Dion Phaneuf

Phaneuf ‘sure’ he’ll re-up in Toronto, willing to negotiate during season

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Dion Phaneuf may be a pending free agent, but he sure isn’t talking like one.

“I want to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs for a long time. I love playing in the city, but the business side will take care of itself,” Phaneuf said on Tuesday, as per Sportsnet. “I’m sure that we’ll get something done.”

Phaneuf, 28, will see his six-year, $39 million deal expire at the end of the 2013-14 season. He’s been an integral part of the Toronto blueline since being acquired from Calgary in 2010 and, just six months after arriving, was named the 18th captain in franchise history.

According to Leafs GM Dave Nonis, there’s no reason to think Phaneuf’s standing in the organization will change anytime soon.

“Obviously Dion is a core part of our team,” Nonis said in August. “He’s our captain. He’s fit well into Toronto and our group and there’s no reason to think he won’t be here for the long run.”

This past season, Phaneuf had 28 points in 48 games while averaging 25:11 of ice time. However, his defensive play has at times been criticized (e.g. after his gaffe in Game 4 of the Leafs’ first-round series versus Boston) and there are concerns about how much Toronto — a team that has $34 million committed to just 10 players for next year — can afford to spend on Phaneuf and teammate Phil Kessel, who is also a UFA after this year.

To that, the Leafs captain says no worries.

He’s even willing to negotiate during the season.

“We haven’t talked yet, but there’s lots of time left,” Phaneuf. “I think you’re open to everything. For me, I have no problem with doing it during the year.

“That’s what happened with my last deal.”

Report: Blue Jackets on the verge of signing Sam Gagner

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on before a face off against the New York Rangers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It sounds like Sam Gagner may determine his destination for 2015-16 in the near future.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets are close to signing Gagner to a one-year, one-way deal. Such an agreement might not be made official until Monday, according to Portzline.

After a bumpy season with the Philadelphia Flyers in which he spent some time in the AHL, Gagner must especially appreciate the one-way nature of his next contract.

The Blue Jackets aren’t the only team interested in the 26-year-old, as his name was also connected to the Vancouver Canucks:

It looks like the still-quite-young scorer will get a clean slate after bouncing around and being defined by a bloated contract originally signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

(Remember when he broke one of Wayne Gretzky’s records?)

Gagner’s presence could make life easier for the likes of Boone Jenner:

It’s conceivable that Gagner could enjoy a nice rebound season if used in a specialized, protected role. The Blue Jackets may very well be the right fit.

… And on the other hand, the deficits in Gagner’s all-around game could at least provide some John Tortorella rage and entertainment.

Everyone wins.

Former Sabres forward Jochen Hecht calls it a career

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01:  Jochen Hecht #55 of the Buffalo Sabres against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 1, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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The Mannheim Eagles announced that German forward Jochen Hecht is retiring from hockey.

(It’s OK to be a little bewildered that he was still playing, just don’t be too mean about it.)

Hecht played 833 regular season games and 59 playoff contests at the NHL level, making his greatest mark as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

His last bit of NHL action came in 2012-13, when he scored 14 points in 47 games for Buffalo.

Since then, he wrapped up his career with the Mannheim Eagles, a team he’s sporadically played for since 1994-95.

Honestly, it’s weird to see Hecht in any sweater not related to German’s national teams, the Eagles or Sabres, even though the Blues actually drafted him:

Then again, he could also look odd in a certain Sabres sweater.

Apparently he got the NHL 16 Hockey Ultimate Card treatment:

Plenty of Sabres fans and reporters fondly remember Hecht, so here’s to a nice career.

Yes, it’s really happening: Vegas NHL team installs ice for first time

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via Vegas is Hockey
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Sometimes you just need a reminder that a remarkable thing actually is happening.

Saturday presented the latest evidence that the NHL coming to Las Vegas isn’t just a collective fever dream, as the still-nameless franchise noted that they’ve begun the process to install ice at T-Mobile Arena for the first time.

It’s not the prettiest picture, but it means a lot:

While setting up the first sheet of ice is a physical sign that things are coming together, the front office side will dictate the sort of team that eventually plays on it.

For more insight into that process, Puck Daddy takes a look at Murray Craven, who appears to be a key part of bringing things together … even if it’s difficult to nail down a specific title.

Presenting: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hockey bobbleheads

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via Milwaukee Admirals
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From the Department of Sights You Can’t Un-see: the Milwaukee Admirals are going to unleash hockey-playing bobbleheads for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “this fall.”

The Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate continues the fine tradition of headline-grabbing and all-around-odd promotions from the league.

/Pours one out for the Bakersfield Condors and their Seinfeld “puffy” shirts.

Feast your eyes on the rather disturbing duo:

(The replies to that tweet aren’t too weird yet, but it would probably be wise to stay away nonetheless.)

Naturally, there are other bobblehead options available for the two Presidential front-runners, with the Trump ones being especially entertaining.