Jason Brough

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In hopes of making the Leafs, Marner’s offseason goal is to ‘put on weight and add strength’

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Mitch Marner is currently listed at 163 pounds. Before the start of next season, he wants to get to 170, in hopes the added muscle will give him the best chance to make the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I want to make sure I feel comfortable enough to go out against men and play hard, and make sure I can go out there and do the things that I like to do,” said Marner, per the Waterloo Record. “They want me at a weight where I can stay in the NHL. It depends on how hard I work this summer, and how much I eat. That’s my goal, put on weight and add strength.”

Marner, who piled up 160 points in 75 games for the Memorial Cup-winning London Knights last season, just turned 19 in May, so he cannot be sent to the AHL next season. While there’s been speculation he could play a year of pro in Europe, he shot that idea down, saying if the Leafs don’t feel he’s ready, London would be “a place I’d look forward to going back to.”

 

For the record, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau is listed at 157 pounds, making him the lightest player in the NHL.

Related: Mitch Marner picked a great time to be an undersized prospect

Preds not worried they’ll lose Fabbro like they lost Vesey

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Just because Jimmy Vesey spurned the Nashville Predators doesn’t mean they’re going to pressure Dante Fabbro to turn pro before he’s ready.

Fabbro, a defenseman, is off to Boston University in the fall. He was the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft, after a couple of big seasons with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.

“If Dante is a good player after a couple of years, we’ll certainly approach him,” Preds GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “If he needs four years, then we’ll wait. It’s all about relationships. We thought we had the right relationship with the Veseys, and apparently we didn’t. We certainly will try to do all the right things with the Fabbros.”

For the record, Poile doesn’t like the rule that will allow Vesey to become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15. He calls it a “loophole” and a “bad rule,” and he hopes it can be changed.

But the rule didn’t stop the Preds from picking Fabbro, so clearly there’s a confidence that they won’t lose him like they lost Vesey.

Fabbro has reportedly said he doesn’t expect to spend the full four years at BU, and that should make Preds fans happy. They’ll be watching his development closely, hoping it goes well enough that he can turn pro in a couple of years.

Related: Vesey still intends to go to free agency on Aug. 15

The Blackhawks are ‘very high’ on Czech defender Michal Kempny

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Brian Campbell may have been the biggest addition the Blackhawks made to their defense, but don’t sleep on the other one. Chicago GM Stan Bowman is expecting big things from Michal Kempny, the 25-year-old blueliner the ‘Hawks signed in May.

“We wanted to upgrade our defense, and certainly Brian is a big part of that,” Bowman said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re very high on Michal Kempny as well. Everything’s new to him over here now. He has one year in the KHL and he did great his first year there, and we’re hoping he has a great transition to the NHL, as well.”

Kempny played 59 games for Omsk Avangard last season, scoring five goals with 16 assists. In a couple of months, he’ll compete for the Czech Republic at the World Cup.

Defensive depth was an issue for the ‘Hawks last season. In the end, they never adequately replaced Johnny Oduya, who played such a big role for them in the 2015 playoffs.

Next season, they’ll have four — not just three — proven top-4 d-men in Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Campbell, with Trevor van Riemsdyk, Michal Rozsival, Kempny, and a few others competing for the rest of the minutes.

“You put all that together, and our defense is looking very, very strong,” said Bowman. “It’s a strong point of our team right now.”

Related: Forsling could return to Sweden next season

Doug Jarvis named assistant coach in Vancouver

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After six seasons on Claude Julien’s staff in Boston, Doug Jarvis has joined the Vancouver Canucks as an assistant coach.

Jarvis will replace Glen Gulutzan on Willie Desjardins’ staff. Gulutzan was named Calgary’s new head coach in June.

“Doug Jarvis is an accomplished coach with multiple Stanley Cup championships and NHL Finals experience,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning in a release. “He has a teaching mentality and draws from his knowledge as a former player and coach spanning almost 40 years.”

A former Selke Trophy winner as a player, Jarvis has been an assistant coach on two Stanley Cup-winning teams: the 1999 Stars and 2011 Bruins.

If he has any ideas on how to improve a power play, the Canucks will be all ears.

The Canucks would like to add a winger with ‘grit and size’

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The Vancouver Canucks nabbed one of the NHL’s top free agents when they signed Loui Eriksson to a $36 million deal on Friday, but GM Jim Benning still wants more.

“If I had a crystal ball, I would say we’d try to add a winger who had some grit and size to him, who can score,” Benning said, per The Province newspaper.

At the moment, the Canucks only have one big, tough winger with goal-scoring ability, and that’s 19-year-old Jake Virtanen. Considering Virtanen’s not even a sure thing to start next season in the NHL, it’s understandable that Benning wants what he wants.

The challenge now is to find it.

It probably can’t be found in free agency anymore. Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd and David Backes have all been locked up, and for big money. Perhaps if Shane Doan can’t get something done in Arizona? But that’s a long shot.

It won’t be easy to find in a trade either, mostly because Vancouver doesn’t have all that much to offer in return. Rumor has it that the Canucks have been shopping defenseman Luca Sbisa. Not surprisingly, they’ve yet to find a taker. Sbisa, 26, has a $3.6 million cap hit through 2017-18, and that’s not going to interest many, if any, teams.