Stars make contract offer to Eaves, Oleksiak and McKenzie

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On the same day the club announced it would be parting ways with veteran center Shawn Horcroff, Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said he has extended contract offers to Patrick Eaves, Jamie Oleksiak and Curtis McKenzie.

Eaves, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, scored 14 goals and 27 points in 47 games during the 2014-15 season. His one-year, $650,000 contract is set to expire.

The 31-year-old had his season shortened by multiple injuries.

“We need to hear from their camp. We’d like to have him back,” Nill said of negotiations with Eaves. “We made him a contract offer and if he doesn’t accept that he’ll be looking at free agency. We’d like to bring him back, so we’ll see where that goes.”

Oleksiak will become a restricted free agent as his three-year, $4.2 million entry-level deal expires on July 1. The 22-year-old split the 2014-15 season between the AHL and NHL. He appeared in 36 games for Dallas scoring a goal and seven assists. The defenseman also dressed in 35 games with Texas scoring four goals and 12 assists.

McKenzie also split the 2014-15 season between the AHL and NHL. The 24-year-old appeared in 36 games with Dallas scoring four goals and an assist to go a long with 48 penalty minutes. The forward registered six goals and 21 points in 31 AHL games with Texas. His two-year, $1.4 million entry-level deal expires next month.

“We’ve talked to both, made contract offers and it’s just negotiations,” Nill said of Oleksiak and McKenzie. “It’s pretty straight forward. We’ll make qualifying offers and go from there.”

Goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who was acquired by the Stars from the Sabres in February, will go to free agency. The 26-year-old appeared in 13 games for the Stars following the trade going 5-5-0 with a 2.38 G.A.A. and a .906 save percentage.

Enroth was in the second year of a $2.5 million deal and will become an unrestricted free agent.

“I’ve talked to Enroth and told him we are going to look at the market,” Nill said. “He
wanted to look at the market. We are going to keep in touch.”

Dallas will also part was with forward Scott Glennie. Originally a first-round pick of the Stars (eighth overall) in 2009, Glennie appeared in just one NHL game during parts of five seasons with the organization.

Nill said defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who is a Group 6 unrestricted free agent, will also test the market.

“When you’re a kid and this is your first chance to be free, you want to see what is out there,” Nill said of Gaunce. “His goal is to make the NHL and he looks at our depth chart and he sees that we have 11 or 12 defensemen that have a chance to play in the NHL. He’s going to look around. We’d like to have him back, but for him it’s a chance to see if there is opportunity somewhere else.”

Nill said the club would not be offering restricted free agent Ludwig Karlsson a qualifying offer. The Stars acquired Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators in the Jason Spezza deal.

Red Wings are ‘excited’ about Michael Rasmussen’s offensive upside

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The Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, but there appears to be something good that came from that.

Instead of drafting in the back half of the first round, the Wings were able to get a top 10 selection in last June’s NHL Entry Draft. With the ninth overall pick, they chose power forward Michael Rasmussen.

Rasmussen is listed at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. NHLers of that size are a rare breed. Add the fact that he’s gifted offensively, and it looks like the Red Wings may have a gem coming through the pipeline.

In his first three career preseason games, the 18-year-old has already picked up two goals. His play hasn’t gone unnoticed by the organization.

“I’m excited about him as a prospect,” head coach Jeff Blashill said, per MLive.com. “He’s big, he’s smooth, he’s got good hands, he’s got good offensive sense.”

With all big forwards, a lot of their success will be determined by their skating ability. In today’s NHL, it’s pretty clear that you need to be able to move if you’re going to have a long and productive career. But according to Blashill, skating isn’t a big issue with Rasmussen.

“I think he skates well. People have questioned that, but I don’t see that at all. I think he covers lots of ground in a hurry. I think he needs to move his feet a little bit more at times in the D-zone, but overall I’ve been happy with his play.”

No matter what he does between now and the end of training camp, it sounds like Rasmussen will be heading back to the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, where he’ll look to improve his numbers from last year (32 goals, 55 points in 50 games).

Luongo pushes through ‘mental, physical grind’ in comeback from hip injury

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Roberto Luongo is back, taking part in the preseason for the Florida Panthers, in preparation for when the games begin to count in the standings.

However, his latest comments suggest he didn’t know if that would indeed be the case, after suffering a hip injury that resulted in surgery following the 2015-16 season and then shut him down in March last season.

“For a good two- to three-month period it was a battle mentally to just figure out if I could be able to ever come back,” Luongo told NHL.com. “I didn’t feel like I was getting better and it was constantly bothering me, so it was as much a mental grind as a physical grind from March until almost June if I could ever fully recover and feel good on the ice.”

Luongo is now 38 years old and the rigorous demands of playing that position for more than 960 career regular season games — not to mention playoffs or international duty — can surely take a toll on the body. The Panthers have a good tandem in net with Luongo and James Reimer, but what will be intriguing as the season progresses is how head coach Bob Boughner divvies up playing time between the two, with Luongo appearing to be healthier and as Florida looks to get back into the postseason.

The past several weeks, though, have been encouraging for Luongo. He returned to the ice well ahead of training camp and gave an optimistic report, saying there weren’t “any issues.” That was just over a month ago. He stopped all eight shots he faced during 31:26 of ice time in his preseason debut last week, which was a good start.

Auston Matthews puts on a show in preseason tilt vs. Habs

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Auston Matthews and William Nylander are showing no signs of any sophomore slump so far through the pre-season.

Matthews had a hat trick and an assist and Nylander had a goal and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in an NHL preseason game on Monday night.

Matthews scored his first goal of the game 47 seconds into the first period. His wrist shot from just inside the blue line went over the right shoulder of Canadiens goaltender Al Montoya.

Matthews made it 2-0 at 4:56. Nylander’s initial shot went high, and Matthews batted down the rebound and into an open side of the net.

He scored his third goal in the third period. While on a breakaway, Matthews shot the puck between the legs of Montoya at 3:46.

Matthews has four goals and two assists in three preseason games.

Jeff Petry scored for Montreal while on the power play at 11:37 of the second period.

Nylander scored at 6:03 of the third period to give Toronto a 5-1 lead.

Patrick Marleau also had a goal for Toronto while Frederik Andersen made 20 saves.

 

Video: Trouba receives match penalty for hit on Flames’ Hrivik

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Tempers flared during the third period of Monday’s preseason game between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba received a match penalty for a hit at the blue line on Flames forward Marek Hrivik, leading to a melee along the boards.

Garnet Hathaway took exception to the hit, immediately jumping in and dropping the gloves with Trouba. Hathaway was also assessed an instigator penalty.

The hit occurred just after Hrivik dumped the puck into the Jets zone. Trouba stepped up at the line and delivered the hit, sending Hrivik hard to the ice.

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice commented on the hit after the game:

The league’s Department of Player Safety has been busy over the past few days, handing out preseason suspensions to Capitals forward Tom Wilson and, on Monday, Rangers forward Andrew Desjardins.