Jason Brough

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 06:  Michael Grabner #40 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Air Canada Centre on November 6, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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UFA of the Day: Michael Grabner

Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Michael Grabner

We wrote yesterday about a speedy forward in Darren Helm. Well, here’s another one. Grabner is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. And at 28 years old, he’s still got his wheels.

What he hasn’t had the past few seasons is much success scoring. Just nine goals in 80 games in 2015-16 for the Maple Leafs. In reality, he hasn’t been much of a threat since 2010-11 and 2011-12, when he scored 34 and 20 times, respectively, for the Islanders.

On the bright side, at least he managed to stay healthy last year. That should help his cause when he goes to market, after injuries piled up during the end of his time with the Isles. So too should his 12 career shorthanded goals, the 25th most among active NHLers, tied with Ryan Kesler.

“He’s really good on our PK and that’s been a big part of our success there as of late,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said in November. “He’s a leader in that area, he understands what needs to be done and has done a real nice job for us.”

Toronto, despite finishing with the worst record in the NHL, had the 13th-best penalty killing.

According to the New York Post, the Rangers are expected to be in contact with Grabner about a new deal. Their PK ranked 26th last season, and management may feel more speed could held solve their puck-moving issues.

Grabner’s expiring contract was for five years with a cap hit of $3 million.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

NHL confirms Canucks facing punishment for tampering

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The NHL is reviewing whether to penalize the Vancouver Canucks for tampering after general manager Jim Benning expressed interest in acquiring players under contract, including Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos.

“I have received a number of concerns and not solely from the teams involved,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters during the second day of the NHL draft on Saturday.

“What I’ll say is I have a discussion both with Jim and (Canucks president) Trevor Linden. They understand where we are in this situation and have talked about announcing something early next week with respect to what we intend to do about it.”

The Canucks confirmed that they have been contacted by the NHL regarding Benning’s statements.

Daly said the severity of punishment will be based on how “damaging” the comments might have been. The potential discipline would range from a fine or Vancouver losing a draft pick.

Benning told a Vancouver radio station Thursday that he intends to contact Stamkos’ agent about the pending free agent’s interest in Vancouver.

NHL rules bar teams from discussing their interest in players who are under contract. The one exception is during a window of opportunity that opened on Saturday, when all teams are allowed to contact pending free agents, but not allowed to sign them until July 1.

Benning spoke two days before that window opened.

Benning might have crossed the line further during the interview when he revealed the Canucks have contacted Montreal about acquiring star defenseman P.K. Subban, who is signed through the 2021-22 season.

“The price would be really high to acquire a player like that,” Benning said. “We’ve done our due diligence, like we do with all the players who are out there. But it’s a long way from completing a trade like that.”

Related: Bergevin not happy, says Benning’s comments ‘crossed the line’

Yzerman calls Stamkos sign-and-trade an ‘interesting idea’

Steve Yzerman
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) With time running out, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman isn’t ready to give up on the possibility of re-signing captain Steven Stamkos.

Speaking at the NHL draft Friday night, Yzerman declined to provide an update on contract talks except to say he’s not ruling anything out, or “closing any doors.” When posed a question of potentially signing and then trading Stamkos, Yzerman called it “an interesting idea.”

He added he’d rather gain an asset by trading Stamkos than losing him to free agency.

The Lightning have leverage to at least agree to sign and trade Stamkos. Under NHL rules Tampa Bay can sign Stamkos to an eight-year contract, while others are limited to seven years.

Starting Saturday, pending unrestricted free agents such as Stamkos are allowed to speak with all teams, but can’t sign until July 1.

Related: Detroit unloads Datsyuk’s contract on Coyotes

Rangers take a gamble on ‘a new Sean Day’

VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 28:  Sean Day #4 of Team Cherry skates up ice during the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game January 28, 2016 at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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There was a time not long ago when Sean Day was destined to be a star defenseman in the NHL. In 2013, at the age of 15, he was granted exceptional status to play in the OHL, just like John TavaresAaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid had been granted before him.

But Day’s OHL career hasn’t come close to matching the hype. In fact, it’s been dogged by questions about his commitment to staying in shape

From Sportsnet’s report from the Draft Combine earlier this month:

Body fat:
Sean Day went off at 1-5 odds to have the worst result here and he did at 14.9 per cent.

More:

Okay, he’s down 20 pounds at least from last summer. At 230 he still looks like a beer leaguer but it’s a start. It didn’t look like he bought into the idea that the combine was a chance to make a big impression.

He went from ordinary to very ordinary to below average at the stations, and seemed sort of nonchalant.

And so Day’s draft stock fell. Saturday morning, the New York Rangers used their third-round pick, 81st overall, to gamble his talent wouldn’t go to waste.

He said he’s already started to get leaner:

So we’ll see how it goes.

“I think it’s a long-term commitment,” an NHL executive told Yahoo Sports. “This is just the start of it for him. I don’t think you can make that judgment until a couple years down the road. He’s obviously put in some work. He’s a really talented kid. Maybe it works out for him. You can’t overlook the talent.”

The Bruins still haven’t added that ‘transitional’ defenseman they wanted

of the meets with the media following the NHL General managers Meetings at the Bellagio Las Vegas on June 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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If there was one thing the Boston Bruins were going to do this offseason, it was upgrade their blue line.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” team president Cam Neely said in April. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

But the Bruins’ blue line hasn’t changed one bit since then. Their search for a “transitional” defenseman lost another candidate this morning when the Panthers traded Dmitry Kulikov to Buffalo. Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski have already been snapped up.

The Blues still haven’t traded Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price for d-men of his caliber is extremely high, according to Boston GM Don Sweeney.

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” Sweeney said Friday, per CSN New England. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.”

It may be that Sweeney’s hoping the Blues lower their price on Shattenkirk, who’s only got a year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Or maybe he targets Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler. But they won’t be any cheaper.

If the prices are too high in the trade market, options in free agency include Brian Campbell (but he’s 37), Dan Hamhuis (he’s not particularly young either), and Jason Demers (arguably the best right-shot UFA d-man, but in no danger of winning the Norris).

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way,” said Sweeney. “We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

Related: Jack Edwards says the Bruins’ blue line ‘is in a crisis right now’