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Stars re-sign Oleksiak to one-year deal

The Dallas Stars have brought back restricted free agent defenseman Jamie Oleksiak.

The club announced on Friday that they have re-signed the 24-year-old Oleksiak for one year at $964,688.

In 41 games with the Stars last season, Oleksiak scored five goals — including this beauty against the Blues — and seven points, though at 6-foot-7 tall and 255 pounds, he isn’t necessarily known for offensive ability.

With this signing, the Stars now have eight defenseman locked into contracts for next season, with about $18.5 million committed to the position right now, per CapFriendly.

That doesn’t include third overall pick Miro Heiskanen, who signed his entry-level deal last month and is seen as a dynamic blue line talent with a bright future in Dallas.

Related: After a flurry of moves, questions still remain about Stars blue line

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    Under Pressure: Patrick Marleau

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    This post is part of Maple Leafs Day on PHT…

    The youth movement in Toronto took an interesting twist this summer, with the signing of long-time Sharks forward Patrick Marleau. 

    The deal for the 37-year-old forward? Three years with an annual average value of $6.25 million and a no-movement clause, per CapFriendly. That makes Marleau the Maple Leafs’ highest paid player heading into next season.

    While Marleau is getting older — he celebrates his 38th birthday in September, when training camp rolls around — he was still productive during his latter years in San Jose, scoring 27 goals last season. He also played the full 82-game regular season schedule.

    His point production isn’t anywhere close to his peak of 80-plus points on two occasions with the Sharks, but he’s still been able to score at an impressive rate, especially given his age.

    Now, the question becomes: Can he do that over these next three years on a new team, as he continues to get older, the younger players around him enter their prime years and, perhaps most pressing of all, the game gets quicker?

    On the day Marleau signed, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock defended the decision, lauding Marleau’s skating ability and veteran experience against the opposition’s best players.

    There is a history between coach and player dating back to the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics with the gold-medal winning Canadian team, so it’s clear Babcock and the organization believe Marleau still has something to offer for what has become a young, skilled and exciting team in the Eastern Conference.

    Toronto’s rebuild has accelerated in just over a year. Having the opportunity to select Auston Matthews at No. 1 overall helps. With Matthews, and fellow dynamic rookies William Nylander and Mitch Marner up front, the Maple Leafs were able to make the playoffs in the East.

    They pushed the Washington Capitals in a difficult first-round series, which means the expectations for this young core group in Toronto are likely to be greater in 2017-18. It wasn’t that long ago Babcock was predicting “pain” at the beginning of his tenure.

    The Leafs also signed veteran forward Dominic Moore to a one-year deal and veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey to a two-year deal. The combined cap hit between them is $4 million, but they are moves that add more experienced players for a team that could be entering its window sooner than previously expected.

    Marleau has had a great career, with 508 goals scored and 1,082 points in 1,493 career games, all with San Jose so far. But he’s not a rental. This isn’t the Maple Leafs adding an extra piece in early March to solidify an area of their roster for a run at the Stanley Cup three months later. It’s three years, big money, and a no-movement clause for a player pushing 40 while entering perhaps the most high-pressure hockey environment in the world.

    He joins the Maple Leafs at a time when the club shows great potential for the next few years, courtesy the young talent throughout their lineup. It also means considerable pressure following a rebuild.

    On a deal with less money or term, one could argue Marleau may be able to fly slightly under the radar.

    But not at an average of more than $6 million per year. Not in Toronto.

    “That’s what everybody wants. I think every team expects that out of themselves,” Marleau recently told Hockey Talk on Sirius XM.

    “That is not going to be any different. Having played as long as I have and knowing the ups and downs of the season, you’ve got to learn from those. It’s all a challenge and it’s all an opportunity. I think that with this group of guys I’m extremely excited about making that long playoff run.”

    Getting sent to junior made Blue Jackets prospect Dubois a ‘more mature’ player

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    Pierre-Luc Dubois is back with the Canadian contingent at the World Junior Summer Showcase. In September, he’ll try to take the next steps toward making the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Selected third overall by the Blue Jackets in 2016, Dubois can play center or the wing, bringing great size at 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, and skill up front. He didn’t make Columbus last season out of training camp, but was instead sent back to junior where he played for Cape Breton in the QMJHL before getting traded to Blainville-Boisbriand.

    His overall production dropped from the 42 goals and 99 points he registered in his draft year to 21 goals and 55 points split with those two junior clubs.

    “If I made Columbus [in 2016-17] it wouldn’t have been a bad decision, but I don’t think getting cut was a bad decision either,” Dubois told NHL.com. “I think it all comes down to what I did after I got cut, and I think I did all the right things to learn from it and become a more mature player.”

    The Blue Jackets are hoping so. It’s already been noted in the Columbus Dispatch that Dubois, who just turned 19 years old in June, isn’t eligible for the American Hockey League next season, which means he either makes the NHL squad or faces another year in the QMJHL.

    The Blue Jackets have a group of young players like Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Boone Jenner and Alexander Wennberg, stacked with talent. They took a big step last season, making the playoffs and setting franchise records for wins and points, before getting eliminated in the first round.

    There has been talk dating back to June and the expansion draft that Dubois could challenge to make the Blue Jackets in a bottom-six role next season, according to Aaron Portzline last month.

    “Pierre-Luc can not only make our team this coming season,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch at the time. “He can make our team better.”

    Wild GM Fletcher still has work to do after getting Niederreiter signed

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    The Minnesota Wild have avoided at least one scheduled arbitration hearing, after signing Nino Niederreiter to a five-year deal worth $26.25 million on Sunday.

    There is still work to be done, however, for general manager Chuck Fletcher.

    The Wild have yet to sign restricted free agent Mikael Granlund, who elected for salary arbitration and has a hearing scheduled for Friday, which means there is still time to get something done in advance of that date.

    Granlund, 25, completed a two-year deal worth a total of $6 million. His final season on that deal was a breakout campaign for the ninth overall pick in 2010.

    He was due for a substantial raise this summer, after leading Minnesota in assists (43) and points (69) during the regular season. He also had 26 goals, obliterating his previous career best of 13 set during the 2015-16 season.

    Following today’s news, Minnesota has about $10.5 million in cap space, per CapFriendly.

    From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

    Granlund and the Wild are also negotiating a multi-year deal ranging between three and five years, GM Chuck Fletcher said last week. If a deal can’t be struck in advance of Friday, an arbitration hearing is scheduled.

    In addition to Granlund, fellow Wild RFA Marcus Foligno is also searching for a new contract.

    Related: Granlund a ‘hidden secret’ for Wild

    Wild re-sign Niederreiter to five-year deal worth $26.25 million

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    There had been positive developments in the contract situation involving the Minnesota Wild and forward Nino Niederreiter.

    Initially, it had been reported Sunday evening that the two sides were close to a deal.

    A few minutes later, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the Wild had re-signed Niederreiter to a five-year deal, worth a total of $26.25 million. The club has since confirmed that.

    The two sides avoid an arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday.

    “Nino has had a big impact on our club during the last four seasons and we’re very happy to know that will continue in the future,” said Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher.

    “He’s grown into his role as one of the offensive leaders of this group and his shot and net-front presence will continue to play a major role in our team’s success. Nino has a great attitude and personality, and we know our fans will be as happy as we are about this news.”

    The 24-year-old Niederreiter has reached or gone above the 20-goal mark in each of his last three seasons with Minnesota, scoring 25 goals and 57 points — both career bests — last season.

    Fletcher has been open to getting Niederreiter and fellow restricted free agent Mikael Granlund — his arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday — signed to deals in the three- to five-year range.