Jets lock up Mark Scheifele to eight-year contract extension that may prove to be a bargain

Ian Denomme
Mark Scheifele. (Getty Images)

Mark Scheifele has been rewarded for his breakout 2015-16 season with an eight-year contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets.

The 23-year-old center will earn $6.125 million annually over the length of the contract that runs until the 2023-24 season. And it may end up being a bargain for the Jets.

Scheifele was sneaky one of the best players in the entire league in the final couple months of the season. When Bryan Little went down with a neck injury on February 18, Scheifele took on a larger role. From that point on till the end of the season, his average ice-time increased from 17 minutes per game to 20 minutes and he scored 17 goals and had 34 points in 26 games, good for a points-per-game average of 1.30. That’s Crosby-level production. He finished the season with 61 points, second on the Jets to Blake Wheeler’s 78.

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Wayne Gretzky helped convince Milan Lucic to sign with Oilers

Ian Denomme
Milan Lucic. (Getty Images)

If Milan Lucic was unsure about signing as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers, he got the extra push he needed from The Great One.

In an interview with Jeremy Roenick and Billy Jaffe on the RoenickLife Podcast, Lucic said he made a call to Wayne Gretzky to get some guidance on his decision. After talking to Gretzky, who spent nine of his most memorable NHL seasons in Edmonton, Lucic was convinced.

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Down Goes Brown: The five biggest second-week free agent signings of the salary-cap era

Sean McIndoe
Sheldon Souray. (Getty Images)

Thursday marks the end of the first week of NHL free agency. It’s a nerve-racking time for players still looking for a home, since conventional wisdom says that if you don’t have a deal in place by the end of Week One, you’re pretty much out of luck. You could end up having to wait all summer, like Cody Franson did last year. You may not get a contract anywhere at all.

But the good news is that that’s not quite true, at least not all the time. A look back through the history books shows us that there have been a handful of major signings in the second week of free agency. It’s a small handful, to be sure, but you take your hope where you can get it.

Here are the five biggest names who found new homes in Week Two of unrestricted free agency during the salary cap era.

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New Jersey rewards Kyle Palmieri with long-term deal

Ryan Kennedy
Kyle Palmieri (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils have locked down their leading scorer from 2015-16, giving right winger Kyle Palmieri a five-year contract worth an average of $4.65 million per season. Palmieri, who was raised in New Jersey, put up 30 goals and 57 points for the Devils, but now the pressure is on to repeat and even surpass that. Luckily, the U.S. NTDP product will have some more help this time.

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Red Wings will take Mrazek to arbitration, close to a deal for DeKeyser

Petr Mrazek  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The most notable exclusion from the 24 players who filed for salary arbitration Tuesday was Petr Mrazek, but that doesn’t mean the Detroit Red Wings goaltender won’t be included in the process. Sources have told that the Red Wings will take Mrazek to arbitration before teams are required to file at 5 p.m. (eastern time) Wednesday.

This is a bit of a chess game here. Had Mrazek filed for arbitration, the Red Wings would have been able to choose either a one- or two-year reward. With the Red Wings filing, Mrazek will now have the choice of a one- or two-year award. Regardless, it means Mrazek is guaranteed to have a deal with the Red Wings for at least one season and will be available to the Red Wings for the start of the season. Mrazek is expected to be the Czech Republic’s No. 1 goaltender for the World Cup of Hockey.

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Here are the top 10 candidates for salary arbitration this summer

Petr Mrazek  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s early July, so obviously there’s another important day coming up on the hockey calendar. Coming up next: the deadline for restricted free agents to file for arbitration, which is on the docket for Tuesday.

This will likely be a procedural day for many players because so few actually end up going the full distance in arbitration, but one thing it will do is tell us which players will definitely be in uniform for their teams at the start of training camp in the fall. That’s because arbitration forces a ruling on both sides, meaning the player is under contract for either one or two more seasons.

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Best of the rest: The remaining free agents all-star team

Ian Denomme
Patrik Elias  (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2016 edition of the Free Agent Frenzy was just that, a frenzy. Most of the biggest names available went off the board within the first hour of the signing window opening on Friday.

Of THN’s original list of the Top 30 available free agents, only six remain. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t players still looking for work. There are dozens of players with NHL experience still out there for the taking.

In fact, you could make an entire team out of the available players. It’s not a very good team, mind you. You won’t find many players here under 30, and for many their best hockey is behind them, and it’s certainly not a playoff team. Here’s what a team of available free agents would look like.

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