Mike Halford

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 27:  Chris Martenet reacts after being selected 103rd overall by the Dallas Stars during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Stars sign towering d-man prospect Martenet

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Remember yesterday, when we discussed how much Dallas loved its young blueline prospects?

Well, you can add another one to the pile.

On Wednesday, the Stars inked OHL London d-man Chris Martenet to a three-year, entry-level deal. Martenet, listed at 6-foot-7, 200 pounds, was Dallas’ fourth-round pick in 2015 and is coming off a campaign in which he racked up 12 points, 85 PIM and a plus-44 rating with the Knights.

Martenet’s frame will remind some of another Dallas blueliner: Jamie Oleksiak, the 6-foot-7, 260-pounder that’s appeared in 78 games for the Stars over the last four years.

Now, it’s feasible Martenet could actually replace Oleksiak as resident skyscraper — Oleksiak, a restricted free agent, has been mentioned in trade rumors for a while now, largely because the Stars have so many defensive prospects in the system.

It’s worth noting size is something that GM Jim Nill values on the blueline. The Stars aren’t exceptionally big, and Nill alluded to this upon inking 6-foot-3, 215-pound Steven Johns to an extension during the season.

“Stephen did a tremendous job leading in Cedar Park for Texas all season long,” Nill said in a release. “He brings size, physicality and skating to our group of defensemen, and we fully expect him to contribute at the NHL level for years to come.”

NHL loses bid to dismiss concussion suit

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, speaks at a news conference before the NHL Awards show Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Las Vegas. At left is Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. The NHL is officially exploring expansion. The league is opening a formal expansion review process to consider adding new franchises to its 30-team league, Bettman announced Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City are the markets that have expressed the most serious interest. (AP Photo/John Locher)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A federal judge in Minnesota has denied the NHL’s latest attempt to throw out a class-action lawsuit by former players filed over head injuries.

The league had argued that the suit should be tossed because the issues raised by the former players were covered under the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote in a 47-page opinion that the CBA does not pre-empt legal action, in part because the players are retired and no longer subject to the CBA.

Dan LaCouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larson represent former players who say the NHL did not sufficiently protect or inform the players of the dangers when it comes to head injuries they suffered when they played.

Preds to part ways with Nystrom, Gaustad

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A pair of veteran forwards won’t be back in Nashville next season.

Center Paul Gaustad, a pending UFA, and winger Eric Nystrom — who has one year left on his deal at $2.5 million — are going to move along… or be moved along, per NHL.com’s Robby Stanley.

Gaustad, 34, has spent the last four-plus seasons in Nashville, having been acquired at the ’12 trade deadline. A serviceable-yet-unspectacular contributor, Gaustad had a solid 10-goal, 21-point effort during the ’13-14 campaign but was less of a factor this season, averaging a career-low 11:15 TOI per night.

Nystrom, 33, is a trickier proposition.

As mentioned above, he still has term left on his contract, and it’ll be interesting to see if Preds GM David Poile can orchestrate a trade. Nystrom was a press box regular during the playoffs — sitting up there for 13 of Nashville’s 14 games — though he did manage to score seven goals in just 46 regular-season appearances.

It’s very possible Nystrom could be bought out, which would free up a roster spot for prospects like Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Kamenev or Pontus Aberg.

Wild sign Hungarian goalie who turned heads at worlds


Interesting move out of Minnesota on Wednesday — the Wild announced they inked goalie Adam Vay to a two-year, entry-level deal.

Vay, 22, just wrapped a compelling world hockey championship appearance in which he and Team Hungary make some significant waves. Hungary won its first tournament game in 77 years against Belarus last week, and Vay performed admirably in a few group stage games.

He made 48 saves in a 3-0 loss to Finland back on May 11, and impressed onlookers with a solid first period in an eventual 5-1 loss to the Americans, making 15 saves, many on high-quality scoring chances.

“In the first period, we dominated.” USA forward Auston Matthews said, per the IIHF website. “We had a ton of shots and we limited them to one. We were producing a lot of scoring chances, but their goalie played extremely well.”

The Wild are taking something of a gamble on Vay, given his playing background. He spent last season playing in the MOL Liga — a small, nine-team circuit comprised of clubs in Hungary and Romania — and spent a couple years playing for El Paso in the WSHL (a U.S-based Tier II junior league).

Of course, Vay does have good size — he stands 6-foot-5 — and could really blossom under Wild goalie gurus Bob Mason and Frederic Chabot.

Video: Pavelski powers Sharks’ playoff run


The Sharks are in the Western Conference Final for first time since 2011 thanks to a number of key contributors — Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Martin Jones — but there’s one guy that’s arguably had the biggest impact of ’em all:

Joe Pavelski.

San Jose’s captain has been brilliant this spring. He leads the playoffs in goals, with nine, and his three game-winners has him tied with Blues captain David Backes for most among postseason skaters.

You’ll notice the focused on goal totals in describing Pavelski’s impact. And for good reason. Finding the back of the net has sort of become Pavelski’s calling card.

The 31-year-old — a seventh-round pick back in 2003 — has emerged as one of the NHL’s premier marksmen over the last three seasons:

Most goals since 2013

Alex Ovechkin, 154
Joe Pavelski, 116
Jamie Benn, 110
Max Pacioretty, 106
Sidney Crosby, 100

So yeah, of the five active NHLers that’ve scored at least 100 goals over the last three years, Pavelski is No. 2 behind Ovechkin — considered by many to be one of the greatest snipers in NHL history.

The big difference between Pavelski and his counterparts is how the goals are scored. Pavelski’s generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, well off the measurables of Ovechkin (6-3, 239), Benn (6-2, 210) and Pacioretty (6-2, 213).

And Pavelski doesn’t have Crosby’s total package of skill, speed and vision. (To be fair, nobody does.)

Pavelski’s strength is his hockey IQ. The word “cerebral” is often used in explaining why he’s found so much success, and turned into such an effective scorer.

“I’d say he’s about as smart a hockey player as they come,” Preds forward Craig Smith said, per the San Jose Mercury News.

“He’s such a student of the game.”

Pavelski’s studies will continue on Thursday night, when he and the Sharks host the Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. You can catch the game on NBCSN, at 9 p.m. ET.