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5Jul/150

Joel Ward signs three-year contract with Sharks

Free agent forward Joel Ward signed a three-year contract with the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

"Originally when the season ended, my first thought was to maybe head back [to the Washington Capitals]," Ward said, "and just kind of more and more into the summer and free agency period, it just seemed unlikely.

"So I knew that was a possibility, and when I got a chance to talk to [Sharks coach Peter [DeBoer], that really helped me sway of being in a good situation."

The Capitals signed forward Justin Williams on Wednesday and traded for forward T.J. Oshie on Thursday, making Ward expendable.

His contract is worth $ 9.75 million, an average annual value of $ 3.25 million, according to Sportsnet.

4Jul/150

Saad signs six-year contract with Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- It wasn't all sand, sun and fun for Brandon Saad on his vacation this week while he got over the shock of being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks and awaited word on a contract from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But Saad started the holiday weekend by signing a six-year contract with Columbus reportedly worth $ 36 million.

"It's nice to be on the beach and in the sun," Saad said from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "At the same time, it's always in your mind you want to get things done and be on the team and excited to go, so that's been a little stressful."

"Both parties wanted to get a deal done, and get it done sooner rather than later," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told The Columbus Dispatch. "Brandon wanted to get it done so he could concentrate on hockey and get to Columbus.

4Jul/150

Prust was ‘in shock’ after trade to Canucks: report

Forward Brandon Prust was vacationing with his fiancée in Rome this week when he got the news he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks by the Montreal Canadiens.

"Funny, I saw the headline [July 1 on Twitter], 'Zack Kassian traded to the Canadiens from the Canucks,' but I didn't see at first who he was traded for," Prust told the Montreal Gazette on Friday from his offseason home in London, Ontario.

"[My fiancée] had been putting her makeup on for dinner and now she's bawling her eyes out, and I'm lying there in shock," Prust said. "I had 100 text messages on my phone within 10 minutes. It was very overwhelming.

"It was just shock for the first little while. I texted my mom and dad (in London) and told them I'd just been traded. I didn't know if their phone would start ringing off the hook, people trying to call me."

3Jul/150

Oshie ‘excited for my new start’ with Capitals

WASHINGTON -- When the NHL free agency period started, the Washington Capitals were looking to add a top-six forward. They wound up adding two.

Hours after signing Justin Williams late Wednesday night to a two-year contract, the Capitals on Thursday acquired T.J. Oshie in a trade with the St. Louis Blues.

"I'm looking to fit in wherever they think is the best fit for me," Oshie said. "I'm coming in as the new guy and willing to go in there and earn my time and show them what I can do."

"It would be something I've never experienced before," Oshie said. "I've always played with very good players but never players that have put up numbers like those two guys have. To get out there with them would be amazing. I'd feel like a kid in a candy store playing with that caliber of player."

Oshie played top-six minutes in St. Louis and likely will again with the Capitals, whether it's alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom or young forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.

3Jul/150

Retirement of St. Louis sparks debate: Is he a Hockey Hall of Famer?

Martin St. Louis was a Stanley Cup, Hart and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner, Olympic gold medallist and 1,000-point scorer.

The only question that remains after he announced his retirement Thursday is if St. Louis is a Hockey Hall of Famer.

"Easily, for sure," former teammate Dominic Moore said without hesitation. "No doubt about that. That to me is not even debatable. He has to be."

2Jul/150

Martin St. Louis retires after 16 seasons

Martin St. Louis on Thursday announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons.

St. Louis, who turned 40 on June 18, had 21 goals and 54 points in 74 games with the New York Rangers last season.

"I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride," St. Louis said in a statement released by the Rangers. "I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years.

"I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents."

St. Louis had 391 goals and 1,033 points in 1,134 regular-season games. Prior to spending the past season-plus with the Rangers, St. Louis played parts of 13 seasons with the Lightning (2000-2014) and 69 games with the Calgary Flames (1998-2000).

2Jul/150

Official 2015 list of available free agents

NOTE: Below is a list of players, who, effective July 1, became free agents. Players will be removed upon signing with a team.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Group 2 FAs: Carl Hagelin, Michael Sgarbossa, Jakob Silfverberg, Chris Wagner.

1Jul/150

Jones ready for bigger role after trade to Sharks

The San Jose Sharks added a potential No. 1 goaltender Tuesday by acquiring Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins, who traded for him on Friday.

"Martin was at the top of our list of players that we had targeted," general manager Doug Wilson told the Sharks website. "We're extremely excited to have him on board."

San Jose traded a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and forward prospect Sean Kuraly to get Jones, who was traded by the Los Angeles Kings to Boston at the 2015 draft as part of the package for forward Milan Lucic.

The Sharks had a need for another goaltender after trading starter Antti Niemi to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. With Niemi signing in Dallas, and backup Alex Stalock and Troy Grosenick the only goalies under contract in San Jose for 2014-15, Wilson used the trade market to find a starting-caliber goalie.

30Jun/150

Sabres raise expectations for quick success with changes at draft

New Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma had a little argument with general manager Tim Murray about the team's impressive moves at the NHL draft.

"I said, 'Tim I think we got more than a little bit better," Bylsma recalled. "And he said, 'No we got a little bit better,' and that's certainly true."

Let the tempering of expectations begin.

30Jun/150

Lidstrom, Fedorov, Pronger lead Hall of Fame class

Nicklas Lidstrom , Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger, Phil Housley, Angela Ruggiero, Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay are the Class of 2015 for the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Hall announced Monday.

The induction ceremony will be Nov. 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Lidstrom, Fedorov and Pronger each was chosen in his first year of eligibility.