Cross Checks: St. Louis Blues

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Isn’t it nice when a plan comes together and actually works?

One of the many reasons the St. Louis Blues were so aggressive in getting Jori Lehtera to sign last summer and leave the KHL is that they knew the Finnish center had nice chemistry playing in Russia with Vladimir Tarasenko in 2011-12.

It wasn’t the only reason, but it was an important one.

[+] EnlargeSt Louis Blues
Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty ImagesThe chemistry between Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko is paying big dividends for the Blues.
"We felt Lehtera could bring us a top-nine forward because of his play we saw in the Olympics and world championships," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said after the board of governors meetings Tuesday. "We knew that he and Tarasenko had chemistry in the KHL. Now, because it’s chemistry in the KHL doesn’t mean it’s going to be chemistry in the NHL. We were hoping.

"When he got over here in the first couple of practices you could see that chemistry. [Coach] Ken [Hitchcock] was bright enough to put them together early and keep them together. It looks like that chemistry has transferred over. Lehtera is a great passer and Tarasenko is a great shooter, so it’s a good match."

It doesn’t always work that way. In fact, Armstrong pointed to 1997, when Wayne Gretzky was traded to St. Louis. The obvious thought was that The Great One would have instant chemistry with his old pal Brett Hull.

"They never really found it," Armstrong said.

And when you look back to July 1, it was Paul Stastny's signing in St. Louis that generated way more buzz than Lehtera's signature, but Stastny took a while to hit his stride with his new team.

"I think his training camp was the feeling-out process and then he got injured early and the team started playing well," Armstrong said. "I think anytime a player comes in to a situation with that type of character, they want to come in and they don’t want to rock the boat.

"He was . . . I don’t want to say relinquishing ice time that he needed to fight for, and now I think he’s fighting for that ice time and demanding with his play that he’s on the ice at certain times. And we’re the benefactors of it. He’s scored goals in recent games and was an excellent player against Long Island [Saturday]."

If Lehtera keeps it up, that’s one heck of a one-two-three punch down the middle with David Backes, Lehtera and Stastny.

3 stars: Giordano, Anderson, Tarasenko

November, 10, 2014
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Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Nov. 9.

FIRST STAR – MARK GIORDANO, D, CALGARY FLAMES

Giordano led the NHL with seven points (2-5—7) to power the Flames (9-5-2, 20 points) to two wins in three contests. He opened the week with 1-1—2, including an assist on Sean Monahan’s overtime winner, in a 4-3 triumph over the Washington Capitals Nov. 4. Giordano followed that up with a pair of assists in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Nov. 6. He then capped the week with 1-2—3, matching a career high for points in one game, in a 6-4 win over the Florida Panthers Nov. 8. The 31-year-old Toronto, Ont., native currently has 4-7—11 during a six-game point streak, including multi-point performances in each of his last four outings (one game shy of the club record for a defenseman). Giordano also leads all blueliners with 5-13—18 in 16 games this season; he is just the fifth defenseman since 2005-06 to record at least 18 points through his team’s first 16 games of the season.

SECOND STAR – CRAIG ANDERSON, G, OTTAWA SENATORS

Anderson went 2-0-1 with a 0.65 goals-against average, .981 save percentage and one shutout to help the Senators (7-4-3, 17 points) gain five out of a possible eight standings points. He made 31 saves, including 16 in the second period, in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Nov. 4. Anderson then stopped all 35 shots he faced to record his 28th career shutout (and second of the season) in a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild Nov. 6. He closed the week by posting 36 saves – and denying five of six shootout attempts – in a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Nov. 8. The 33-year-old Park Ridge, Ill., native is 4-4-2 in eight appearances this season, leading the NHL with a .951 save percentage and ranking fourth with a 1.72 goals-against average.

THIRD STAR – VLADIMIR TARASENKO, RW, ST. LOUIS BLUES

Tarasenko, the NHL’s “First Star” for the week ending Nov. 2, tied for second in the League with six points (3-3—6) to lead the Blues (9-4-1, 19 points) to three victories in four starts. He recorded 1-1—2 and the shootout winner in a 4-3 triumph over the New York Rangers Nov. 3. Tarasenko then scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils Nov. 4 and helped the Blues complete the home-and-home sweep with 1-1—2 (his fifth multi-point performance of the season) in a 4-3 victory Nov. 6. He closed the week with an assist on the team’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators Nov. 8. The 22-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native currently has 5-3—8 during a five-game point streak, tied for the longest of his career. He also leads the Blues with nine goals and 17 points in 14 games this season.
John GibsonJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesAnaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson is expected to miss at least six weeks.

The Anaheim Ducks announced injury updates to their goalie duo Tuesday.

The news was good on Frederik Andersen, who is only day-to-day with leg tightness. Not so good was the news that prized rookie John Gibson is out approximately six weeks with a groin injury. Notice the word approximately. In fact, it’s possible it’s longer than that.

In any case, we hear the Ducks have begun to look at their goalie options if they indeed decide to add some insurance in goal. Obviously you’ve got unrestricted free agents such as Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov out there, in addition to the trade route.

Certainly Bryzgalov is an interesting possibility given his prior history with the Ducks.

Again, the Ducks might do nothing and just wait it out, but what we’re hearing is that they’re at least looking at what’s out there.

PENS TRADE TARGET
The Pittsburgh Penguins are scoring goals like nobody’s business, and if they get their way, they’ll add another weapon before the March trade deadline.

The Pens don’t have anything in the hopper now, but when the time is right, we’re told the plan is to try and add a top-six winger to play with Evgeni Malkin. Blake Comeau has done a nice job of late on Malkin’s line with Pascal Dupuis, but in reality he’s a bottom-six forward. Pittsburgh eventually will look for an upgrade for that spot.

The chip to play is obvious: The Penguins are loaded on defense in the organization. Youngsters such as Scott Harrington, Derrick Pouliot, Philip Samuelsson or Brian Dumoulin could be put out there as trade bait, but I suspect if teams come calling on a more established NHLer from Pittsburgh’s back end, the Pens may have to listen depending on who’s being offered.

SPEZZA CONTRACT
The biggest name on next summer’s UFA market is easily Jason Spezza, but whether he actually gets there remains to be seen.

The Dallas Stars plan to meet with Spezza’s camp over the next few weeks, said a source, to begin talks on what hopefully will be an eventual extension for the star center.

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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesVladimir Tarasenko has 13 points (seven goals, 6 assists) through his first 11 games of the season.
TARASENKO CONTRACT
Vladimir Tarasenko scored what could very well end up being the goal of the year Monday night in New York, continuing his terrific start to the season.

The St. Louis Blues' leading scorer just so happens to be playing the final year of his entry-level deal, making him one of the higher-profile restricted free agents for next summer.

St. Louis management was proactive, hoping to get the ball rolling on talks for an extension before the season even started.

"We reached out in September to see if there was any interest in getting things going," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told ESPN.com Tuesday. "He said he wanted to wait until the season was over and I said, 'No problem. After the year we can discuss it then.' I’m very comfortable with the situation. He’ll be a restricted free agent and I’m sure we’ll get something done when he’s ready to talk."

Veteran agent Mike Liut, who represents Tarasenko, echoed those facts, saying as much as it sounds like a cliché, Tarasenko just wants to focus on hockey and worry about the business side after the season.

If he maintains the offensive output he’s producing now, it should be a no-brainer contract, really. The Blues went long with Alex Pietrangelo out of his entry-level deal and I think they would be comfortable doing the same if Tarasenko has a huge year. I think where a bridge deal becomes a possibility is if he cools off and puts up decent-but-not-great numbers, inviting more uncertainty and desire to see more before committing long-term.

Personally, I think I’ve seen enough. This kid has unreal natural offensive ability. He can score goals from angles and places on the ice where only a handful of star snipers can hit in this league. You don’t teach that.

SEMIN IN DOG HOUSE
Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for a couple of the Carolina Hurricanes' games.

He’s a streaky player, so the benching might wake him up.

Clearly there isn’t a team in the league that would take on his contract, which hsa three more years after this season at $7 million each.

"The only [way] they can move him is to eat like 40 percent of that deal," said one Eastern Conference NHL team executive on Tuesday.

STATUS QUO ON KINGS' CAP
The league and NHLPA remain stuck in their positions vis-à-vis a solution to the Los Angeles Kings' cap issue with Slava Voynov, a source said Tuesday.

As we reported last week, the league is willing to get the Kings some cap relief but the players association won’t sign off due to escrow concerns. The union would like the money to be outside the system (therefore not count against the players’ share), but that’s a nonstarter for the league.

DALLAS -- If you're having a hard time getting a handle on the St. Louis Blues, you're not alone.

Coach Ken Hitchcock is at a bit of a loss to figure out just what he's got with his bacterially challenged, banged-up squad as the Blues try to scramble their way through the opening stages of this still-young season.

Despite a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday that saw the Blues battle back three times from one-goal deficits, Hitchcock wondered aloud if this was going to be a season of challenges after last season saw the Blues go most of the season with a consistent lineup.

"We have no idea what type of team we have," Hitchcock said after Tuesday's win.

"This might be one of those years where we're just going to have to scramble to stay afloat. You don't know. We didn't have any adversity last year until the last two weeks, and then we just got bombed with it. But this one is different. We've had nothing but an unsettled roster both at practice and games since the second game of the season."

Certainly, on paper, the Blues who signed top free-agent center Paul Stastny and added highly regarded Finnish forward Jori Lehtera to the lineup in the offseason, looked to better than the team that was considered a Stanley Cup challenger before being knocked off in the first round of last spring's playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Blues are a hard team to figure out these days.


Stastny has been terrific when he's been in the lineup, but he was absent Tuesday and has played in just four games thus far.

Captain David Backes left Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury after playing just 4:48 -- he did not return in the first period after taking a hit (from Trevor Daley) and banging his helmeted head on the ice -- and will be evaluated by doctors when the team returns to St. Louis.

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson played in his first game for the Blues after being acquired from Toronto in the offseason.

Heading into Tuesday's game, only one Blue had more than two goals (Jaden Schwartz with 5).

On top of the injuries, the team has battled a minor bacterial epidemic that has zapped players of energy and made it tough to keep them in good enough shape to take the ice.

"When you're losing key players on a weekly basis, it seems like of late ... every guy gets a little bit more ice time, every guy tries a little bit harder," forward Steve Ott said. "But still, those guys are irreplaceable for the time being."

Not that everything is doom and gloom.

If there is one thing that's abundantly clear, it's that Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko have compelling chemistry that could go a long way to smoothing out any rough patches the Blues face.

Tarasenko was a force Tuesday, scoring three times on brilliant shots, including the overtime winner on a power play. Lehtera assisted on Tarasenko's first two goals and then scored one himself, with help from Tarasenko.

The two played together for parts of two seasons in Russia, and they live in the same building in St. Louis.

"I know he's a good player, that's why I want to pass him the puck every time I get it," Lehtera said after Tuesday's game. "He can pass and shoot and challenge one-on-one all at the same time. You never know what he’s going to do."

If Tarasenko, who has one of the most dangerous shots in the game, is at least a known (if evolving) quantity, Lehtera is less so.

The big forward with blazing speed might be the most interesting piece of a potentially compelling Blues puzzle. The Blues' third-round pick in 2008, Lehtera is just now making his way to the NHL.

Ott said he saw the connection between Lehtera and Tarasenko right from the start during summer practice sessions.

"All of a sudden, you're like, oh, wow, these guys could really have something here," Ott said. "You'll see it the rest of the way. Lehtera's such a smart hockey player. There's no fluke or mystery why he's back here and wanting to come and compete in the NHL. He's that good of a hockey player."

Hitchcock knew Lehtera would be a part of the team.

"I knew at the start that Lehtera was going to be a guy that could find a way into the program," the coach said. "I didn't know if he was going to be a 1, a 2 or a 3 [center], but I knew he was going to be something."

Something indeed.

Photo: Pietrangelo shows support for niece

October, 20, 2014
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St. Louis Blues star Alex Pietrangelo showed how big his heart is when he found a way to put a smile on his niece’s face as she battles cancer.

According to Pietrangelo’s Twitter account (@apetro_27), Ellie was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor in August. A Wilms’ tumor is a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children, according to mayoclinic.org.

The photo shows a smiling Ellie, who appears to be losing her hair from cancer treatments, holding clippers with Pietrangelo's hair half cut off. The after photo shows Pietrangelo’s hair all gone, with the words, “My beautiful niece Ellie game me a new look today! #standuptocancer”

The NHL’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative takes place Oct. 20 through Nov. 17. Since December 1998, the league and players association have raised more than $12.8 million for cancer research, children’s hospitals and local cancer organizations, according to NHL.com.

Central Division wrap

October, 13, 2014
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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.


Brian ElliottJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrian Elliott finally has the chance to prove he can handle the load as a No. 1 goalie.
It is hard not to pull for Brian Elliott this season.

Whether it was Jaroslav Halak or Ryan Miller in his way over the past few years, Elliott wasn't ever the guy the St. Louis Blues seemed prepared to ride for real.

He's finally getting a shot to start the season as more of a "1A" option as opposed to "1B," although there will certainly be instant pressure from young Jake Allen, whom some view as the long-term guy anyway.

Still, all Elliott has ever wanted is an honest-to-goodness shot after forever being the good-enough backup or spot starter, but rarely the depended-on, No. 1 guy. Now he's got it, but he's got to play well to keep it.

"He's come in as the No. 1 goaltender into camp, because of his experience and that guys are very comfortable with him," Blues GM Doug Armstrong told ESPN.com last week. "Jake is going to have to take starts away from him, not the other way around. Brian has always been the guy that had to take starts away from the other guy, now he just has to protect his turf."

A chance, finally. But don't go looking for relief in Elliott's voice. He's not going to relax now.

"I've learned not to take anything for granted," Elliott told ESPN.com. "I know from experience that whatever title you're given, it's all performance-based. It's a 'What-have-you-done-for-me-lately' league. You have to perform.

"I just have tried to keep the same mentality and routine going into this season. It can all be just swept away, there's always someone coming for your spot. You always have to stay on your toes."

You can imagine what Elliott thought about his future with the Blues on Feb. 28, when the season-long rumors finally came true, the Blues making a blockbuster deal with the Sabres that netted them Miller.

Elliott was not perceived as the in-house solution, not after losing to the Los Angeles Kings in back-to-back years in the playoffs (Elliott was in goal for the injured Halak in those series). So Miller it was. The Blues were all-in.

"I knew that making that big of a deal, they would have to sink or swim with their decision and I knew I probably wouldn't get an opportunity in the playoffs," Elliott said. "It was a little bit tough to take just to know how hard you worked with your teammates the past three years. I've had the opportunity in the past to be the guy in the playoffs, it's tough to sit on the bench and watch that.

"But for [Miller], it was a tough situation for him, too. Basically we had to win the Stanley Cup or it was going to be unsuccessful. I knew it was going to be a tough situation for him."

The Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round and Miller wasn’t the answer.

[+] EnlargeBrian Elliott
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsMindset rather than physical talent has been the biggest question about Brian Elliott.
Partly because the Blues spent money on Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera up front, but also because it was finally time to give the guy a chance, Armstrong decided not to try to re-sign Miller and instead approached UFA-to-be Elliott about staying on in a bigger role.

"We met and basically it was to see if I wanted to come back," Elliott said. "I said to him, 'To be honest with you, when you made the trade for [Miller] … it's basically I don't think I'm in the plans anymore.' So I'm like, 'If you're serious about it, I'd like to talk to Hitch about it and talk about the plans for the future.'"

Yes, Elliott wanted to stay on, but he wanted to hear from Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock that he would get a fair shot at being the man in goal.

"I wanted an opportunity to be the guy, or just be rewarded for playing well," Elliott said. "I felt at times over the past few years, I'd play well, you get a shutout in Pittsburgh, and then you don't play for three, four or five games. It's tough when you do feel good and you don't have a chance to get out there."

Not that he doesn't get it. Halak was the bigger investment at the time. He understands that part of the business.

"Which is understandable, it's about contracts too," said Elliott. "You want to get all you want from each contract, I understand that. But it was a tough situation to be in at times."

Armstrong didn't know how his meeting with Elliott would go, either.

"I wasn't sure whether he would want to come back or not," the Blues GM said. "He wanted to make sure we wouldn't go out and sign somebody else. He wanted the chance to be the No. 1 goalie. And now it's just straight competition, just two guys now fighting for ice time. And I think that's all he wanted, an actual fair chance."

Elliott put up a .922 save percentage in 31 games with the Blues last season. Even in his playoff series loss to the Kings in the spring of 2013, he gave up only 12 goals in six games. His team didn't score for him. His critics will say it's when he gives up goals, though, not how many.

He's put up good numbers most years, but hasn't won over everyone in terms of seeing him as a true No. 1.

"I think technically he's strong, I don't think anybody ever believed that was a problem," said a goalie coach for an Eastern Conference team. "The concern at times with him has been mentally, when he's been given the ball, he hasn't always been able to sustain it, if you look at this time in Ottawa, for example.

"Physically, he's about as good as anybody. But can he handle the pressure of being No. 1? Who knows, perhaps this is his time."

Elliott is 29 now. He has put in his time. Perhaps it is indeed his time.

"He's an interesting story,” Armstrong said. "When he came in with us right at the beginning, he really had to swallow hard and take a two-way deal and come in and compete with Ben Bishop [for the backup job behind Halak]. That was a really good camp, and quite honestly it was really close. Ben didn't need waivers to go down. Brian and Jaro won the Jennings that year. We eventually traded Ben and kept Brian. He has earned everything he's got."

Allen, 24, will push, no question about it. Elliott welcomes the partnership in goal.

"I see a little bit of myself in Jake right now, I was kind of in his position coming in young," Elliott said. "He was an All-Star in the AHL before and I was as well before I got called up. But it's still a jump to the big leagues, you have to get used to that. I knew there would be a good opportunity this season to take the reins, but I also knew these young guys coming up have a lot of skill, a lot of talent.

"It's a good fit, we get along, we bounce things off each other every day. 'Why do you tie your pads that way?' Stuff like that. We learn from each other. I try to be the best teammate I can be and help a guy like that out. I know I was in that position before and it helps to ease yourself into it when you have an older guy that’s been around for a bit and knows what it takes to get to the next step."

In his seventh NHL season, Elliott finally gets his real chance. What makes it more rewarding is that it's on a Cup contender. That's what matters most to Elliott.

"When you're on a good team like this, it makes it so much more fun when you go out there and expect to win every night. Some teams don't have that," Elliott said.

"It’s just a real fun opportunity at my age. The core group of guys here are kind of all in the same age group, 28 to 31, we feel like we've been around, we've battled against the guys that have done the same, and now it's our turn. It's exciting."

Offseason player movement of all 30 teams

September, 19, 2014
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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).
Martin BrodeurEd Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsMartin Brodeur isn't feeling like he's got to rush into a bad gig.

As training camps get set to open at the end of next week, the NHL's all-time winningest goalie likely won't be part of one, a reality that Martin Brodeur knew might be a possibility when he decided to enter free agency.

"We knew all along we would have to be patient," Brodeur's agent, Pat Brisson of CAA Sports, told ESPN.com on Thursday. "Marty is prepared to wait this out, knowing that at some point a team may very well develop a need. Marty is in a good place. It's not like he's phoning me every 10 minutes. He's going to be patient."

Stories over the past week that the Montreal Canadiens might be a fit for the legendary goalie certainly stirred the pot -- after all, there would be some poetry there for sure for the Montreal native, especially given that his late father worked for the team as its official photographer for years.

But with Dustin Tokarski and Peter Budaj already in the picture behind star Carey Price, something would obviously need to change for that to become reality.

"There's nothing going on right now when it comes to Montreal," Brisson said.

I guess one can never say never, but at this point Brodeur needs to wait out his options. There just isn't room for him in Montreal. As it stands, the Habs are going to have to make a decision between Tokarski and Budaj as to who wins the backup job behind Price.

Tokarski requires waivers to be sent back to AHL Hamilton, so that's no small factor, especially when you consider how he opened eyes in the Eastern Conference finals while replacing an injured Price. And, of course, the veteran Budaj would also require waivers. It might very well be that during camp and/or preseason another NHL team has an injury that prompts it to phone Montreal GM Marc Bergevin inquiring about either Tokarski or Budaj.

As for Brodeur, who sits only 12 regular-season wins away from 700 in his career, he just needs to wait for a fit somewhere.

Case in point last season came when Ilya Bryzgalov was in the exact same position and a need was created in Edmonton after the Oilers' goaltending got off to a brutal start; or in Nashville, when Pekka Rinne was injured long-term and the Preds needed goaltending. Stuff happens and Brodeur is ready to wait for it.

"But it has to be right; Marty isn't going to jump at just anything," Brisson said.

"I believe that at one point in the near future a team will have the luxury to have Marty Brodeur," Brisson said. "While he is ready to exercise some patience, it will have to be the right fit and more importantly a chance to help a team win. His level of his competitive experience is extremely impressive. Someone will recognize it when the right time comes."

Meanwhile, the door in New Jersey is certainly shut tight.

"We've got Scott Clemmensen that we signed and certainly have two young goaltenders in [Keith] Kinkaid and [Scott] Wedgewood," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com on Thursday in terms of backup options behind starter Cory Schneider.

"There are no issues there at all with Marty. This was a mutual decision. Marty and I met postseason, everyone knows our relationship. But this is the direction we're going."

Once Brodeur retires, however, one can bet he'll find his way back to Lamoriello if he wants a job in the Devils organization.

Devils could be making moves


Trades aren’t easy to pull off at this time of year, when most teams want to see what they have at least for a month or two before they start to contemplate changes.

Not that the Devils are pressing, either, but they've got bodies up front that could move.

"We'll just wait and see, we certainly have some extra forwards," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com on Thursday. "We've made the decision to go with the young defensemen but we've got a couple of extra forwards. We'll just listen, there's nothing we have to do, we're in a good position cap-wise, we'll just wait and see what transpires."

Jaden Schwartz update


The Ryan Johansen contract impasse in Columbus is certainly the big one right now, but under the radar there's an interesting one in St. Louis, as well.

Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, 22, is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level deal and remains unsigned.

Because Schwartz has played only two NHL seasons (which includes the lockout-shortened year) and doesn't have arbitration rights, obviously there's only so much he can ask for.

While neither side in the negotiation wanted to comment on what's transpiring, I'm guessing given that Ondrej Palat got three years with an average cap hit of $3.33 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning, that's a comparable on some level, especially since Palat had only one NHL season under his belt.

Because it's believed both the Blues and agent Wade Arnott of Newport Sports are focusing on a two-year bridge deal for Schwartz, I'd shave off a bit of money on the shorter-term deal. Could $2.5 million or $2.75 million a year make it work? My guess is Newport would want as close to $3 million as possible and the Blues are likely in the low-$2 million range. Both sides need to bridge the gap here but I don't sense there's as much of an issue here compared to the Johansen-Blue Jackets situation.

Koivu's incredible journey


It was a treat to listen to Saku Koivu on Wednesday as he talked about his decision to retire and the incredible journey that his NHL career indeed was.

It's interesting that he talked about how when the Anaheim Ducks' season ended in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings, which we knew was Teemu Selanne's last game for sure, Koivu said he told Selanne after the game that he thought it might his, too.

I'm not surprised. I remember walking past the Ducks room after the game and Koivu was hugging his kids and it just felt like he was soaking it all in as a final moment. It would indeed turn out to be his last NHL game.

His comeback from cancer in 2002 and his contributions in a first-round upset of Boston will forever be etched in our memories. We throw around words like "courage" and "character" way too much in sports media, but in this particular case, they actually apply absolutely perfectly to Saku Koivu.

He'll be missed.
NEW YORK -- Six months later, there is only a tiny scar on Lyla Grace Oshie's stomach to remind her parents of the tumultuous start to her life.

Not that the memory will ever fade for father T.J. Oshie and fiancée Lauren Cosgrove.

"She had gastroschisis, so she was born with her intestines outside of her stomach,” Oshie told ESPN.com Tuesday. "They said she was going to be in the hospital six to eight weeks, but she was home in three and she's doing great."

There can be complications as a result of the issue but she avoided those, and she is at home enjoying a full recovery.

"There can be [complications], but she made a full recovery so she’s a normal baby now,” Oshie said. "She just has a little scar on her stomach and a man-made belly button."

The couple discovered early in the pregnancy that there was a problem when teammate Alex Pietrangelo's girlfriend examined the couple's ultrasound.



"Yeah, we found out at Week 13 of pregnancy. Pietrangelo’s girlfriend actually figured it out for us because she was going to school to be an ultrasound technician," Oshie said. "And they wanted to find out the sex early, and she saw it and had to go and get her teacher and was like, 'Hey, I think this is what it is.' Then we went to the doctors the next day and figured out that's what it was. So we were really well-prepared. So we knew everything going into it. And the doctors did an unbelievable job, so it was good."

The birth of his daughter, the couple's first child, was an obvious highlight in a season that was filled with both highs and lows.

Oshie was named to the U.S. Olympic team and earned cult status for his shootout heroics in a preliminary-round victory over Russia. But the U.S. team failed to medal. Then, a month after his daughter was born, Oshie and the Blues were bounced from the playoffs in the first round after taking a 2-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In spite of the worry over his daughter's health and lots of nervous nights spent at the local hospital, Oshie didn't see a drop-off in his level of play.

"It's something that I've never had to deal with, obviously, being the first child, but actually it was kind of refreshing because hockey wasn’t really on my mind for the last -- she was born on St. Patrick’s Day -- so the last month of the season,” Oshie said.

"I actually went on a pretty good run there. I had a hat trick one of the times, and I was sleeping at the hospital on a recliner pretty much for a couple of weeks. So I don’t know, it got my mind off the game and I ended up playing pretty well," said Oshie, who set career-best marks last season for goals (21) and points (60).

Although he missed two playoff games after taking a blow to the head near the end of the regular season from Mike Rupp of the Minnesota Wild, Oshie felt he might have played as well as he ever has in the postseason later in the series against Chicago.

"I thought it was maybe the best I've played in the playoffs my whole career. It's just unfortunate we didn't finish the way we wanted. It's a sour taste; it's something that I think drives us a little bit further in the weight room and on the ice in the summer. So I think it's good to have that fresh in our memories," Oshie said.

"Right away, I wanted to go back to St. Louis and get on the ice and start working out the next day. There’s no one that was more disappointed and more angry about the way we lost, and that we lost, than the players were," the 27-year-old said.

"It was pretty silent and kind of a tough spot to be in in the locker room after that," he said.
NEW YORK -- Six months later, there is only a tiny scar on Lyla Grace Oshie's stomach to remind her parents of the tumultuous start to her life.

Not that the memory will ever fade for father T.J. Oshie and fiancée Lauren Cosgrove.

"She had gastroschisis, so she was born with her intestines outside of her stomach,” Oshie told ESPN.com Tuesday. "They said she was going to be in the hospital six to eight weeks, but she was home in three and she's doing great."

There can be complications as a result of the issue but she avoided those, and she is at home enjoying a full recovery.

"There can be [complications], but she made a full recovery so she’s a normal baby now,” Oshie said. "She just has a little scar on her stomach and a man-made belly button."

The couple discovered early in the pregnancy that there was a problem when teammate Alex Pietrangelo's girlfriend examined the couple's ultrasound.



"Yeah, we found out at Week 13 of pregnancy. Pietrangelo’s girlfriend actually figured it out for us because she was going to school to be an ultrasound technician," Oshie said. "And they wanted to find out the sex early, and she saw it and had to go and get her teacher and was like, 'Hey, I think this is what it is.' Then we went to the doctors the next day and figured out that's what it was. So we were really well-prepared. So we knew everything going into it. And the doctors did an unbelievable job, so it was good."

The birth of his daughter, the couple's first child, was an obvious highlight in a season that was filled with both highs and lows.

Oshie was named to the U.S. Olympic team and earned cult status for his shootout heroics in a preliminary-round victory over Russia. But the U.S. team failed to medal. Then, a month after his daughter was born, Oshie and the Blues were bounced from the playoffs in the first round after taking a 2-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In spite of the worry over his daughter's health and lots of nervous nights spent at the local hospital, Oshie didn't see a drop-off in his level of play.

"It's something that I've never had to deal with, obviously, being the first child, but actually it was kind of refreshing because hockey wasn’t really on my mind for the last -- she was born on St. Patrick’s Day -- so the last month of the season,” Oshie said.

"I actually went on a pretty good run there. I had a hat trick one of the times, and I was sleeping at the hospital on a recliner pretty much for a couple of weeks. So I don’t know, it got my mind off the game and I ended up playing pretty well," said Oshie, who set career-best marks last season for goals (21) and points (60).

Although he missed two playoff games after taking a blow to the head near the end of the regular season from Mike Rupp of the Minnesota Wild, Oshie felt he might have played as well as he ever has in the postseason later in the series against Chicago.

"I thought it was maybe the best I've played in the playoffs my whole career. It's just unfortunate we didn't finish the way we wanted. It's a sour taste; it's something that I think drives us a little bit further in the weight room and on the ice in the summer. So I think it's good to have that fresh in our memories," Oshie said.

"Right away, I wanted to go back to St. Louis and get on the ice and start working out the next day. There’s no one that was more disappointed and more angry about the way we lost, and that we lost, than the players were," the 27-year-old said.

"It was pretty silent and kind of a tough spot to be in in the locker room after that," he said.

We’ll take a look at different storylines over the next couple of weeks as camps near, but here are two of the teams that grab my attention right away: the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks.

ST. LOUIS BLUES
This is an important season for this franchise. They’ve been knocking at the door for three years and have one playoff series win to show for it.
Of course, losing to powerhouse Chicago in the opening round last spring is hardly anything to be embarrassed about. And they lost to Los Angeles the other two postseasons. Talk about playoff royalty. It just underlines yet again the imbalance that exists in the NHL right now in terms of the predominance of the Western Conference.

It’s difficult, yes, but the Blues have to figure out how to join the Kings and Blackhawks at that level.

[+] EnlargeBlues
Scott Rovak/USA TODAY SportsThe Blues are counting on Vladimir Tarasenko (21 goals-22 assists in 2013-14) to continue to increase his offensive production.
It’s why I really liked how GM Doug Armstrong responded in the offseason. This team has the work ethic, the coaching, the system and the physical will to battle. But where it has fallen short is scoring goals when it matters most.

The additions of Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera up front and puck-moving defenseman Carl Gunnarsson on the back end help address those issues. Plus, the Blues hope that young, rising offensive players such as Jaden Schwartz (22) and Vladimir Tarasenko (22) can also continue to arc up in their offensive production. Throw in the fact they took a flyer on Peter Mueller and will give rookie Dmitrij Jaskin a chance and you see where the focus is here: adding more skill.

"The playoffs have been a reality check for us," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told ESPN.com this week. "We’ve worked our tail off, we’ve battled and competed, but for whatever reason we’ve been on the wrong side of some very intense series.

"The reality is that everyone works hard in the playoffs. Everybody competes hard. The players we’ve added bring a different element to our team. There’s more finish, there’s more skill, there’s more variety. We’ve got a great foundation here, a great hockey club. By adding these players it just makes us deeper and more dangerous now."

A real wild card in all this is Lehtera, a 26-year-old Finn whom the Blues tried to convince to come over for years after drafting him in 2008. Internally, the Blues’ front office was just as excited July 1 to have signed Lehtera as they were about winning the Stastny UFA sweepstakes.

"Lehtera is a guy that has great sense and moxie," said Hitchcock of Lehtera, who played for the Finnish Olympic team last year in Sochi and had 44 points (12-32) in 48 KHL games.

The Blues have seven players listed as centers on their roster, so there’s lots of options to mix and match.

"We’re going to do a little bit of experimenting in training camp," Hitchcock said. "We want Lehtera, Stastny and [captain David] Backes to be the three centers. We don’t know who’s No. 1, 2, or 3, we’ll let that sort through. The thing we’re going to experiment with, is with Jaskin and Schwartz, they’re both going to take some time at center ice during training camp early and give us an evaluation early. Jaskin played center in Europe and Schwartz before he came here was a center-ice man. So we’ll take a look at that. We’ve got a lot of depth at center now."

In goal, the Blues are going with a Brian Elliott-Jake Allen combo since the Ryan Miller experiment failed last spring. Elliott has been solid over the past few seasons while biding his time as a top-end backup, so he’s earned this chance to be a starter. But I’m willing to bet a healthy sum that Allen takes away the gig by season’s end.

"It’s Brian’s job as a starter, he’s earned it," Hitchcock said. "He sat and patiently watched us go through Jaro [Halak] and go through Ryan. He had his best season last year. So he’s the starter. Jake will fall in behind. If competition dictates that Jake takes it over, then it will be done through competition. But it’s Brian’s job."

And finally, I think this is a big year for Hitchcock himself. Every coach has a shelf life. This is his fourth year with the Blues, and with each season Hitchcock has brought his team along to another level in terms of their play. He remains one of the very best coaches in the NHL. But it’s a results business and the pressure will be there to win a round or two.

ANAHEIM DUCKS
Speaking of coaches with pressure on them to win, that would apply to Bruce Boudreau, as well, in Anaheim.

The Ducks are on the rise, but I think a deep playoff run is a must this season.

The expectations are higher now in Anaheim and with that comes its own pressure.

"The last two years, even though we did really well, nobody thought we would do that well," Boudreau told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "If you looked at all the preseason prognostications, we were middle of the pack. This year is quite different. Instead of being the hunters, we’re going to be the hunted. Teams will be getting up for us."

He’s got a better team on his hands than a year ago. Ryan Kesler was a monster acquisition, giving the Ducks the one-two punch down the middle with Ryan Getzlaf that they needed to match up with the big boys in the West.

[+] EnlargeJohn Gibson
AP Photo/Jae C. HongJohn Gibson will battle Frederik Andersen for the Ducks' starting goalie job.
A flyer on Dany Heatley could pay off. At one year and $1 million, love this move. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve given up very little trying.

His days of 50 goals are long behind him, but 25 goals? He’ll be given every opportunity early on, that’s for sure. The early plan is slotting in with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the big line.

Like Dustin Penner a year ago, it’s a great opportunity for Heatley, but he has to earn it to keep it.

"I think that’s where we’ll slot him to start," Boudreau said of Heatley's top-line assignment. "We’ve talked to him, we told him this is a great opportunity for him. It’s up to him whether to take it and run with it. If he can’t run with it, we’ll deal with that. But this is similar to what we told Dustin last year, if you were told you’re getting a chance to play with Getzlaf and Perry, I would make sure I was in the best physical condition and ready to play. What a position to be in, quite frankly, when you’re in a contract year."

In the end, the goaltending will be a major factor in whether the Ducks can go deep next spring. Frederik Andersen, 24, and John Gibson, 21, provide an exciting, young duo with oodles of talent, but short on NHL experience. Are they ready?

Over the long haul, Gibson is the guy that has franchise goalie written all over him, but he’s going to have to earn it. Both goalies are going to get a shot.

"I have all the confidence in the world in both of them," said Boudreau, who also noted the comfort of having a solid veteran in Jason LaBarbera around.

"Over time, I think both [Gibson and Andersen] are going to get opportunities to be the guy. One might be the guy for five games when he’s going great, then maybe he gets tired and the other goes in and maybe goes for four or five games as well."

The bottom line, a healthy competition for a wide-open net is what this is.

"The net is open," Boudreau said. "We want to win. Whoever plays the best is going to play."
No one was happy in St. Louis when the highly touted Blues made a hasty exit from the 2014 NHL playoffs.

The Blues built a 2-0 series edge against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarterfinals only to surrender that lead to their hated division rival in a stunning six-game set.

That bitter defeat will be a sore subject when training camp begins next month, no doubt, but according to former Blues star Keith Tkachuk, it may serve as quite the learning experience as well.

[+] EnlargeKeith Tkachuk
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonKeith Tkachuk likes how his former team is building for postseason success.
“I think everyone in the organization was disappointed, fans clearly were, when we were up two games to none [and lost],” Tkachuk told ESPN.com in a recent phone interview. "The young guys, I think it will be beneficial to them to be a little aggravated, to see them knocked off by Chicago, which is a good rivalry here in town.

“I think you’ll see a lot of angry guys, pissed-off guys [in camp].”

Those young guys are the key to the Blues’ future and remain a bright spot for a team that has gone into recent postseasons as one of the elite squads out West and then run into some of the most fearsome opponents.

Tkachuk, who recorded 1,065 points in 1,201 NHL games and spent nine seasons with the Blues, sees defenseman Alex Pietrangelo thriving this season with another year of experience under his belt. And he views Jake Allen as a strong competitor who will push Brian Elliott for the starting goaltending job.

Tkachuk says the 24-year-old Allen has done things “the proper way,” paying his dues and rising up the ranks steadily after years in junior hockey and the American Hockey League. He also has good size, keen stickhandling skills and a growing sense of confidence. Tkachuk thinks his development, and the Blues’ stability in net, will benefit from that.

“This is the perfect situation. Elliott is a little bit later [into his career] and Allen who needs more NHL seasoning,” said Tkachuk. “If you have Elliott, who is a great pro, and they push each other in practice, Elliott’s working habits in practice will have a big-time influence in Allen. Whoever’s playing well is going to play.”

That’s not to say that Tkachuk did not support the Blues’ bold move to trade for Ryan Miller in February last season. It was a bold decision from management, namely general manager Doug Armstrong, that indicated the club was ready to go all-in on the 2014 postseason.

But the acquisition did not go as planned. Miller posted a pedestrian 10-8-1 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and .903 save percentage for St. Louis, and the Blues chose not to re-sign the longtime Buffalo Sabres netminder, who subsequently signed a free-agent deal with the Vancouver Canucks in July.

“It was definitely worth a shot,” said Tkachuk, who spends the majority of his time traveling to watch his two teenage sons play hockey and coaching his youngest in midget minor. “Last year, there were a lot of question marks with Jaroslav Halak, so [the Blues] made the move and I’d have done the same thing. It didn’t work, but it’s not all on him. As a team, sometimes you need a change. Jake Allen, as well as he did in Chicago, deserves to be here.”

Tkachuk also said he loves the signing of center Paul Stastny, which adds depth down the middle and gives captain David Backes some help at the position.

“It brings some much-needed offensive help, not just 5-on-5 but on the power play, which is huge,” Tkachuk said.

Heck, in a Central Division that keeps raising the caliber of competition, the Blues had no choice but to ante up.

“It’s a challenge every night,” Tkachuk said. "You’ve got the two-headed monster in [Patrick Kane] and [Jonathan] Toews, who really played well [in the playoffs]. You know Colorado is going to have another good year, especially adding [Jarome] Iginla. Dallas has gotten better with [trade acquisition Jason] Spezza.

“I think Stastny was a huge move shown by management and ownership that we want to take it to the next level, but it’s definitely a tough division. We have to close out teams when we have them.”
Former Chicago Blackhawks star Jeremy Roenick remembers what it felt like to sign his first long-term deal. The pressure melted away, the sense of anxiety about contract negotiations dissipated and Roenick was allowed to channel all his energy onto the ice.

He suspects current Hawks superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who inked matching eight-year, $84 million deals this summer, will experience the same.

If that’s the case, watch out.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Roenick
J.D. Cuban/Getty ImagesFormer Chicago star Jeremy Roenick thinks the team's current dynamic duo is set up for success.
"When I signed my contract, the pressure that was released off of me was immense," Roenick told ESPN.com, detailing his thought process after the ordeal. "'Now I can play for my team. They took care of me, now I can take care of them.' It’s going to be really fun to watch [Kane and Toews] flourish and play with a free mind and confidence."

Getting the two players under contract until 2023 was a huge coup for a team that has won two Stanley Cup championships in the past five seasons and is among the select few for which the D-word -- dynasty -- can be thrown around in the salary-cap era.

"I think it was very important," said Roenick, who now works as an NHL analyst for NBC Sports. "Two quality players like that, most teams do not possess that luxury. Pittsburgh has [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, and Anaheim has [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, but [most teams] don’t really have those elite star players that can change the course of the game like they have."

Having those players to build around for years to come -- Kane and Toews are 25 and 26, respectively -- will ensure that Chicago is a perennial contender. In fact, Roenick sees no reason that Chicago won’t be the favorite once the preseason projections roll in for 2014-15.

"I think they’re one of the strongest-built teams in the league," said Roenick, who played eight seasons for the Blackhawks and scored 513 goals in his 21-year NHL career. "With them, they have amazing star power surrounded with good quality core players. The addition of Brad Richards coming over there as a role player who can help on the power play and be a good leader brings another experienced guy into a locker room of winners."

"I think the team has done a very good job of putting together the pieces, and with Kane and Toews signing these megadeals, they’ll be playing with so much confidence. There’s no competition between the two. They are both top-five players getting paid like it, and it shows the loyalty that the Blackhawks have become known for and [for] building championships."

That said, the Blackhawks will likely be forced to make some sort of trade to move salary out, given the cap constraints facing the club. According to Capgeek.com, the Hawks are $2.26 million over the cap for next year with 23 roster players.

That won’t be the only challenge facing the team, which will square off against stiff competition in what promises to be a stacked Central Division.

Last year’s race was a tight one, and Roenick expects that to be the case this season as well, with one team in particular with something to prove.

He still thinks the Blackhawks are the team to beat but anticipates it being a dogfight.

"I think the St. Louis Blues are gonna come out extremely angry and embarrassed about bowing out early," Roenick said about the Blues’ first-round exit last spring after losing a six-game series to the Hawks.

"I know how Hitch [Blues coach Ken Hitchcock] is, and those two teams are gonna be battling tooth and nail again. I don’t see anyone else really challenging either of those teams.”

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



After yet another disappointing playoff exit for the Cup-hungry St. Louis Blues, there was a lot of debate about just how they might get over the hump. Or would they ever?

The acquisition of netminder Ryan Miller at the 2014 trade deadline at great cost to the Blues wasn’t the answer, as the Blues blew a 2-0 series lead against Chicago and lost four straight for their second first-round exit in the past three seasons.

But credit GM Doug Armstrong for staying on task as he shook off that disappointment and landed the top center on the free-agent landscape, signing longtime Colorado Avalanche Paul Stastny to a four-year deal worth $28 million early Tuesday afternoon.

Stastny has seen his career revived in the past couple of seasons, beginning with a star turn at the 2013 World Championships. That led to a second straight berth with the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi, and he enjoyed a strong 2013-14 season with a revitalized Avs team, scoring 25 times in the regular season and then adding an impressive five goals and five assists in the team’s seven-game first-round series loss to the Minnesota Wild.

A solid two-way player, Stastny will fit in well with the blue-collar work ethic long espoused by Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. As was made obvious by the Dallas Stars’ earlier acquisition of Jason Spezza, it’s no longer simply good enough to have a top center in the Western Conference; you have to have a bunch of them. Adding Stastny to play behind (or in front of) captain David Backes will take pressure off the rugged Backes, who last year formed one of the league’s most dynamic forward combinations with Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie.

But by the end of the playoffs, Backes was worn down (in large part due to a dirty hit courtesy of Brent Seabrook) and the team’s offense dried up. During the team’s final four games they scored just six times.

Now, with Stastny perhaps centering Vladimir Tarasenko and/or Jaden Schwartz, the Blues will be in a much better position, at least in theory, for the rigors of a long playoff run.

Although the Avs anticipated Stastny’s departure -- acquiring veteran center Daniel Briere in exchange for P.A. Parenteau on Monday -- the Blues’ acquisition also ups the ante within the suddenly competitive Central Division.

As noted, Dallas made things much more interesting in the Central with its addition of Spezza to play behind Tyler Seguin. And the Blackhawks are another team looking for help down the middle, as is Nashville, which acquired sniper James Neal from Pittsburgh on Friday at the draft but needs to find a top center to help get him the puck.

Stastny would have looked good with the Preds or the Blackhawks or even staying with the Avalanche. But that’s not how it turned out and that’s good news for Blues fans who are anxious for such good news to translate into playoff success.

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