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Sens ink veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya to one-year deal

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The Ottawa Senators have added some depth to their blue line, as they’ve signed Johnny Oduya to a one-year deal that comes with a base salary of $1 million.

Interestingly enough, Oduya can earn another $1.25 million in performance bonuses (games played, time -on-ice, playoff bonuses), per the Sens’ Twitter account.

The 35-year-old started last season with the Dallas Stars, but he was traded back to the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 28.

Oduya finished the 2016-17 season with two goals, seven assists and a minus-4 rating in 52 games. He also played in all four the Blackhawks’ playoff games (he had no points and a minus-3 rating in the postseason).

The Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, and they didn’t replace him with a free-agent signing until now.

As of right now, Ottawa has Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Ceci, Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman, Fredrik Claesson and Oduya on the back end (only Phaneuf and Karlsson are under contract beyond 2017-18). Top prospect Thomas Chabot could also make the team with a solid training camp.

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley

Penguins GM confident they can find third-line center with Bonino gone

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August is nearing, and the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t made a trade or signing to replace Nick Bonino, their outstanding (but former) third-line center.

On the bright side, the Penguins have remarkable breathing room considering their status as repeat Stanley Cup champions. Cap Friendly places their 2017-18 room at about $10.38 million.

That robust space likely explains why GM Jim Rutherford seemed fairly calm about the whole situation, as Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

“I do feel confident that, by the start of the season, we’re going to have a third-line center that we’re comfortable with,” Rutherford said. “Whether it’s one of those guys on the list or one of the guys that I could go and get right today.”

Rutherford (jokingly?) said that he had a list of “hundreds of names” as options, although it’s difficult to top Mackey’s suggestion of Phil Kessel‘s buddy, Tyler Bozak. After all, Bozak is a competent player who carries a $4.2 million cap hit that Pittsburgh could comfortably absorb (and the Toronto Maple Leafs might need to shed). It doesn’t hurt that Bozak’s contract expires after 2017-18, so the Penguins wouldn’t be on the hook if things don’t work out.

Of course, Matt Duchene is another name worth considering. It almost feels a little strange to ponder that speedy Avalanche forward being a “third-line center,” especially if Pittsburgh would want to get the most out of him.

MORE: Duchene might begin next season with the Colorado Avalanche

After that, though … the pickings could be much slimmer than Rutherford indicated to Mackey.

Shallow pool

Take a look at this current list of forwards who are unrestricted free agents.

There are some potential bargains here (P.A. Parenteau, Jiri Hudler, anyone?), but the situation gets significantly shakier if you’re picky enough to look only at centers. The likes of Daniel Winnik and Ryan White are reasonable roster additions, but the drop-off from Bonino could be pretty drastic.

What about other trade possibilities?

That’s a shaky group, too, especially if you apply Bozak-like terms as far as guys who only have one year left on their current contracts.

Honestly, the Penguins’ best bet in looking at that list would probably come down to an in-season move with a team that realizes it’s not a contender or simply understands that a player won’t be back.

Maybe the Calgary Flames would want to cut bait on Matt Stajan or (less realistically) Mikael Backlund? Would the Ducks move speedy, versatile sometimes-center Andrew Cogliano? There are other remote possibilities, such as the Leafs instead trading Leo Komarov (or especially unlikely moves in Paul Stastny or Tomas Plekanec).

Even if the above list seems enticing, how many of those teams would really want to move those players now, especially the bigger difference-makers?

If you’re the Penguins, you’re probably hoping that a Bozak deal could take place. And maybe you’re sweating this situation more than you let on.

(Note: There’s also the slight possibility that the Penguins might identify a replacement from within, though a contending team like Pittsburgh might not be so comfortable with that approach.)

Hanzal believes Stars will be a ‘winning team’

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If there was a theme to the Dallas Stars’ off-season, it was to getting bigger and meaner.

Bringing back Ken Hitchcock was a big step in that direction. Heck, even Ben Bishop ranks as one of the larger goalies you can find.

Such a pattern carried over to Tuesday, as GM Jim Nill introduced sizable acquisitions Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot. After being a rental with the Minnesota Wild, Hanzal noted his experience in the Western Conference, and said that he signed with Dallas in part because he views the Stars as a “winning team.”

As you can see, Hanzal was especially effusive in his praise of Jamie Benn, deeming him a “top-five player” in the NHL.

One interesting note comes from NHL.com’s Sean Shapiro, who believes that Jason Spezza might move to the wing to make room for the hulking center.

On paper, that’s a sensible idea. Hanzal is a more defensive-minded pivot, so moving Spezza to the wing – whether it’s on Hanzal’s line or not – might free up Spezza to maximize his offensive output.

Hitchcock has been provided with an enviable array of possibilities, including combining Hanzal with another big Stars forward. One could picture a puck-possessing pairing of Hanzal and fellow addition Alex Radulov causing opponents big headaches, especially on rugged West runs with a lot of travel.

Dallas has taken some criticism for being something of a perennial “off-season champion,” so it’s fair to caution against too much daydreaming. Considering his history of injuries, Hanzal likely knows how quickly a good situation can turn sour.

Still, as it stands in mid-July, it’s reasonable to consider the Stars “a winning team” once again.

Video: ‘Goon: Last of the Enforcers’ trailer brings the dumb fun

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“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” lists the reasons for its R rating, and in all honesty, it sounds like an apt plot summary (judging by the trailer):

R for pervasive language, crude sexual content and bloody sports violence

Yeah, that about covers it, right?

This sequel seems to bring more of what fans loved from the first movie, as it once again features Seann William Scott while being written and directed by big-time Habs fan Jay Baruchel.

For hockey nerds, there should be plenty of appearances from current players (highlights include Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto), although the best line of the trailer was probably dropped on former enforcer George Parros. That’s no way to treat an Ivy Leaguer.

The movie releases On Demand and on Digital HD on Sept. 1, then comes to DVD at the more hockey-season-friendly date of Oct. 3. Maybe its Rotten Tomatoes score will play the role of the scrappy underdog and turn things around by the time the release date nears?