June 1 (The Sports Xchange) - Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette on Thursday declined to specify whether franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne will start in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That doesn’t mean that backup Juuse Saros will start Saturday at Bridgestone Arena after he replaced Rinne in the third period of Wednesday’s Game 2 for his first career playoff appearance. That seems unlikely.
It does, however, illustrate the hard times the Predators face as they trail Pittsburgh 2-0 with their top goalie struggling.
Rinne has been described by his teammates throughout the postseason as Nashville’s best player and MVP, but the Penguins have scored eight goals on 36 shots against him.
Shawn Thornton has a new job title as the Florida Panthers named the recently retired forward as their vice president of business operations.
A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Thornton collected 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists) in 705 career games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Panthers. He had two goals and two assists in 50 games with Florida this past season.
The Panthers signed forwards Henrik Haapala and Maxim Mamin to two-year entry-level contracts.
Haapala, 23, appeared in 51 games with Tampere Tappara of Finland’s Liiga, recording a league-leading 45 assists to go along with 15 goals. He was awarded the Veli-Pekka Ketola Trophy as Liiga’s points leader.
Mamin, 22, appeared in 42 games with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, scoring 12 goals and adding 13 assists before producing three points in nine playoff games.
A day after acquiring his rights from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Los Angeles Kings signed 20-year-old forward Bokondji Imama to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.
Imama played in 66 regular-season games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season, recording 41 goals and 55 points to go along with 105 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating.
The San Jose Sharks will retain the rights to 2016 draft picks forward Noah Gregor and defenseman Mark Shoemaker after issuing them offers.
Gregor, 18, scored 27 goals and added 34 assists to go along with a plus-5 rating in 52 WHL games with Moose Jaw in 2016-17.
Shoemaker, 19, recorded 16 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 68 games with North Bay of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016-17. He was selected by San Jose in the sixth round.
Defenseman Adam Parsells, a 2015 draft pick, was not signed to a contract by the June 1 deadline and will re-enter the draft.
The Washington Capitals re-signed left winger Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract.
Walker, 23, scored 11 goals with 12 assists and a plus-11 rating in 58 games with AHL Hershey during the 2016-17 season.
The Vegas Golden Knights signed Czech Republic free agent forward Tomas Hyka to an entry-level contract on Thursday.
The 24-year-old most recently played for his hometown club of Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Extraliga. Last season, Hyka skated in 48 regular-season games and led his team with 17 goals and 21 assists. ))