Tampa Bay Lightning extends contract of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy

SUNRISE FL- JUNE 27 General Manager Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on from the draft table during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center

General Manager Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning the big winner among NHL GMs in this crazy week of hockey business. Dave Sandford PNG

Sanity - or some modest version of sanity - was restored a little previous year, partly because the salary cap was no longer going up in leaps and bounds; but mostly because the free-agent crop frankly wasn't so great.

The 6-foot-6, 223-pound Hedman was in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when Tampa Bay lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. They answered their biggest question before free agency started, re-signing Steven Stamkos to an eight-year deal of his own that will pay him $8.5 million per season, per Bob McKenzie of TSN.

FILE - In this November 12, 2015, file photo, Boston Bruins left wing Loui Eriksson (21) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston.

The big fish is gone, so teams will circle around other targets when National Hockey League free agency opens Friday. The top-tier talent is deeper than in many recent years with Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, Brian Campbell and others available.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is staying put in Tampa Bay.

The clear winners and losers in any player acquisition - by trade, free agency or drafting - only reveal themselves several years down the road.

At the same time, the Lightning captain Thursday downplayed the allegations of a feud with his bench boss, pointing to the fact that he re-signed with Tampa Bay as evidence that he and Cooper can have a productive relationship in their shared quest for a Stanley Cup. Columbus re-signed up-and-coming, 21-year-old defenseman Seth Jones for the next six years.

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin speaks to reporters in Brossard Que. Wednesday

"There's still lots of room to grow as a player, to get better", he added. But both he and Stamkos seem to be keenly aware of the team's tricky salary cap position and the challenges it poses to the future of the Lightning.

"I think as you go along in your career, you realize you're never going to totally agree on everything - whether that's with teammates or coaching staffs or management or your siblings in life", he said. "P.K. Subban is a special and very talented player".

Steve Yzerman is a master of the understatement. Exceptional in the final stretch of the regular-season and into the postseason, Drouin eventually came around and rescinded the trade request.

Vasilevskiy has agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension with the Lightning, reports Dan Rosen of the NHL Network. "It's been a good couple days for the organization". He is the Bolts' all-time playoff leader for points, goals, assists and plus/minus among defensemen.

"The McDavid factor changes it all", Lucic said.

It was a deal aimed toward solving a long-standing need in Oiler country: Edmonton was searching for help on defence, and according to GM Peter Chiarelli, trading Hall was the only means to finding it. "We are excited to have him as a cornerstone part of the team for the next eight years as we continue in the franchise's ultimate goal of winning another Stanley Cup".

Getting a deal done in the summer would be better, though, so they have more money to use in re-signing their top two RFA forwards.

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