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Joel Ward

On eve of free-agency period, NHL teams taking care of business

On eve of free-agency period, NHL teams taking care of business

The NHL free-agent season opens Wednesday with two Kings, winger Justin Williams and defenseman Andrej Sekera, plus two Ducks, defenseman Francois Beauchemin and forward Matt Beleskey, leading the list of available players. It is, by most measures, an average free-agent crop this summer, which is likely why teams were rushing to get some business done Tuesday, before the market officially opens. The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were at the front of the line, completing a seven-player deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets that saw them ship out Brandon Saad, a 22-year-old power forward who was playing a top-six role. The Blackhawks had been unable to sign Saad to an extension and...

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