Which players could take on the six vacant captaincies?

Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Four players became first-time captains in the NHL ahead of the 2015-16 season, each to varying degrees of success.

In San Jose, Joe Pavelski took over as captain after years of speculation that he was the next in line to wear the ‘C’ for the Sharks. In his first season, he helped lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final with an impressive post-season performance.

Pavelski was joined as a new captain by Max Pacioretty, who donned the ‘C’ for the first time and did so as a member of arguably the most storied organization in the history of the sport, the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty’s Canadiens flew out of the gate like an early Cup contender, but an injury to Carey Price derailed Montreal’s season.

Also joining the captains club were Nick Foligno, who was chosen to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Andy Greene, selected by the New Jersey Devils to take the captaincy from the retiring Bryce Salvador. Both teams missed the post-season, but took some strides forward that have both fan bases hopeful for the coming campaign.

While four new captains may seem like a lot, there’s potential for as many as seven first-time captains to take over major leadership roles in 2016-17. Anze Kopitar has already been handed the ‘C’ for the Los Angeles Kings, but that still leaves the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers without captains. So, will those clubs have a captain this coming season and, if so, who will stitch the ‘C’ to their sweater? Read more

Hurricanes impressive off-season continues as Rask signs six-year, $24-million deal

Jared Clinton
Victor Rask (Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Given that the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t seen the post-season in more than half a decade, some will have a hard time believing the organization is really trending in the right direction, but GM Ron Francis continues to impress with his savvy moves to slowly but surely improve the on-ice situation in Carolina.

The off-season started with a blockbuster deal that saw the Hurricanes use their cap space to relieve the Chicago Blackhawks of Bryan Bickell and his $4 million contract, but Francis leveraged the deal into acquiring skilled youngster Teuvo Teravainen, as well. Francis also brought back veteran goaltender Cam Ward, made a smart signing in locking up Lee Stempniak and added some lesser pieces in Viktor Stalberg and Matt Tennyson.

But Francis’ best piece of work may have come Tuesday as the Hurricanes announced they’ve locked up 23-year-old restricted free agent center Victor Rask to a six-year, $24-million contract that will keep him in Carolina well into his prime.

“Victor has gotten better every season that he’s been a part of our organization,” Francis said in a release. “He is a big part of this team’s present and future, and we are thrilled to sign him to a longer-term deal.” Read more

Winners and Losers from Day 1 of the free agent frenzy

Troy Brouwer Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Contractual obligations force your trusty correspondent to declare the definitive list of winners and losers from the first day of free agency at a time before the ink is dry on all of the contracts. Who knows who won the day? After all, Thomas Vanek hasn’t even been a healthy scratch as a Detroit Red Wing yet.

With that in mind, we present our Winners and Losers from Canada Day, better known as the Start of Silly Season. If you subscribe to the theory that is held by a number of GMs that more mistakes are made on July 1 than any other day of the year, then perhaps the biggest winners are the teams that did nothing. Maybe it was the Colorado Avalanche, who picked up two players who were not extended qualifying offers and another who was bought out for a total cap hit of $5.3 million.

But that’s no fun. You, dear readers, demand Winners and Losers. Please keep in mind that everyone overpays. So here goes:

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Eric Staal signs with Minnesota, next stop Las Vegas?

Eric Staal  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

For most high profile free agents, July 1 is the day they cash in. For Eric Staal, it was a day to take an enormous haircut. It wasn’t long ago that people were talking about Staal as one of the most sought-after free agents this summer. But when the dust settled, he took a 58 percent cut in his average yearly salary on a three-year deal. A three-year deal.

If you’re looking for the newly signed free agent who has the most to prove and should be most highly motivated in 2016-17, Alexander Radulov is probably the first who comes to mind. But not far behind will be Staal, who will be on a quest to prove he’s still an elite center in the NHL. He certainly hasn’t looked like that since the lockout shortened season in 2012-13 and is coming off the most miserable season of his career.

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Buyout roundup: Lightning’s Carle, Bruins’ Seidenberg and more

Matt Carle  (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 24 hours before the free agency period begins, several NHL teams got to work on some housekeeping Thursday. Six teams placed players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. The NHL’s buyout window closes at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

There had already been some notable buyouts, including the Canucks’ Chris Higgins, the Wild’s Thomas Vanek, and the Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.

The Blue Jackets got back to work on Thursday, buying out the final year of right winger Jared Boll’s contract. Boll, 30, scored one goal in 30 games in 2015-16.

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Here are the need-to-know picks from the CHL Import Draft

Filip Hronek (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The CHL Import Draft establishes major junior rights for European players and it’s never a dull process. Because the kids picked are under no pressure to come over here, it’s never just a matter of Best Player Available. And since junior teams all have different rebuilding/contending cycles, sometimes BPA is irrelevant anyway. Some have already been drafted by NHL teams; other younger picks are hoping to boost their stock for upcoming drafts. Each CHL franchise gets two picks, but some pass because they are already set with their quota of two imports. With another draft in the books, let’s take a look at some of the most important names that were called today.

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