Mike Halford

Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant asks the referee to review the game winning goal in overtime by Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. The goal was allowed, and the Penguins won in overtime 3-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gallant ‘definitely was a little bit surprised’ by turnover in Florida


Gerard Gallant led the Panthers to the best regular season in franchise history in ’15-16, and was nominated for the Jack Adams as coach of the year.

So you’ll excuse him for being a tad shocked at this summer’s organizational overhaul.

“You’d like to have your team back as a coach but at the same time there’s salary-cap issues that come into play,’’  Gallant said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s different than it used to be before. I definitely was a little bit surprised, but overall we got a pretty good club.”

Changes happened everywhere in Florida this offseason.

On the ice, defensemen Brian Campbell, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson departed, replaced by Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk and Jason Demers.

In goal, backup Al Montoya left in free agency, replaced by James Reimer and Reto Berra.

Behind the bench, assistant John Madden was turfed, with Dave Barr and Scott Allen brought in.

In the front office, longtime GM Dale Tallon was “promoted” to team president, with Tom Rowe assuming Tallon’s old post. Rowe then added a pair of assistant GMs, and the scouting staff was also overhauled.

The moves made for pretty divisive views. In one camp, there’s the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” people, who fail to understand why ownership would so profoundly tinker with a 103-point team.

In the other camp, there’s the “don’t settle, always strive to improve” people, who think the Panthers’ moves have put them in a better position to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Based on his remarks, it sounds like Gallant is part of the latter group. Sure, he liked his team last year, but it sounds like he really likes what his team could be this year.

“I wanted us to be a better team and we are going to be a better team,’’ he said. “On paper I think we are, but you got to do it on the ice. There’s some good players we signed. They’re puck-moving guys and skilled guys.

“I’m not taking anything away from last year’s 103 points. We were a really good team that took big steps.”

Stars re-sign Oleksiak, ‘look forward to him competing for a regular spot’ on defense

Vancouver Canucks v Dallas Stars

There’s been plenty of hype surrounding 6-foot-7 Jamie Oleksiak, who the Stars took with the 14th overall pick in 2011.

Now, Dallas is ready for him to make good on that potential.

The Stars signed Oleksiak to a one-year contract extension on Tuesday, and GM Jim Nill wasted little time explaining what the club wants out of him moving forward.

“Jamie brings size and a physical element to our backend,” said Nill, in a release. “We’re expecting him to have a solid summer of training and development and look forward to him competing for a regular spot in our lineup.”

Oleksiak, who turns 24 in December, has struggled to find his fit at the NHL level. He made his debut three years ago but has only appeared in 78 career contests, and just 19 last season.

Of course, things are trending in favorable direction for Oleksiak, as the Dallas defense has undergone a major overhaul this summer. Gone are veterans Alex Goligoski (Arizona), Jason Demers (Florida) and, presumably, Kris Russell (still unsigned).

Nill did bring in a veteran replacement in Dan Hamhuis, but it’s clear the Stars are looking to get better internally, and utilize the deep pool of prospects they’ve been so infatuated with.

Last summer, owner Gaglardi raved about the club’s blueline depth, saying “we’ve got the deepest bench of defense prospects in the league quite honestly.”

Technically speaking, Oleksiak is part of that group — thought he’s not all that young anymore. As such, he’s probably going to be challenged by a number of others, like Stephen Johns (who emerged as a regular during this year’s playoffs), Patrik Nemeth, Esa Lindell and, quiet possibly, some of the club’s more recent draftees, like Ludwig Bystrom (43rd overall, ’12), Niklas Hansson (68th overall, ’13) and Julius Honka (14th overall, ’14).

Related: Dallas loves its young defensemen, which could mean goodbye for some vets

Isles re-sign blueliner Mayfield — two years, $1.25 million

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Scott Mayfield #42 of the New York Islanders skates against the Washington Capitals at the Barclays Center on September 28, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 3-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York locked in one of its young defensemen on Tuesday, agreeing to a two-year, $1.25 million deal with Scott Mayfield, per Newsday.

The contract carries a $625,000 average annual cap hit, down from the $925,000 he was netting on his entry-level deal.

Mayfield, 23, turned pro a few years ago but has spent extensive time grooming in the AHL, where he’s been a regular contributor for Bridgeport. He made his NHL debut in ’13-14 and stuck around for a brief five-game stint, then spent all of the ’14-15 regular season in the minors before getting called up and making his Stanley Cup playoff debut against the Caps (that debut coming with the Isles’ blueline decimated by injury).

Last year, injuries again paved the way for a Mayfield recall. He appeared in six regular-season games, but didn’t see any time in the postseason.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Mayfield is a big, physical player and that’ll likely be his ticket to extended minutes with the Isles this year — if he gets them, of course.

The Isles have seven other d-men under contract — Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Calvin de Haan, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech — though it’s worth noting Mayfield’s contract is of the one-way variety, meaning he gets his $625,000 regardless of where he plays.

‘Thrilled’ to have him back, Coyotes re-sign Doan to one-year, $5 million deal

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 12:  Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Gila River Arena on February 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 4-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The captain is back in Arizona.

Per multiple outlets — see here, here and here — Coyotes captain Shane Doan has agreed to return for a 21th season, on a one-year deal worth a reported $5 million.

UPDATED: Arizona has confirmed the signing, but didn’t release the financials.

“We are thrilled to have Shane back for another year,” GM John Chayka said in a release. “No one has done more for this franchise than Shane. He’s one of the best captains in the NHL and we are lucky to have him.”

Doan, 39 (turns 40 on Oct. 10), has spent his entire career with the Winnipeg/Phoenix/Arizona organization, and is coming off a highly productive campaign. He scored an impressive 28 goals and 47 points in 72 games, and looked invigorated by occasionally skating alongside two of the club’s brightest young prospects at forward, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.

This extension with the Coyotes took a while to get done. Doan had flirted with the idea of retiring and, per KTAR’s John Gambadoro, received some calls from other teams upon becoming a free agent.

Doan had just wrapped the last of a four-year, $21.2 million deal with a $5.3M average annual cap hit. If the reported financials are accurate, he’ll take a slight pay cut, but will still rank among Arizona’s highest-paid players.

He remains the club’s most expensive forward, but falls behind d-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5.5M annually) and goalie Mike Smith ($5.66M per).

Campoli released from hospital after scary incident at Sabres camp

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Michael Campoli #4 of Team Roenick skates against Team Plante during the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on September 24, 2015 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Some good news out of Buffalo this afternoon — Michael Campoli, who’ll be a freshman at Boston College this fall, has been released from hospital after being stretchered off the ice during today’s 3-on-3 tournament at Sabres development camp.

Campoli, an undrafted 18-year-old that was invited to camp, reportedly “went to the ice, tried to get up, but immediately went back down” after being hit in to the boards by William Carrier, a prospect acquired in the Ryan Miller-to-St. Louis trade two years ago.

“I didn’t feel it was a dirty hit,” Rochester Americans head coach Dan Lambert said, per the Buffalo News. “I just thought Will Carrier is a big heavy guy. He put his body into it, and it was unfortunate.”

Campoli reportedly stayed motionless on the ice for about 20 minutes while medical personnel and the Buffalo Fire Department worked to stabilize his neck. He was then taken to hospital in an ambulance.