Devin Setoguchi; Jannik Hansen

Devin Setoguchi signs 3 year, $9 million extension with Sharks

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The San Jose Sharks got a jump start on their offseason by signing restricted free agent Devin Setoguchi to a three-year contract extension. The three-year deal announced by the Sharks has been confirmed by Craig Custance and Matthew Taylor to be worth $9 million.

The reasonable $3 million cap hit keeps Setoguchi around after a productive fourth season in the NHL. The deal for Setoguchi is a healthy raise from the 1-year, $1.8 million contract he signed a season ago; he’ll be under contract until he’s 27 years old.

The former 8th overall pick racked up 22 goals and 41 points over the course of the regular season; including 7 goals and 10 points in 18 playoff games this year. In fact, the 2010-11 campaign was the third straight season Setoguchi netted 20+ goals—it was also the third year in San Jose when he was a regular on the team for the entire season. He has 84 career goals in 267 career games. In a press release, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he only expects him Setoguchi to continue to improve:

“We feel Devin is an important part of our team and we look forward to him continuing to elevate his game to the level he is capable of.”

For the Sharks, the deal was a step in the right direction as they try to shape their team for next season. Setoguchi proved to be a clutch playoff performer with his seven goals—not to mention two overtime game-winners and a hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semi-finals. Signing him to an extension, the Sharks confirmed that Setoguchi is part of the Sharks future core along with guys like Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Ryane Clowe.

The next order of business is filling out the rest of their roster. GM Doug Wilson has already announced that the team will not be re-signing Scott Nichol or Jamal Mayers for next season. The team also has to make a decision on pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Ian White, who was brought over in a midseason deal from the Carolina Hurricanes.

While White would help solidify the blueline, Setoguchi is only the first step to shoring up the forward corps. Next, the organization will have to reach terms with Andrew Desjardins who is slated to be the 4th line center next season and possibly Ben Eager to provide grit up front.

The Sharks were undoubtedly helped by today’s news that the salary cap was increased to $64.3 million. Accordingly, San Jose was able to lock-up their most important pending restricted free agent. Now the team will be able to focus making the rest of the team better at the draft and when free agency opens on July 1st.

Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.