The latest on the Florida Panthers, Pekka Rinne, Marcus Johansson, Ilya Kovalchuk, Brendan Smith and more.

SUNSENTINEL.COM/MIAMI HERALD: reported the Florida Panthers re-signed goaltender Jacob Markstrom to a two-year contract (financial terms weren’t disclosed) plus signed their 2013 first round pick (second overall) Aleksander Barkov to an entry-level contract. Harvey Fialkov reported the Panthers may still sign a free agent goalie (like Chris Mason) if the price is right. George Richards reported the Panthers apparently aren’t in the market for another goalie, though assistant GM Mike Santos said that could change.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Panthers do decide to go goalie-shopping I daresay it won’t be until September, when they evaluate how Markstrom and current backup Scott Clemmensen perform in training camp and preseason. 

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne on track for full recovery from hip surgery.

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne on track for full recovery from hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: cited an interview Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne gave to the Predators blog Smashville, in which he expressed confidence of a full recovery from his May hip surgery in time for the new season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators fans will keep their fingers crossed.

WASHINGTON POST: Neil Greenberg examines what he believes is the fair market value for Capitals restricted free agent forward Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, I’m not gonna tell you! Read Greenberg’s detailed analysis to find out.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: cited a recent interview Ilya Kovalchuk gave to Sovietsky Sport, in which he said he’s not thinking about the possibility of an NHL return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and bloggers got excited about an NHL ruling which states Kovalchuk comes off the NHL’s voluntary retirement list upon reaching his 35th birthday, meaning he wouldn’t need the unanimous approval of the NHL Board of Governors to return to the NHL. Some even cited comments made by his sister claiming her brother would only play four years in the KHL and then return to the NHL. I say we don’t make assumptions based upon hearsay from a relative or upon an obscure NHL ruling and instead focus upon Kovalchuk’s actual statements. Perhaps one day he might consider an NHL return, but for now it’s obviously not at the forefront of his thoughts.  It wouldn’t surprise me if we’ve seen the last of Kovalchuk in an NHL uniform.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings yesterday avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Brendan Smith, inking him to a two-year deal. He’ll make $1.25 million in 2013-14 and $1.275 million in 2014-15.

PHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers have brought back former goalie Ron Hextall as their new assistant general manager.

CSNNE.COM: The Boston Bruins have fired their director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Mark Sutcliffe on why economical restraint will never serve as the NHL’s mantra. Of course, we serious NHL fans have always known this.