Fences mended? Canucks reportedly initiate talks with Bolland camp

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Apparently time does heal all wounds.

On Wednesday, Vancouver’s News 1130 reported the Canucks made contact with pending UFA center Dave Bolland, who appears to be at a contractual impasse with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bolland, of course, has quite the history with Vancouver.

A thorn in Vancouver’s side during his time as a ‘Hawk — he has 17 points in 16 career playoff games against the Canucks — Bolland infamously ripped Daniel and Henrik Sedin during a Chicago-based radio appearance three years ago, which sparked a war of words between the organizations.

Here’s what then-head coach Alain Vigneault and d-man Kevin Bieksa said after Bolland called the Sedins “sisters” and suggested they share bunk beds.

Vigneault:

“They’ve both been probably two of the best players in the NHL for the last five years, they’ve won a gold medal, and they are really involved in the community. They are great examples for players in the NHL, and for young people. They are just two great young people.

“When you have comments like Bolland’s, he’s obviously an individual whose IQ is probably the size of a birdseed. And he has a face that only a mother could look at.

“You’re talking about two players who play with integrity, they play the right way, that are great examples of everything this game stands for. Then you have a birdseed like that making comments.

“Lucky his mother loves him.

Bieksa:

“I think he looks more like a girl than they do.

“I think if it weren’t for the twins, I don’t think anyone would hear about Dave Bolland. His matchup against them in the playoffs has put him on the map. If he doesn’t want them on his team, he’s crazy. It’s probably because he’d be out of a roster spot.”

So yeah, it’d be rather interesting to see Bolland join the room after this… though to be fair, it was three years ago and Bolland has since expressed major remorse. Also worth noting that Bieksa’s still there, but Vigneault is long gone.

As for the actual news at hand — per 1130, talks between Vancouver and Bolland appear to be in their infancy, and much hinges on what the Canucks do with Ryan Kesler, rumored to be on the move at this Friday’s NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia.

Related: Bolland, Leafs remain apart in negotiations: agent

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”