Cory Schneider

Will this be the summer of RFA goalies getting offer sheets?

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Over at the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle has an intriguing take on what July 1 might hold for a stellar crop of RFA goalies:

There’s Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, Cory Schneider, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk all in need of contracts, with two or three of those names potential targets for offer sheets when free agency opens this summer.

The Canadiens can avoid that situation with Price by electing for arbitration before July 1, but that isn’t an option until after July 1 with Rask and Schneider given their low salaries.

Both Boston and Vancouver are relatively tight against the cap as well, with big salaries dedicated to Thomas (even if he doesn’t play) and Luongo making their goaltending situations precarious.

Some in the hockey world I’ve spoken with think this is being contemplated and that one reason GMs Steve Yzerman and Brian Burke have been so quiet on the goaltending front is that they plan on making a bold play on July 1.

Some notes:

— Under the current CBA, RFA compensation works like this:

$1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation
$1,034,249 — $1,567,043: Third-round pick
$1,567,043 — $3,134,088: Second-round pick
$3,134,088 — $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
$4,701,131 — $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
$6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

— Teams need to have their original draft picks for compensation. They can’t use picks acquired via trade.

— The Lightning have five picks in the top 50 at the 2012 draft: No. 10, No. 19 (from Detroit in the Kyle Quincey trade), No. 37 (from San Jose in the Dominic Moore trade), No. 40 and No. 50 (from Philly in the Pavel Kubina trade). They also have a third round pick at No. 71.

— As for compensatory picks, Tampa also has all its picks in 2013 and an extra second rounder (again, from the Kubina deal).

— As such, Yzerman’s in an amazing position to throw out an offer sheet and still obtain young talent. For example, he could sign any of the above RFA goalies to a deal that pays, say, $6 million annually and lose his first- second- and third-round picks in 2013. The loss of those picks would be mitigated by his slew of young draftees from 2012.

— That said, some consider offer sheeting RFAs dirty pool. Plenty of GMs don’t like it and only six have been signed since the lockout — Ryan Kesler (Philadelphia), Thomas Vanek (Edmonton), Dustin Penner (Edmonton), David Backes (Vancouver), Steve Bernier (St. Louis) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (San Jose) with only Penner actually moving teams — a move that caused great acrimony between then-Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.