Futures unclear for Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle

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As soon as the San Jose Sharks got centers Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski locked up through 2018-19, attention immediately turned to the future of veteran center Joe Thornton.

Thornton has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. The former Hart Trophy winner is still a very effective player who averages almost a point per game; however, there are only so many top minutes, not to mention dollars, to go around.

At 34 years old, Thornton isn’t exactly young (for the NHL) either. And on that note, San Jose also has 19-year-old center Tomas Hertl, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, in the system. (Hertl will be at training camp in September, with an eye on making the team.)

Like Thornton, veteran forward Patrick Marleau, 33, and defenseman Dan Boyle, 37, have just one year remaining on their contracts.

In July, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he’s had talks with all three pending UFAs, but wouldn’t tip his hand as to the likelihood of any of them signing extensions.

“We don’t talk about negotiations publicly,” said Wilson. “Have we had discussions with the other three? Yes. Will we have discussions going forward? The answer is yes.”

Of the three, Boyle may be the easiest to re-sign, if only due to his age and the fact he can’t really command a long extension. Thornton and Marleau, on the other hand, could probably get three to four years — maybe even five — if they hit the open market.

Boyle has already indicated he wants to stay put.

“I’ve made it clear this is where I want to be and this is where I want to finish my career,” he said in May

According to Sharks beat writer Kevin Kurz (CSN Bay Area), it’s likely all three will go into the 2013-14 season with their futures unsettled. Writes Kurz: “Individual performance, and the performance of the team, could dictate which of those three continues to wear a black and teal sweater in the fall of 2014.”

More Sharks day on PHT:

Antti Niemi is San Jose’s rock in goal

Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.

Video: Ducks’ 3-3 goal survives goalie interference review

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When the Nashville Predators went up 3-1 in the third period, it seemed like they might finally put the Anaheim Ducks away in Game 6. The Ducks quickly responded with “Not yet.”

Two minutes after that 3-1 goal, Chris Wagner kept Anaheim’s hopes alive with a surprising tally. Corey Perry then bumped Pekka Rinne, but he was able to reset before Cam Fowler scored the 3-3 goal 8:52 into the final frame (of regulation).

In less than six minutes of game time, the tone of the contest changed rapidly. Now we’ll see if either team can get the next tally in the remaining minutes of the third or if the Stanley Cup Playoffs will see yet another overtime contest.

Here’s the Wagner goal:

You can see the 3-3 goal in the video above. Hold onto your seats.

Update: Moments after this was published, Colton Sissons‘ hat-trick goal made it 4-3. Could there be even more drama? We’ll see …

Game 6 is airing on NBCSN. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Coyotes’ Dylan Strome breaks Memorial Cup record with 7 points in game

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Dylan Strome’s journey to becoming a full-timer at the NHL level might be a little bumpy, but he continues to distinguish himself at other levels.

In the case of Monday, it was setting a new Memorial Cup record. With four goals and three assists, Strome’s seven-point game set a new record as he helped the Eerie Otters pummel the Saint John Sea Dogs 12-5.

They’ll face the Windsor Spitfires on Wednesday to determine which team goes to the tournament’s final round.

The performance wasn’t lost on his brother Ryan Strome.

Ducks dominate, but Predators enter third up 2-1

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So far, it seems like Jonathan Bernier playing instead of John Gibson for the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 has indeed been a pretty big deal.

Bernier allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced against to start Game 6, putting the Ducks in an early hole. The Ducks have been absolutely dominating the contest since then, but only Ondrej Kase could get a puck beyond Pekka Rinne through the first 40 minutes.

Seriously, the play’s been lopsided. Nashville managed a few shots after this tweet, yet it still tells much of the story.