Daniel Winnik

Leafs continue to add vets, sign Winnik to one-year, $1.3M deal


Toronto has added yet another experienced forward via free agency, agreeing to terms with former Anaheim Duck Daniel Winnik on a one-year deal.

UPDATE: Per ESPN, the contract is for $1.3 million.

Winnik, 29, is an interesting case study. He scored a career-high 30 points last season — while making a tidy $1.8 million — and at times proved to be a useful, big-body forward over the course of two years with the Ducks. The former Coyote, Shark and Avalanche did fall out of Bruce Boudreau’s favor in the postseason, though, sitting as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions while recording just one assist in nine games.

That said, there’s certainly upside to his game.

Winnik has good size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and shown consistent scoring ability, putting up identical 11-goal, 26-point campaigns in Phoenix and Colorado earlier in his career. As for Toronto taking a one-year flier on him, it’s very similar to what the Leafs did with ex-Canucks forwards David Booth — who, last week, received a one-year, $1.1M deal after getting bought out — and Mike Santorelli, who signed in Toronto for $1.5M after Vancouver let him walk in free agency.

This “vets on the cheap” blueprint was hatched last season, when Toronto inked another ex-Canuck — Mason Raymond — after inviting him to training camp on a PTO. Raymond scored 19 goals and 45 points while playing on a $1M contract, and subsequently landed a three-year, $9.45M deal from Calgary this offseason.

As for Winnik… his $1.3 million cap hit leaves Toronto with around $3M to get a new deal done with RFA defenseman Jake Gardiner (it also leaves Toronto with 17 forwards on NHL contracts, so that’s something else to monitor.)

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks