Prospects Rambling: Hockey season never truly over (July 16)

Mark Allan


The Sabres can't wait for 2016 first-round pick Alexander Nylander to show up at their training camp.


Another NHL season is in the rearview mirror, the entry draft has come and gone, and free agents have been getting signed, or not, for more than two weeks.

Hockey season is over – except for general managers inking contracts and dedicated puck hounds who remain interested year-round even in the dog days when the Boys of Summer are playing smallball on diamonds all over North America.

As such, here comes our weekly Saturday roundup of NHL free-agent signings throughout the league. It’s been a busy week for teams (a) securing veterans with extensions, (b) awarding first contracts to fuzzy-cheeked newbies and (c) proffering short-term, show-me bridge deals to prospects who might still be revealed as suspects.

By far the biggest news of the week involved Dallas all-star LW Jamie Benn, who signed a mammoth eight-year, $76-million extension about the same time he had successful surgery to repair a core muscle, which will need about six weeks to recover. The Stars paid the price you have to pay for a top-10-scoring power forward.

After an initial wave of UFA signings, veterans who include Sam Gagner, Jiri Hudler, James Wisniewski and Kris Versteeg are still waiting for their phones to ring. Now that some teams have filled their needs with other vets (RW Kyle Okposo to Buffalo, for example), unsigned UFAs are losing the hammer in negotiations with GMs who will seek, and likely find, some bargains.

Prospects signing significant entry-level NHL contracts this week include:


RW Alexander Nylander, three-year, entry-level. The highly skilled Swede could challenge for, and earn, an NHL job right away with the help of genes he and his brother William inherited from their father Michael, a former NHL puck wizard.


C Mark McNeill, one-year RFA extension. McNeill is increasingly looking like an AHL lifer.


D Jamie Oleksiak, one-y