Washington Capitals were free agency’s biggest spenders

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Now that free agency has, for the most part, settled down it’s time to step back and see who did the most damage.

No, we don’t mean who improved themselves the most — we’re talking about raw dollars spent. This year’s winner? The Washington Capitals.

Sure there are more players left to be signed, but the big crush is over. Considering no one has been officially signed since July 4, we’ll say it’s pretty much done for now.

As Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared and CapGeek.com tabulated, the Capitals spent the most money on new contracts this summer spending $69.65 million on 14 years worth of deals to Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Justin Peters.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were next on the list with $64.85 million spent over 15 years worth of contracts. Adding Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and Evgeni Nabokov didn’t really make the numbers pop but re-signing Ryan Callahan to a six-year, $34.8 million deal sure did.

Rounding out the top three are the Florida Panthers were the next biggest spenders with $60.4 million spent on 18 years worth of deals to Willie Mitchell, Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Derek MacKenzie, Shawn Thornton, and Al Montoya. While the Panthers broke the bank on Bolland, their total shows every little bit adds up.

The spending of the former Southeast Division foes helped keep the New York Islanders ($57.95 million) and Buffalo Sabres ($46.375 million) out of the top three of the list, but did go to show that making sure to get above the salary floor takes a bit of work.

The Isles added $15.587 million to their cap total for next season while the Sabres added $14.875 million. Those two are distant runners-up to the New Jersey Devils ($18.262 million) and Florida ($17.3 million) to boosting their cap number.

It’s like what Sabres GM Tim Murray has been saying whenever he was asked about whether his team will hit the cap floor or not: “Spending money is easy.” As for the cap floor, only the Calgary Flames have yet to reach the $51 million mark according to Cap Geek and they’re under that by just $563,333.

Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal

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The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.

The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.

“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”

Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators

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For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.

Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.

“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.

“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”

Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.

He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”

It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.

Habs place Redmond on waivers — again

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A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.

(CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)

Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.

Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.

Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.

Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.

Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension

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The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.

The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.

Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.

“Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.

“Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”