Dallas Stars

Best of NHL: Expansion Golden Knights top Stars in franchise debut

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Best of NHL: Expansion Golden Knights top Stars in franchise debut

DALLAS -- James Neal scored twice in the third period Friday night, rallying the Golden Knights to a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in the debut of the first major pro sports franchise in Las Vegas.

The expansion team was playing five days after the shooting that killed 58 people in Las Vegas, and the Dallas players honored the desert city by forming a line next to their Vegas counterparts before the national anthem.

With the video board reading "Viva Las Vegas" above the players, the public address announcer said "Dallas stands with Vegas and those affected by the horrifying tragedy."

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 45 of 46 shots to help the Golden Knights become the first expansion to open with a victory since the Ottawa Senators in 1992. They also spoiled coach Ken Hitchcock's return to Dallas 18 years after he directed the franchise's only Stanley Cup title (see full recap).

Blue Jackets blank Islanders in season opener
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Pierre-Luc Dubois scored in his NHL debut and Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 5-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Rookie Sonny Milano scored 1:07 into the game, and the 19-year-old Dubois made it 5-0 midway through the second period. Arena. Cam Atkinson, Ryan Murray and Zach Werenski also scored, newcomer Artemi Panarin had three assists, and Alexander Wennberg added two assists.

Islanders starter Thomas Greiss made 21 saves before being pulled after giving up Dubois' goal. Jaroslav Halak stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief.

With all of the offensive opportunities created by the Blue Jackets, it could have been worse (see full recap).

Stamos has key assist in Lightning victory
TAMPA, Fla. -- Steven Stamkos set up the go-ahead goal in his return from a right knee injury and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Stamkos missed the final 65 games last season with a torn meniscus in the knee, an injury that required surgery. He sent a pass from the left circle through the slot to Vladislav Namestnikov, who put Tampa Bay up 3-2 from near the post 59 seconds into the final period during a power play.

Roberto Luongo turned aside Stamkos' shot from the slot late in the second.

Ondrej Palat had two goals, and Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves.

Florida got goals from Connor Brickley Mark Pysyk and Jonathan Huberdeau, and Luongo stopped 20 shots. New Panthers Bob Boughner took the loss in his NHL coaching debut (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Radek Faksa re-signs with Stars on 3-year contract

NHL Notes: Radek Faksa re-signs with Stars on 3-year contract

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Stars have re-signed young center Radek Faksa to a $6.6 million, three-year contract.

Faksa is coming off his first full NHL season, when he had 12 goals and 21 assists in 80 games. The 23-year-old center was drafted 13th overall by the Stars in 2012. He has played in 125 regular-season games and 13 playoff games the past two seasons.

When announcing the deal Monday, general manager Jim Nill said Faksa has proven his value at both ends of the ice and the Stars fully expect him to only get better.

Faksa has competed internationally for the Czech Republic at the 2016 World Championships and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Wild: Winger Gabriel, goalie Michalek re-sign
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have re-signed right wing Kurtis Gabriel and goalie Steve Michalek to one-year, two-way contracts.

The deals with the restricted free agents were done Monday. Many of the moves by the Wild this summer have been made to bolster organizational depth for in-season call-ups and injury insurance. Both players will get $715,000 in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL.

Gabriel was a third-round draft pick in 2013. He played 40 games for AHL Iowa last season, with eight goals, two assists and 68 penalty minutes. Gabriel has played in 20 career games for the Wild, four in the playoffs.

Michalek had a 2.63 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 30 games for Iowa last season. He was a sixth-round draft pick in 2011.

Rangers: Ruff added as assistant coach
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have hired longtime NHL head coach Lindy Ruff as an assistant to Alain Vigneault.

The Rangers announced the hire Monday. The 57-year-old Ruff was a head coach for almost 19 seasons, compiling a record of 736-554-78-125.

He ranks fourth among head coaches in regular-season games coached, trailing Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Joel Quenneville.

Ruff coached the Buffalo Sabres for parts of 15 seasons (1997-98 to 2012-13). He led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998-99 and won the Jack Adams Award in 2005-06.

Ruff also coached the Dallas Stars for four seasons (2013-14 to 2016-17).

He played in 691 NHL games over parts of 12 seasons in the league (1979-80 to 1990-91), with 105 goals and 195 assists, along with 1,264 penalty minutes. He played parts of three seasons with the Rangers (1988-89 to 1990-91) and had 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 83 games.

Kings: Turgeon hired as assistant coach
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have hired Pierre Turgeon for his first job as an assistant coach.

Kings head coach John Stevens completed his staff Monday.

The 47-year-old Turgeon will focus on improving the Kings' offensive play, general manager Rob Blake says. Los Angeles finished 24th in the NHL last season with 199 goals.

Turgeon was a dependable scorer during 19 NHL seasons with six franchises, recording 1,327 points in 1,294 games before retiring in 2007. The center ranks 38th in league history with 515 goals.

Turgeon joins Dave Lowry, Don Nachbaur and goaltending coach Bill Ranford on Stevens' staff. Stevens was promoted to replace Darryl Sutter in April after Los Angeles missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons since winning its second Stanley Cup title in 2014.

NHL Notes: Stars ink Alexander Radulov to 5-year deal; Jagr still available

NHL Notes: Stars ink Alexander Radulov to 5-year deal; Jagr still available

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars have signed right winger Alexander Radulov to a $31.25 million, five-year deal.

Radulov will count $6.25 million against the salary cap through 2021-222 after getting the biggest contract in free agency. General manager Jim Nill announced Monday that the Stars signed the top player available on the market on Day 3 of free agency.

The 30-year-old Russian had 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 points last season with the Montreal Canadiens after returning to the NHL following four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He played on a $5.75 million, one-year deal and was looking for a long-term agreement this time around.

Radulov got that from the Stars, who also signed center Martin Hanzal for $14.25 million over three years (see full story).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That hasn't happened yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Tavares' situation with the New York Islanders bears watching, with speculation that he'll go into next season without an extension. Tavares is a nearly irreplaceable franchise player, though he has to believe that the Islanders are building a Cup contender in order to commit long term.