Author: Jason Brough

Jonathan Bernier

Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing


Jonathan Bernier wants $5.1 million. The Toronto Maple Leafs are thinking more like $2.89 million.

That’s how the two sides are going into Friday’s arbitration hearing, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Bernier isn’t coming off a great season. The 26-year-old went 21-28-7 with a .912 save percentage, as goaltending proved to be one of the many issues for the Leafs. But that followed a very good 2013-14 campaign, when he went 26-19-7 with a .923 save percentage.

The cap hit on his expired contract, a two-year deal, was $2.9 million. His salary last season was $3.4 million.

Oh, and there’s also this to consider:

Chicago, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa are finalists to host 2018 World Juniors

USA Hockey Juniors v Boston

It’s down to five cities.

From a press release:

USA Hockey today named Chicago, Illinois; Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; and Tampa, Florida, as finalist cities in contention to host the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

USA Hockey says the winning bid will be announced by the end of the year.

The United States has hosted the World Juniors five times, most recently in 2011 when it was in Buffalo. Other previous host cities include Minneapolis (1982), Anchorage (1989), Boston (1996), and Grand Forks (2005).

The 2016 tournament will be staged in Helsinki, with the 2017 edition co-hosted by Montreal and Toronto.

Related: Coyotes withdraw bid for 2018 world juniors

Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game One

The Vancouver Canucks have big plans for Brandon Sutter.

“Acquiring Brandon Sutter, to me he’s a foundation piece for our group going forward,” GM Jim Benning said today after sending Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh in a trade.

“He can play a good two-way game. He brings us speed. He goes to the net hard. I thought in the playoffs for Pittsburgh last year, he was really good. He’s a playoff player. When the games mean something, that’s when he’s at his best.”

Benning hopes to work with Sutter’s agent over the next few days to get a contract extension hammered out. The 26-year-old center is a pending unrestricted free agent.

The addition of Sutter, who figures to slot in below Henrik Sedin as Vancouver’s second-line center, will also give 20-year-old Bo Horvat more time to develop.

“Bo Horvat, the last half the year, played really well for us,” said Benning. “We don’t want to put pressure on him to be somewhere in the lineup that he can’t handle it going forward. We want to make sure that he keeps developing as a player.

“Brandon’s a proven NHL player, match-up player. He’s played against the other teams’ top players and shut them down. And he can still bring offense to our team.”

Related: Hamhuis, Vrbata will not sign extensions this summer