Mike Halford

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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Bruins’ Khokhlachev officially signs in KHL


Fare thee well, Koko.

Alexander Khokhlachev’s tumultuous tenure with the Boston Bruins officially ended on Friday, as KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg announced it had signed Khokhlachev to a two-year deal.

A second-round draft pick in 2011, Khokhlachev has spent the last three seasons piling up points in the AHL; however, he’s only appeared in nine games for the B’s.

There were rumblings of him getting flipped at the deadline, but those never came to fruition. And those rumors came after Khokhlachev all but begged the Bruins to give him a chance, saying “I’m not a young guy anymore, I’m 22 already,” and “if they don’t give me a chance to play while I’m here, I won’t play in [AHL] Providence all of my life.”

But in the end, Khokhlachev ended up playing most of his professional life with the P-Bruins. He did have a terrific ’15-16 campaign, with 68 points in 60 games, but it wasn’t enough for him to want to stick with the Boston organization.

Earlier this month, his agent told CBS Boston, “Alexander did not really get a chance for all the years that he signed a deal, for four years, the deals he signed with Boston, didn’t really get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, so he won’t stay in the organization.”

Blues add ex-Bolts assistant Thomas to Hitch’s staff

WINNIPEG, CANADA - MARCH 24: (L-R) Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Daniel Lacroix, assistant coach Martin Raymond, and player development coach Steve Thomas discuss strategy during first period action in a matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24, 2013 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Tamba Bay's head coach Guy Boucher was fired prior to the game in Winnipeg, leaving the assistant coaches to take over the bench. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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Didn’t take Steve Thomas long to find a new job.

Thomas, released from Jon Cooper’s staff in Tampa Bay earlier this month, has agreed to join the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach to Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis, the club announced on Thursday.

It’s the latest in what’s been a busy summer of change for the Blues’ staff.

Hitchcock was re-signed to a one-year deal following the club’s playoff exit to San Jose, but announced it would be his final season of coaching. Assistants Kirk Muller and Brad Shaw then departed — Muller to Montreal, Shaw to Columbus — and GM Doug Armstrong filled one of the vacancies by hiring Mike Yeo, who will take over head coaching duties in ’17-18.

And now, the Blues get another well-seasoned hockey guy in Thomas.

The 52-year-old had spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Lightning, where he helped guide the club to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and a trip to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. He worked primarily with the club’s forwards.

Prior to his coaching career, Thomas appeared in 1,235 NHL contests and was regarded as a clutch playoff performer.

Bruins sign Krug to four-year, $21 million extension

Torey Krug
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The logical follow-up to Dennis Seidenberg’s buyout was an extension for Torey Krug and, reportedly, Boston has made the move.

Per former TSN analyst Aaron Ward, Krug has signed a four-year, $21 million extension with the B’s, one that will carry a $5.25M average annual cap hit.

UPDATE: B’s make it official.

Krug, who was an RFA coming off a one-year, $3.4 million deal, finished 20th among NHL defensemen last year with 44 points in 81 games, and his 40 assists put him ninth among all blueliners. He was also a key part of Boston’s seventh-ranked power play.

This is a significant extension for Boston. Krug — who turned 25 in April — is a big piece of the B’s blueline moving forward, and had to be paid accordingly. It’s part of the reason why Seidenberg was bought out earlier this morning, as the near $3 million in cap relief will be of benefit to a team that will likely end up close to the ceiling.

The B’s have $17.6 million in cap space still available, but only 16 players under contract for next season…with some significant holes to fill.

As for Krug — with today’s deal, he becomes Boston’s second highest-paid blueliner, behind Zdeno Chara, and the club’s fifth most expensive player (behind Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Chara).

Of course, the latter will likely change when Brad Marchand, heading into the last of a deal that pays $4.5M annually, gets his new contract next season.

Preds continue to overhaul, buy out Jackman

Pekka Rinne, Barret Jackman, Matt Duchene

David Poile continued his aggressive remodel in Nashville on Thursday by buying out the remainder of Barret Jackman’s contract.

Jackman, 35, signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Preds last summer and proved to be a useful depth defenseman for the club, appearing in 73 regular season games and all 14 playoff contests. As such, today’s move caught some by surprise.

But in the wake of yesterday’s Shea Weber-for-P.K. Subban blockbuster, it’s clear Poile is shaking things up.

With Subban’s $9M cap hit now on the books, Nashville has a pretty healthy payroll — $63 million, per General Fanager — and still has some business to take care of. RFA forward Calle Jarnkrok needs a new deal, and Poile said he’s already begun negotiations on a new deal for No. 1 center Ryan Johansen, who’s in the last of a three-year, $12 million contract.

It also stands to reason that, given what he’s done already, Poile could be aggressive in free agency.

Jackman’s buyout will give the Preds roughly $1.3 million in cap relief. And it’s important to remember this is Poile’s second such move of the buyout period, having previously parted ways with Eric Nystrom.

After Stamkos re-signs, Bolts buy out Carle

Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers
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Tampa Bay signed one of the biggest contracts in franchise history on Wednesday, retaining captain Steve Stamkos with an eight-year, $68 million extension.

Now, for the aftermath.

Facing serious cap concerns, the Bolts have elected to buy out the remainder of Matt Carle‘s contract, per Sportsnet.

Carle, 31, was Tampa Bay’s highest-paid defenseman this season, despite only playing in 64 games (and just 14 playoff contests). Signed back in 2012 to a big six-year, $33 million deal — in hindsight, one of GM Steve Yzerman’s poorest contracts — Carle had a good first two years with the Lightning, but fell down the depth chart over the last two and was a liability defensively.

In the postseason, he was essentially replaced by rookie blueliner Slater Koekkoek.

Here’s what Tampa’s financial relief will look like with the Carle buyout, per General Fanager:

Carle looked to be a cap casualty for quite some time. Yzerman’s job is nowhere near done, despite locking up a key piece in Stamkos — RFAs Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts, and star defenseman Victor Hedman will be a UFA after next season.

Yzerman also needs to figure out what to do with goalie Ben Bishop, who’s been at the center of trade rumors for months. Bishop is also a UFA after next season, and set to make $5.95M this year.