Edmonton Oilers

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed center Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The extension runs through the 2024-25 season, similar to the eight-year, $100-million extension superstar captain Connor McDavid signed with the team in July.

With the signings, the Oilers are banking on McDavid and Draisaitl providing a potent one-two punch for the team as it looks to build on last season's return to the playoffs after a decade of futility.

Draisaitl, a 21-year-old German, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) last season, his third in the NHL.

He finished eighth among NHL scorers, and second on the Oilers behind McDavid.

He led the Oilers in scoring during the 2017 playoffs, posting 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Oilers at the 2015 draft (see full story).

Avalanche: Hobey Baker winner Butcher now free agent
College hockey's top player is an NHL free agent after former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher allowed a deadline to pass without signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and had until Tuesday to sign the Hobey Baker Award winner who led Denver to a national championship in April.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Butcher already has had discussions with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and NHL-expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The person said Butcher has not yet narrowed his list, and is also talking with other teams.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

The Denver Post first reported the three specific teams expressing interest in Butcher (see full story).

Wild: Cullen comes home for 21st NHL season
The Minnesota Wild and center Matt Cullen have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, bringing him back to his home state for a 21st season in the NHL.

The Wild announced the deal, which includes $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, on Wednesday.

Cullen played the last two years with Pittsburgh, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Penguins. He played three seasons for the Wild from 2010-13, his first return to Minnesota since launching his career at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State.

Cullen, who will turn 41 on Nov. 2, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 72 games in 2016-17 for the Penguins, plus two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He has played in 1,366 career regular season games, the sixth-most among active players (see full story).

NHL Notes: Hurricanes owner considers reported $500 million offer to sell team

NHL Notes: Hurricanes owner considers reported $500 million offer to sell team

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. is considering selling the NHL team.

Hurricanes spokesman Mike Sundheim said in a statement that Karmanos is deciding whether to accept an offer for the franchise or remain the owner, but he declined to say who made the offer.

The offer could have come from former Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg. Bloomberg News and WRAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, reported that Greenberg is close to purchasing the team and will not move the Hurricanes. Bloomberg reported the sale price at roughly $500 million.

Karmanos bought the Hartford Whalers franchise in 1994 and moved it to North Carolina three years later. He had been publicly seeking a local buyer for at least three years.

Greenberg is the Rangers' former managing partner who spent seven months as their CEO before leaving in 2011. He also owns several minor-league baseball teams, including one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Greenberg did not return a phone call and a text message seeking comment. Seven of the team's 12 publicly identified minority investors contacted by The Associated Press either declined comment or did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Reports about possible relocation have plagued the Hurricanes even as team officials and even Commissioner Gary Bettman have persistently and repeatedly denied them. Bettman said at the All-Star game in January that "the club is not moving" and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly echoed that sentiment by saying the league is committed to Raleigh in the same manner it has stuck with Phoenix during years of struggles for the Coyotes (see full story).

Oilers: Ference retires after 16-year career
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Veteran defenseman Andrew Ference, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011, has announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons.

The 38-year-old made his announcement Thursday after spending the past four seasons with Edmonton, where he served as the Oilers' captain from 2013-15.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Ference totaled 43 goals, 182 assists and 753 penalty minutes in 907 career games with Pittsburgh, Calgary, Boston and Edmonton. He also had eight goals, 30 assists and 122 penalty minutes in 120 playoff games, including four goals and six assists in 25 games during the Bruins' championship run.

Ference was selected by the Penguins in the eighth round, 208th overall, of the 1997 NHL draft.

"As I graduate from my time of playing in the NHL, I realize I have the problem of being unable to properly thank the hundreds of people who have helped me achieve my goal of playing in the best league in the world," Ference said in a statement released by the Oilers. "No one gets here on their own, especially average sized guys with average skills. If you think you deserve a thank you from me, you probably do ... Thanks!"

Ference also represented Canada at the 1999 world junior hockey championship.

Kings: Team re-signs Russian center Loktionov
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have re-signed Andrei Loktionov, the Russian center who won a Stanley Cup ring with the club in 2012.

The Kings confirmed the professional tryout contract Thursday.

Loktionov was a fifth-round pick by the Kings in 2008, and he played 59 games with Los Angeles over three seasons from 2009-12.

He appeared in two early postseason games for the Kings in 2012 during their run to the franchise's first NHL title. His name wasn't inscribed on the Stanley Cup despite his appearance in 39 regular-season games that season.

Loktionov was traded in February 2013 to New Jersey, where he played 76 games over two seasons before getting traded to Carolina for another 20 games. He spent the past three seasons playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL.

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Connor McDavid to 8-year, $100 million deal

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Connor McDavid to 8-year, $100 million deal

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers paid a huge price to lock up superstar captain Connor McDavid.

But it could have been even higher.

The Oilers said Wednesday that the team and McDavid have agreed to an eight-year, $100 million extension.

That makes the 20-year-old league MVP the highest-paid player in the NHL on an annual basis ($12.5 million per season), but it's about $750,000 a year less than what reports last week figured he would be getting.

"It easily could have been a lot higher in value and shorter in term," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said.

McDavid's extension kicks in after he finishes the final year of his entry-level deal next season. If the NHL's salary cap stays at its current level of $75 million, McDavid's salary alone would take up 16.6 percent of the Oilers' cap.

But any cap relief would be welcome to Edmonton. The Oilers are also working to re-sign Leon Draisaitl, who is a restricted free agent after finishing his entry-level deal and due a big raise.

"Part of this partnership was talking about building a team, and Connor was emphatic as was I about keeping this team competitive," Chiarelli said.

"There are challenges at every juncture when you are building a winning team in the salary cap era. Connor recognizes that, Jeff Jackson (McDavid's agent) recognizes that and we're confident we'll be able to ice a winning team, one that can contend and win the Cup" (see full story).

Canadiens: Galchenyuk agrees to deal to avoid arbitration
MONTREAL -- Alex Galchenyuk and the Montreal Canadiens avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $14.7 million contract Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Galchenyuk was a restricted free agent.

Drafted third overall by Montreal in 2012, the American center had 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games last season and added three assists in six playoff games. He has 89 goals and 115 assists in 336 career NHL games.

Galchenyuk was born in Wisconsin while his father, Russian player Alexander Galchenyuk, was with the International Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals.

Rangers: Fast re-signs; Desharnais inks free-agent deal
NEW YORK -- The Rangers have re-signed restricted free-agent forward Jesper Fast and signed free-agent center David Desharnais.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the moves Wednesday.

Fast, who won his second straight Players' Player Award for team play this past season, got a three-year contract worth $1.85 million annually. Desharnais received a one-year contract worth $1 million.

The 25-year-old Fast skated in 68 games this past season, with six goals and 15 assists. The Swede finished third among Rangers forwards in hits (99) and ranked fourth among the forwards in blocked shots (44).

Fast, who is expected to be sidelined for five months after hip surgery in early June, has skated in 216 NHL games and collected 22 goals and 43 assists.

The 30-year-Desharnais gives the Rangers added depth at center behind Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. He has won more than 50 percent of his career faceoffs.

Desharnais has played in 453 games over parts of eight seasons with Montreal and Edmonton, with 81 goals and 173 assists. The Laurier-Station, Quebec, native split this past season between Montreal and Edmonton, with six goals and eight assists in 49 games.

Desharnais has played in 51 NHL playoff games with four goals and 13 assists. He skated in 13 playoff games with Edmonton, with one goal and three assists.

Ducks: Team signs goalie Berra away from new Swiss squad
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Goalie Reto Berra has signed with the Anaheim Ducks, returning to North America less than three months after agreeing to a three-year deal with Fribourg-Gotteron in his native Switzerland's top league.

Berra used an out clause in his Swiss deal to return to the NHL on Wednesday.

The Ducks gave a one-year deal to Berra, who will provide organizational depth behind John Gibson and new signee Ryan Miller.

Berra played seven games for Florida last year, spending much of the season in the AHL. The 30-year-old veteran has appeared in 71 NHL games over five seasons with Colorado, Calgary and the Panthers.

Berra signed with Fribourg-Gotteron in April after four seasons in North America. Berra played from 2009-13 for Switzerland's EHC Biel, which currently employs longtime Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.