Phil Kessel

Kessel would ‘love’ to spend rest of career with Leafs


Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel isn’t scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2014, but it’s not surprising the topic of his future is already coming up.

After all, he’s scored at least 30 goals in each of his last four seasons and the nightmare scenario for the Leafs should be him leaving as a free agent rather than via a trade — especially given the top picks turned young stars the Leafs traded to the Boston Bruins to get the 25-year-old in the first place.

Fortunately, it sounds like the Leafs won’t have to decide between trading him or watching him walk.

“If you asked Phil today, he’d love to finish his career here in Toronto. But it’s still young in his career right now,” Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

“Phil would like nothing more than to help the Maple Leafs make the playoffs. He wants to experience playoff hockey here in Toronto.”

Of course, just because he’d like to stay doesn’t necessarily mean that the negotiations will go smoothly. He can’t engage in negotiations until this summer, so it still remains to be seen what Kessel will demand and if he’ll end up seeing eye-to-eye with the Leafs.

In the meantime, Kessel will continue to work towards leading the Leafs to the playoffs for the first time since he joined them.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
Leave a comment

They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
Leave a comment

It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: