KaneBickell

Kane to Bickell: You’re not a third-liner anymore

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It’s expected that Bryan Bickell will be linemates with Patrick Kane in Chicago this season.

And hey, speaking of expectations….

“[Bickell is] one of our key parts of our lineup now,” Kane told the Chicago Tribune. “He’s got to know that going into this season and realize he’s not counted on being a third-line player or a checking-line guy.

“He’s got to do what he did in the playoffs. That’s what’s expected from him now.”

Bickell, 27, raised exceptions exponentially over a three-month span earlier this year.

He had a breakthrough playoff performance en route to the Stanley Cup, scoring 17 points in 23 games. That included nine goals (two of the game-winning variety) and his emergence as the big-body, net-front presence the club lacked since Dustin Byfuglien during the ’10 Stanley Cup run.

Then came the money.

Bickell, who was making a modest $541,666 per year on his old deal, scored one of the biggest raises of the summer by signing a four-year, $16 million extension. That put him among Chicago’s richest forwards, trailing only Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa in terms of average annual cap hit ($4 million).

Bickell knows all this will mean increased expectations for the season, and he’s willing to accept the challenge.

“There is more pressure on my shoulders, but I feel where I was a couple of years ago my game is getting better every year and my mental game is where it needs to be,” he said. “I feel happy to be back here with the contract I have.

“I’m just looking forward to the challenge.”

Report: Sens, Canucks finalizing Burrows trade

Alex Burrows
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Sens owner Eugene Melnyk said he wanted GM Pierre Dorion to be aggressive in the club’s pursuit of a playoff spot.

So on Monday, Ottawa starting making its moves.

The club is on the verge of acquiring veteran Canucks forward Alex Burrows, per the Sun. Vancouver’s News1130 reports Burrows has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate the move and, what’s more, has agreed to a two-year extension.

No word yet on what Ottawa is sending to Vancouver.

Burrows, 35, is in the last of a four-year, $18 million deal with a $4.5M average annual cap hit. He’s enjoyed a decent bounce-back campaign in Vancouver, with nine goals and 20 points through 55 games. That nearly matches his totals from a disappointing ’15-16 season, when he went 9G-13A-22PTS over 79 contests.

A four-time 20-goal scorer, Burrows is no longer the effective, grating presence he once was, but can still provide energy and has enough versatility to play up and down the Ottawa lineup. What’s more, he has a truckload of postseason experience, notching 34 points in 70 career contests.

Burrows was also one of Vancouver’s top producers during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final run, with nine goals and 17 points in 25 games.

The move signals the end of an era for the Canucks — Burrows, an undrafted free agent that worked his way up from the ECHL, spent his entire 12-year career in Vancouver, appearing in over 800 regular season contests.

Pre-game reading: Another year, another Coyotes selloff

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— Up top, the Los Angeles Kings surprised a lot of people with their acquisition of Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay. Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones try to make sense of the trade.

— The Arizona Coyotes got a pretty good haul for Martin Hanzal, a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. That being said, another first-round draft pick isn’t going to help the Coyotes in the near future, and Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wonders how the team can sell hope to its fans when established players keep leaving. (The Hockey News)

— Speaking of Arizona, the Buffalo Sabres were there Sunday, and it did not go well for the visitors. The Sabres blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 in regulation after the Coyotes pumped three third-period goals past Anders Nilsson. Even worse? The day before, the Sabres lost 5-3 to Colorado, the worst team in the league. “Forget about any playoff race,” writes Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. “The Buffalo Sabres are toast after one of the most egregious weekends in recent franchise history.” (Buffalo News)

Read more: Sabres preaching the process, but major roster holes remain

Gabriel Landeskog doesn’t want to be traded by Colorado. “I want to be here. I want to be an Avalanche for a long time. I hope it remains that way.” Granted, he’s said that before and it hasn’t stopped his name from popping up in rumors. The way things have gone for the Avs this season, it’s pretty obvious that something has to give. Even if it won’t be easy for GM Joe Sakic to fix the roster through trades alone. (Denver Post)

— Postmedia’s Ed Willes argues that the Vancouver Canucks need to start selling a different story to their fans. Writes Willes: “The only way out for the Canucks, in fact, is by drafting and developing, and the organization has made some gains in those areas. The extent of those gains will be revealed over the coming seasons, but, at the minimum, this is a far better story to tell, especially when juxtaposed against the ‘we’re a playoff-team’ howler.” (National Post)

— An article on why it’s important that the Montreal Canadiens’ head coach speaks French. The Habs have got that again in Claude Julien, which is partly why they were so quick to pounce after he was fired by the Boston Bruins. (New York Times)

Enjoy the games!

Leafs acquire Brian Boyle from Lightning

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal against Detroit Red Wings during a game at the Amalie Arena on October 13, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are buyers.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Leafs are in the process of acquiring forward Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Update: The deal is official. In return, the Lightning get 25-year-old forward Byron Froese and a 2017 conditional second-round pick.

From the press release:

The conditional pick in 2017 will be the highest second-round choice between the Maple Leafs’ own or previously acquired selections from either San Jose or Ottawa.

Boyle, 32, is a pending unrestricted free agent. Given the Lightning are fairly well back of a playoff spot and have a number of young pending RFAs — including Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin — it makes sense for GM Steve Yzerman to trade Boyle now, a la Ben Bishop.

Boyle has 13 goals and nine assists in 54 games this season. He also has a ton of experience, having appeared in 100 postseason games for the Rangers and Lightning.

The Leafs are not assured of a playoff spot quite yet. Barely clinging to the second wild-card spot in the East, they kick off a three-game California trip tomorrow in San Jose.

Another Canadian team, the Edmonton Oilers, was also reportedly interested in Boyle.

Trade: Wild and Coyotes pull off another, as Pulkkinen heads to Arizona

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23:  Teemu Pulkkinen #17 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on October 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Wild 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Chuck Fletcher and John Chayka might want to consider a friends and family phone plan.

For the second time in as many days, the Minnesota and Arizona GMs have combined on a trade, as the Coyotes have acquired winger Teemu Pulkkinen from the Wild in exchange for future considerations.

Yesterday, in a much more significant deal, the Wild acquired forwards Ryan White and Martin Hanzal in exchange for a package of draft picks.

Pulkkinen, 25, has been a terrific scorer at the AHL level, but hasn’t seen that form carry over to the NHL. Detroit, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, waived him just prior to the start of this season. He was claimed by the Wild, but only appeared in nine games before getting waived again, and then spent most of the year in Iowa.

True to form, Pulkkinen played very well in the American League, and made this year’s All-Star team.

With the Coyotes, Pulkkinen will get another look at the NHL level, as he’ll join the team in Boston rather than report to their AHL affiliate in Tucson. Chayka has tried to find similar reclamation projects this year — Peter Holland, Alex Burmistrov — and the Coyotes could end up needing bodies should they continue to sell off veterans.

Radim Vrbata could be moved by Wednesday’s deadline, as could captain Shane Doan.