice with these two departures, but rather off of it. There’s a leadership void to fill.

Rangers sign Boyle
Dan Boyle left "a lot" of money on the table from other teams, according to one source, in order to sign for $4.5 million per season over two years with the New York Rangers. Fact is, the allure of playing with old bud Martin St. Louis plus quarterbacking the Blueshirts power play made the Rangers the front-runners for Boyle.

Toronto, Tampa, Montreal and Detroit also had interest in Boyle.


Maybe you wondered if Jim Nill, who spent all of those years working behind the scenes with the Detroit Red Wings, would have the stuff to be a big-time NHL general manager on his own with the Dallas Stars.

Maybe you'll stop wondering now.

In one calendar year, Nill has stocked his team with two elite centers and has the Stars in a strong position to not just build on this season's surprise berth in the playoffs, but to make some noise next spring.

Nill followed his July 2013 acquisition of Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins in a blockbuster deal by acquiring disgruntled Ottawa center Jason Spezza on Tuesday, about an hour before the start of the free-agency period.

[+] EnlargeJason Spezza
Graig Abel/Getty ImagesJason Spezza gives the Stars a potent 1-2 punch at center alongside Tyler Seguin.
The Stars sent Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicholas Paul and a second-round 2015 draft pick to Ottawa, which continues to reshape its roster. The Senators have lost their past two captains in successive years, with Daniel Alfredsson signing as a free agent last summer with Detroit.

The Stars also got prospect Ludwig Karlsson in the deal.

Chiasson, a 6-foot-4 winger, looks to have the most upside of the group, enjoying a strong start in his rookie season with the Stars but cooling off in the second half, finishing with 13 goals and 35 points (including six power-play goals and four game-winners).

He’ll presumably get a chance to play top-six minutes with a team that must redefine itself offensively. The Senators are coming off a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs despite remaining relatively healthy. They made surprise postseason appearances in each of the previous two seasons.

The Stars, of course, get the best player in the deal in Spezza, the second overall pick in 2001 who had spent his entire career in Ottawa and had grown tired of playing there.

Still, the move doesn’t come without question marks for Dallas. (Is there a deal of this magnitude that ever gets done without some questions about the players involved?)

Spezza has had injury issues, most notably back problems that limited him to just five regular-season games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He has played 80 or more games in a season just twice in his career.

Spezza remains a top talent, though, and has managed to collect 52 points in 56 postseason games. Those are numbers that will be important to the Stars, who pushed the Anaheim Ducks to six games in the first round of the playoffs this spring.

That series was instructive to Nill and Lindy Ruff, who was in his first year as the Stars’ coach.

Teams in the Western Conference must have the goods down the middle if they’re going to compete with the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim struck pivot gold by acquiring Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks before the June 27 draft. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators have been scrambling to fill in down the middle as well.

The Stars began the draft period looking like it wouldn’t be in the running for players such as Spezza, who identified 10 teams to which he wouldn’t accept a trade.

And yet Nill and Ottawa GM Bryan Murray managed to get a deal done that gives the Stars a nice complement to Seguin, who blossomed with 37 goals (eight game-winners) last season after spending two tumultuous years in Boston, where the No. 2 overall pick in 2010 spent much of the time playing wing.

Now look around the Western Conference and contemplate these center combinations: Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter in Los Angeles; Ryan Getzlaf and Kesler in Anaheim; Logan Couture and Joe Thornton (if he stays) in San Jose; and now Seguin and Spezza in Dallas.

In a matter of days, the balance of power has been dramatically altered in the West, home to a preponderance of the NHL’s top teams.

Spezza has one year left on a deal that pays him just $4 million in real money but comes with a $7 million cap hit. Nill will presumably be looking to extend Spezza, but that’s something to consider down the road. And if the Stars hit the skids, they could of course consider flipping Spezza at next season's trade deadline.

And let’s be honest: Frankly, the Stars aren’t quite there yet. But when you factor in Seguin, Spezza and Cody Eakin, who had 16 goals last season, the Stars’ complement of centers is impressive. Throw in Jamie Benn (34 goals), emerging Russian talent Valeri Nichushkin and new signing Ales Hemsky (who played some with Spezza after going to Ottawa at the trade deadline last season) on the wings and the Stars will be able to go toe-to-toe offensively with most of the competition in the West.

Defensively, the team is still maturing and we must admit a certain ongoing skepticism about goalie Kari Lehtonen staying healthy enough to carry the Stars beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Still, as the free-agent market opens, there is little question the Stars are better than they were a few hours ago and are forcing teams to scramble for other options.


PHILADELPHIA -- Perhaps emotionally driven and certainly frustrated, veteran general manager Bryan Murray revealed more than a little after the NHL draft Saturday regarding his failed attempts so far to trade star center Jason Spezza.

For starters, the Ottawa Senators GM said a potential deal with the Nashville Predators was scuttled because Spezza didn’t want to go there -- the Preds are on Spezza’s list of 10 teams he won’t go to.

"[Preds GM] David [Poile] talked to me, and we couldn’t go there," Murray said. "I told [Spezza’s agent] Rick Curran that today, I had a deal sitting there if I wanted to do it, but he was on the list of no-goes."

Poile also confirmed the potential deal.

“I've talked to Bryan about Jason, and I was told through [Spezza’s] agent that he didn’t want to play for us. And that was confirmed by Bryan," Poile said Saturday.

The hint was that Murray could have gotten Patric Hornqvist and Nic Spaling, the two players who went to Pittsburgh for James Neal.

“They’ve done their James Neal trade, so that has gone away,” Murray said. "Anaheim’s gone away with Kesler, so the field narrows a little bit. But yeah, they might need to have a little change in approach, as well as I do.”

The question now is whether Spezza would consider changing his mind on Nashville if his situation drags on. After all, he is the one who asked for a trade.

“Maybe David and I will have a conversation later on, I don’t know that,” Murray said. "We talked today but didn’t indicate anything about a trade because of the Neal trade. But he may come back to me.”

[+] EnlargeJason Spezza
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyNashville is one of the 10 teams that Jason Spezza will not accept a trade to.
But a source close to Spezza told ESPN.com that, at this point, he has no intention of changing his mind on Nashville.

It’s clear that the classy Poile had a hint of frustration in his voice as he talked about Spezza not wanting to go to Nashville.

“I’m not going to pitch somebody if they don’t want to play for us,” Poile said. "This game is hard enough as it is. You’ve got to be fully committed.”

Poile sees Nashville as an attractive place for a player with a team that’s improving.

“I want to be optimistic. I think we’re closer than a lot of people are giving us credit for," Poile said.

“I have no problem selling my team, and I think it’s an easy sell. What we have on the ice, what we have off the ice, the city, the atmosphere, no state taxes, there’s a lot of advantages to playing in Nashville.”

And what he’d dearly love is a center of Spezza’s talents, or perhaps Paul Stastny (UFA on Tuesday).

“If I had it on my wish list, I would like to get a No. 1 center, and we’re going to try to get that,” Poile said. "If that happens the next couple of days or it happens in free agency or it happens through a trade that would be great. If it doesn’t happen right now, I have patience. I don’t think we really have an age problem on our team, but I think we’re really getting the correct pieces in place to be a more competitive club than we’ve been in the last couple of years.”

For the Senators, it may very well be that once Stastny is taken off the market, some of the teams who were chasing him will come back on Spezza.

"We’ll continue to talk and, over the course of time, I’m sure people that miss out on July 1 may come knocking, but we’ll have to wait and see," Murray said.

"Jason’s a 80-90 point guy, and you don’t get that return in any kind of trade in this league today, but I’m hoping we get something fair for the organization, so that we can put a player on the ice and maybe get a prospect or two and go from there."

A source told ESPN.com that Murray had another conversation about Spezza with St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong on Saturday morning, the Senators trying to pry the Blues’ second-round pick in a possible package. But the Blues stood pat for now, although it’s believed their interest in Spezza remains strong. The same can be said for the Chicago Blackhawks, although they’ve got to figure out their salary-cap situation to have any chance to make a deal work with Ottawa.

The Blues also have interest in Stastny, so that’s another potential avenue, although half the teams in the league have approached Stastny’s camp.

HABS TRY TO MOVE GORGES
Talk about out of left field, news broke by my TSN teammate Bob McKenzie on Saturday that the Maple Leafs and rival Montreal Canadiens had talked about a potential Josh Gorges trade. Only one problem, Toronto isn’t among the 15 teams that Gorges has listed on his partial no-trade provision as clubs he’s willing to go to. But what it does tell you is that Gorges is in play, only thing is, Montreal needs to find a partner among those 15 teams listed.

Gorges, 29, has four more years on his deal at a $3.9 million cap hit.

The Leafs did trade for a blueliner, getting Roman Polak from St. Louis in exchange for Carl Gunnarsson and the 94th overall pick. Toronto retained $200,000 of cap space in the transaction.

NEW SALARY CAP
Perhaps the biggest buzz item of the weekend was the salary cap, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announcing Friday that it would be $69 million for next season.

That’s about $1 million less than what most teams had budgeted for, which is no small deal.

For teams like Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, every dime matters when you’re a cap team and having a lower-than-expected cap greatly affects potential moves and certainly the ability to spend.

"Yeah, it affects every team that’s close," Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Saturday. "It affects us for sure. We’ve got to find a way to get below it. It was a little lower than we thought and hoped."

The Blackhawks are trying to find a No. 2 center, the Bruins had hoped to re-sign Jarome Iginla, the Rangers have Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman headed to free agency, and the list goes on.

Having a cap that’s a $1 million less than expected is far from ideal for many of these cap teams.

What’s most interesting is that in the negotiations over setting the cap number, it was the NHL Players’ Association wanting it at $69 million while the league wanted it at $70 million. The NHLPA’s concern was that a $70-million cap would lead to more escrow payments for players next year.

That’s a valid point, it’s just rare for the players to be arguing for less spending and the league wanting more.

"Role reversal," chuckled one team executive.

STARS BUSY?
Stars GM Jim Nill said he’d like to add a piece or two to his forward group but did not divulge his specific targets.

Sources suggest he’s talked to San Jose about Joe Thornton and also to Ottawa about Jason Spezza.

What he found out is that Thornton at this point has no intention to waive his no-movement clause.

AVS TO TALK TO STASTNY
Agent Matt Keator was a popular man this week in Philadelphia, courted by half the teams in the league on the subject of his client and pending UFA center Paul Stastny.

It’s clear Colorado will need to boost its last offer to Stastny (believed to be a number that starts with 5) in order to retain his services.

"We’re going to continue talking, I’m going to talk to him probably tomorrow," Avs executive Joe Sakic said Saturday. "We’ll see where we’re at."

Stastny dearly wants to stay in Denver. But he’s going to get offered more money elsewhere, so he will have to balance those two thoughts.

"That’s what you get when you’re an UFA, the ultimate decision is Paul’s," Sakic said. "I’m sure there’s lots of teams that have interest, where they’re going to go financially, I don’t know, but I know what we can do. Hopefully it will work out, but we’ll see."

ALFIE'S FUTURE
Daniel Alfredsson, 41, continues to mull over his playing future.

"I think right now, Daniel -- not unlike a lot of veteran guys in his situation and his age -- just wants to take his time and make the right decision," his agent J.P. Barry of CAA said Saturday. "He wants to feel 100 percent before he makes any decision.

"I think he’s leaning towards playing, we all think that, but at the same time he needs that time in the summer to feel 100 percent."

If Alfredsson does return, it’s likely only for Detroit.

NISKANEN READY FOR MARKET
Matt Niskanen is almost surely gone from Pittsburgh, the cap-challenged Penguins unable to match what the UFA blueliner will fetch on the open market both in term and dollars.

Don’t be surprised to see Niskanen and his agent Neil Sheehy fetch north of $5 million a year and term around five or six years for the puck-mover.

FLORIDA'S NO. 1 PICK
Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he was close on one particular offer to trade away the No. 1 overall pick Friday night.

And while Philadelphia and Vancouver made strong pitches, the club that made Tallon think the most was Tampa Bay, a source said.

Imagine if the two Florida clubs had gotten together for that kind of blockbuster.


Ducks' rally tough for Stars to swallow

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
11:51
PM ET

DALLAS -- This didn’t really have the makings of any sort of miracle on Texas ice for the Anaheim Ducks.

They were down two goals with a little more than two minutes left in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars, a deficit that had to seem much larger. The Stars had dictated play behind a raucous sellout crowd, and the Ducks had already replaced starting goalie Frederik Andersen with Jonas Hiller. Game 7 on Tuesday night was already on everyone's calendars.

Then everything changed.

"I wasn't expecting it to happen," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

No one was, Bruce.

The first person Boudreau thanked for his team’s three-goal barrage in the final five minutes of game time -- two goals in the last 2:10 of regulation and the winner 2:47 into overtime that gave Anaheim the unlikely 5-4 win -- was Patrick Roy.

Roy? Yep. The Hall of Fame-goalie-turned-coach-of-the-Colorado Avalanche started pulling his netminder earlier than conventional hockey wisdom allowed this season and got results. Perhaps now Roy’s way will become conventional wisdom. Boudreau is surely a convert now. When the Ducks found themselves down two goals with just under three minutes left, the coach was watching the ice and waiting for a chance to pull Hiller.

"I knew if we got one, then anything could happen," Boudreau said. "We’ve had a year that everything like this has happened to us. You’re always hopeful and you believe and you’re talking on the bench to believe, but deep down you don’t really think it’s going to happen."

But it did. Nick Bonino scored with 2:10 left in the game with the extra attacker on the ice. You could sense the Ducks bench getting lots of life from it.

"No one was done," Bonino said. "We felt we could come back, considering we have done it all year."

That was the key goal. Because it happened with so much time left, it gave the Ducks a chance to ready themselves for one last burst to tie it.

"It makes a heck of a difference when that happens," Boudreau said. "Two goals and you’re thinking, ‘Yeah, maybe we got a chance,’ and you talk about it, but I don’t know if there’s a lot of belief in it. But when he scored that goal and you looked up at the clock and there’s still two-plus minutes, you go, ‘Hey, we’ve still got an opportunity here.’ That’s when everybody started to get pretty excited, and they probably went, ‘Uh-oh, we better defend and defend,’ and I think we just kept coming and they were nervous about the whole situation."

It made the Ducks the aggressors again. Boudreau pulled Hiller again to put additional pressure on Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. As the seconds ticked by with half a minute left, bodies started piling up in front of the net. Lehtonen’s stick slid by, ending up where he couldn’t reach it. The goalie tried to cover the net but couldn’t as the puck squirted to Devante Smith-Pelly, who flicked it high over a sprawled Lehtonen.

Tie game. The goal left the sellout crowd of more than 19,000 stunned. It zapped all of the momentum the Stars had worked so hard to obtain. All that was left for Stars coach Lindy Ruff was a pep talk before overtime.

"I told them what I’ve been telling them all year: Refocus. Get ready to play," Ruff said. "The room was upbeat. I told them, 'Pick your heads up and get ready to go.'"

But it was the Ducks who got the best chance early in overtime and buried it. The Stars looked a bit dazed as they skated to shake hands at center ice. Heck, the Ducks looked a little bewildered, too.

"It’s a tough one to swallow," said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley, who was two minutes away from earning the club’s cowboy hat for MVP of the game and joining his teammates for another flight out west. "We felt there were a good three games that we probably had opportunities to win. It wasn’t just tonight. You want to learn from it. We’ve got a young team. We’ve got to move forward."

Lehtonen talked to the media and then sat at his locker, not moving an inch with his pads still on, staring at nothing in particular. Perhaps he was replaying the final three goals that altered the series, hoping for another chance to skate and try to make a save.

For the Stars, Sunday’s late collapse means the season ends earlier than they wanted, though perhaps not earlier than many expected. That won’t make anyone in the organization feel any better for the next few days, maybe months.

"We had it right there at 4-2 with two minutes left, but it’s a cruel way," Ruff said. "Sometimes hockey is cruel. It was cruel, really cruel to a group of guys that worked as hard as they possibly could."

For the Ducks, the win means they put last year’s disappointment behind them. Then, they skated into Detroit with a 3-2 series lead and lost in overtime only to come back home for Game 7 and lose by a goal. It was an early exit after a solid regular season.

Dallas was a few minutes away from those doubts maybe getting into the heads of the Ducks as they prepared for a Game 7. Instead, Anaheim gets a dramatic victory it can use as a building block for a second-round series against Pacific Division rival Los Angeles or San Jose.

The Stars, meanwhile, must use their first playoff appearance in six seasons as a learning experience.

"That’s not the way you want to go through it," Daley said. "With two minutes there, you think you’re going back to Anaheim. But it’s a learning lesson. We learn from it. We learn as a team. There’s a lot of young guys on this team that will be back next year. The playoffs isn’t given to you. It’s tough to get in the playoffs. When you do get the chance, you’ve got to take advantage of it, and we feel like we blew a great opportunity."

The Ducks took advantage and move on in a most unexpected way. It might be a good time for Boudreau to send Roy a thank-you text.

Rapid Reaction: Ducks 5, Stars 4 OT

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
10:25
PM ET

DALLAS -- The Anaheim Ducks are moving on to the second round of the playoffs after coming back to beat the Dallas Stars in Game 6 in Dallas on Sunday, 5-4.

How it happened: The Stars scored three goals in the first period to take control early. Dallas scored its first power play goal since Game 2 and Ryan Garbutt's goal with 59 seconds left in the period gave the Stars a two-goal cushion. For the second straight game in Dallas, Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen watched the end from the bench. He was pulled midway through the second period (he was pulled in the third period of Game 4 in Dallas) and replaced by Jonas Hiller for the remainder of the game. Daley's second goal of the game, at 10:33 of the second period, put the Stars up by two goals for the second time. It stayed that way until Nick Bonino scored with Hiller on the bench in favor of an extra skater with 2:10 left in the game. Anaheim pulled Hiller again in the final minute and off a huge scrum in front of the Stars' net, goalie Kari Lehtonen lost his stick and moments later lost sight of the puck. Devante Smith-Pelly found it just outside the crease and floated it top shelf to tie the score with 22 seconds left.

What it means: Anaheim wins the series, 4-2, scoring three unanswered goals to do it. They went through a goalie change, seemingly little momentum and a loud road and found a way to get it done. It also avoids any thoughts of last season, when they lost to Detroit in Game 6 and then fell at home in Game 7 in the first round.

Players of the game: Jonas Hiller and Nick Bonino. He came in midway through the second period and didn't let anything by him. Despite a bunch of scoring chances and play going on in front of him, Hiller kept the Ducks within range and they used some late third-period heroics to get the game to OT. Without Hiller's steady play in substitute duty, the Ducks aren't in the game to win it in overtime. Bonino scored the third goal of the game to get the Ducks within one and then deposited the game-winner in overtime.

Stat of the game: Three goals were scored in the final five minutes of the game by the Ducks to win it. The Ducks were relentless down the stretch. They pulled the goalie twice to score the tying goals and then Anaheim got the one shot it needed to win the series.

What's next: Anaheim moves on to the second round and awaits the winner of the San Jose-Los Angeles series. The Sharks and Kings played Game 6 on Monday.

Ducks take care of business in Game 5

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
2:37
AM ET


ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks didn’t get lured into bad behavior this time around.

They took the first blow from the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal Friday night -- or more accurately, the first spear from left wing Ryan Garbutt -- and paid the Stars back the best way they know how: scoring a franchise-record four power-play goals en route to a 6-2 victory at Honda Center, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

“It’s about maintaining our focus,” said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and two assists to tie his career high for playoff points. “When we got to Dallas last time, we got a little bit revved up and got into some things that weren’t part of our game. Tonight, we did a better job of focusing on what we need to do and we need to do that again next game.”

That would be Game 6 on Sunday in Dallas, where the Ducks have a chance to win just their second playoff series since capturing the Stanley Cup in 2007.

The Ducks not only dominated with their power play, but they also stonewalled all seven power-play situations for the Stars, including a full minute with a two-man disadvantage. Anaheim rookie goalie Frederik Andersen bounced back from two shaky performances in Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to stop 34 shots and give the Ducks time to sort things out on the offensive end.

“We expected that from Freddie,” Getzlaf said. “He wasn’t very impressed with himself after that Game 4 and I thought he did a great job as a young goalie.”

Ducks winger Corey Perry was the recipient of Garbutt’s jab to the midsection as Perry came on the ice and Garbutt went off during the first period, resulting in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for Garbutt. Perry responded with a goal and two assists, which also matched his playoff career high. Perry set up Anaheim's fifth goal after he won the puck with a stiff forecheck and found Getzlaf alone in front of the net.

“Put the puck in the corner and put pressure on them,” Perry said. “That’s the way we want to play and that’s the way we’re successful as a team.”

The Ducks found the more they pressured the Stars, the more Dallas began to wilt.

“At the end of the day, if you sit back, they’re really bound to score at some point,” said Ducks center Andrew Cogliano, who took the puck from the Stars early in the third period and set up Jakob Silfverberg for a 4-2 lead that opened the floodgates. “But if you attack and keep them on their heels, not only are they defending but you have a good opportunity to score.”

And scoring fancy goals is exactly what Anaheim does best.

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