Sharks sign Evander Kane to 7-year extension worth reported $49 million

The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Evander Kane to a seven-year contract extension, the team announced Thursday. As per club policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TSN's Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the agreement is worth $49 million with the following breakdown:

The contract equates to an average annual value of $7 million.

The deal also comes with a modified no-trade clause, with Kane having the ability to choose three teams he's willing to be dealt to, according to LeBrun.

Kane, who will turn 27 in August, had 29 goals and 54 points this past season. Of those totals, nine and 14, respectively, came with the Sharks after he was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline.

"At only 26 years old, Evander has established himself as one of hockey's true power forwards and an impact player," GM Doug Wilson said. "We think his abilities mesh perfectly with our group of skilled, young players and veteran leaders. It's extremely heartening to have Evander join a trend of elite players who have chosen to remain in San Jose. It speaks volumes as to how players view this organization and further illustrates the continued commitment to our fans by our owner Hasso Plattner."

In his first taste of playoff hockey this season, Kane performed admirably, potting four goals in nine games as the Sharks were bounced in the second round by the Vegas Golden Knights.

He was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

As part of the trade that sent Kane to the Bay Area, the Sabres will receive San Jose's first-round pick in 2019. The selection is lottery protected, meaning if the Sharks were to miss the playoffs next season, they'd have the option to keep the pick. In this scenario, Buffalo would receive the Sharks' 2020 first-rounder instead, per Cap Friendly.

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Conn Smythe Power Rankings: Kuznetsov, Ovechkin contend for Fleury’s top spot

Although just two teams remain in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, it's still a wide-open race for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Here are the top five leading candidates:

5. Jonathan Marchessault

GP G A P ATOI +/-
15 8 10 18 19:39 10

The Golden Knights' top line of Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith have been nearly unstoppable this postseason. Marchessault has been the most dangerous of the three, leading the team in goals, points, shots, and is second in assists.

4. Braden Holtby

GP W-L GAA SV% SO
18 12-6 2.04 .924 2

What a whirlwind of a season it's been for Holtby. By now, many forget it was Philipp Grubauer - not Holtby - who was between the pipes for the Capitals in their first two playoff games against the Blue Jackets after the former Vezina Trophy winner endured a turbulent season. That's all in the past, though, as Holtby has played fantastic when it's mattered most.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov

GP G A P ATOI +/-
19 11 13 24 21:31 7

Given that Kuznetsov leads all players in postseason points, there's an argument to be made that he should be higher on this list. He's seemingly brought his speed and creativity every single night. He's gone toe-to-toe with some of the game's best centers in the past two rounds, but yet, he's the one left standing.

2. Alex Ovechkin

GP G A P ATOI +/-
19 12 10 22 21:14 5

Ovechkin is in rarefied air, as he sits second in both goals and hits this postseason. Armed with arguably the best shot of all time, plus a 235-pound frame, Ovechkin has simply been a nightmare for the opposition during a grueling playoff run. He's the heart and soul of the team. If he goes, they go. Right now, he's firing on all cylinders.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury

GP W-L GAA SV% SO
15 12-3 1.68 .947 4

Fleury has held the top spot on these power rankings since the get-go, and with good reason. He's been absolutely lights out since the beginning of the postseason without any blips on the radar. If the Golden Knights are to win yet another round and hoist the Stanley Cup, Fleury's play in goal will be a massive reason why.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Joe Veleno

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft, theScore NHL prospect writer Hannah Stuart breaks down 10 of the most notable draft-eligible players. The tenth and final edition focuses on Joe Veleno.

Drafted first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2015, Joe Veleno was the first QMJHL player to follow in the footsteps of the likes of John Tavares and Connor McDavid and be granted exceptional status, playing major-junior hockey at age 15. At No. 8, he’s also the highest-ranked center among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

While he's a consensus first-round pick who should become an NHL regular, exactly where Veleno belongs within that first round has been a subject of much debate this season. In fact, he's been under a microscope for his entire QMJHL career thanks to his exceptional status, which has likely contributed to both his ranking and the debate surrounding it.

Year in review

Fresh off a 40-point season, a President’s Cup win, and a Memorial Cup appearance with the Sea Dogs in 2016-17, Veleno started off this season by being named captain of the team. It was an honor he retained until he was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs in December, when the Sea Dogs sat second from the bottom in the QMJHL. He improved his offensive production significantly in 2017-18, finishing the campaign with 79 points, including 22 goals, in 64 games.

At the international level, Veleno captained the gold medal-winning Team Canada at last year’s Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he had two goals and five assists in five games. He also represented Canada at this year’s Under-18 World Championship, which he finished with three points in four games. And while he wasn't invited to Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp last December, don’t be surprised if you see his name on the list this year.

Areas of strength

One bit of praise often repeated about Veleno is that he already approaches the game in a professional way. That’s pretty subjective, but it’s easy to see why. Veleno plays a dependable 200-foot game, and is able to take on high-pressure roles. His hockey sense and vision are incredible, and those attributes - along with his high-level passing skills - make him an excellent playmaker.

His offensive production improved noticeably after his trade, increasing from (a still very good) 31 points in 31 games with the Sea Dogs to 48 points in 33 games with the Voltigeurs. Veleno is a great skater with excellent speed and acceleration. His agility and edgework are high-end, and he uses his skating ability to open up opportunities for himself and his teammates. He’s not afraid to get into board battles, and works hard and smart in his own end.

Areas of improvement

Veleno’s offensive production was once a concern, but some of that was due to critique based on his exceptional status (which is fair). He took a step forward this season, but could stand to add strength and put more power behind his shot to become a more consistent goal-scorer. As a playmaker, his first instinct is usually to pass, but his hockey sense allows him to pinpoint when he needs to shoot. Putting a little more oomph behind the shot and getting quicker on the release should improve his goal-scoring numbers.

He occasionally tries to do too much himself, which could be partly attributed to pressure from his exceptional status. Improving his consistency in the little decision-making moments - whether choosing a better position, making a pass a bit sooner rather than handling the puck too long, or doing these things while using his skating ability to its full potential - should allow him to really put it all together and improve his overall game.

Scouting report

"A jack-of-all-trades player with a nice tool belt. Great edgework, acceleration, vision, and puck-protection skills. Blazing fast in a straight line. The 18-year-old is already a consummate worker in the defensive end and is a very safe selection as he has a pro-level approach. One of the best power-play distributors in the CHL." - Cam Robinson, DobberProspects.com

"There is so much to like about Joe Veleno. He's a hard-nosed workhorse that makes the players around him better. The fleet-footed center is unselfish and will primarily look to make a play at top speed; however, when the chance arises to put it in the pot himself, he will capitalize. He sees the ice well and is rarely caught out of position. His defensive game is refined and he actively pursues puck control. Transitioning to offence is natural, smooth, and quick. All in all, a well-rounded two-way forward that skates well and can be the catalyst a team needs to turn a game in its favor. If he can find the consistency in refusing to let himself get taken out of plays, especially if he doesn't start them, he will thrive and exceed expectations" - Curtis Joe, EliteProspects.com

Did You Know?

  • Voltigeurs head coach Dominique Ducharme also coached Veleno during the Canada-Russia series last fall, and it was there he decided he wanted to add Veleno to his roster in Drummondville.

  • Veleno scored 1.23 points per game this season, with 0.84 primary points per game.
  • Some scouts feel Veleno could be an NHL regular sooner than many of his peers, due to his two-way play and his professional attitude.

Other entries in this series:

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Maple Leafs hire Laurence Gilman as assistant general manager

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to rebuild their front office, as the team announced Thursday the hiring of Laurence Gilman as their new assistant general manager.

Gilman was the Vancouver Canucks' assistant GM from 2008-15. Prior to that, he worked in the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes organization for 13 years, including a five-year stint as the assistant GM. He most recently served on the NHL's expansion draft rules and regulations committee in 2016.

With the Maple Leafs, Gilman will be the GM of the AHL's Toronto Marlies - a position previously held by current Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. He will also assist with player personnel duties and manage the club's player development department.

"Laurence provides terrific experience to our management team," said Dubas. "His 20-plus years in the NHL have seen him manage nearly every type of department in professional hockey and have success doing so."

Gilman is a highly regarded executive around the league, as he was strongly considered to be the next commissioner of the East Coast Hockey League before taking the job with Toronto, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

After naming Dubas the new GM on May 11, the Leafs have lost two key front-office executives in Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter. Lamoriello fled for Long Island after being bumped from the Leafs' GM job into a senior advisor role, while Hunter and the Leafs parted ways after he was passed over for Dubas for the GM role.

On Wednesday, the Leafs also promoted Brandon Pridham to the position of assistant GM - a role he and Gilman will fill.

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Why the Golden Knights are primed to become a perennial juggernaut

The Vegas Golden Knights probably aren't thinking too much about the future beyond the looming Stanley Cup Final. But boy, are they ever set up for it.

With the expansion darlings sitting a mere four wins from completing what was previously unthinkable, it's worth exploring how ideal their situation is this summer, and potentially also in the years ahead.

Yes, that's right: The Golden Knights could win the Cup and then improve dramatically this offseason, becoming a powerhouse that consistently contends for titles.

There are several reasons why Vegas is well-positioned to get significantly better going forward, ensuring their magical run isn't an anomaly.

All that cap space

Golden Knights general manager George McPhee will have some big items on his to-do list this summer. However, he still has enough money to re-sign key contributors while possibly adding a superstar or two.

A franchise entering its second season often has salary cap flexibility. Vegas has even more than usual, with a whopping projected $24.8 million to spend.

Here's one eyebrow-raising but fairly plausible offseason blueprint:

Will the Erik Karlsson trade that nearly happened at the deadline come to fruition in the offseason? Would John Tavares leave the New York Islanders for the Golden Knights?

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said he's not going to trade his franchise defenseman during the draft. But a deal before or after the draft wouldn't be shocking because the Golden Knights reportedly made the "hardest push" for Karlsson back in February.

As the hypothetical scenario above shows, Vegas could take on both Karlsson's expiring deal and Bobby Ryan's unsavory contract (the latter being a likely condition of the trade), while still having enough wiggle room to make another major splash.

Tavares hasn't tipped his hand about whether he plans to sign elsewhere on July 1. But if he does, the Golden Knights would have a shot at landing him, especially if they get Karlsson in the fold beforehand.

The minor detail of Karlsson's long-term future would also need to be addressed, and there's been no indication Tavares will ditch the Islanders. Still, this Karlsson-Tavares scenario illustrates just how much room the Golden Knights will have to maneuver under the cap, and there are plenty of other free agents and stars on expiring deals they could target, too.

Meanwhile, retaining their own key contributors shouldn't be an issue. William Karlsson will need to be rewarded for his breakout 43-goal, 78-point campaign, and he should get an extension in the $5 million to $7 million range annually. Shea Theodore and Colin Miller are pending restricted free agents, but McPhee won't have to break the bank to bring them back.

James Neal and David Perron are pending UFAs. They're useful forwards, but Vegas could let one or both walk if it means upgrading with comparable or better players.

Draft picks aplenty

Cap room isn't the only weapon the Golden Knights will wield.

They don't hold first- or third-round picks in next month's draft. But Vegas has stockpiled two second-round picks and three third-round selections in 2019, plus three more second-round choices in 2020, in addition to their two future first-rounders.

Here's a look at their full array of upcoming draft choices:

2018 Round Number of Picks
1 0
2 1
3 0
4 2
5 2
6 2
7 0
2019 Round Number of Picks
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 1
5 2
6 1
7 1
2020 Round Number of Picks
1 1
2 3
3 1
4 1
5 1
6 1
7 1

Those picks could help facilitate a Karlsson trade or a move approaching that magnitude. They give McPhee some extra chips to bring to the table as he looks to further bolster the roster.

A team this new having a surplus of draft picks isn't surprising. But having so much success this fast is stunning, and now the Golden Knights can look to ship some of these future selections to a rebuilding club while acquiring established talent that can help them immediately.

More than just Sin City appeal

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Las Vegas was already an intriguing free-agent destination because of everything the city has to offer. Now, it's arguably the league's most attractive landing spot thanks to the Golden Knights' unexpected run to the final.

The Golden Knights have already proven to pending free agents they're a legitimate threat to claim hockey's ultimate prize. Every talented piece they add is only going to help convince players who might be on the fence.

Given what a tremendous story Vegas' run has been, who wouldn't want to join this team and build on this season, no matter how it ends?

The Golden Knights have a lot of factors in their favor, and they're in a position to get even better on paper next season. If they take advantage of their circumstances they could become championship contenders for years to come.

(Salary and draft pick information courtesy: CapFriendly)

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Lightning offense goes ice-cold as series slips away

Needing just one more win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the vaunted Tampa Bay Lightning offense simply vanished.

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead at the 33-second mark in the second period of Game 5, the Lightning didn't muster a single goal the rest of the series - a span of 159:27, according to Sportsnet Stats.

Tampa Bay ultimately held on to win Game 5, but failed to solve Braden Holtby in Games 6 and 7. The Lightning even went over 11 minutes without a shot on goal in the third period of the deciding game.

Tampa led the NHL in goals (290) during the regular season. But failing to find the back of the net when it mattered most ultimately ended the Bolts' playoff run.

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Golden Knights open as favorites over Caps in Stanley Cup Final

All it took for the Vegas Golden Knights to shed their "underdog" label was a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

With home-ice advantage over the Washington Capitals, who topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 to advance to their first final in 20 years on Wednesday night, the Golden Knights have opened as favorites to cap their dream season with a championship.

Below are the odds for Monday's Game 1, as well as the outcome for the series.

Place your bets accordingly, folks.

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Capitals shut out Lightning, will play Golden Knights in Stanley Cup Final

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Alex Ovechkin scored early and Andre Burakovsky added two second-period goals to help the Washington Capitals put a decade of playoff frustration behind them with a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night.

Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots for his second straight shutout and the Lightning, who led the NHL in goals during the regular season, failed to score in the last 159 minutes, 27 seconds - a stretch of nearly eight periods.

Ovechkin, who had never played a team that advanced beyond the second round, scored 1:02 into the winner-take-all showdown he had described as probably the ''biggest game in my life.''

Nicklas Backstrom had an empty-netter to complete the rout.

To earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, where they'll play the Vegas Golden Knights, the Capitals beat the top-seeded Lightning three times on the road, improving to 8-2 away from home this postseason.

It's Washington's first Cup Final appearance since 1998, and the first during Ovechkin's 13-year career.

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