James O'Brien

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs

Dubas wouldn’t be surprised if Kadri makes Leafs pay with next deal


After signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nazem Kadri seems to be at a fork in the road. His team realizes that at least one path could lead to riches, too.

Stats-leaning types believe that Kadri could be capable of big things, and that seemingly includes some executives in the Leafs organization. Assistant GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet 590 on Friday that he expects Kadri to “show a lot of people what he’s made of this year.”

“I know with Mike [Babcock], he’s put it to Naz and he expects him to be an elite player, he expects him to reach his potential, and if he does that he’s going to play a ton and he’s going to score a lot,” Dubas said. “… He’ll have the chance to take us to the bank.”

If that happens and Kadri shows that he’s worth a lot more than the $4.1 million he’ll make in 2015-16, Dubas said that the Leafs will be “happy to pay him.”

One thing seems clear: it’s tough to imagine this mulligan of a contract year going much worse than 2014-15 did.

We can spout out numbers for and against the 24-year-old, yet you only need to note how his season ended to get a picture of how rough things were. A snooze button malfunction prompted the team to suspend him and tell Kadri to “grow up.” He followed that reprimand with a suspension-worthy hit that was poorly timed, even by suspension standards. Former coach Ron Wilson also piled on for whatever reason.

Amid all that drama, Kadri only managed 39 points last season, down from 50 in 2013-14 and 44 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

Yep, that’s a bad year.

The talent is indeed there for a big turnaround, so here’s hoping Kadri pulls out some cool training videos like he did last summer (he’d prefer with better results):

Related: Mike Babcock thinks Kadri has elite potential

Eichel Effect: More than 17,000 fans attend Sabres scrimmage

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

If Buffalo Sabres fans are disappointed about their team landing Jack Eichel instead of Connor McDavid, they have a funny way of showing it.

More than 17,000 people – the Buffalo News pegs it at 17,115 – showed up to watch the Sabres scrimmage on Friday night. That’s a crowd that exceeds some NHL arena’s capacities to witness low-importance hockey in July.

(Italics seemed appropriate in a case like this.)

Even Dan Byslma, Stanley Cup-winner, was taken aback as onlookers “jammed around the rink.”

WGRZ reports that Eichel said he wasn’t surprised when hundreds showed up for a development camp practice back on Monday, but this is a pretty impressive turnout by any measure.

Fans shared a few shots of the surprising atmosphere:

Wild stuff.

Report: Mikkel Boedker files for salary arbitration

Mikkel Boedker

Arizona Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker filed for salary arbitration, his agent Jarrett Bousquet told Fox Sports Arizona.

As always, the two sides could break the impasse before a hearing actually takes places, as Bousquet noted.

“We can still talk, but at this point we’re looking to see if we can get a one-year deal done to avoid letting the system take care of it,” Bousquet said.

Boedker brings a nice amount of speed to the table, and he’s one of the best scoring options on the Coyotes’ offense-starved roster. The 25-year-old had a somewhat disappointing 2014-15 season, scoring 14 goals and 28 points after being limited to 45 games. His best year came in 2013-14, when he set career highs in goals (19), assists (32) and points (51).

It’s been a tough time for the franchise, obviously, yet it would also be difficult to let Boedker go. The Coyotes have been “arm-wrestling” with the winger’s reps since at least April, so perhaps an arbitrator would have better luck finding a match?

The deadline for players is Sunday while team-elected arbitration must happen by Monday, so expect more stories along these lines.

Teacher-pest: Blue Jackets add Jarkko Ruutu to staff

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The Columbus Blue Jackets already valued their image as “little rats,” and now it sounds like they’ll get to learn from one of the biggest pests. The Blue Jackets hired Jarkko Ruutu as a scout and European player development coach on July 2.

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen explained to the Columbus Dispatch why he hired the former pot-stirring forward.

“I absolutely want a person and a player like Jarkko around our young guys,” Kekalainen said. “This is a guy who worked his (butt) off and did everything he could to get to the league and stay there.

“His work ethic earned him everything he’s got. There’s a great lesson there.”

They might not need many lessons in chirping, though, at least ones that current roster players couldn’t already provide.

One assumes that the likes of Scott Hartnell could make fun of people almost as well as he can mock himself. We’ve already seen what happens when people rub Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky the wrong way.

Others will need to scratch and claw to make an increasingly impressive roster, so perhaps Ruutu can impart some useful wisdom on those trying to find a way.

Lightning sign Tambellini to one-year, two-way deal

Nashville Predators v Vancouver Canucks

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract on Sunday.

Tambellini has plenty of NHL experience, with 242 regular season games under his belt. That said, he hasn’t played in NHL games since 2010-11, when he scored 17 points in 62 contests with the Vancouver Canucks.

The 31-year-old has been bouncing around overseas since then, including 2014-15, when he split time between Switzerland and Sweden.

One would assume that Tambellini’s time will be spent largely (if not entirely) in the AHL, but he also provides some injury insurance for Tampa Bay.