Jason Brough

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Canucks sign Markstrom to three-year contract extension

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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Jacob Markstrom has signed a three-year contract extension with a cap hit of $3.67 million. His new deal doesn’t kick in until 2017-18, meaning he’s now locked up for the next four seasons.

“Jacob is a talented, competitive goaltender with size and a proven ability to make big saves at crucial moments in a game,” said GM Jim Benning. “He set career highs in several statistical categories last season and two years ago led the Comets to their first Calder Cup Final. He’s motivated and wants to help his team win. We’re excited to have Jacob competing in a Canucks uniform for years to come.”

It’s a nice deal for Markstrom, the 26-year-old who less than two years ago cleared waivers on his way to the AHL. He went 13-14-4 with a .915 save percentage last season for the Canucks.

While next season is set in Vancouver’s crease, it will be interesting to see what the Canucks do for a goaltending tandem in 2017-18. Ryan Miller can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and highly touted prospect Thatcher Demko has yet to play a game as a professional; he’ll probably need more than one year in the AHL.

There’s also the expansion draft to consider. Per the rules, each team has to expose “one goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.”

So, assuming Markstrom will be the goalie they choose to protect, they’ll have to get another goalie under contract for 2017-18, and they’ll have to do it before June 17, 2017.

Jets sign winger Perreault through 2020-21

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The Winnipeg Jets have agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension for forward Mathieu Perreault.

Perreault’s new deal, which won’t start until 2017-18, will have a cap hit of $4.125 million. The 28-year-old had nine goals and 32 assists in 71 games for the Jets last season. It was Perreault’s second straight 41-point campaign in Winnipeg. He joined the Jets in the summer of 2014 as a free agent, after the Ducks decided not to qualify him. 

There still remains plenty of work for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to get done this offseason. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba are both restricted free agents. The league will be watching closely to see how those negotiations go, particularly with regards to the latter.

Related: Jets aren’t trying to trade Trouba, says Chevy

Oilers coach has no problem with Taylor Hall trade: ‘We needed to shore up a hole’

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Picture a man who’s lost in the desert, wandering aimlessly, dying of thirst.

Now imagine somebody rides up on a camel and offers to sell that man a bottle of water, but the price is $100.

It’s a lot to pay for a bottle of water.

The alternative, however, is more aimless wandering, in hopes of finding a better deal for the one thing you really, really need.

That, essentially, is how the Edmonton Oilers have justified trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.

“It’s insanity if you keep banging your head against a wall,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We needed to shore up a hole. I know there is a lot of talk about (losing) that dynamic offensive guy, but we also needed a good shutdown 20-minute-a-night guy, and we believe we have that in Larsson.

“We think we’ve added a No.1 and a No. 2. We’ve added (Oscar) Klefbom and Larsson to our lineup. We didn’t have Klefbom very long and Larsson’s coming in, so that’s a significant change. If they can stay healthy and play at a high level, we think we’ll be better back there.”

And to help replace Hall up front, now there’s Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi.

But the key will be Larsson. He needs to pan out, otherwise there’s no justifying what the Oilers gave up.

“I feel he’s barely scratched the surface,” GM Peter Chiarelli said of the 23-year-old former fourth overall draft pick. “He moves the puck, defends well. He can log a lot of minutes and match up against all the top forwards.”

The Oilers might not be done making moves either. Rumors continue to swirl about a potential Tyson Barrie acquisition from Colorado, and McLellan didn’t exactly quash the speculation that something like that could happen.

“I know Peter is not done constructing the team,” McLellan said. “We won’t know what our complete team is, probably, until late August.”

Related: The Wings’ search for a ‘top-three defenseman’ may last until training camp

Evander Kane facing non-criminal harassment charges

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The future may be bright for the Buffalo Sabres, but it remains to be seen if Evander Kane will be part of it.

From the Buffalo News, here’s the latest on the 24-year-old winger, who can’t seem to stop making headlines for the wrong reasons:

Sabres forward Evander Kane put his hands on four people – three women and a man – at a Chippewa Street bar during the early morning of June 24 but he will face non-criminal harassment charges for his actions against just two women, two police sources familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.

The charges will be lodged in connection with grabbing two women – one of them by the neck – and are based on witness statements and surveillance camera video, the police sources said.

Kane also yanked the hair and grabbed the throat of a third woman, but she has not come forward to press charges, the sources said. In addition, Kane grabbed a bouncer after the bouncer warned the hockey star to stop his aggressive behavior, the police sources said.

For the record, Kane, through his attorney, has denied any wrongdoing.

“Evander steadfastly maintains that he did not do anything wrong. We have seen the videos and they do not support that Kane did anything wrong,” Paul J. Cambria told the News. “I am sick and tired of anonymous sources making inflammatory allegations.”

But regardless of what exactly happened (here’s some video footage, reportedly from that night), Sabres GM Tim Murray admitted recently that his patience with Kane was beginning to wear thin.

“He’s going to have to pick and choose his spots when he goes out a lot better than he does, and he’s going to have to behave himself a lot better than he has obviously,” Murray said. “Whether he has done these things or not, or he is guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about, that’s for sure.”

Recall in February when Kane promised to shape up after sleeping in and missing practice following a night of partying at the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto.

“I wanted to apologize to my teammates, the Pegula family as well, our coaching staff and general manager,” Kane said. “It’s something that should have never happened. It’s something that I can promise you won’t happen again and it’s something that I’m definitely going to learn from.”

It was a promise to be more professional, to start acting like a grown-up.

Not even half a year later, he was in the news again, on the day Buffalo was hosting the NHL Entry Draft, no less.

Eventually, enough could become enough for Murray. He paid a big price to get Kane out of a bad situation in Winnipeg, but Kane can become an unrestricted free agent in two years. Right now, the way things are going, it’s hard to picture Sabres ownership signing him to a big contract extension. 

Okposo on joining the Sabres: ‘There’s so much skill, and the future is bright’

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When Kyle Okposo was with the Islanders, he got to play with a couple of pretty good centers in John Tavares and Frans Nielsen.

Now he’s in Buffalo, where he’ll get to play with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel.

Those are some pretty good centers, too.

In fact, they’re a big reason Okposo chose to sign in Buffalo. He believes the Sabres have the talent to win, and that they’ll start to win soon. Sure, the $42 million they committed to give him over the next seven years was a decent reason too, but the situation still had to be right.

“I’ve been saying it for a week, that Ryan is one of the smartest players, one of the smartest centers in the league, in my opinion,” Okposo said today, per the Olean Times Herald. “Jack’s got nowhere to go but up. His ceiling’s so high. He’s going to be a tremendous player in this league for a long time.”

Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen could be pretty tremendous as well. They’re still only 20 and 21, respectively. If the Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, even better.

The challenge now is to actually turn all that young talent into a contender. Suffice to say, expectations have been raised, and it won’t be acceptable to finish at the bottom of the standings anymore. Remember that GM Tim Murray is not an overly patient man. He said two years ago, “I don’t buy into five-year rebuilds.”

At the very least, the Sabres should expect to compete for a spot in the postseason next year. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.

“There’s so much skill, and the future is bright,” Okposo said, per the Buffalo News. “I really believe that we can win here, and that’s what sold me. That’s why you play the game. You play the game to win a Stanley Cup, to win a championship, to raise banners. I think this team has the ability to do that.”

Related: Sabres are rebuilding at an ‘accelerated rate’