NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.

NHL Notes: Scott Hartnell signs with Predators

NHL Notes: Scott Hartnell signs with Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Predators brought back forward Scott Hartnell with a one-year, $1 million deal Saturday, adding depth up front for a franchise that lost James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft.

"The No. 1 goal was to replace James Neal in our top-9 forwards and we did that with the signing of Nick Bonino," general manager David Poile said. "I really think with our center position, we've really strengthened an area that a little less than two years ago was in my mind a little bit of a weakness. Now with Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, (Colton) Sissons, (Calle) Jarnkrok and still Mike Fisher undecided, I think we really are strong down the middle. For the first time in a long time, this might be as good at center ice as we've had."

Hartnell spent his first six seasons in Nashville after he was drafted No. 6 overall in 2000. He went on to play for the Flyers for seven seasons, becoming a first-time All-Star in 2012 while playing for Peter Laviolette, who is now behind the bench in Nashville.

"Absolutely love the guy," Hartnell said. "How do you not love his intensity? He's so well spoken. He gets the boys going. For our Stanley Cup run in Philadelphia, it was 100 percent because of Laviolette."

Hartnell spent the past two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring 13 goals and adding 24 assists last season. He has 314 career goals and 683 points (see full story).

Rangers: Shattenkirk comes home, signs 4-year deal 
NEW YORK -- The Rangers have agreed to deals with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and goalie Ondrej Pavelec on the opening day of free agency.

Shattenkirk was considered to be one of the top players available and fills a need on the team's blueline after the team bought out Dan Girardi and he is also a native of nearby New Rochelle.

Shattenkirk split last season between St. Louis and Washington and had 13 goals and 43 assists for 56 points in 80 games. He is one of four NHL defensemen who have at least 30 assists and 40 points in at least six of his first seven NHL seasons.

The Rangers also addressed their backup goalie situation by agreeing to a deal with veteran Ondrej Pavelec.

Pavelec will be the backup to Henrik Lundqvist after Antti Raanta was traded to Arizona last week.

Pavelec has played his entire career with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise. He had a 3.55 goals-against average last season with a .888 save percentage in eight games in the NHL, and a 2.78 GAA and .917 save percentage in 18 games in the AHL (see full story).

Hurricanes: Williams returns for 2nd stint in Carolina 
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Mr. Game 7 is coming back to the Carolina Hurricanes with the goal of leading them to another Game 1.

The Hurricanes opened free agency Saturday by bringing back 35-year-old forward Justin Williams on a two-year deal worth $9 million.

Williams, a key member of their 2006 Stanley Cup champion team, will make $5 million this season and $4 million in 2018-19.

The 2014 playoff MVP had 100 points combined the past two years with Washington, and after winning the Cup with the Hurricanes went on to win two more with Los Angeles.

Now Williams -- who earned the "Mr. Game 7" for his 7-1 career record in those series-deciding games -- will try to help Carolina snap the NHL's longest active playoff drought at eight years (see full story).

Panthers: Moving forward without Jagr
Jaromir Jagr gave the Florida Panthers some star power like perhaps never before, helped them win a division championship and unquestionably played a role in energizing what had been a stagnant fan base.

And now his tenure with the Panthers is over.

Making official what was suspected for some time, the Panthers revealed Saturday that they are going forward without the future sure-fire Hall of Fame forward. On a day dominated by free-agent signings -- like adding forwards Evgeny Dadonov, Radim Vrbata and Micheal Haley -- the biggest news out of Florida was that Jagr is no longer in the Panthers' plans.

"I can't say enough. It was an honor to be touched by a legend," said general manager Dale Tallon, who ultimately made the call to move on. "I was torn. It was a tough couple weeks, or months, whatever it was. Can't thank him enough. What he did for our kids, for myself and everyone in this organization, you can't measure it."

Jagr was with the Panthers for 2 1/2 seasons. He'll turn 46 next season, still wants to play and is coming off a 46-point season for a Florida team that wasn't exactly loaded with offensive weaponry. But in the end, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press, the two sides were simply too far apart on financial terms to make any more talks feasible (see full story).

Ducks: Fowler re-signs with new 8-year deal
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Cam Fowler wanted to stay home, and Ryan Miller wanted to get closer to Hollywood. They both wanted to be in position to contend for the Stanley Cup next season.

Fowler and Miller got everything they desired from the Anaheim Ducks on the opening day of free agency.

Fowler agreed to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension with the Ducks on Saturday, keeping the cornerstone defenseman with the club through the 2025-26 season. Miller agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal to leave Vancouver for the Ducks as a free agent, teaming with John Gibson in Anaheim's goaltending tandem.

Fowler has been a fixture on the Ducks' blue line ever since he unexpectedly fell to them at No. 12 overall in the 2010 draft, and the Ducks now can keep the U.S. Olympian through the prime of his career. He was outstanding last season, excelling on both ends of the ice while racking up a career-best 11 goals and 28 assists.

"From top to bottom, Anaheim has always treated me right and given me a really great opportunity right from the very start," Fowler said in a phone interview. "With the coaching staff we have in place, our ownership and the roster that we have, I really feel like we're very close, and I think we've proven that," (see full story).

Blackhawks: Sharp returns to Chicago
Patrick Sharp figured he would return to Chicago. He just wasn't sure he would play for the Blackhawks again.

Sharp, a high-scoring winger who helped them win three Stanley Cup championships before getting traded, will once again suit up for Chicago next season. The 35-year-old veteran agreed Saturday to a one-year contract that guarantees $800,000. He could earn an additional $200,000 in incentives.

"I have a special place in my heart, my family does as well, for the city," he said. "We did have plans on returning - maybe not as a hockey player. But we definitely do want to live in that city at some point."

Sharp said he could have signed for more money elsewhere. But the lure of returning to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success was too strong.

Sharp spent 10 seasons with the Blackhawks from 2005 to 2015 and had 511 points, including 239 goals. He scored more than 30 goals four times in that span and helped transform Chicago into one of the most successful franchises along with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Sharp got dealt to Dallas in a salary cap move after the Blackhawks beat Tampa Bay for the championship in 2015 (see full story).

NHL Notes: Sabres hope to hire head coach by early next week

NHL Notes: Sabres hope to hire head coach by early next week

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the Stanley Cup Final out of the way, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has resumed the team's coaching search with the expectation to make a decision by early next week.

In a text sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Botterill declined to reveal which candidates from the Cup finalists he still intends to interview after Pittsburgh beat Nashville to win the championship in Game 6 on Sunday. When asked specifically about his interest in Pittsburgh's Rick Tocchet and Nashville's Phil Housley, Botterill would only say: "I have respect for both of the coaches mentioned."

The newly hired GM has already interviewed numerous candidates, including Washington assistant Todd Reirden. Botterill, however, was forced to place the search on hold because NHL rules prevented him from interviewing assistant coaches on teams still competing in the playoffs.

Botterill was hired last month after the Sabres fired both GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma in April.

Botterill has an immediate connection to Tocchet. Botterill spent the previous 10 years working his way up the Penguins' ranks to eventually become the team's assistant GM (see full story).

Sabres: Ullmark signs 2-year extension
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed goalie Linus Ullmark to a two-year, $1.5 million contract extension.

Ullmark completed the final year of his rookie contract and was eligible to become a restricted free agent next month. Though spending much of the past two seasons being groomed in the minors, Ullmark has an 8-11-2 record in 21 NHL career games.

Last year, he went 26-27-2 in 55 games with AHL Rochester. Selected by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, Ullmark spent the next two seasons playing in his native Sweden.

The Sabres have until Sunday to determine whether to protect Ullmark or returning starter Robin Lehner when submitting their list of players eligible to be selected by Vegas in the NHL expansion draft next week.

Predators: Yannick Weber signs 1-year deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Yannick Weber to a one-year contract worth $650,000.

Webber played a career-high 73 games this season and had one goal and eight points.

The 28-year-old Weber has 23 goals and 55 assists in 347 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks as well as Nashville. He also has 33 goals and 62 assists in 155 career AHL games with Hamilton and Utica. Weber is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds.