Bruins won’t bring back Gionta, 2 other pending free agents

If Brian Gionta is going to play in the NHL again, it won't be with the Boston Bruins, as general manager Don Sweeney announced Thursday that the diminutive winger won't be offered a contract.

Sweeney also announced defenseman Paul Postma and forward Kenny Agostino would not return, though he didn't rule out bringing back Austin Czarnik.

The 39-year-old Gionta suited up in 20 games for Boston this season, recording two goals and five assists. He joined the Bruins after a five-game showing for the United States at the Winter Olympics, where he was held without a point.

Postma played 13 games with the Bruins, while Agostino suited up in just five. The latter, however, is coming off four straight productive seasons in the AHL.

Czarnik, 25, had four points in 10 games with Boston, and 69 points in 64 AHL contests.

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Playoffs’ leading scorer Kuznetsov day to day with upper-body injury

Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov is considered day to day with an upper-body injury, head coach Barry Trotz told reporters Thursday.

Kuznetsov leads all players with 25 points during the postseason, including 11 goals.

The Capitals star left Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after taking a high hit from Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb and did not return, with Lars Eller seeing increased minutes in his absence.

"He's been our best player in playoffs so far," Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said to Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post. "I mean, that's tough. We'll see what happens."

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Lightning’s Callahan expected out 5 months after shoulder surgery

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan is expected to be out for approximately five months after undergoing shoulder surgery Thursday, the team announced.

If Callahan recovers within the expected time frame, he would miss training camp, preseason, and the first month of the regular season.

The 33-year-old is no longer the offensive threat he once was, as injuries, age, and poor footspeed have caught up with him. He was relegated to fourth-line duties for most of the 2017-18 campaign, tallying five goals and 13 assists in 67 games.

Callahan still has two years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.

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Golden Knights owner says team won’t be shy during free agency

The Vegas Golden Knights became a genuine contender faster than anyone could've anticipated, and are going to reap obvious unintended benefits, as a result, this summer.

Against all projections, Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season and is now looking to topple the Washington Capitals, splitting the first two games of the series.

Since the vast majority of the Golden Knights' roster was accrued through the expansion draft, the team has ample cap space and will be a major player in free agency, owner Bill Foley indicated in an extensive Q+A with The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Oh, we're going to make an effort. There's always transition on a team. There's always two, three or four guys that will want to do something else or who may want a little more term or a little more money than we're prepared to advance. We like all of our guys, we love our players. But we're realists. And they're businessmen just like we are. So we're planning right now. Vaughn Karpan, our director of player personnel, has been in the last week or so, we're analyzing all the free agents, we're thinking about who might be a UFA that might come our direction; we're thinking about other guys under contract with various teams that maybe get traded, maybe their contracts are a little heavy for that team. And we have $30 million in cap space, so we have a lot of cap space and we have the money to spend. We're not going to be shy.

Foley also indicated the Golden Knights exceeded his initial expectations.

"I first said three years, in three years we'd get there and be in the playoffs. I was sort of timing our draft picks we got last year, that those guys would start rotating in, in about three to five years and then we'd make a run in five. But I misjudged the character and the quality and dedication of our team. They're unbelievable."

The Golden Knights are undeniably one of the surprise stories of the North American sports calendar and it's a scary proposition that they could stand to significantly improve over the summer.

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Flames add Geoff Ward, Ryan Huska to Bill Peters’ staff

Bill Peters will have a couple more experienced coaches on his new staff.

Geoff Ward and Ryan Huska will join the new Calgary Flames head coach as associate coach and assistant coach, respectively, the club announced Thursday.

Ward spent the last three seasons as a New Jersey Devils assistant after occupying the same role with the Boston Bruins for seven years before that.

Huska was the head coach of the AHL's Stockton Heat for the last three campaigns, and he also guided the Flames affiliate for one season when it was known as the Adirondack Flames.

Peters was hired by Calgary on April 23, three days after leaving the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Flames' coaching staff already includes assistants Martin Gelinas, Jamie Pringle, and Jordan Sigalet.

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Canucks ink DiPietro to entry-level contract

The Vancouver Canucks signed goaltender Michael DiPietro to a three-year, entry-level contract Thursday, the team announced.

The 18-year-old was selected by the Canucks in the third round of the 2017 draft. He's coming off his third season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where he went 29-21-1 with a .910 save percentage, a 2.79 goals-against average, and seven shutouts.

DiPietro's impressive season earned him the OHL Goaltender of the Year Award, and he was named Canada's third-string goalie at the World Championship in Denmark.

With DiPietro locked up, the team now boasts another promising goaltending prospect alongside 2014 second-round pick Thatcher Demko.

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Better Luck Next Year: Nashville Predators edition

As NHL teams are eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, theScore NHL freelance writer Katie Brown looks back at the highs and lows of their seasons, along with the biggest questions ahead of 2018-19. The 27th edition focuses on the Nashville Predators.

The Good

A record-breaking season. The Predators won a division title and claimed the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in their history a year after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. They also recorded 53 wins, a franchise record. Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne could become the first player in Predators history to win the award, which would be the first of his career after three previous top-three finishes.

Sensational Subban. P.K. Subban was named a Norris Trophy finalist for the third time after putting together his third 82-game season and recording 59 points. The veteran was the only Nashville player to appear in every game. Though he was one point off his career-best 60-point season in 2014-15, this year’s outing was his best statistically. He finished the season ranked eighth in the league in points by defensemen, while his 16 goals were tied for second.

The JOFA line. The Predators’ top unit of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson was dangerous all year. The line ranked among the league's top five statistically during the season and added an incredible 10 goals in 148 minutes at even strength in the playoffs.

The Bad

Inconsistent goaltending. Rinne might have had a Vezina-worthy regular season, but his playoffs were ... not the best. He was pulled three times, all at home, during the Predators’ series against the Winnipeg Jets. In Game 7, he gave up two goals on seven shots and was yanked within the first 11 minutes. Rinne did have a few good moments, including a 34-save shutout in Game 6, but his save percentage ended up a dismal .900 for the series. During the regular season, his stat line was impressive: 42-13-4 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Depth didn't deliver. Against the Jets, the Predators scored 19 goals - and 13 of them came from their top line and Subban. Basically, no one beyond the top line made much of an impact on the scoresheet. Nashville addressed its forward depth during the offseason by adding players like Nick Bonino, Kyle Turris, Ryan Hartman, and Mike Fisher to play with a healthy Kevin Fiala, but none of them scored more than two points in the series.

The defense underperformed. The Predators’ formidable defense has become one of their trademarks. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis form one of the best top-four groups in the league. But they ran into a buzzsaw in the Jets. Winnipeg’s relentless attack, skill, and ability to pressure in the zone gave Nashville’s blue-liners a really tough time. There were stretches where the Predators held their own, but Winnipeg was just that much better.

The Questions

What does Ryan Ellis' next contract look like? Ellis has one year left until he’s a UFA, but he wants to stay in Nashville, and the two parties can start discussing an extension July 1. His current four-year contract, signed in 2014, pays him a reasonable $2.5 million a year, but he could command around $6 million annually on his next deal. Ellis missed part of the season because of knee surgery and played just 44 games but still managed 32 points, which equates roughly to a 60-point pace over 82 games.

How much does Rinne have left? Rinne's said he'll play the one year left on his contract, but hasn't thought further than that. So he’ll be Nashville’s starter for at least one more season, but even he can recognize that he’ll eventually be overtaken by backup Juuse Saros (as long as the 23-year-old continues to progress).

What else needs to change? Probably not much. With the exception of UFAs Scott Hartnell and Alexei Emelin, the Predators will ice mostly the same team in the fall. General manager David Poile could make a splash if he wants to, but don’t expect him to be one of John Tavares' suitors. Adding another forward or two to boost scoring depth might be prudent considering Nashville's offense looked top-heavy in the playoffs.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Report: Red Wings looking to bring back Green, nearing bridge deal with Mantha

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is reportedly looking to put pen to paper with a couple of pending free agents.

Holland has met with Newport group, which represents pending unrestricted free agent Mike Green, a player the team is interested in bringing back, according to The Athletic's Craig Custance.

Green is coming off his third season with the Red Wings, posting eight goals and 33 points in 66 games.

Holland has also met with Anthony Mantha's agent, Pat Brisson. They're reportedly nearing a bridge contract for the pending restricted free agent.

"I thought the meeting went well," Brisson said. "We obviously discussed some possibilities we're going to have to review together internally and we anticipate getting back to him probably within a week."

Mantha is coming off his entry-level deal and just finished his third year with the team, recording 24 goals and 48 points in 80 games - good enough for third in team scoring.

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Red Wings open to trading 6th overall pick

After a disappointing 2018 season, the Detroit Red Wings hold their highest draft pick at No. 6 overall since 1990, when they took Keith Primeau at No. 3.

But that doesn't mean the team isn't willing to deal the top-10 pick.

"I've started to talk to some teams about a lot," general manager Ken Holland said, according to The Athletic's Craig Custance. "As you work your way towards (host) Dallas at the draft, draft movement possibilities - I think at this stage in the game, everybody is kicking tires as to what might be out there.

"I'm open to possibly move."

Holland noted to Custance he has little desire to try to trade up in the draft, and with the team eyeing centers and defensemen - a position the draft has an abundance of - they wouldn't be opposed to moving down.

"We're also comfortable (doing nothing)," Holland said. "We're going to get a good player at six."

In all, the Red Wings will have 11 picks at June's draft, giving them plenty of opportunities to make trades or simply add to their prospect pool.

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Lightning fire associate coach Bowness, mutually part with assistant Lauer

The Tampa Bay Lightning are making a couple of changes behind the bench.

Associate coach Rick Bowness was dismissed and assistant coach Brad Lauer agreed to part ways with the club, it was announced Thursday.

Bowness had been with the Lightning since June 2013, overseeing the defense and penalty kill. He has coached more than 2,000 NHL games, largely in an assistant or associate capacity.

Lauer joined the team in 2015 after spending four seasons with the Anaheim Ducks.

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