Mike Halford

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‘Hawks sign Jordin Tootoo — one year, $750,000

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Chicago has added some sandpaper to its forward group, inking veteran winger Jordin Tootoo to a one-year contract.

From the club:

Tootoo, 33, has played the last two seasons with the New Jersey Devils where he scored four goals and notched five assists in 66 games during the 2015-16 campaign.

Over his 12-year NHL career, Tootoo has tallied 158 points (63G, 95A) in 673 career games.

The forward made his NHL debut in 2003 with Nashville where he played for eight seasons. He later skated for Detroit (2012-14).

Per General Fanager, the contract is worth $750,000 at the NHL level, though it’s yet to be revealed if Tootoo signed a one-way or two-way deal.

At first glance, this looks like a move to replace some of the grit and energy lost when Chicago flipped Andrew Shaw to Montreal at the draft.

Though Tootoo lacks Shaw’s offensive upside — he’s never scored more than 11 goals in a single season — he does bring a wealth of experience to the table, especially within the Central Division (those eight years with the Predators, specifically).

Financially speaking, this is a low-cost, short-term option for the ‘Hawks, who are pressed right up against the salary cap ceiling.

Report: Flames sign Linden Vey (Updated)

UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 22:  Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the New York Islanders during their game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on February 22, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Glen Gulutzan is bringing a familiar face from Vancouver to join him in Calgary.

Per News 1130, former Canucks center Linden Vey is set to sign a one-year, two-way contract with the Flames. The move would be a reunion of sorts — Gulutzan was Vey’s assistant coach in Vancouver for the last two years — and provide Calgary with a right-handed center, something the club is sorely lacking at the moment.

Vey, 24, was often criticized during his tenure in Vancouver, despite relatively decent offensive production — 10 goals and 24 points in 75 games two years ago, and four goals and 15 points in 41 games last season.

His lack of physicality and questionable defensive prowess ultimately cost him, however. He was placed on waivers last season and spent a good chunk of time with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica.

After the year he wasn’t given a qualifying offer by the Canucks, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Following the season, reports revealed Vey had been dealing with some significant family issues over the last three years. In 2013, his father was charged with conspiracy to murder his wife (Vey’s mother), and was found guilty on two counts following his trial in early June.

Update: Per Calgary’s Fan 960 radio, Vey has indeed signed a one-year, two-way deal.

Being the unquestioned No. 1 ‘just the beginning’ for Allen in St. Louis

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 1: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues corrals the puck against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on March 1, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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It’s Jake Allen‘s time.

Finally.

After years of splitting duties, the Blues made moves this offseason to make their goalie of the future the goalie of the present. Brian Elliott was flipped to Calgary at the draft and, shortly after, GM Doug Armstrong signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension.

Shortly after that, career backup Carter Hutton was brought in to be Allen’s No. 2.

“I’ve come a long way since I was 17 years old,” Allen said recently, per the Post-Dispatch. “This is just the beginning. I feel like we’ve got a plan to follow and this is just part of it.”

Allen, who turns 26 in August, will certainly be one to watch next season. The Blues are coming off one of their deepest playoff runs in recent memory — advancing all the way to the Western Conference Final — and while Allen was mostly a spectator during that run, it’s now his net.

How much he plays, and how well he handles it, remains to be seen.

In his first three NHL campaigns, Allen’s never started more than 44 games. But it was last year, the one in which he started 44 times, that seemed to confirm he was ready to take the reins — he posted a .920 save percentage, the highest single-season mark of his career, and racked up six shutouts.

Allen being the No. 1 isn’t the only change in St. Louis.

The club lost its captain, David Backes, to free agency, and also parted ways with standout playoff performer Troy Brouwer and gritty veteran forward Steve Ott. That was all part of a youth movement that pushed the likes of Allen, Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko to the forefront.

Simply put, the Blues are ready to embrace the future. It’s why familiar faces like Backes, Elliott, T.J. Oshie and Barret Jackman are no longer with the club.

Allen says he’s ready to embrace the challenge.

“I want to do my best and I am confident in my ability,” he said. “I just play my game and keep things as simple as they can be. That’s when the results come for me. Fans see results and they support you a little bit more.

“Hopefully my confidence, my ability will turn into wins for our team and the bandwagon will get bigger will as well.”

PHT Morning Skate: Matthews mania hits Toronto

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs attends round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Auston Matthews, the first overall pick at this year’s draft, took to the ice on Monday for the first time as a Maple Leaf, participating in the club’s annual development camp. (Globe and Mail)

Another prized Leafs prospect, Mitch Marner, talked about the excitement of skating alongside Matthews, his potential future linemate. (NHL.com)

Interesting piece here on what Matthews’ entry-level contract might look like, in light of GM Lou Lamoriello’s opposition to performance bonuses. (Sportsnet)

Boston added some depth on defense on Monday, inking former Ducks and Coyotes blueliner Alex Grant. (General Fanager)

Kyle Connor, coming off an outstanding freshman campaign at the University of Michigan, is gunning to make the Jets roster this fall. (Global)

Dustin Molleken, nephew of ex-Blackhawks head coach Lorne Molleken, made his MLB debut for the Tigers on Monday night. (Baseball Canada)

Did the Red Wings make the smart move by passing on Alex Radulov? (Detroit Free Press)

Report: Panthers closing in on two-year deal for MacKenzie

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 18: Derek MacKenzie #17 of the Florida Panthers rates up ice with the puck during third period action against the Edmonton Oilers at the BB&T Center on January 18, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Oilers defeated the Panthers 4-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Florida has been busy on the contract signing front of late, and that trend might soon continue.

Per the Sun-Sentinel, the club is close to inking top penalty killer Derek MacKenzie to a two-year deal, believed to be in line with his previous deal that paid $1.3 million annually.

MacKenzie, 35, had six goals and 13 points in 64 games for the Panthers last season, the last of his three-year, $3.9M contract. Though he’s hardly an offensive dynamo, he does play an integral role on the team — he was one of the team’s best PK forwards last year, averaging 3:14 shorthanded TOI per game, and finished second on the club with 154 hits.

MacKenzie is also one of the club’s top faceoff men and serves as one of Florida’s alternate captains.

As mentioned above, the Panthers have been very active this offseason. They inked James Reimer on the opening day of free agency, and took care of important in-house business by re-signing Aaron Ekblad to one of the richest deals in franchise history.

Following the Ekblad deal, the club then locked in key forwards Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith.

Prior to those moves, the club acquired the negotiating rights to ex-Rangers d-man Keith Yandle, then inked him to a monster seven-year, $44.45 million deal.