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Report: Canucks, Horvat getting closer to a new deal

Earlier this week, Canucks general manager Jim Benning expressed hope that a contract with restricted free agent Bo Horvat will get done before the start of training camp.

Horvat is the lone Canuck player left to get under contract for the upcoming season, and Vancouver has about $5.375 million remaining in cap space after the signing of free agent forward Thomas Vanek.

According to Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet, the two sides continue to get closer to a new, long-term deal.

Over the last day or so, there have been a few suggestions about what Horvat’s next contract could look like. The common theme is that it’s believed the 22-year-old center will ink a long-term contract.

Benning told Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver that the two sides made progress last week, but he didn’t get into specific details about the negotiations.

“We’re still working on that,” said Benning. “It’s going well. We’ve said all along our policy is not to bring it into the media — where our negotiations are at. But I think it’s going well and hopefully we can get it done here in the next week.”

Golden Knights unveil Pickard’s new fan-designed goalie mask

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Being part of a new team calls for a newly designed goalie mask.

On Wednesday, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights unveiled Calvin Pickard‘s new mask, which is fan-designed by six different finalists and a grand prize winner from a team contest that ran last month.

From NHL.com:

“I received so many great designs and submissions that I couldn’t pick just one,” said Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard. “My new Golden Knights mask incorporates elements from six different finalists, as well as a complete drawing from the grand prize winner. This was a fun and unique way to engage with the Golden Knights community.”

Grand prize winner Shawn Hickey submitted a design with a medieval knight overlooking the Las Vegas Strip and the Golden Knights primary logo on the crown of the mask. Both elements are featured on Pickard’s mask.

The Golden Knights selected Pickard with the first selection in the 2017 expansion draft. He was later joined in Vegas by veteran puck stopper Marc-Andre Fleury.

Report: Laich expected to attend Kings camp on PTO

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Brooks Laich has previously maintained that he wants another shot at making an NHL lineup. At 34 years of age, it appears he will at least get another opportunity.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, Laich is expected to attend L.A. Kings training camp on a professional tryout.

After spending most of his career with the Washington Capitals, Laich was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2015-16 season.

Laich spent most of last season in the Maple Leafs organization but didn’t get into an NHL game, instead playing 27 times — with one goal and nine points — with the AHL Marlies.

He was placed on waivers by Toronto last October and cleared. He was eventually waived again, and seemed adamant at the time that he still had plenty to offer to a possible Stanley Cup contending team.

The Kings have missed the playoffs in two of the last three years, after a previous span of two Stanley Cup titles in three years.

Last season was particularly disappointing for the organization. As a result, the Kings have had a busy offseason, firing Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter and naming Rob Blake as general manager, Luc Robitaille as president and John Stevens as the head coach.

Following such significant turnover behind the bench and in the front office, the Kings are expected to bring in a few players on professional tryouts, including Laich, Brandon Prust, Chris Lee and Andrei Loktionov.

Karlsson’s status unclear for opening night after offseason foot surgery

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Erik Karlsson underwent foot surgery in June, with a four-month recovery period to follow.

That timeline automatically put his availability for the Senators’ season opener — since scheduled for Oct. 5 versus the Washington Capitals — in question, and his status remains unclear right now, as training camp approaches.

That is according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun:

While he may miss the season opener, Karlsson clearly stated a few months ago that he had no regrets playing through the injury during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite the injury, which included torn tendons in his left foot, the star defenseman was Ottawa’s best player throughout most of the post-season, as the Senators made it all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

So dominant was Karlsson that he actually received a Conn Smythe Trophy vote, despite the Senators not making the Stanley Cup Final.

“At the time, it was manageable and something obviously I could play through and play up to the standards that I thought I needed to be able to play and contribute for the team,” Karlsson told reporters during the NHL Awards media availability at the end of June.

“At the end of the day, I’m paying the price for it now but looking back, it’s not something I regret.”

Panthers ready to ‘support our Florida family’ as Hurricane Irma threatens

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With Hurricane Irma threatening to hit Florida, the Panthers and BB&T Center have pledged their support for the community and announced preparation plans for the storm.

From the Panthers on Wednesday:

During the storm, BB&T Center will serve as an emergency vehicle staging site for various public service entities, as well as a tactical operation site for Florida Power and Light. Post storm, BB&T Center has been identified as a Broward County Logistical Staging Area. BB&T Center stands willing and able to support any needs determined by the City of Sunrise and Broward County.

“We are here and ready to support our Florida family, Broward County and the City of Sunrise as the community prepares for Irma’s possible landfall,” said Florida Panthers Owner Vincent J. Viola. “Service to the community and family are in the DNA of our organization.”

BB&T Center has established a hotline at 954-835-8911. Individuals are encouraged to call the hotline for the most up to date information regarding BB&T Center.

The Panthers were slated to be one of four teams competing in a prospects tournament in Florida, beginning Saturday and running through to Tuesday. The Capitals, Lightning and Predators were also scheduled to take part in the event, however, it was officially cancelled Wednesday, with the storm threatening to strike Florida over the weekend.

Hurricane Irma, which has already slammed into Caribbean islands, is currently listed as a Category 5 storm.

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida.

“We encourage our fans, staff and members of our community to prepare wisely and stay safe throughout the duration of this storm,” said Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell. “Our strength as a community will guide us the through the difficult times ahead.”

According to the Miami Herald, a number of Panthers players and staff will evacuate Florida ahead of the storm’s arrival.

From the Miami Herald:

The team is paying for the flight and could open training camp in Springfield, Massachusetts, next week depending on the extent of the damage in and around Broward County. 

A group of about 80 will depart Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning.

Players, coaching staff and hockey operations are part of the traveling party.

“We have the facilities in Springfield and could start camp there if we had to,” said team CEO Matthew Caldwell, who plans on riding out the storm at the arena.