Here’s who’s left after Day 1 of free agency

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Well, the first day of NHL free agency is over, and some big names were crossed off the board (generally for surprisingly reasonable prices). Even so, there are quite a few significant players still looking for a new contract as of July 2.

Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy parties who are still looking for a dance partner.

Martin St. Louis (pictured) – At 40, the pint-sized winger is almost certainly limited to a short-term (probably one-year) deal. His production plummeted in 2014-15, so he likely relates to the likes of Justin Williams in not having a great contract year. Perhaps he’ll end up with a short, cheap deal that will be comparable to that of former teammate Brad Richards? Retirement is always a possibility, too.

Joel Ward – This has not been a great start for players who market themselves as “clutch guys.” Ward doesn’t believe in clutch, yet people who may fall under that perceived category – Antoine Vermette and Williams – either grabbed the same amount of money or less than they made before.

Seriously, Day 1 was weird.

Johnny Oduya – A veteran defenseman with a lot of desirable qualities, although he doesn’t possess the sort of offensive panache as someone like Mike Green. One would assume that his agent would try to use Francois Beauchemin (three years, $13.5 million) and Paul Martin (four years, $19.4 million) as comparables.

Cody Franson – How much did the trade to Nashville hurt his bargaining power? Still, he’s just 27 and already has two 30+ point seasons to his name (plus his possession numbers are solid). Plenty of teams could use defense, yet as you can see from this list, other quality choices might undercut his value a bit.

Christian Ehrhoff – Speaking of rough contract years, Ehrhoff’s was pretty much a disaster. Could he be a nice bargain? Perhaps he’ll opt for another one-year deal to drive up the price of a future contract …

Eric Fehr – He scored 19 goals this season and peaked with 21 in 2009-10. His only sabbatical from Washington (2011-12 with Winnipeg) went poorly, yet he could be a great sneaky pickup, perhaps for a contender?

Alexander Semin – One of the great mysteries of the market. He fits a theme of fading free agents: the once-terrifying sniper’s either like Dany Heatley in 2015 (done) or a resounding reclamation project.

Chris Stewart – Perennially disappointing, yet he almost scored 30 goals once and could be useful at the right price (and in the right situation).

Lubomir Visnovsky – As injury-prone as ever, yet his offensive skills could make him a nice depth find.

Marek Zidlicky – He is what he is: an aging and flawed blueliner who can still be a scoring asset.

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This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it represents some of the bigger remaining names. Which player(s) should your team swipe?

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson