Mike Halford

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Preds to part ways with Nystrom, Gaustad

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.

Isles’ goalie situation takes another twist with Halak’s sports hernia surgery

New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) of Slovakia makes a save in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Isles netminder Jaroslav Halak, who missed the final three months of the season with a groin ailment, will undergo — or, has already undergone — sports hernia surgery, per Newsday.

The procedure is expected to sideline the Slovakian goalie for 6-8 weeks. Barring complications in recovery, it (presumably) won’t keep Halak from playing for Team Europe in September’s World Cup of Hockey.

But looking further down the road, Halak’s future in New York remains unclear.

At locker clear-out following the Isles’ second-round loss to Tampa Bay, Halak voiced his displeasure with the club’s three-goalie system. Halak, Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube all saw time this year (technically, it was a four-goalie system when you consider AHL farmhand Christoper Gibson got a couple of starts as well).

More, from the Post:

After getting hurt in training camp, Halak suffered a severe groin injury on March 8 and was not able to return as his team lost in the second round to the Lightning. Yet as Thomas Greiss ably took the reins, and as the team remains infatuated with 24-year-old J-F Berube, the 30-year-old Halak and his two years at an annual $4.5 million salary-cap hit make him a possible trade piece.

Either way, the team is not looking to continue a three-goalie system next season. Halak admitted “it’s not ideal,” and added, “I’ve tried to tell [management], and this is not up to me.

“I like it here, but they just have to decide which way they want to go for next season. J-F is a young goalie, Greisser played well all season long. So we’ll see.”

Halak’s contract isn’t particularly burdensome, but — in a flush goalie market with plenty of affordable options available — Isles GM Garth Snow might find it tough to move.

The x-factor in all this is Halak’s health.

He turned 31 last week, has a history of groin/abdominal injuries and has only broken the 50-games-played mark three times over his 10 NHL campaigns.

Perry pleads ignorance after Laine incident


In the aftermath of Finland’s 4-0 win over Canada on Tuesday at the world hockey championship, Canadian captain Corey Perry was asked about his trip/kick on 18-year-old Finnish wunderkind Patrik Laine.

Perry’s response?

Here’s the incident in question, in case you haven’t seen it yet. The collision happened during the second period, and Perry wasn’t penalized on the play.

As the second video shows, Laine — projected to be the No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft — was in serious discomfort following the trip. He missed a few shifts while laboring in pain, but did return to finish the contest.

No word yet if Perry will be subjected to supplemental discipline for the incident.