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NHL notes: Stamkos contract could be close

Lightning forward Steven Stamkos battles past Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner in Tampa, Fla., May...

Lightning forward Steven Stamkos battles past Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner in Tampa, Fla., May 3, 2011. (MIKE CARLSON/Reuters)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

Both sides are optimistic the Tampa Bay Lightning will soon have restricted free agent Steven Stamkos under contract.

Although rumours have been rife that Stamkos will soon sign with the Lightning it looks as though it will, in fact, happen before long. There have also been rumblings that Stamkos could get an offer sheet from another team but now doesn't appear likely.

"We're working towards getting a deal done," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the St. Pete Times. "We're going to get there. I'll be patient and, again, optimistic that we'll reach an agreement. I don't want to give you a timeframe on anything, but I believe we'll get there."

Don Meehan, the agent for Stamkos, seemed to back up Yzerman during an interview on The Fan 590 in Toronto Wednesday.

"We're working at (a contract)," Meehan said. "He's really, really a unique player and in many respects can be a franchise player. When you're dealing with anybody of that kind of substance, it takes a lot of time to come to an agreement. But we're both working.

"We have a consensus on many things about Steven. One, that he's very unique; two, he's a tremendous player. Very, very popular in Tampa, and as I said he can be considered a franchise player."

Stamkos, one of the top RFAs on the market, had 119 goals and 113 assists in his first three years in the NHL. After scoring 51 in 2009-10, Stamkos had 45 goals last season.

NHL, KHL extend deal

The NHL and Russia-based KHL have extended their agreement that regulates player movements between the two leagues.

The extension, which is identical to the memorandum of understanding the two leagues came up with last year, is good for another year but there is still no formal agreement in place. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and KHL president Alexander Medvedev signed the extension, according to NHL.com.

"We believe that the achievement of a consensus on the status of hockey players in both leagues will reflect positively on the broader development of the sport of hockey," Medvedev said in a statement.

Preds avoid arbitration

The Nashville Predators avoided going to arbitration with four players, signing the quartet of forwards to new deals Thursday.

Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling signed two-year contracts while Chris Mueller and Cal O'Reilly re-upped for one year.

Halischuk's deal pays him a total of $1.425 million, Spaling's is for $2.1 million and O'Reilly got $1.05 million. Mueller, who led Milwaukee of the AHL in scoring last season, comes in at $550,000.

The NHLPA filed a grievance with the league over the qualifying offers the Predators made to seven players, including Halischuk, Spaling and O'Reilly. The PA says they seven did not receive their qualifying offers in time.

The grieveance will be heard Friday in New York.

Two head to Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed former Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Shannon to a one-year contract Thursday.

Shannon had 11 goals and 16 assists in 79 games with the Sens last season. He's played 260 career NHL games with the Sens, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks.

The Lightning also inked winger Alexandre Picard to a one-year contract. Picard, a first-round pick of the Columbus Blue jackets in 2004, played in 59 games with San Antonio of the AHL last season.

HABS SIGN WILLSIE

The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Brian Willsie to a one-year, two-way contract Thursday.

Willsie was the 11th-leading scorer in the AHL last season, collecting 68 points in 76 games with Hershey. He played one game for the Washington Capitals, getting one assist.

Drafted in the sixth round by Colorado in 1996, Willsie, 33, has 52 goals and 57 assists in 381 career NHL games with the Avalanche, Capitals and Los Angeles Kings.

Twin Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are stocking up on Russells for the coming season.

The Jackets have acquired the rights to restricted free agent forward Ryan Russell, 24, from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Mike Blunden. His twin brother is Blue Jackets defenceman Kris Russell.

Ryan Russell, a 5-foot-10, 1754-pound centre, hasn't played in the NHL. He was a plus-17 with the Hamilton Bulldogs last season, getting 21 points in 65 AHL games.

Blunden, a 2005 second-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, played in one NHL game last season. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right winger had 21 points in 37 games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. The 24-year-old has two goals in 51 career NHL games.

Kris Russell has spent the past four seasons with Columbus.

Rangers swapping numbers

The New York Rangers are shuffling uniform numbers to accommodate prize free-agent acquisition Brad Richards.

Richards will wear No. 19. Ruslan Fedotenko, who wore that number last season, will switch to No. 26. The duo wore the same numbers with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 when the Bolts won the Stanley Cup.

Erik Christensen will change to No. 40 to accommodate Fedotenko, while newcomer Mike Rupp will wear No. 71.

Quick hits

The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed defenceman Matt Lashoff to a one-year contract. Lashoff played 11 games for the Leafs and 69 games with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL last season ... Defenceman Alexander Sulzer and goalie Matt Climie signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Sulzer had one goal and four assists in 40 games split between the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers while Climie spent last season with San Antonio of the AHL ... Sean Burke was promoted to director of players development/goaltending coach by the Phoenix Coyotes. Burke was previously the Coyotes goalie coach ... The Winnipeg Jets signed forward Jason Gregoire to a two-year, two-way contract. The Winnipeg native, a third-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2007, played three seasons with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the U.S. college ranks ... Goalie Drew MacIntyre and forwards Derek Whitmore and Colin Stuart all signed one-year deals with the Buffalo Sabres. MacIntyre played with Chicago and Hamilton of the AHL last season while Whitmore and Stuart were with Portland of the AHL ... Tough-guy Brian McGrattan signed a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. The 29-year-old racked up 153 penalty minutes in 59 games split between two AHL teams


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