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Several signings and one big trade drastically shifted the balance of power across the NHL in a matter of days.

With John Tavares going home to Toronto Womens T. J. Watt Jersey , Paul Stastny leaving Winnipeg for Vegas, St. Louis signing three free agents and trading for Ryan O’Reilly, the landscape of the league has changed. The Washington Capitals are bringing back a vast majority of their team, the Western Conference is loaded and yet the Maple Leafs now appear to be Stanley Cup favorites after adding Tavares.

”He’s one of the best players in the league,” Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said. ”And I think it’s obvious to say that Toronto is a better team today with that acquisition.”

Tavares’ decision to leave the New York Islanders knocks them out of contender status and puts a whole lot of pressure on coach Mike Babcock’s Maple Leafs to make a deep playoff run. Losing out on Tavares despite reportedly offering more money than the Maple Leafs’ $77 million over 11 years kept the Sharks from moving into front-runner status in the West – but they may not be done yet.

”We pride ourselves on being able to take a swing on difference makers like this,” San Jose GM Doug Wilson said. ”John was the one that we wanted to swing at.”

The Sharks, who extended Logan Couture and re-signed Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl to keep their core together, have plenty of tradable assets and will keep swinging for a difference-maker. One is off the market following the Blues‘ trade for O’Reilly that now gives them a potent 1-2-3 punch down the middle with Brayden Schenn and free agent signing Tyler Bozak.

O’Reilly saw the Blues sign Bozak to a $15 million, three-year contract and wondered if there wasn’t room for him anymore. Now they have centers to match up with just about any opponent in the league.

”You look at all the teams that have success, they definitely have guys down the middle that compete,” O’Reilly said Monday. ”And I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

The Capitals boasted depth with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller during their Cup run, and Babcock can now roll out Tavares, Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri. Vegas lost talent on the wing with David Perron going to St. Louis and James Neal signing with Calgary but now has a very competitive center corps led by Stastny, William Karlsson and Erik Haula.

”We do like having centers,” Golden Knights GM George McPhee said. ”You can move centers around the lineup, you can have centers on the wing. You can’t get wingers to play center.”

Here’s a look at where a few more teams stand early in the preparations for the 2018-19 season:

GOT WHAT THEY NEED

LIGHTNING: Signing Tavares would’ve been a luxury and might’ve necessitated a roster makeover just to fit him under the salary cap. Tampa Bay signed restricted free agent forward J.T. Miller to a long term deal, extended defenseman Ryan McDonagh, got a deal done with Slater Koekkoek and should have much of the same team that won the Atlantic Division last season.

”We try to improve our team Youth Josey Jewell Jersey ,” Yzerman said. ”I don’t sense that we have a need to change just to change.”

FLAMES: Inking Neal to a $28.75 million, five-year contract would be a nice capper to the Flames‘ offseason that began with acquiring center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin from Carolina. New coach Bill Peters could put Neal or Lindholm on right wing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

GM Brad Treliving’s final tasks this offseason are to find a backup goaltender to Mike Smith and sign restricted free agents Lindholm and Hanifin to new contracts.

KINGS: Long-term , signing franchise defenseman Drew Doughty to an $88 million, eight-year extension is the most important thing Los Angeles did. In the shorter term, it also won the competition for returning Russian winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who GM Rob Blake believes can play with either top-six center, Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter, and produce at age 35.

”That scoring-type winger was something that we needed to add,” Blake said. ”Where he plays on the power play and the way he scores goals with his shot I think is something we’ve coveted or looked for.”

WORK LEFT TO DO

SENATORS: They traded Mike Hoffman, bought out Alexandre Burrows but still have at least one big problem with the future of Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Senators have reportedly given Karlsson’s camp permission to speak with other teams about a contract – which is expected to look a whole lot like Doughty’s deal – which would open to door to Ottawa trading its captain rather than losing him for nothing like the Islanders did when Tavares wouldn’t sign early.

”We start Oct. 4,” GM Pierre Dorion said Sunday in Ottawa. ”We’ve got lots of time.”

OILERS: Connor McDavid won the scoring title and the Ted Lindsay award as the players’ choice for most outstanding player, and yet Edmonton missed the playoffs by 17 points. GM Peter Chiarelli publicly dangled the 10th pick in the draft to try to get an offensive defenseman and hasn’t been able to acquire one yet.

Meanwhile, left wing Milan Lucic is 30, coming off a 34-point dud of a season and still has five years left on his contract at a $6 million annual cap hit. Lucic’s name has come up in trade talks, but moving him now won’t be easy, so the Oilers have to prepare for life with him next season.

”He’s a proud guy and we expect to have him back and at a The deadline for Kevin Durant to opt into his contract with the Warriors for next season passed Friday night without him doing so, making the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP a free agent – yet his intention has always been to stay put and re-sign with Golden State.

Much like a year ago, Durant declined to opt in for the second year of his deal, allowing him to work on a more lucrative contract once the signing period begins Saturday night.

Durant only had to inform the Warriors if he planned to opt in Adidas Ryan Getzlaf Jersey , and the team had long been prepared for this move – merely a procedural decision – knowing his plans for months.

The 29-year-old Durant could sign for as many as four years and about $160 million. He has made clear all along his commitment to the Warriors, especially after winning a pair of championships in his first two seasons with Golden State.

A year ago, Durant declined to opt in for the second year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. That also was expected as he wanted to do whatever he could to give the franchise financial flexibility to keep the core of the team intact to chase more titles.

Then, the Warriors won another one earlier this month – and Durant hoisted the MVP trophy a second time.

After the season, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Golden State would reward Durant with ”whatever he wants.”

”Sometimes you don’t negotiate. I’d love to have him for 10 years. Kevin Durant, look what he did for us last year, he did us a great service,” Myers said. ”He’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants. I just want him to sign a deal. But want him to be happy and want him to know that we want him as long as he wants to be here. He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms. He can do whatever he wants. That shouldn’t be a long negotiation. Our goal, to be honest, is to try to keep the whole thing together, so that’s the pieces of the puzzle we’ve got to try to figure out.”

Durant, recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist award for this past season honoring all his charity efforts, led the Warriors to a finals sweep of LeBron James and the Cavaliers by averaging 28.8 points – he shot 52.6 percent and 40.9 from 3-point range – 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.00 blocks.

That’s after last postseason when he averaged 28.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 55.6 percent and scoring more than 30 points in nine of his 15 games on the way to a first career championship in his 10th NBA season.

 
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