NHL Notes: Canadiens sign goalie Carey Price to 8-year extension

NHL Notes: Canadiens sign goalie Carey Price to 8-year extension

Carey Price signed an eight-year contract extension Sunday, likely keeping the franchise goaltender with the Montreal Canadiens for the rest of his career.

General manager Marc Bergevin announced the deal on the second day Price was eligible to be extended. Price's new contract begins in 2018-19 and runs through 2025-26.

"I never thought about playing anywhere else," Price said on a conference call. "I never thought about putting on another uniform. I just thought it'd be too weird, I guess."

Imagining Price in any uniform that's not the Canadiens or Team Canada would be difficult given his dominant play over the past several years. So naturally getting him locked up was a top priority for Montreal.

Price won the Hart Trophy as MVP and Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in 2014-15 when he led the NHL with a 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.

"Nobody has a goaltender like Carey Price," Bergevin said at a news conference in Montreal. "There's a saying we use: `Goalies are not important until you don't have one.' ... It's a position that's hard to find, and we have, if my opinion, one of the best in the business, if not the best."

Price, who turns 30 in August, is 270-175-55 with a 2.40 GAA and .920 save percentage in 509 games over 10 NHL seasons. He bounced back from a knee injury that cost him most of 2015-16 to start 62 games last season, finishing third in Vezina voting (see full story).

Maple Leafs: Marleau comes East on 3-year deal
Patrick Marleau has left the San Jose Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marleau will count $6.25 million against the salary cap through the 2019-20 season. General manager Lou Lamoriello announced the signing Sunday, the second day of NHL free agency.

The 37-year-old was considered one of the top free agents available and had been considering his options. Marleau spent his first 17 seasons with the Sharks.

Marleau, the second overall pick in 1997, has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points in 1,493 NHL games. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season.

The signing of Marleau puts the spotlight back on Joe Thornton's status with the Sharks. Thornton is a free agent (see full story).

Capitals: Kuznetsov signs monster extension
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals have re-signed center Evgeny Kuznetsov to a $62.4 million, eight-year deal.

Kuznetsov will count $7.8 million against the salary cap through the 2024-25 season. General manager Brian MacLellan announced the contract Sunday night.

The 25-year-old Russian, who was a restricted free agent, is now the second-highest paid player for Washington behind captain Alex Ovechkin. Kuznetsov's cap hit surpasses Nicklas Backstrom's $6.7 million.

Kuznetsov had 19 goals and 40 assists for 59 points last season. In 261 NHL games with the Capitals, he has 182 points on 53 goals and 129 assists, and he led the team in points in 2015-16.

MacLellan called Kuznetsov a premier center with "tremendous, skill, speed and tenacity needed to win in the NHL (see full story)."

Golden Knights: Kruger acquired from Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- The Vegas Golden Knights have landed Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger, after all.

Two weeks after not selecting Kruger in the NHL expansion draft, Vegas gave up undisclosed future considerations to acquire the two-time Stanley Cup-winner in a trade with the Blackhawks on Sunday.

Used primarily as a checking-line forward, Kruger had five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 70 games last season. Overall, he has 33 goals and 72 assists for 105 points in 398 games over seven seasons.

Kruger's departure frees up much-needed salary cap space for the Blackhawks a season after signing him to a three-year $9.25 million contract.

The Golden Knights opened up cap space to add Kruger a day earlier when they traded defenseman Alexei Emelin to Nashville (see full story).

NHL Notes: Marc-Andre Fleury leads expansion draft selections

NHL Notes: Marc-Andre Fleury leads expansion draft selections

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights finally have some players to put on the desert ice this fall.

Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault and forwards David Perron and James Neal are among the veterans selected by the Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft Wednesday night.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee announced their choices during the NHL's annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas will begin play in the fall.

Fleury took the stage in a Golden Knights jersey to wild cheers from his new home fans. The three-time Cup winner lost his starting job with the back-to-back champion Penguins, but he'll get to start over in the desert with two years on his contract.

The picks included defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brayden McNabb, forward Oscar Lindberg.

The Golden Knights also announced additional acquisitions of a handful of veterans and free agents, including Anaheim defenseman Shea Theodore and Florida forward Reilly Smith.

The NHL wrote its draft rules to give the Golden Knights more opportunities to compete early in their existence, and their expansion draft choices certainly appear to form a solid core that could make noise in the Pacific Division.

"They're way past getting off the ground," Nashville general manager David Poile said. "I think this is by far the best expansion team ever" (see full story).

Oilers: 20-year-old McDavid wins Hart Trophy
LAS VEGAS -- Connor McDavid has won his first Hart Trophy. Hardly anybody in hockey believes it will be his last.

The Edmonton captain claimed the award as the NHL's most valuable player Wednesday night at the league's postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, the new home of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

The league also revealed the results of the Golden Knights' expansion draft to an arena filled with new fans of the NHL's 31st franchise.

McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the league's most outstanding performer in a vote of his fellow players.

The honors capped a remarkable sophomore season for the 20-year-old center, who won the scoring title and led the Oilers back to the Stanley Cup playoffs after an 11-year absence. The former No. 1 pick beat out fellow finalists Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

"I'm so proud to be in Edmonton," McDavid said. "I'm so proud to be an Oiler, and so proud to play with the guys."

McDavid is the third-youngest player to win the award. Only Crosby and Wayne Gretzky claimed the Hart as teenagers (see full story).

NHL: Home openers announced; Golden Knights’ 1st game in Dallas
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights will make their regular-season debut on the road in Dallas on Oct. 6 and host the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10 in the first home game in franchise history.

NHL teams announced their home openers Wednesday with the full, 1,271-game schedule for the 2017-18 season set to be released Thursday.

Vegas will play its first two games on the road, visiting Arizona on Oct. 7 before the second leg of an early back-to-back for coach Gerard Gallant's club.

The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will raise another banner and begin their quest for a three-peat Oct. 4 against the St. Louis Blues. The Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 5 in a matchup of the only teams to win the Cup three times in the salary-cap era.

The Western Conference-champion Nashville Predators open the season Oct. 5 at Boston. Nashville celebrates the longest playoff run in franchise history at home Oct. 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Philadelphia opens Oct. 4 at the San Jose Sharks, who have the longest active season-opener winning streak at seven. The first night of the season also includes the Calgary Flames at the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Winnipeg Jets, a matchup of the top two picks in the 2016 draft, Auston Matthews against Patrik Laine.

The Detroit Red Wings host Minnesota on Oct. 5 in the first NHL regular-season game at the new Little Caesars Arena.

The back-to-back Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals open their season at Ottawa on Oct. 5 and host the Montreal Canadiens in their home opener Oct. 7

NHL Notes: Awards, expansion draft collide in Las Vegas

NHL Notes: Awards, expansion draft collide in Las Vegas

It's 116 degrees in the ice hockey capital of the world.

For the next few days, Las Vegas is the place to be on skates. The desert gambling mecca is hosting the NHL's annual postseason awards show on Wednesday, when the league also will reveal the Vegas Golden Knights' choices in the expansion player draft to stock the club with talent for its inaugural season in the fall.

Las Vegas has hosted the awards show for several years, welcoming the NHL's best for a red carpet presentation and a short week of partying in a city that knows a little something about entertainment.

But Vegas' hometown team is in the spotlight for the first time this year, reaching a major milestone in its process of becoming the NHL's 31st franchise -- and doing it during a heat wave.

Combining the awards show and the expansion draft should only enhance the fun for Vegas fans welcoming their city's first major professional sports team. Thousands of those fans are expected to gather at T-Mobile Arena after the expansion draft for a raucous "Round Table Rally" to celebrate the Golden Knights' first major acquisitions.

"You don't always have to do things the same way," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the two-for-one Vegas show. "We're not afraid to try something a little different. We think it's going to be a lot of fun for our fans, particularly those here in Las Vegas" (see full story).

Devils: Constant in recent years has been missing playoffs
NEWARK, N.J. -- If anyone needs the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft, it is the New Jersey Devils.

After making the playoffs for 20 of 22 seasons, the Devils have fallen on hard times. They have missed the postseason for the last five years and they are coming off their worst season in nearly three decades.

In some ways, it's not surprising. After years of success that included three Stanley Cup championships and two other trips to the championship round, New Jersey ran into problems after going to the final in 2012.

The team was aging. Its drafts were weak. High-scoring wing Zach Parise used free agency to sign with Minnesota after losing the Cup to the Kings. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk returned to play in Russia after the following season. There was a lack of scoring, a little less defense and little depth throughout the roster.

A team that knew how to make the postseason suddenly didn't have the assets to get there (see full story).

Red Wings: Judge denies request to block funding tied to new arena
DETROIT -- A judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons' move from the suburbs.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause "catastrophic damage" to Detroit.

The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit's public schools. It said a vote from Detroit residents was needed first.

The lawsuit sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money. The City Council on Tuesday approved $34.5 million in taxpayer-funded bonds for the project.

The arena, which will be home to the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the NBA's Pistons, opens this fall.