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Torts is pretty happy for Mike Sullivan, who is two wins away from another Stanley Cup

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It’s been just over three years since the day the Canucks fired John Tortorella and his assistant coach Mike Sullivan.

How things have changed.

Sullivan has a chance to win his second Stanley Cup in as many years as coach of the Penguins. They’re two wins away from the ultimate goal, leading Nashville 2-0 in the championship series, with Game 3 on Saturday.

Brought into the Penguins organization as the head coach with its AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, Sullivan eventually took over mid-season for the fired Mike Johnston in Pittsburgh.

A few months later, he was hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head.

Two more wins and he’ll do it again, as the Penguins can become the first repeat champion of the salary cap era.

The opportunity isn’t lost on Tortorella, a Jack Adams finalist this year as Columbus finished the regular season with 108 points and third in the Metropolitan Division, before being ousted by the Penguins in the opening round.

“I remember when we got fired [by the Vancouver Canucks after the 2013-14 season], we talked and I said, ‘Sully, that’s the last time we can ever work together,'” Tortorella told NHL.com. “He was being labeled as an assistant coach, and that’s the last place his road was taking him, as we see now.

“I think he just handles people really well, and that is so important with today’s athletes. They’ve changed from 10 years ago. You have to be really careful with them, and I think that’s his biggest strength, and everything falls off of that.”

Sullivan’s attention to the details of the game, not to mention a coach’s mind that apparently never stops working, was thoroughly outlined in a profile a couple of months ago.

“I don’t think you ever arrive,” Sullivan said last year, with the Penguins on the verge of the Stanley Cup versus San Jose. “I think it’s that insatiable appetite to improve and get better that has allowed this team to get to the point where it’s at. We’re going to keep pushing until we achieve our ultimate goal.”

A year later, and the ultimate goal is within reach. Again.

Ducks and assistant coach Paul MacLean mutually part ways

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Paul MacLean is no longer with the Anaheim Ducks.

The club stated on Thursday that MacLean, one of the team’s assistant coaches, and the Ducks have mutually parted ways following the expiration of his contract.

MacLean was head coach of the Ottawa Senators for three-plus seasons prior to joining the Ducks as an assistant in June of 2015.

He spent only two seasons in Anaheim, on the bench for Bruce Boudreau’s final season and Randy Carlyle’s first since re-joining the Ducks.

Just over a year ago, it was reported that the Minnesota Wild, at the time searching for a new coach, had interest in speaking with MacLean, who helped guide the Senators to two playoff appearances in his first three seasons behind the bench and won a Jack Adams Award in 2013.

The news comes with a pair of head coaching jobs still available in Florida and Buffalo. Might be something to keep an eye on.

Golden Knights sign former Kings draft pick Tomas Hyka

The Vegas Golden Knights have signed another player.

There were reports Thursday that the Golden Knights have signed free agent forward Tomas Hyka, a former L.A. Kings sixth-round draft pick from 2012. The entry-level deal has since been announced by the club.

Hyka has spent the last three seasons in the Czech Republic, playing for Mlada Boleslav BK. He had 17 goals and 38 points in 48 games last season, reaching single-season career highs for games played, goals, assists and points while playing in that league.

The next few weeks are critical to the Golden Knights, with the expansion draft quickly approaching. On Thursday, the league released a long list of important dates for the new franchise between now and the expansion draft on June 21.

There could be some big news for the Golden Knights prior to their draft, with reports Vegas and the Blackhawks could strike a significant deal before that date.

Related:

Golden Knights sign KHL high-scorer Vadim Shipachyov for two years, $9M

The biggest loser in the NHL Draft Lottery? Probably the Vegas Golden Knights

Gallant named head coach of Vegas Golden Knights

Caps re-sign Aussie forward Nathan Walker, who ‘has a good chance’ of playing in NHL next season

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Nathan Walker has already made history as the first Australian hockey player selected in the NHL Draft.

He could further the story in the fall as the first Aussie to play an NHL game. On Thursday, the Washington Capitals re-signed the 23-year-0ld winger to a two-year, two-way contract.

Below are the financial details of the deal:

The Capitals have five players that are pending unrestricted free agents. Their offseason priorities are with getting their restricted free agents — Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov to be specific — signed, and the projected salary cap could have quite an impact on which pending UFAs Washington can bring back. With that said, it seems there is a good chance some roster spots may be up for grabs for the organization’s prospects when training camp begins.

Selected by the Capitals in the third round, 89th overall, of the 2014 draft, Walker had 11 goals and 23 points in 58 games last season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL.

He had 17 goals and 41 points in the minors the previous season, but was recently referenced by MacLellan as a player that could move up from the AHL to earn an NHL job with the Capitals next season.

“Walker has a good chance of playing,” MacLellan said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “…These guys can all come up, and there’s just going to be more opportunity for them to play this year.”

Done deal: Kings sign Imama to entry-level contract, completing trade with Lightning

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The day after acquiring Bokondji Imama from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the L.A. Kings have signed the 20-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract.

The trade was conditioned on the Kings getting Imama signed to a deal by the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Thursday. In return, the Bolts now get L.A.’s seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

This past season, Imama scored 41 goals in 66 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs, and 15 points in 18 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff games, helping his team to an eventual semifinal berth in the Memorial Cup.

At 6-foot-1 and 221 pounds, Imama certainly brings the element of size to the left wing. He also had 105 penalty minutes this season.