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As Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis wrapped up his season-ending news conference, there was only one player on the roster who received his unwavering support: Phil Kessel.
When he mentioned the names of others — such as pending unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak and No. 1 goalie James Reimer — there was praise followed by a quick reminder that changes are in the offing.
The issue with Kessel is come July the Leafs will be able to offer their top forward a contract extension. He was asked if he would.
“I think this is the best stretch of hockey Phil Kessel has ever played,” said Nonis. “He’s — in my mind — one of the top players in the league. Would we look to extend Phil? Again, he has a year left on his contract, there is no urgency in getting him signed to an extension.
“Phil Kessel is going to be a good player in this league for a long time. If there is a deal that makes sense for both of us, then no question we’d look to bring him back for an extended period of time.”
As for Kessel’s centre and best friend — Bozak — Nonis was a tad less effusive in his praise.
Bozak tore his oblique muscle at the end of the season and ripped his triceps muscle during a faceoff in Game 5 and was missing for Games 6 and 7. He said he wants to return to Toronto.
What does Nonis think?
We’ll see how it all shakes out, but I would be surprised if Thomas Vanek landed anywhere but Minnesota after his seven-year contract worth $50 million expires.
What kind of moves can we expect from Nill this offseason? With a boatload of cap space, and a plethra of tradeable assets (take your pick) do you see them hitting the FA board hard, or looking at trades to bring in top 6 talent on the offense and a #1 big D-man who can eat a lot of minutes and protect Kari?
I would lean more toward trades. 1. They do have a ton of assets, many of whom are similar. 2. The trade market should be boosted by the fact that the salary cap is going down next season. I think the trade market could be very interesting for the Stars this summer.
Entering the final week of the regular season, many salivated over the prospect of a first-round series between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the potential of Canada’s two most historic teams going head-to-head in a playoff battle for the first time since 1979 — not to mention, the Maple Leafs’ first postseason appearance since 2004 — the series seemed like an ideal first-round matchup.
However, the Canadiens ended up winning the Northeast Division and drew the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed, the Ottawa Senators.
The Devils are entering an offseason of uncertainty.
With so many unrestricted free agents, it will be difficult to find the money and cap space to keep key players like Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.
Here are the Devils’ potential free agents:
Player Status What happens?
The Avs have not hired a replacement.
If Saturday was Daniel Briere’s final game with Philly it was appropriate it was played at Scotiabank Place, not far from his hometown in Gatineau. There is a lot of talk Briere, 35, will be bought out of the final year of his $6.5 million contract by the Flyers. Wouldn’t be shocked if he was signed by the Habs.
The Sabres were back at First Niagara Center today to clean out their lockers, have exit physicals and meetings with staff that included General Manager Darcy Regier. As could be expected after another non-playoff season, the mood was a somber one. The Sabres have missed the playoffs two years in a row, four seasons out of six and seven years out of 11.
Wow. Luongo off the ice, undressed, showered, and out of the arena in 12 mins. I believe you call that FUMING.
— Andi Petrillo (@andipHNIC) April 28, 2013
According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, all indications are that the Stars will replace Nieuwendyk with Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill with an announcement to come as early as Monday.
Dreger also reports that head coach Glen Gulutzan’s future is still unclear and a decision on his role is expected to made at a later date.
Nieuwendyk was named the Stars general manager on June 1 2009. And in the four seasons under his leadership, the team failed to make the post-season.
With the Edmonton Oilers eight points out of a playoff spot with just seven games remaining, general manager Steve Tambellini was fired on Monday. Former Oilers player and head coach Craig MacTavish has been named the new general manager. Watch the news conference live on TSN and TSN.ca NOW
Briere “pushed” things today at the morning skate, he said, and needs to see how he’s feeling on Friday. If he has no symptoms – he hasn’t had any for about four days – then he’ll play Saturday in Buffalo.
Briere is likely down to his final eight games as a Flyer. He’s an obvious option for an amnesty buyout this summer with two years left on his deal at a team-high $6.5 million cap hit.
The NHL trade deadline may have been the final act for some general managers.
With only three weeks left in the season, all 30 teams tried to tweak at Wednesday’s cutoff to make trades, but a chosen few were more desperate than others because their jobs are on the line if they don’t make a playoff push.
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) April 3, 2013
Intriguing name: teams are talking to Florida about Dmitry Kulikov. He’s not untouchable but I think Florida would need to get a great offer
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013
Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Whitney still in play for trade with Carolina Hurricanes’ Joni Pitkanen lost to injury
If Steve Tambellini’s cell-phone wasn’t ringing shortly after Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen suffered a serious leg injury on an icing race for the puck Tuesday night — when is the NHL going to wake up and go to no-touch? — then Jim Rutherford isn’t doing his job.
Knowing Rutherford for some 20 years, he is a pro-active NHL general manager. With Pitkanen, the onetime Oiler D-man,badly hurt (ankle, three months), then the Hurricanes are going to need Ryan Whitney.
Having landed the centre they’ve needed to get their team to think attack — instead of cowering in fear and hoping to score a goal or two — the Vancouver Canucks now pursue a quality forward they hope will play with Ryan Kesler.
According to assistant GM Laurence Gilman, Roy slots in as a third line centre playing with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen and Kesler will centre the second line when he returns with Mason Raymond (if he’s still here) and one would presume either Zack Kassian or new winger.
Asking price on Ben Bishop right now: 2nd-round pick with either a player or a prospect
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013