The real star of the expansion draft wasn’t Marc-Andre Fleury or James Neal, it was George McPhee. The general manager’s draft has set Vegas up to be contenders sooner rather than later.
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The NHL free agent signing period starts Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, and teams began talking to potential signees today.
Here is a look at the most intriguing unrestricted free agents in the class:
1. Right wing Alexander Radulov: According to reports, Radulov, 30, is seeking a long-term deal worth $7 million per season. If he insists on that level of payment, his options will limited. The Canadiens are considering moving Alex Galchenyuk. That decision will influence their thinking on Radulov, who is a difference-maker up front. Good fit: Canadiens
2. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk: He’s the best offensive defenseman in the market, and that alone will make him a big-ticket signing. His defensive flaws showed in the playoffs, but he can quarterback a power play and move the puck out of the defensive zone. Good fit: Boston Bruins
3. Defenseman Brendan Smith: In terms of the number of teams interested, Smith could be the hottest UFA. He could attract half of the league because he should be reasonably priced. He showed his value after the Detroit Red Wings dealt him to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. Smith can defend, contribute offensively, play a feisty game and be a quality teammate. Good fit: Rangers
4. Center Joe Thornton: It’s still possible Thornton, 37, will return to San Jose, but the Sharks have opened the door to his possible departure by allowing him to talk to other teams. His numbers were down last season, but he still had 43 assists and 50 points in 79 games. Thornton is also coming off of surgery to a torn ACL and MCL. He still can serve as an elite set-up artist and leader. Good…