Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf

It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day on PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

After missing out of the playoffs for a franchise-worst seventh consecutive season, the Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2013 campaign with a relatively new ownership group, a new GM in Dave Nonis, and the same starting goaltender.

Despite months of speculation that Roberto Luongo would come to Toronto, netminder James Reimer was given a chance at redemption after his rough sophomore campaign and he took advantage of it. With a 2.46 GAA and topnotch .924 save percentage, Reimer was one of the main reasons the Toronto Maple Leafs finally ended their playoff drought.

Of course, he didn’t do it alone. Even with Joffrey Lupul missing most of the season, the Maple Leafs still excelled offensively thanks to Phil Kessel, newcomer James van Riemsdyk, and the rise of 22-year-old forward Nazem Kadri.

Toronto faced off against the Bruins in the first round and fell behind 3-1 to Boston in the series. Still, they fought back to the point where they had a commanding 4-1 lead near the midway point of the third period in Game 7. Ultimately, they left the crowd at Boston’s TD Gardens ecstatic and Leafs fans in shock by allowing the lead to slip away.

That dramatic 5-4 overtime loss is how their season ended and it’s what hangs over their head as they prepare for the 2013-14 campaign.

Offseason recap

The Toronto Maple Leafs made use of their compliance buyouts by getting rid of Mike Komisarek and Mikhail Grabovski’s contracts. Grabovski took the news hard and reacted by calling Leafs coach Randy Carlyle an “[expletive] idiot.”

Despite those maneuvers, the Maple Leafs are in a tough cap position after acquiring Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks, re-signing Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract, and inking unrestricted free agent David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75 million deal.

Additionally, Toronto traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier to battle Reimer for the starting job. Bernier comes with a $2.9 million annual cap hit and the Maple Leafs agreed to retain $500,000 in cap space when they sent Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin to Los Angeles in the same trade.

Toronto now has a little over $4 million in cap space left, according to Cap Geek, but they still need to re-sign restricted free agents Cody Franson and Kadri.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Video: Marc Staal was no match for Alex Ovechkin on this goal

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against New York Islanders during the second period at Verizon Center on October 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.

That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.

It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.

As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.

It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.

That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.

Red Wings’ Abdelkader out with lower body injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.

The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.

He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.

He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.

After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.

According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers hospitalized

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.

Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.

Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.

Ales Hemsky returns to Stars lineup tonight

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.

The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.

He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.

With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.