Best picks by round on Day 2 of the draft

Carter Hart (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – On Day 2 of the draft, team preference plays such a huge role in when kids get picked. But for my money, there were some definite winners by round. In some cases, it was teams that made solid multiple selections. In other cases, it was a matter of the value they got in one player. Here are my winners for Day 2.

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Flyers ink physical defender Gudas to four-year, $13.4-million deal

Jared Clinton
Radko Gudas (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Philadelphia fans have been known to enjoy when the Flyers have an edge or a feistiness to them, so there’s good reason why Radko Gudas became somewhat of a fan favorite for his take-no-prisoners style of play. And Flyers fans will be glad to know that Gudas isn’t going anywhere.

It was announced Thursday evening that Gudas, 26, has signed a four-year deal to remain in Philadelphia, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported the contract is worth $13.4 million. The deal came with Gudas set to become a restricted free agent, having just completed a three-year, $2.975-million deal.

Gudas’ raise, which is a significant one that will see him earn $3.35 million per season, could come in handy, especially when it comes to paying off potential fines. This past season, Gudas was fined and suspended once by the NHL, but he was involved in at least a handful of questionable, borderline incidents that could have seen him slapped with further suspensions or fines. Read more

Vincent Lecavalier officially announces retirement after 17 seasons

Vincent Lecavalier (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Upon being traded to the Los Angeles Kings, Vincent Lecavalier said his time in the NHL would come to a close following one final playoff push. That push lasted all of five games, but the veteran center followed through on his word that his career was coming to a close, making his retirement official Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement released through the Kings, the 36-year-old said that he has informed the team of his decision and will now devote his time to his family.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who have helped me along the way and shared this journey with me,” Lecavalier said in the release. “First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents, my wife, Caroline, my brother Philippe, sister Genevieve and my entire family. I could not have accomplished anything without your love and support.” Read more

Maple Leafs’ Cowen, Flyers’ Umberger first players to be bought out

Jared Clinton
R.J. Umberger (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL’s buyout window officially opened Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon saw the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers become the first teams to take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of a contract.

Jared Cowen’s contract was the first to fall, as the Maple Leafs placed the 25-year-old blueliner on unconditional waivers for the purposes of a buyout on Wednesday. He cleared waivers Thursday afternoon to make the process official.

Cowen didn’t play a single game for Toronto and it had been clear for the final few months of the 2015-16 campaign that the Maple Leafs were going to rid themselves of Cowen’s contract come mid-June. The reason for the buyout is two-fold, though. First, Cowen doesn’t fit into what the Maple Leafs are building and he wasn’t in coach Mike Babcock’s plans, nor was he part of the future of the team. The second, much more interesting, reason is that buying out Cowen’s contract provides Toronto with a cap credit of $650,000 for 2016-17.

That’s right: the Maple Leafs earned salary space by buying out the final year of the rearguard’s four-year, $12.4-million deal. They will be on the hook for $750,000 in 2017-18, however. Read more

Humongous big comeback: Ilya Bryzgalov wants to make return to NHL

Anaheim Ducks Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov has played 40 NHL games in the past three seasons — and didn’t play professionally at all in 2015-16 — but that isn’t about to stop the quirky, veteran netminder from setting his sights on an NHL return.

In an interview with NHLPA.com’s Chris Lomon, Bryzgalov, 35, said a season away from the game has reignited his desire to play in the league, to face the world’s best shooters and give his 10-year-old son, a goaltender himself, the opportunity to watch his father play.

“When I told my son I was looking to play in the NHL again, his eyes lit up,” Bryzgalov told Lomon. “He was so excited. Now he’s older and he understands the game more. It would be great if he could watch me play again, maybe to learn some things that can help him.” Read more

10 players who could be buyout candidates this off-season

Bryan Bickell (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.

For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.

With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more

Can Penguins close out series on the road?

Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have another chance to win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and first since 2009, when they face the San Jose Sharks on the road in Game 6.

Trying to win a championship on the road late in a series doesn’t sound like the easiest of feats, but recent history may suggest otherwise.

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