McCauley named to Cup Final officiating crew despite injury

Wes McCauley's status for the Stanley Cup Final is still unclear, but he is among the referees who've been selected to work the championship round.

The popular and well-respected official was one of five refs chosen for the series, according to the NHL Officials Association. The others are Gord Dwyer, Steve Kozari, Chris Rooney, and Kelly Sutherland.

They'll be joined by linesmen Derek Amell, Scott Cherrey, Greg Devorski, and Pierre Racicot.

McCauley left Game 6 between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks on Tuesday after suffering a hamstring injury when he tripped over Cherrey during play. Dwyer replaced McCauley, who was later ruled out for the remainder of the contest.

He won't require surgery but may be a game-time decision for the start of the matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Blues, reports The Associated Press' Stephen Whyno.

This would be McCauley's seventh straight Stanley Cup Final, which is more than any of the other five referees in this year's series. Amell and Racicot will work their seventh and 10th Cup Finals, respectively.

The NHL typically selects four referees and four linesmen for the Stanley Cup Final, and the extra ref this year is likely due to McCauley's injury, according to Scouting The Refs.

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Oilers sign Joakim Nygard to 1-year deal

The Edmonton Oilers have come to terms on a one-year, entry-level contract with Swedish forward Joakim Nygard, the team announced Friday.

The 26-year-old spent the last six seasons suiting up for Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, and is fresh off a campaign in which he recorded a career-high 21 goals and 14 assists in 52 games.

In March, TSN's Darren Dreger reported the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames were among the teams trying to lure Nygard to the NHL.

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Oilers sign Joakim Nygard to 1-year deal

The Edmonton Oilers have come to terms on a one-year, entry-level contract with Swedish forward Joakim Nygard, the team announced Friday.

The 26-year-old spent the last six seasons suiting up for Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, and is fresh off a campaign in which he recorded a career-high 21 goals and 14 assists in 52 games.

In March, TSN's Darren Dreger reported the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames were among the teams trying to lure Nygard to the NHL.

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Predators GM: Josi extension is No. 1 priority

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile knows the top item on his summer to-do list is to sign star defenseman Roman Josi to a new contract, as it will make shaping the rest of the roster that much easier.

"When and if we do that, that checks off a lot of boxes for what we may have to do in the future," Poile told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun on Monday. "So that would certainly be our No. 1 priority, to get that done."

Josi's agents, Judd Moldaver and Jeff Jackson, plan to meet with their client over the next few weeks after his return from the World Championship, according to LeBrun. Josi's Switzerland squad lost to Canada in the quarterfinals Thursday.

The Predators captain, who'll turn 29 on June 1, ranked fifth in the NHL in average ice time during the 2018-19 regular season and poured in 56 points while playing all 82 games.

Josi has one year remaining on his current deal and thus can agree to an extension as of July 1. Poile can also sign trade-deadline acquisition Mikael Granlund to a new contract beginning on that day.

Craig Smith is also eligible for an extension at the beginning of July, and the Predators have four pending unrestricted free agents in Brian Boyle, Wayne Simmonds, Cody McLeod, and Zac Rinaldo, plus pending RFAs Colton Sissons and Rocco Grimaldi.

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Karlsson thanks Sharks organization, fans with free agency looming

Erik Karlsson thanked the San Jose Sharks organization and its fans on Friday, writing in a tweet that he appreciated the support in his first season with the team.

Of course, Karlsson's inaugural campaign with the Sharks could also be his last, as he's scheduled to enter the free-agency pool on July 1.

The 29-year-old was traded to San Jose from the Ottawa Senators in September. Karlsson appeared in only 53 games this season due to various injuries but still racked up 45 points, and he ultimately played a huge role in San Jose reaching the Western Conference Final.

He was so banged up throughout the year, however, that head coach Pete DeBoer said after the club's playoff elimination that the Sharks had a healthy Karlsson for just six weeks of the season.

Karlsson hasn't indicated what his plans are for next season, and the Sharks have $24 million in projected available cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Several other key players in San Jose are also free agents this summer, including Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Timo Meier, and Gustav Nyquist.

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Backes: ‘It’ll be extra sweet’ if Bruins beat former team in Cup Final

The Stanley Cup Final will be a little more personal for Boston Bruins forward David Backes.

Starting on Monday, the Bruins take on the St. Louis Blues, the team that drafted the Minneapolis native in 2003 and helped him develop over 10 seasons.

"There's going to be heightened emotions," Backes said, according to NHL.com's Amalie Benjamin. "It's a binary decision now: It's us or them. There's no third party. No ties, none of that stuff. One of us is going to win the Cup. Either the St. Louis Blues or the Boston Bruins."

"I think it'll be extra sweet if we're able to win against that team and maybe an extra thump if they win it and we're not able to in this room," Backes added.

The 35-year-old recorded 206 goals and 460 points over 727 games with St. Louis, serving as team captain from 2011 to 2016.

Backes became an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season, a campaign when the Blues were eliminated in the Western Conference Final. The power forward signed a five-year, $30-million contract with the Bruins that July, leaving behind teammates he had grown close to over the years in St. Louis, and the only city he knew in professional hockey.

"There are still some good friends - one of my best friends is on that team, he's the captain of their team," Backes said, referring to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "I told him I love him now, I'm going to love him afterward, but I'm going to hate him for the next three weeks here. I think that's a mutual decision."

The 13-year veteran understands the magnitude of the moment, and although he appreciates his former club, he's happy to be a member of the Bruins heading into the Cup Final.

"The stars have aligned for this to be one heck of an event," Backes said. "We're just going to embrace it and throw what we have out there in every shift and every moment of every game. I love this group. I wouldn't want to be in the Finals with any other group."

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NHL podcast: Bruins vs. Blues, Sens hire D.J. Smith, Kessel trade rumors

Welcome to Puck Pursuit, a weekly NHL podcast hosted by John Matisz, theScore's National Hockey Writer.

Subscribe to the show on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

In this episode, Gus Katsaros of McKeen's Hockey and Rotoworld joins John to discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • Sens name D.J. Smith bench boss
  • Kessel-to-Minnesota trade rumors
  • Stanley Cup Final X-factors
  • Bruins will win if ...
  • Blues will win if ...

... and more!

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Thornton would return for another season only to play for Sharks

Joe Thornton hasn't decided whether he'll suit up for another NHL campaign, but if he does, it'll be with the San Jose Sharks.

"It is safe to say," the veteran forward told reporters Thursday. "I'm a Shark. There's one team and it's here."

Thornton said he still has to discuss his future with the team before figuring out his next move.

"I've got to talk to (head coach) Pete (DeBoer), (general manager) Doug (Wilson), and (team owner) Hasso (Plattner), but we'll see," he said. "I feel like I can still play, that's for sure, but I haven't made any decision."

The 39-year-old added that he hasn't set a timeline for his choice.

Thornton will turn 40 on July 2, one day after free agency opens. He's a pending unrestricted free agent on his second straight one-year deal with San Jose.

The skilled playmaker just finished his 21st NHL season and has spent parts of 14 campaigns with the Sharks.

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