Ducks sign Kase to 3-year contract

The Anaheim Ducks have inked forward Ondrej Kase to a three-year deal, the club announced Wednesday.

His new pact carries a $2.6-million average annual value, a league source told the Orange County Register's Elliott Teaford.

Kase was a restricted free agent who finished second on the team with 20 goals in 66 games last season.

The 22-year-old was selected 205th overall by the Ducks in 2014.

Anaheim's lone remaining free agent is fellow 22-year-old forward Nick Ritchie, who is an RFA.

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Matthews, Gaudreau headline star-studded Jim Johannson charity game

A who's who of NHL players with American ties will play in a benefit game to raise money for the late Jim Johannson's family and USA Hockey later this month.

Here's the full list of participants in the Stars and Stripes Showdown, which will take place on Aug. 26 in Plymouth, Michigan:

Players

NHL Team Player
Anaheim Ducks Patrick Eaves
Anaheim Ducks Cam Fowler
Boston Bruins Anders Bjork
Boston Bruins Charlie McAvoy
Buffalo Sabres Matt Hunwick
Buffalo Sabres Jake McCabe
Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau
Calgary Flames Noah Hanifin
Calgary Flames Matthew Tkachuk
Chicago Blackhawks Alex DeBrincat
Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane
Chicago Blackhawks Connor Murphy
Colorado Avalanche J.T. Compher
Columbus Blue Jackets Cam Atkinson
Columbus Blue Jackets Seth Jones
Columbus Blue Jackets Zach Werenski
Detroit Red Wings Danny DeKeyser
Detroit Red Wings Luke Glendening
Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard
Detroit Red Wings Dylan Larkin
Minnesota Wild Zach Parise
Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter
New York Islanders Anders Lee
New York Rangers Brady Skjei
Ottawa Senators Craig Anderson
Ottawa Senators Colin White
Ottawa Senators Patrick Sieloff
Philadelphia Flyers James van Riemsdyk
Toronto Maple Leafs Connor Carrick
Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews
Vegas Golden Knights Alex Tuch
Winnipeg Jets Kyle Connor
Winnipeg Jets Andrew Copp
Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck
Winnipeg Jets Jacob Trouba

Coaches

Team Coach
Detroit Red Wings Jeff Blashill
New Jersey Devils John Hynes
New York Rangers David Quinn
Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA) Tony Granato

All proceeds from the game will go to the USA Hockey Foundation's Jim Johannson Legacy Fund - which was established to benefit grassroots community hockey programs across the United States - and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.

Jim Johannson died in his sleep at the age of 53 in January. He was the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and had been serving as the general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team.

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5 players who are major fantasy gambles

Fantasy leagues are won and lost at the draft, and while you never truly know what you're going to get from any player, some selections are riskier than others.

Injury history, shooting percentage, and changes of scenery are all contributors to what makes certain picks bigger gambles than others. Below are five candidates for the 2018-19 season that will require careful consideration when you're on the clock.

Carey Price, G, Canadiens

The case against: Price is coming off a rotten 2017-18 season which was derailed by injuries and inconsistent play. His .900 save percentage was easily the lowest mark of his career, and at 30-years-old, there's no guarantee he returns to his old form. Plus, with Shea Weber out and a lack of offensive firepower up front, it's hard to imagine the Canadiens' skaters helping out their netminder.

The case for: He's still Carey Price. Last year went just about as bad as it could have. He's only one season removed from a Vezina caliber year where he posted a .923 save percentage and 37 wins. Price is one of the most dominant goalies of his generation, and even if his teammates don't perform, there's a chance he does well individually. Plus, if he plummets down the draft order, he could serve as an elite backup with other names flying off the board in the earlier rounds.

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Kings

The case against: The Los Angeles Kings and fantasy owners alike will be eager to see how long it takes Kovalchuk to re-adjust to the NHL game after five seasons in Russia, and the 35-year-old will face pressure to perform in both instances. While he was brought in to help the Kings' attack, questions surrounding his usage and chemistry with new teammates will need to be answered before Kovalchuk can be considered a worthwhile early-round pick.

The case for: Kovalchuk is one of this generation's most prolific producers, registering 816 points in as many games before returning home to the KHL, where his numbers were even gaudier. If he stays healthy and finds his way onto Anze Kopitar's flank, there's a good chance he takes the NHL by storm again.

William Karlsson, C, Golden Knights

The case against: Whoever scooped Karlsson off the waiver wire early last season hit the jackpot, as his 43 goals stunned the hockey world. However, a 23.4 shooting percentage is a major red flag for impending regression.

The case for: Karlsson's motivation to perform is right in front of him, as the Golden Knights opted for a one-year contract rather than a long-term commitment. If he wants to prove he's a big-time producer worth building around, now's the time.

Anders Lee, LW, Islanders

The case against: Lee no longer has the opportunity to play alongside John Tavares, which significantly hurts his value. Even after pouring in 74 goals over the past two seasons, Lee's fantasy outlook is largely in limbo without the former captain in the picture.

The case for: Lee's role in the Islanders' top six isn't going to change with Tavares in Toronto, and there's a strong possibility Calder Trophy winner Mat Barzal slots in on the top line. The 21-year-old has the talent to create space and ample opportunities for Lee to bury a good chunk of goals.

Sean Couturier, C, Flyers

The case against: Was it a flash in the pan, or did Couturier suddenly develop into an offensive force in his seventh season in the NHL? Despite his incredible 2017-18 campaign, Couturier's larger career resume as a 30-40 point player makes his status at the top of draft boards a risky consideration.

The case for: Part of Couturier's emergence as an offensive threat last season (31G, 45A) was due to his pairing with Claude Giroux, who also set career-highs across the board on the Flyers' top line. Philadelphia keeping the duo together would certainly help Couturier's value as fantasy owners debate whether to roll the dice on last season's breakout star.

(Photos Courtesy: Getty Images)

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Canucks, Boeser working toward contract extension

The Vancouver Canucks are ready to lock up Brock Boeser.

In speaking with Ben Kuzma of The Province, Canucks general manager Jim Benning confirmed the two sides have kicked off preliminary discussions on a contract extension, with more talks scheduled for next week.

"We haven't got down to talking term," Benning said. "We plan to circle back and I'm not sure where it's going to go, but we want to see if we can get somewhere. There's no time frame on it.

"Brock is going to see the best matchup line and best defensive pair, but I don't expect a drop-off. He has pushed himself hard to pick up where he left off and there are other contracts coming up in the league in the next six months that could drive up the price - I understand that part of it. But it has to make sense for everybody."

Despite being limited to just 62 appearances last season, and missing the final 16 games of the year with a back injury, Boeser led the Canucks with 29 goals. That total ranked second among all freshmen and was two back of Winnipeg Jets rookie Kyle Connor for top spot.

Boeser, 21, has one year remaining on his entry-level contract that carries a $925,000 cap hit plus an additional $850,000 in performance bonuses.

Vancouver selected Boeser with the 23rd pick in the 2015 draft.

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Islanders legend Trottier: Lamoriello, Trotz bring credibility to franchise

John Tavares has left Long Island, but the biggest change to hit New York this offseason may have been the departures of general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight.

In their place, the New York Islanders recruited former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, who then hired Barry Trotz, fresh off of a Stanley Cup championship with the division rival Washington Capitals.

The new faces will help restore the credibility of the franchise, according to Islanders legend Bryan Trottier.

"The credibility aspect, absolutely, instantaneously it's there," Trottier, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Islanders, told NHL.com's Dave McCarthy. "The media can't argue with their experiences and that's always been a little bit of a problem with the Islanders because if they don't do well, everybody's all over them. So now with Lou there, he's got credibility. Barry's got credibility.

"How do you second-guess a guy like (former Islanders coach) Al Arbour, a guy like Scotty Bowman, a guy like Barry Trotz? Those guys have years and years and years of experience."

While Trotz's Stanley Cup win with the Capitals was the first of his career, he brings no shortage of a winning history, as his 762 coaching victories rank fifth all time (and just 20 back of Arbour).

Lamoriello, meanwhile, has three Stanley Cup rings to his name from nearly three decades at the helm of the New Jersey Devils. He's also coming off a three-year stint as GM of the Maple Leafs that saw the legendary executive reshape the club into a championship contender. Of course, Lamoriello had a handful of intriguing building blocks with the Maple Leafs, but the Islanders have their fair share of impressive young talent as well.

"For (Mathew Barzal) to be an Islander and to have the kind rookie season he had, he's not disappointing anyone," Trottier added. "He's a down-to-earth kid and tying my rookie assist record was great. Sharing a record with a young, skilled kid like this is awesome. I see wonderful things for Mathew in the future and for the Islanders."

Should Barzal and the Islanders qualify for the playoffs this year, it will mark just the fourth time the franchise has done so in the past 12 seasons.

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Oilers’ Sekera sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing successful Achilles tendon surgery, the team announced Tuesday.

Sekera suffered the injury during offseason training. No timeline has been provided for his return.

It's a devastating injury for Sekera, who was limited to just 36 appearances in 2017-18. He also missed the first 34 games of last season as he recovered from summer knee surgery.

Sekera finished last year with eight assists while averaging more than 16 minutes in ice time. The 32-year-old is signed through the next three seasons at a $5.5-million cap hit.

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Panthers sign Letestu to professional tryout

The Florida Panthers have signed forward Mark Letestu to a professional tryout, the team announced Tuesday.

The 33-year-old is coming off a 2017-18 season split between the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He tallied eight goals and 19 points with Edmonton in 60 contests and another four points in 20 games with Columbus.

Letestu, who's traditionally played center, could face a tough challenge if he hopes to land a job at the position with the Panthers. Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck hold down the first two spots, so the veteran would likely have to edge out either Henrik Borgstrom or Derek MacKenzie for a bottom-six center job.

Letestu has amassed 93 goals and 210 points during 558 games across his nine-year NHL career.

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Werenski hopes to be ready for Blue Jackets’ season opener

After undergoing shoulder surgery in the spring, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is hoping to avoid missing the start of the 2018-19 regular season.

"My goal, ultimately, is to be there for Game 1," the 21-year-old told Brian Hedger of BlueJackets.com. "You never want to miss time, you never want to miss games, so my goal going into training camp and into the season is to be ready for Game 1.

"If it's later, like Game 5 or Game 10, whenever that is, I'm going to work to miss as few games as possible and be ready to help the team."

Werenski had the surgery on May 3 to repair a lingering injury that he played through for the majority of the 2017-18 campaign. He still managed to set a career high with 16 goals, but produced 10 fewer points (37) than during his impressive rookie campaign.

For now, Werenski has begun skating but hasn't progressed to contact drills.

"I feel great out there," he said. "There's no problems right now. I'm just kind of ramping it up here, trying to get my timing back. Everything feels good on the ice. I haven't had any contact yet. That's not until later. I probably won't do that until probably halfway through training camp, but everything is good. Everything's on pace. I actually don't know what my timeline is, to be honest, but I'm hoping to be back toward the start of training camp - probably not Day 1, but as soon as I can be."

The Blue Jackets will open the 2018-19 season on Oct. 4 when they clash with the Detroit Red Wings.

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