Cam Tucker

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Canucks re-sign Gaunce to two-year, one-way deal

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The Canucks signed one of their remaining restricted free agents on Wednesday.

No, it wasn’t Bo Horvat.

The Canucks announced a two-year, one-way contract with forward Brendan Gaunce. The deal comes with an annual average value of $750,000.

Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2012, the now 23-year-old Gaunce appeared in 57 games for the Canucks last season, recording five assists.

At 6-foot-2 tall and 217 pounds, he can play both the wing and center, while bringing an element of size and physical play to Vancouver’s group of bottom six forwards.

The organization would probably like to get more offense out of him next season, and perhaps having Travis Green — the former Utica Comets bench boss when Gaunce was in the midst of his most productive AHL season — coach in Vancouver will help.

His season came to an end in early March because of a shoulder injury. The club announced several weeks later in April that Gaunce would have shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to six months.

With Gaunce now signed, the Canucks have one remaining restricted free agent to get under contract. That would be Horvat, the 22-year-old center who took a major step forward in his development last season and is due for a substantial raise.

With Gaunce signed, the Canucks should have about $7.375 million remaining in cap space.

Related: Canucks expect to have Horvat signed before training camp

Dany Heatley awarded $6.5 million in lawsuit against former agent

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Former NHL forward Dany Heatley has been awarded about $6.5 million after a judge ruled in his favor for a lawsuit against his former agent Stacey McAlpine, according to CTV Calgary on Wednesday.

Heatley played in 869 NHL games throughout his career, scoring 372 goals and 791 points while playing on five different teams. Twice, he reached the 50-goal plateau as a member of the Ottawa Senators.

While playing for the Minnesota Wild, Heatley sued McAlpine and his parents, Gerald and Eugenia, in 2012 for $11 million for a number of faulty real estate investments throughout North America, according to reports.

The Globe and Mail has more details of the lawsuit:

Heatley, a left winger with the Minnesota Wild, alleges that his former agent and business adviser, Stacey McAlpine, as well as McAlpine’s parents, Gerald and Eugenia, lured him into several real-estate ventures across Canada and the United States with promises of huge returns that never materialized. The lawsuit, filed last week in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary, also alleges that Heatley’s former agent dipped into his bank accounts and made unauthorized withdrawals of more than $4-million.

Per CTV Calgary, Heatley was awarded about $4.167 million from defendant company Presidential Suites Inc., and $2.348 million from the second defendant company Waterfront Development Inc.

Heatley is not the only NHL player to sue McAlpine.

In 2016, former Senators defenseman Chris Phillips waged a court battle with McAlpine after filing a $3.2 million lawsuit, alleging “shoddy investments and unauthorized real estates deals,” according to the Ottawa Sun.

It’s Nashville Predators day at PHT

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The Nashville Predators entered the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs as the second wild card team in the Western Conference.

When the postseason was over, they were two wins away from a championship, sweeping Chicago in the opening round and beating St. Louis and Anaheim to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Along the way there was the breakout campaign of Viktor Arvidsson while on a top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg; the emergence of a dangerous top-four group of defensemen following the acquisition of P.K. Subban last summer; a fishy hockey tradition and playoff atmosphere that garnered national headlines, and the recognition of general manager David Poile for his efforts in putting together a Stanley Cup contender that will remain in its window to win next season, and likely for a few more years given the age of their core players.

There have been changes in Nashville this summer.

James Neal was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Mike Fisher announced his retirement. Colin Wilson was traded to Colorado. Phil Housley, an assistant coach responsible for Nashville’s group of blue liners, took the head coaching job in Buffalo.

To bolster their club at center, the Predators signed Nick Bonino to a four-year, $16.4 million contract — just a few weeks after his former team, the Penguins, hoisted the Stanley Cup in Nashville. They also signed veteran forward Scott Hartnell and acquired defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Today at PHT, we’ll dig into the big storylines surrounding the Predators ahead of training camp next month.

Minus an AHL affiliate next season, Blues sign one-year deal with ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers

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The St. Louis Blues have announced an agreement with a minor league team — just not in the American Hockey League.

On Tuesday, the Blues announced a one-year affiliation agreement for the 2017-18 season with the Tulsa Oilers in the ECHL.

“We are proud to extend our footprint to Tulsa and partner with the Oilers for the 2017-18 season,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in a press release. “The Oilers are a strong organization from top to bottom and will provide a great opportunity for our young prospects to continue to develop their game.”

The Blues will play this upcoming season without a true AHL affiliate after the Vegas Golden Knights signed a multi-year deal with the Chicago Wolves, who had previously been the farm team for St. Louis.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

This season, the Blues will send some of their players to Chicago, last season’s AHL affiliate, though the Wolves will now be the affiliate of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The Blues will also loan some players to San Antonio and to other AHL teams if needed.

The ECHL is the Class AA level of minor-league hockey, so it’s not an option for players who figure in the Blues immediate plans, though it would give the Blues a place to put a young goalie to get some work.

It was, however, reported last week that the Blues are set to announce a five-year agreement with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, currently the minor league team for the Colorado Avalanche.

Temper early expectations of Steven Stamkos in return from knee injury

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This post is part of Lightning Day on PHT…

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the organization’s fans received some promising news last month.

After playing in only 17 games last season due to a knee injury and surgery in November, Steven Stamkos has “no issues,” according to his agent Mark Guy, and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.

Since the 2013-14 season, Stamkos has endured a substantial amount of time out of the Bolts’ lineup.

Prior to his injury last November, he suffered a broken leg that reduced his 2013-14 campaign to 37 games. In April of 2016, he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm that required surgery and kept him out of all but one playoff game that year, even as the Bolts made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Since the clot was discovered, Stamkos has played in a total of only 18 games, which, given his propensity for scoring goals, has been a significant loss for a team with aspirations of getting back into contention for the East.

But exactly how will Stamkos perform when he does return to game action, following an operation to fix a lateral meniscus tear that came with a recovery window of at least four months?

From the Tampa Bay Times in February:

Just ask Wild wing Zach Parise, who had Stamkos’ surgery to the same knee in November 2010.

“I’d say it took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal,” Parise said. “That’s what my therapist said, six months to heal, a year you feel better. But to get back to that level for me, I feel like it was almost the following Christmas.”

Everyone heals differently. And not every tear is the same size. But if Stamkos’ recovery is similar to Parise’s, that would mean he might not feel the same until midseason next year. The good news, Parise says, is he hasn’t had any issues with the meniscus in the six seasons since.

Having a healthy Stamkos heading into training camp should provide excitement for the Bolts and their fans. In a perfect world, he would immediately re-discover the scoring touch that makes him such a special player and helps make the Lightning such a dangerous team.

Given this latest injury, surgery, and recovery time, however, it might be wise to temper expectations early on.