Thursday June 16th, 2016

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The Arizona Coyotes sent a 2016 fifth-round pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for the rights to defenseman Alex Goligoski on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Goligoski will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and wasn't expected to re-sign in Dallas. The 'Yotes then are basically buying a two-week negotiating window, a decent risk for a team that needs veteran help on its blueline.

Despite appearances, it's also a solid return for the Stars. Goligoski was their top defenseman last season, but his inconsistency, especially with the puck on his stick, had them ready to move on. So now they get something for a departing asset, and clear a roster space that could be assumed by top prospect Esa Lindell. The 22-year-old Finnish defender spent this past season with the Texas Stars of the AHL, where he racked up 14 goals and 42 points in 73 games, and was an early invite for that country's World Cup of Hockey team. So the Stars get younger and cheaper, freeing up cap space that might be used to bolster their own D corps closer to the trade deadline next winter.

• It sounds like Kyle Okposo's time in New York has come to an end.

Speaking of Sirius XM on Friday, Islanders GM Garth Snow said of the unrestricted free agent-to-be: "We wish him nothing but the best."

Doesn't take a magnifying glass to read between those lines.

The 28-year-old right wing was second in scoring on the Isles this season with 64 points in 79 games. He's believed to be looking for upwards of five years at $6 million per. Minnesota, New Jersey, Boston and Montreal could all be in on the bidding.

• One of the most curious rumors to make the rounds recently had the Colorado Avalanche willing to move defenseman Tyson Barrie.

For a team in desperate need of a blue line upgrade, moving out Barrie, who led the team's defenders with 49 points and was third in time on ice, didn't make a lot of sense.

Turns out, there's nothing to it.

“I’d like to do a long-term deal with Tyson,” Colorado GM Joe Sakic told The Denver Post. “If that doesn’t work out, it’s expected he’ll go to arbitration. Either way, he’ll be here.”

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​Sakic also revealed that UFA forwards Mikkel Boedker and Shawn Matthias will test the market, but the Avs aren't out of the running for their services.

“I did speak with both representatives. They’re going to test the open market and see what’s out there,” Sakic said. “I’d like to have one back for sure, or both, but we’ll see where that goes. They have the right to test it so they’re going to do that. We’ll revisit that early July.”

• In a perfect world, the Pittsburgh Penguins would enter next season's playoffs they way they finished off in 2015, with an enviable goaltending tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

But this world is far from perfect. There are cap considerations to deal with in the here and now, and the looming presence of an expansion draft a year from now that will force them to choose one over the other.

“I have not met with Marc yet to see what he’s feeling," Penguins GM Jim Rutherford told the media Thursday. "I haven't seen the expansion guidelines yet, so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

“I’m going to say the obvious. It’s a great situation that we have good goalies, but it could be a tough situation going forward.”

It won't be a tough choice. With a Stanley Cup on his resume at the tender age of 22, Murray isn't the Penguins goalie of the future anymore. He's very much of the moment. And that means Fleury's days are numbered. 

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There's no telling when it's going to happen. Rutherford could strike now, when he's most likely to get top value for his longest tenured player. The Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes are thought to in the market for an upgrade. The market may never be better for the 31-year-old keeper who has three years remaining on a deal that counts $5.75 million against the cap. Murray, on the other hand, is signed through 2016-17 for a bargain $620,000.

“Flames [general manager] Brad Treliving is well aware of the possible fit and, as should be expected from the diligent workhorse, he’s been in contact with Rutherford,” Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun wrote Wednesday.

The Flames have a clear need. They were the only team in the league to post a sub-.900 save percentage this past season. The Stars also need an upgrade over the jittery tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. The Hurricanes re-signed veteran Cam Ward to a two-year deal on Thursday, so the need isn't as desperate, but it makes sense that they'd at least kick the tires if given the chance to add a Cup winner like Fleury.

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