Justin Schultz,  Zach Budish

Burke reportedly interested in Wisconsin’s Schultz…again

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According to the Toronto Sun, you can add the Maple Leafs to the list of potential suitors for Justin Schultz.

To be fair, this isn’t exactly a revelation. The University of Wisconsin blueliner is a highly touted talent, only 21 years old and projected by many to step in and become a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Toronto, like almost any other team, would be interested in that.

What makes the Leafs interesting, though, is GM Brian Burke’s history with Schultz.

From the Sun:

Toronto’s connection is that Burke drafted him just prior to leaving the Ducks in 2008, 43rd overall, the round after another Wisconsin defenceman Jake Gardiner. Anaheim was so anxious to get Schultz signed, it was reportedly prepared to burn a year of his entry-level contract just to play him in the final few games of the regular season. The Ducks might also work a trade for his rights before the 24th.

Burke has a history of obtaining (or trying to obtain) players he drafted while in Anaheim. In Feb. 2011, he flipped Francois Beauchemin to the Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul and the aforementioned Gardiner, the latter becoming Toronto’s best young defensive prospect (sorry, Luke Schenn.)

Burke’s also been tied to Ducks sniper Bobby Ryan for what feels like forever. The rumors date back to 2008, when Burke left his Anaheim post to take over the Leafs and was reportedly trying to take Ryan — who he drafted second overall in 2005 — along with him.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?