NHL finds no evidence Kane gambled on games, investigation ongoing

The NHL concluded its investigation into gambling allegations against Evander Kane and found no evidence the San Jose Sharks forward wagered on any games.

"The investigation uncovered no evidence to corroborate Ms. Kane’s accusations that Mr. Kane bet or otherwise participated in gambling on NHL games, and no evidence to corroborate the allegations that Mr. Kane 'threw' games or did not put forward his best effort to help the Sharks win games," the league announced Wednesday. "To the contrary, the evidence raises doubts about the veracity of the allegations."

Kane's wife, Anna, alleged online in July that he gambled and threw his own games as a result of deep gambling debts. Kane denied the claims at the time but did recently admit his gambling addiction led him to file for bankruptcy earlier this year.

While the NHL considers the gambling case closed, the league announced it will be investigating additional unrelated allegations against Kane involving potential wrongdoing. The league provided no additional comments on the matter.

Kane, 30, is under contract with the Sharks for four more years. He led the club in scoring with 49 points in 56 games last season. However, reports surfaced this offseason that San Jose tried to trade the winger and several teammates don't want him back with the team.

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Leafs’ Rielly not focused on extension heading into contract year

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly says his status as a pending unrestricted free agent isn't influencing his mindset for the 2021-22 campaign.

The 27-year-old is eligible to test the open market for the first time in his career next summer, and a potential extension for Rielly is a key storyline as Toronto enters a crucial season.

"I think you all know how I feel about being a Leaf. But there is a business aspect of it," Rielly said on the opening day of training camp Wednesday, per Sportsnet's Luke Fox.

He continued: "I totally understand it's a question that's worth asking. I'm just going to go about my business, prepare for the season. I feel great; I'm ready for the season. I understand the question. I think about it, too. But I'm just going to go about my business."

Rielly has made a team-friendly $5 million per season since signing a five-year pact in 2016. In that span, he ranks 14th among all blue-liners with 213 points in 336 games.

Toronto has $67.7 million committed to a 14-player roster in 2022-23, according to Cap Friendly. Keeping Rielly could prove difficult, as several defenders of his ilk signed new deals with cap hits in the $8-million to $9-million range this offseason.

The perennially cap-strapped Leafs let several key UFAs walk in recent years, including Zach Hyman, Frederik Andersen, James van Riemsdyk, and Tyler Bozak.

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Kessel to miss training camp with foot injury

Arizona Coyotes star forward Phil Kessel will miss training camp due to a foot injury, general manager Bill Armstrong said Wednesday, according to NHL Network's Craig Morgan.

Armstrong noted he's hopeful that Kessel's recovery will take two to three weeks, per Morgan. That timeline would have Kessel on track to be ready just in time for the Coyotes' first regular-season game of the 2021-22 season on Oct. 14.

Head coach Andre Tourigny said the 33-year-old sustained the injury a couple of weeks ago while training.

Kessel is currently riding a 900-game ironman streak. He led Arizona with 43 points over 56 games last season.

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NHL offseason grades: Pacific Division

Divisions: Metropolitan | Central | Pacific | Atlantic (Sept. 23)

With the NHL offseason all but wrapped up, we're handing out comprehensive grades for all 32 teams. The four-part series continues with an in-depth look at each Pacific Division club.

Three teams garnered most of the Pacific Division headlines this offseason, while the rest made moves of little significance.

The Seattle Kraken assembled their inaugural roster differently than the way many had hoped they would, but their expansion draft could have been worse. The Vancouver Canucks made some major changes that raised some eyebrows, and the Vegas Golden Knights pulled off a shocker by trading away the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

Here's a look at how each Pacific-based club fared during an action-packed summer.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted.

Anaheim Ducks

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Key arrivals

N/A

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
David Backes F Retired
Danton Heinen F Signed with PIT
Carter Rowney F SIgned with DET
Haydn Fleury D Expansion draft pick
Ryan Miller G Retired

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Max Comtois F 2 years $2.0375M
Max Jones F 3 years $1.295M
Ryan Getzlaf F 1 year $4.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jamie Drysdale D 1st round (2020)
Trevor Zegas F 1st round (2019)

Getzlaf's future was the biggest question mark for the Ducks heading into the offseason, so the fact he'll be back on a deal that carries a $3-million cap hit (with $1.5 million in bonus money) is reassuring for Anaheim.

However, the team didn't take a noticeable step forward in its rebuild this summer. The Ducks did what they had to do on the retaining front in addition to re-signing the captain. They brought back several players with potential on one-way pacts in Comtois and Jones while inking Sam Steel, Isac Lundestrom, and Josh Mahura to new two-way deals.

But aside from the players the club expected to re-sign, Anaheim didn't add anyone noteworthy aside from veteran defenseman Greg Pateryn on a two-way contract. Drysdale and Zegras are still technically rookies.

Grade: C

Calgary Flames

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Blake Coleman F 6 years $4.9M
Trevor Lewis F 1 year $800K
Tyler Pitlick F 1 year $1.75M (trade with SEA)
Brad Richardson F 1 year $800K
Erik Gudbranson D 1 year $1.95M
Nikita Zadorov D 1 year $3.75M (after trade with CHI)
Dan Vladar G 2 years $750K 2-way deal (trade with BOS)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Josh Leivo F Signed with CAR
Joakim Nordstrom F Signed in KHL
Derek Ryan F Signed with EDM
Mark Giordano D Expansion draft pick

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Dillon Dube F 3 years $2.3M
Brett Ritchie F 1 year $900K
Connor Mackey D 2 years $912.5K
Michael Stone D 1 year $750K
Juuso Valimaki D 2 years $1.55M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Matthew Phillips F 6th round (2016)
Adam Ruzicka F 4th round (2017)

Losing Giordano for nothing hurt the Flames in terms of both their ability to win and from a public relations perspective. It's pretty hard to justify letting the longtime captain walk out the door to an expansion team, let alone replacing him with the flawed Gudbranson and the purely physical Zadorov.

The Flames made a lot of moves, but they had to shake things up considering how disappointing their 2021 season was. Most of their additions are depth players, and many are either grinders head coach Darryl Sutter has had before or players that fit his style. Securing Dube's services at a relatively low rate was one of the lone bright spots this summer.

Calgary's biggest free-agency splash - inking Coleman - was commendable for the immediate future. However, the lengthy term, sizeable cap hit, and the fact the forward - who's versatile but will turn 30 in November - is likely to decline are all reasons the contract might haunt the Flames down the road.

Grade: C+

Edmonton Oilers

Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Warren Foegele F 3 years $2.75M (after trade with CAR)
Zach Hyman F 7 years $5.5M
Derek Ryan F 2 years $1.25M
Cody Ceci D 4 years $3.25M
Duncan Keith D 2 years $5.54M (trade with CHI)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Alex Chiasson F UFA
Tyler Ennis F Signed PTO with OTT
Jujhar Khaira F Signed with CHI
James Neal F Bought out
Ethan Bear D Traded to CAR
Caleb Jones D Traded to CHI
Dmitry Kulikov D Signed with MIN
Adam Larsson D Expansion draft pick

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Kailer Yamamoto F 1 year $1.175M
Tyson Barrie D 3 years $4.5M
Darnell Nurse D 8 years $9.25M
Mike Smith G 2 years $2.2M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Ryan McLeod F 2nd round (2018)

Hyman should fit in well alongside Connor McDavid, but that's about the only overwhelmingly positive move the Oilers made this summer.

The Nurse extension was general manager Ken Holland's biggest priority, and the two sides got it done. Edmonton's workhorse deserved a raise compared to the $5.6 million he'll earn in 2021-22, but a max-length deal at over $9 million is a major gamble for a player with one stellar season on his resume.

Keith isn't what he once was, and Ceci has been rightfully maligned for much of his career. Losing steady blue-liners Larsson and Bear and filling the gaps with the aforementioned rearguards is a clear downgrade. To make matters worse, Edmonton re-signed the 39-year-old Smith when there were plenty of younger and arguably better goaltenders available.

Grade: D+

Los Angeles Kings

Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Viktor Arvidsson F 3 years $4.25M
Phillip Danault F 6 years $5.5M
Alexander Edler D 1 year $3.5M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Matt Luff F Signed with NSH
Kurtis MacDermid D Expansion draft pick then traded to COL

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Andreas Athanasiou F 1 year $2.7M
Blake Lizotte F 1 year $800K
Trevor Moore F 2 years $1.875M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Quinton Byfield F 1st round (2020)
Rasmus Kupari F 1st round (2018)
Alex Turcotte F 1st round (2019)

The Kings weren't incredibly active, but the moves they made were excellent. First, they took advantage of the Nashville Predators after the organization decided not to protect Arvidsson in the expansion draft, landing the once-productive winger for a pair of picks. He's only 28, and if he rediscovers his past 30-goal form, it'll pay off in spades for Los Angeles.

The Kings then dipped into free agency, reeling in Danault and Edler. Danault's six-year term is a mild risk, but he's one of the NHL's best defensive centers, giving them a rock-solid top two at the position along with Anze Kopitar. Edler's experience should benefit a club that could be on the verge of contending, in part because of GM Rob Blake's work this offseason.

Grade: A

San Jose Sharks

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Nick Bonino F 2 years $2.05M
Andrew Cogliano F 1 year $1M
Adin Hill G 2 years $2.175M (after trade with ARI)
James Reimer G 2 years $2.25M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Ryan Donato F Signed with SEA
Kurtis Gabriel F Signed with TOR
Patrick Marleau F UFA
Marcus Sorensen F Signed in Sweden
Christian Jaros D Traded to NJD
Martin Jones G Bought out
Josef Korenar G Traded to ARI

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Rudolfs Balcers F 2 years $1.55M
Dylan Gambrell F 1 year $1.1M
Matt Nieto F 2 years $850K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Joachim Blichfeld F 7th round (2016)
Sasha Chmelevski F 6th round (2017)
Ryan Merkley D 1st round (2018)

The Sharks upgraded their goalie tandem, added a couple of effective depth players, and didn't suffer any regrettable losses.

Buying out Jones was the right thing to do, and while Hill has more to prove, he's shown promise through 49 games over four seasons. The Hill-Reimer duo makes San Jose better than it was with the subpar Jones-Korenar combo.

The Sharks have some lingering question marks, like Evander Kane's situation, what will become of pending UFA Tomas Hertl, and what to do with the rest of its veteran core. But at least San Jose's 2021 offseason was a success.

Grade: B+

Seattle Kraken

Christopher Mast / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Mark Giordano D 1 year $6.75M
Adam Larsson D 4 years $4M
Chris Driedger G 3 years $3.5M
Philipp Grubauer G 6 years $5.9M

Key departures

N/A

Re-signed

N/A

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Kole Lind F Expansion draft
Will Borgen D Expansion draft

The Kraken chose not to add star power in July's expansion draft, passing on Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, and James van Riemsdyk in favor of a less proven but far more affordable roster.

While avoiding stars with hefty contracts is defensible, some of Seattle's other splashes were questionable. Grubauer is a good get, but his numbers were inflated by the high-powered Avalanche, and giving the goalie (who'll be 30 in November) a six-year deal at around $6 million is risky.

Likewise, Giordano will turn 38 on Oct. 3. He drove possession on the lackluster Calgary Flames last season, but with only one year left on his deal, bringing him in as a potential captain and face of the new franchise was a bit of a head-scratcher.

However, Larsson and Driedger were solid selections, and Kraken general manager Ron Francis subsequently signed them to team-friendly pacts. Francis made some other smart picks like underrated defenseman Carson Soucy, and left Seattle with enough cap flexibility to continue building.

Grade: B

Vancouver Canucks

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Jason Dickinson F 3 years $2.65M (after trade with DAL)
Conor Garland F 5 years $4.95M (after trade with ARI)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 6 years $8.25M (trade with ARI)
Travis Hamonic D 2 years $3M
Tucker Poolman D 4 years $2.5M
Jaroslav Halak G 1 year $3M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jay Beagle F Traded to ARI
Loui Eriksson F Traded to ARI
Antoine Roussel F Traded to ARI
Jake Virtanen F Bought out
Alexander Edler D Signed with LAK
Nate Schmidt D Traded to WPG
Braden Holtby G Bought out

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Brandon Sutter F 1 year $1.125M
Olli Juolevi D 1 year $750K

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Elias Pettersson F RFA
Quinn Hughes D 10.2c

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Vasily Podkolzin F 1st round (2019)

The Canucks haven't taken care of Pettersson and Hughes yet, but there's still plenty of time to sign them before the season begins.

Vancouver did well to snag Garland and sign him to a reasonable contract. The same goes for getting the unsavory pacts belonging to Eriksson, Beagle, and Roussel off the books. However, the cost of the latter was taking on the declining Ekman-Larsson and his lengthy, high-priced deal, and giving up the ninth overall pick in this year's draft, which the Arizona Coyotes used to take promising winger Dylan Guenther.

Poolman didn't deserve the contract the Canucks gave him, but Dickinson did. Halak is a decent Holtby replacement, especially because the Slovak's cap hit is only $1.5 million with the same amount possibly due in bonuses.

Overall, Vancouver improved during the offseason. The question is whether the Canucks' overhaul will handcuff them down the road.

Grade: B-

Vegas Golden Knights

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Evgenii Dadonov F 2 years $5M (trade with OTT)
Brett Howden F 1 year $885K (trade with NYR)
Nolan Patrick F 2 years $1.2M (after trade with PHI)
Laurent Brossoit G 2 years $2.325M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Cody Glass F Traded to NSH
Tomas Nosek F Signed with BOS
Ryan Reaves F Traded to NYR
Nick Holden D Traded to OTT
Marc-Andre Fleury G Traded to CHI

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Mattias Janmark F 1 year $2M
Alec Martinez D 3 years $5.25M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Peyton Krebs F 1st round (2019)

The Golden Knights shockingly traded Fleury less than a month after he won the Vezina Trophy. Dealing a goalie with a $7-million cap hit who'll be 37 in November makes some sense, especially with Robin Lehner also in the picture. But not when Vegas got virtually nothing in return and used that newfound cap flexibility to ink Dadonov, a 32-year-old whose best years are likely behind him.

Plus, Vegas' top six is all but cemented, so paying a third-liner $5 million is hardly ideal. Brossoit is a smart addition as Lehner's backup, but the Golden Knights dropped the ball parting with Fleury the way they did. His agent found out about the news on Twitter and then relayed it to him, which was a stunning turn of events considering everything Fleury accomplished for the franchise.

Is Patrick the answer to Vegas' need at center? That remains to be seen due to his largely unproven nature and past health concerns. However, the Golden Knights deserve some credit for extending Martinez.

Grade: C-

(Salary source: CapFriendly)

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Kings extend Petersen on 3-year deal with $5M AAV

The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension carrying an average annual value of $5 million.

Petersen has one season left on his current pact, which he inked with Los Angeles in the summer of 2019. It carries a cap hit of $858,333, according to CapFriendly.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old took the reins as the Kings' No. 1 netminder last season, going 9-18-5 with a .911 save percentage while starting 32 of the 35 games he played.

However, his underlying numbers were more favorable. He ranked 11th in the NHL with 6.22 goals saved above expected and 21st in the league with 3.48 goals saved above average at five-on-five in 2021, according to Evolving Hockey.

Last season was Petersen's third with Los Angeles. The Iowa-born puck-stopper posted a .923 save percentage across 19 games in his first two campaigns.

The Buffalo Sabres drafted him 129th overall in 2013, but he chose not to sign with them in 2017, instead inking an entry-level deal with the Kings that same year.

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Sabres agree to terms with Dahlin on 3-year deal worth $18M

The Buffalo Sabres have agreed to terms with restricted free-agent defenseman Rasmus Dahlin on a three-year deal with an average annual value of $6 million, the team announced Wednesday.

The 21-year-old registered 23 points over 56 games last season, and his responsibilities increased under Don Granato. Dahlin averaged 23:26 minutes of ice time toward the end of the campaign following the head coaching switch in March.

The Sabres selected him with the first overall pick in 2018 and will be looking for the blue-liner to make a leap in the coming years. The offensively talented rearguard has registered 18 goals and 89 assists over 197 games.

Dahlin was the final remaining restricted free agent on the Sabres' books this offseason. He'll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights after this bridge deal expires in 2023-24, according to CapFriendly.

Buffalo now holds $17.6 million in projected cap space.

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Women’s worlds to be held in Olympic years

The Women’s World Championship will now be held annually, including in Olympic years, the IIHF announced Wednesday.

In non-Olympic years, the competition will be held in March and April, and it will take place in August during Olympic years. The change was made because holding two tournaments over two months isn't feasible, as most players maintain day jobs.

"We had many times discussions with the top countries. They are always at the Olympics but couldn't play a few weeks later again, so we discussed whether it could work if we played in August," said IIHF Women's committee chairwoman Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer. "We know that after the Olympics many players end their careers with a highlight and that gives the opportunity to work with new players entering the team."

Since 2014, only the teams in lower divisions in the women's competition would compete during the same year as the Olympics. The top division was excluded, which created promotion and relegation difficulties.

"We wanted to find a long-term solution because we had a challenge with promotion and relegation every four years. We wanted to solve different issues with this proposal. It is a really fair solution for all the countries participating in the women's program," said Kolbenheyer.

The 2021 women’s worlds were held in Calgary, with Canada triumphing over the United States for gold.

The Danish Ice Hockey Union has applied to host the 2022 women’s worlds in August.

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Blues sign Thomas to 2-year contract

The St. Louis Blues have signed restricted free agent Robert Thomas to a two-year deal carrying a $2.8-million average annual value, the team announced Tuesday.

Thomas' entry-level contract expired after the 2020-21 season. He'll be an RFA again when his new deal comes to an end.

The Blues drafted Thomas 20th overall in 2017. He's recorded 87 points in 169 career games, and he helped the club capture its first Stanley Cup in 2019.

St. Louis now has all of its players under contract ahead of the start of training camp Thursday.

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