Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf

Nonis: Kessel, Phaneuf extensions not on ‘front burner’


Recently re-signed Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis has already made his mark on the team in his first seven months on the job, but his biggest test is still ahead of him.

The Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, a defenseman who logged 25:10 minutes per game in 2013, has just one year left on his contract. On top of that, their leading scorer, Phil Kessel, is also set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Locking those players up or otherwise preparing the team for losing one or both of them could be the difference between the Leafs continuing on their current upward path or stumbling, but regardless of what Nonis’ plans are, it doesn’t sound like he will act soon.

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s not on the front burner right now,” Nonis said when asked on Sportsnet 590 about the possibility of signing one or both of them over the summer.

Kessel seems content to simply wait and see what happens, but he’s also happy in Toronto and open to staying for the long haul.

Meanwhile, Nonis is likely focused on re-signing restricted free agents Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson and Mark Fraser, although he said he’s not close to inking any of them.

To be fair, none of these matters are urgent, but these are also situations where a prolonged stretch of no news can increase the chances of bad news.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.