Mike Halford

Providence left wing Nick Saracino (18) handles the puck but cannot score against Minnesota-Duluth goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo (33) during the third period of a regional semifinal in the NCAA men's college hockey tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Worcester, Mass. Minnesota-Duluth won 2-1 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Leafs sign Richter Award nominee Kaskisuo to entry-level deal

Toronto has signed Minnesota-Duluth goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to a two-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Kaskisuo, 22, was one of the 26 goalies shortlisted for this year’s Mike Richter Award, given annually to the NCAA’s top netminder. Kaskisuo went 19-15-5 this season, posting a 923 save percentage and a 1.92 GAA.

As mentioned, the Finnish netminder is leaving school after just two years. He was equally impressive in his freshman campaign, going 18-14-3 with a .917 save percentage.

Kaskisuo’s two-year deal kicks in next season and, at the time of writing, it’s unclear if he’ll sign an ATO with the Marlies, in order to kickstart his pro career.

It’s entirely possible he could be in line for some NHL minutes next season. Garret Sparks, who at one point was in the ECHL, has played 12 games for the Leafs this year and, of the goalies currently with the Marlies, only Antoine Bibeau is under contract for next year.

Alex Stalock, acquired in the James Reimer trade, is a pending UFA.

Report: Veteran d-man Lepisto garnering interest from NHL clubs

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: Juuso Hietanen #38 of Finland celebrates his third period goal with Sami Lepisto #18 in the second period against the United States during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Finnish d-man Sami Lepisto, who played in nearly 200 NHL games with the Capitals, Coyotes, Blue Jackets and Blackhawks, is reportedly being eyeballed for a potential North American return.

Per Russian news outlet Championat, Lepisto — who’s been playing in the KHL for the last four years — has received offers from NHL teams, according to the GM of his Russian-based club, Ufa.

Lepisto, 31, has enjoyed some fairly productive seasons in the KHL, though none better than this year, when he scored a career-best 11 goals and 30 points in 60 games.

Ufa’s GM, Leonid Vaisfeld, reportedly likened a Lepisto-NHL move to that of Evgeny Medvedev — who, last summer, left Ak-Bars Kazan at age 32 to sign with the Flyers. Medvedev has appeared in 44 games for Philly this season, registering 11 points.

Lepisto’s KHL contract is up this year.

Lepisto hasn’t played in the NHL since ’11-12, when he was with Chicago. In addition to his solid play in the KHL, he’s also maintained a regular place in the Finnish national team lineup, appearing in both the World Championships and the ’14 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


Blues sign University of Michigan senior Selman

Michigan's Justin Selman (10) skates off with the cup after it fell off the Great Lakes Invitational championship trophy while the team was celebrating a 2-1 win over Michigan State, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

St. Louis got in on the undrafted college free agent game on Monday, agreeing to a two-year, entry-level contract with the University of Michigan’s Justin Selman.

Selman, 22, enjoyed a four-year career at Ann Arbor, finishing his senior campaign with 13 goals and 31 points in 38 contests. The Wolverines’ year came to an end over the weekend, after their bid to qualify for the Frozen Four ended with a loss to North Dakota.

Since then, fellow U of M senior Cristoval “Boo” Nieves has signed with the Rangers. Many are waiting to see what Michgan’s stable of talented underclassmen will do, like freshman sensation Kyle Connor (a Winnipeg draftee), and prized Columbus d-man Zach Werenski.

Per the Blues, Selman will be assigned to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.


Goalie nods: Howard starts over Mrazek as Detroit fights for playoff life


After Saturday’s ugly 7-2 home loss to Pittsburgh — a game in which Petr Mrazek gave up four goals, and Jimmy Howard allowed three — Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t commit to a starter for tonight’s game in Buffalo.

This morning, though, it was Howard that got the nod.

And so it’ll be Howard tasked with trying to get Detroit back into playoff position. The Wings head into Monday’s action tied on 85 points with Philly — though Philly holds the final wild card spot via tiebreaker — and almost certainly need all two points as the Sabres invade Joe Louis.

Howard hasn’t exactly “won” tonight’s start, but rather has been the better of two struggling netminders. Mrazek, who at one point this season was in the Vezina conversation, has struggled mightily in February and March, which is why Howard — despite going just 2-2-0 with a .882 save percentage and 3.53 GAA this month — gets the nod.

For the Sabres, Chad Johnson is in goal.


— In a game Detroit will likely be keeping an eye on, Steve Mason makes his sixth straight start as the Flyers host the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec goes for Winnipeg.

Sergei Bobrovsky takes on Braden Holtby as the Blue Jackets face the Caps in Washington.

Ben Bishop, who got a game off Sunday, will be back in net when the Bolts host the Leafs. Looks like Garret Sparks goes for Toronto.

— Good matchup in Nashville tonight as Semyon Varlamov and the visiting Avs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds.

John Gibson gets another crack at shutting out the Oilers (which he did, on 21 shots, the last time the Anaheim and Edmonton met). He’ll go up against Cam Talbot.

Joni Ortio versus Louis Domingue as the Flames visit Arizona.

— “Teacher versus pupil” tonight in San Jose as the Sharks will start Martin Jones against the Kings. L.A. will start the guy Jones used to sit behind: Jonathan Quick.

Criticisms fly as Buffalo nominates O’Reilly for Masterton

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly (90) and New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) battle for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday Dec. 31, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y.  The Islanders won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

The Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association has nominated Ryan O'Reilly for this year’s Masterton Trophy, the Buffalo News reported on Monday.

And, subsequently, the Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Associate is now under scrutiny.

The Masterton is given annually to the NHL player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

As such, pundits are taking issue with Buffalo’s nomination going to O’Reilly, who made news last summer when he was charged with impaired driving following an incident in Ontario — an incident in which he crashed his truck into a Tim Horton’s restaurant, and fled the scene.

Some reading for you…

USA Today: Ryan O’Reilly is the most baffling Masterton Trophy nominee

Puck Daddy: Ryan O’Reilly Masterton Trophy nomination earns widespread mockery

SB Nation: Why was Ryan O’Reilly nominated for a ‘perseverance’ award while awaiting trial for drunk driving?

Sabre Noise (SI Fansided): O’Reilly’s Masterton nomination is troublesome

A key issue at play is that O’Reilly’s legal future remains unresolved. He’s had his court hearing pushed on a couple of occasions already, and is now set to go to trial in July.

While the News didn’t say how many ballots were cast, it did confirm that O’Reilly finished ahead of second-place Marcus Foligno and third-place Robin Lehner.

The paper also confirmed ten different players received at least one vote.