<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning

Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio

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A trio of young forwards have signed with the Boston Bruins.

The B’s announced today that Jimmy Hayes has inked a three-year deal with a cap hit of $2.3 million, while Brett Connolly has agreed to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.025 million and Brandon DeFazio has signed a one-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $575,000 at the NHL level.

Hayes, 25, was acquired last week in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He had 19 goals and 16 assists in 72 games last season.

Connolly, 23, was acquired in March in a trade with Tampa Bay, soon after which he suffered a fractured finger and missed most of the remainder of the season.

Hayes will be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires, while Connolly will remain an RFA. The latter’s $1.025 million cap hit could be a good bargain for the Bruins next season.

DeFazio was an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old spent the last two seasons in the Canucks organization, mostly with AHL Utica.

Related: Chiarelli believes Connolly can ‘help us right away’

Sabres fill out Bylsma’s staff, hire Lambert away from WHL team

2015 Memorial Cup - Championship
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The Buffalo Sabres have hired Dan Lambert as an assistant coach.

Lambert, 45, will leave his job as head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets to join Dan Bylsma’s staff, which already included assistants Terry Murray and Dave Barr.

From the press release:

Lambert joins the Sabres after guiding the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) to a 53-13-6 record and a Western Conference title in his first season as head coach in 2014-15. The Rockets followed up their regular-season success by posting a 16-3 record in the WHL Playoffs, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earning a berth in the Memorial Cup, where the team fell to the Oshawa Generals (OHL) in the Final.

Last year in Kelowna, Lambert coached a handful of top NHL prospects, including Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Nick Merkley (Coyotes), and Madison Bowey (Capitals).

Related: Murray joins Bylsma’s staff in Buffalo, not Hakstol’s in Philly

In pitching free agents, honesty is best policy for Coyotes

Don Maloney
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Imagine trying to convince a free agent to sign with the Arizona Coyotes.

Not only did the Coyotes finish with the second-worst record in the NHL last season, their future in Glendale remains murky at best.

So, how does GM Don Maloney make his pitch?

“You’re honest with them,” he said, per azcentral. “You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.’ Things seem to have a way of working themselves out, so we try to downplay it as much as we can.”

The Coyotes did recently convince Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Downie, Brad Richardson, and Anders Lindback to sign with them. They’re still reportedly looking for a puck-moving defenseman.

Related: Coyotes bring back Vermette with two-year deal

Blues add depth on D, sign Benoit

Buffalo Sabres v Dallas Stars
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Defenseman Andre Benoit has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues.

From the press release:

Benoit, 31, dressed in 59 regular season games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, posting nine points (one goal, eight assists) and 20 penalty minutes.

Overall, the 5’11, 192-pound has appeared in four National Hockey League (NHL) seasons, including stints with Ottawa, Colorado and Buffalo.  He has amassed 48 points (11 goals, 37 assists) and 60 penalty minutes in 179 career regular season games, as well as four assists and six penalty minutes in 12 career postseason games.

The Blues already have six d-men on one-way contracts for next season: Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, and Chris Butler. There’s also young Petteri Lindbohm, still on his entry-level deal.

Related: Blues inform Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed

Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’

Nazem Kadri
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Expectations for Nazem Kadri have always been high. When you’re a seventh overall draft pick, that’s going to be the case.

But with Phil Kessel gone and Tyler Bozak potentially out the door next, new coach Mike Babcock expects the 24-year-old Maple Leafs center — armed with a one-year, prove-it contract —  to take his game to another level next season.

“I expect him to be an elite player,” Babcock said of Kadri, per the Toronto Star.

“He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us. Why wouldn’t he? If I’m him, I’m going to have the best year of my career because I’m training the way I should and living the way I should, then why wouldn’t I have a short-term deal?”

Kadri finished 2014-15 with 18 goals and 21 assists in 73 games. While those numbers don’t exactly scream “elite player,” it should be noted he played mostly with Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli.

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Babcock gives Kadri more time with James van Riemsdyk, who skated almost exclusively with Kessel and Bozak on Toronto’s much-maligned first line.

Related: Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million