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Derek Stepan signed a two-year $6.15 million contract extension with the Rangers on Thursday. He was the last of the big name restricted free agents to sign so there will be no major hold-outs going into the season.
Glen Sather was quite adamant that Stepan sign a bridge contract, which is his M.O. The only Rangers RFA that I can think of who didn't sign a bridge contract was Ryan McDonagh this summer and he is basically their franchise defenseman.
Anyhow, Stepan's contract is great news for fantasy owners in all league types. It will be interesting to see what Vigneault does now that he has three top-six centermen to work with. If last season is any indication, Brad Richards will be on the outside looking in – especially with how good Derrick Brassard has looked in the pre-season. Monitor the minutes and linemates of these three to see who is coming out ahead.
Tim Thomas has officially signed with the Florida Panthers for the year. This was pretty much a foregone conclusion. With Scott Clemmensen hurt there was little competition for the position. Still, Thomas is a fierce competitor and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he was in tremendous shape and ready to put up a great season.
Thomas will start at least 50 games this season as Jacob Markstrom probably isn't ready to start full time. Thomas could be really good too as I suspect the Panthers will be friskier than one might think this season. I don't think they are a playoff team as they rely too much on their youngsters but there is enough talent there to be competitive on a nightly basis and with Thomas as a legitimate starter they should be much improved over the disaster they were last season (last in the league in goals allowed).
You shouldn't draft Thomas very high but he makes a great sleeper if you can poach him at the right time.
After all of yesterday's speculation Jake Allen was sent back to the AHL by the Blues. I stand by what I said, though.
Allen makes a great sleeper for this season if you have the room. Brian Elliott is so erratic that the Blues shouldn't count on him and Jaroslav Halak is much better and he's been pretty injury prone. I would count on seeing Allen at some point this season.
The Habs cut Nathan Beaulieu and Gabriel Dumont on Thursday but apparently Michael Bournival and Jared Tinordi will make the opening day roster.
Bournival has very modest upside and will be a fourth-liner given the Habs' depth up front.
Tinordi has more upside although at this point mostly in Hits/PIM leagues.
He was probably not going to make the team anyway but Sabres prospect Joel Armia is out indefinitely with a broken hand. Look for him next year.
Could Joakim Nordstrom actually make the Blackhawks roster?
Ultimately, it still has to be considered a long shot for Nordstrom to actually be in the Hawks’ lineup on opening night. He has been solid during the preseason, but he only has one goal on five shots, four hits, and two blocked shots in four games. Those numbers aren’t exactly jump-off-the-statsheet good, but
Quenneville and his staff could see something in him that Hawks scribes don’t, and that could mean that he remains in Chicago while a guy like Morin and/or Pirri is sent packing.