Florida Panthers

Hal Gill says ‘Big Bad Bruins mantra’ can be ‘tough’ for big players

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Boston hockey fans can be hard on big players who don’t play with an edge, according to former Bruins defenseman Hal Gill.

“I had my share of fights, but it was never good enough,” Gill, now retiredtold WEEI.com. “[It was,] ‘You should have beaten up Tie Domi.’ It was unrealistic, but that’s what the Bruins fans want. That’s the Big Bad Bruins mantra. It can be tough at times.”

Gill made that remark while speaking about new Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes, the towering 25-year-old who had 147 hits, but just 20 PIM, in 72 games last season with Florida.

Hayes has only fought twice in 168 career NHL games.

While Gill believes Hayes will be fine if he stays “true to his game” and “doesn’t get caught up trying to please everyone,” he insists there’s a big difference between playing for Boston, which Gill did for over 600 games, and Montreal, which he did for almost 200 games.

“In Montreal, I was amazed,” he said. “When I was there, they would cheer because I made a nice poke check. They would say, ‘Wow, that was a great poke check.’ With the Bruins, you could play a great game defensively, but if you didn’t kill someone or you didn’t get a big goal, they can pile on you.”

Related: Sweeney vows to return ‘aggressiveness’ to Bruins

There are some interesting players left on the UFA market

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The unrestricted free agent market has slowed to a crawl, but there are still some noteworthy players left for the taking and they might end up with buyer-friendly contracts at this point.

Here’s a sampling of the most interesting names:

Cody Franson — His return to Nashville didn’t go as scripted, but he’s still a 27-year-old (28 in August) defenseman that recorded 33 and 36 points in each of his last two seasons. Agent Gerry Johannson felt back in June that Jeff Petry’s six-year, $33 million extension was in the right “ballpark” for Franson, but at this point it would be interesting to see if he would settle for a one-year contract in the hope of finding more favorable conditions with his next deal.

Alex Semin — He had just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests last season and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis cited his compete level as a reason for buying him out. Semin has had a wildly inconsistent career, but when he’s at his best, he’s a top-tier goal scorer. The fact that he’s reportedly interested in a one-year deal suggests that the risks involved in signing him will be managed. Under those conditions, he at least has the potential to provide any team with a significant boost.

Christian Ehrhoff — Concussion problems limited Ehrhoff to just 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and that’s likely part of the reason he’s still on the open market. However, he has breached the 30-point mark six times and most recently in 2013-14. So perhaps his next one-year deal will go better than his last.

Marek Zidlicky — He’ll celebrate his 39th birthday in February, but he can still be a big contributor with the man advantage. In fact last season he was tied for 12th place among defensemen with 20 power-play points (34 overall).

Brad Boyes — He had a decent 14 goals and 38 points in 78 contests in 2014-15 with a Panthers team that didn’t do much offensively, but was nevertheless bought out. Although he’s unlikely to ever rise to the level he was at in 2007-2008 when he scored 43 goals, he’s still a decent secondary scorer and has traditionally be very effective in shootouts.

While Johnny Oduya is out there too, he’s expected to make his decision within the week. The Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks are among his potential destinations.

PHT Morning Skate: Eddie Lack pays tribute to former teammate on new mask

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Last spring when Eddie Lack was looking for help designing his new mask, Roberto Luongo tweeted the 27-year-old with his own design suggestion. Now with the Carolina Hurricanes, Lack decided to pay tribute to his former Vancouver Canucks teammate by putting Luongo’s face on his mask.

Applying for an NHL expansion franchise will cost interested groups $10 million, which includes $2 million that’s non-refundable. (Seattle Times)

Pittsburgh’s bid to host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship got support from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Wednesday. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Defenseman Kevin Lohan, the younger cousin of actress Lindsay Lohan, is at Washington Capitals development camp. (CSNWashington.com)

Jack Eichel shows off his hands at Sabres’ development camp (Bar Down)

Former NHLer Colby Armstrong says it was frustrating playing with Phil Kessel in Toronto. (Sportsnet)

Canucks’ prospect Thatcher Demko feels ‘better than new’ after hip surgery. (Metro News)

Hurricanes’ prospect Sergey Tolchinsky scored an amazing breakaway goal at Carolina’s development camp. (Bar Down)

John Schiavo had quite the goal during a shootout at New York Islanders development camp on Wednesday night.

Panthers ink Corban Knight, Garrett Wilson

The Florida Panthers announced that they have agreed to one-year, two-way contracts with forwards Corban Knight and Garrett Wilson.

Knight, 24, is a former standout with the University of North Dakota. He went pro in 2013 after the Panthers traded his rights to Calgary in exchange for a 2013 fourth round pick (Michael Downing). He played primarily in the minors over the last two seasons, although he did appear in nine games with the Flames and scored a goal.

Calgary traded him back to Florida in January in exchange for Drew Shore. Knight had 16 goals and 36 points in 58 AHL contests with Adirondack and San Antonio in 2014-15.

Wilson, 24, was taken with the 107th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He had 23 goals, 38 points, and 80 penalty minutes in 71 contests with San Antonio last season. Over the last two seasons, Wilson has also played in five games with Florida.

Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio

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A trio of young forwards have signed with the Boston Bruins.

The B’s announced today that Jimmy Hayes has inked a three-year deal with a cap hit of $2.3 million, while Brett Connolly has agreed to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.025 million and Brandon DeFazio has signed a one-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $575,000 at the NHL level.

Hayes, 25, was acquired last week in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He had 19 goals and 16 assists in 72 games last season.

Connolly, 23, was acquired in March in a trade with Tampa Bay, soon after which he suffered a fractured finger and missed most of the remainder of the season.

Hayes will be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires, while Connolly will remain an RFA. The latter’s $1.025 million cap hit could be a good bargain for the Bruins next season.

DeFazio was an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old spent the last two seasons in the Canucks organization, mostly with AHL Utica.

Related: Chiarelli believes Connolly can ‘help us right away’