Mike Halford

Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan, left,  and Lou Lamoriello smile at a news conference to announce Lamoriello has been named the new general manager of the Maple Leafs NHL hockey team in Toronto, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Leafs announce plans for centennial season


Toronto will celebrate its 100th season in 2016-17, and while some of the festivities have already been announced — like the NHL Centennial Classic, an outdoor game versus Detroit — the club announced a series of initiatives on Thursday for the upcoming campaign.

“The Maple Leafs Centennial Anniversary comes at a very special time in the team’s history,” team president Brendan Shanahan said in a release. “It allows us to look back and celebrate the great players, accomplishments and special memories of one of the most important franchises in hockey, but at the same time, look ahead to the next 100 years and the start of an exciting new chapter in team history.”

Among the plans for season No. 100:

— A special centennial logo, featuring the Maple Leafs new logo in silver with the number 100 displayed.

— New banners to hang in Air Canada Centre, paying tribute to the players that have had their numbers honored. Beginning this summer and throughout the season, the 18 original Air Canada Centre banners will be delivered to the hometowns that produced these players.

— Exhibition games in Halifax, St. Catherine’s and Hamilton.

— Statues for Dave Keon, Tim Horton and Turk Broda will officially be added to Legend’s Row.

For more on Toronto’s Centennial season plans, click here.

Pens sign former Florida forward Wilson

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Garrett Wilson #28 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New York Islanders during the first period at the Barclays Center on March 14, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh added some depth to its forward group on Thursday, agreeing to terms with ex-Panther Garrett Wilson on a one-year, two-way deal worth $575,000 at the NHL level.

More, from the Pens:

Wilson, 25, split the 2015-16 season between the Florida Panthers and their minor-league affiliate, the Portland Pirates. It was Wilson’s first extended NHL action, as he appeared in 29 contests with the Panthers.

During the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, the 6-foot-2, 199-pound Wilson suited up for all six of Florida’s opening-round matchups against the New York Islanders, picking up his first NHL point with an assist on Alex Petrovic’s game-winning goal in Game 4.

Wilson primarily plays left wing and while there aren’t many openings at that spot, his versatility could result in some minutes up front next season. Pens GM Jim Rutherford dealt away Beau Bennett to New Jersey, and has yet to come to terms with veteran center Matt Cullen.

If the Pens are looking for a physical presence next year, Wilson could be a good option. Despite only playing in 29 games for Florida last year, he finished seventh among forwards with 75 hits.

Veteran Isles tough guy Carkner calls it a career

Matt Carkner

NEW YORK (AP) Defenseman Matt Carkner has retired after a 15-year career.

Carkner, 35, appeared in 237 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks. He scored four goals, added 23 assists and compiled 556 penalty minutes. He added one goal and two assists with 35 penalty minutes in 14 career playoff games with the Senators and Islanders.

Montreal selected Carkner in the second round (58th overall) of the 1999 draft. Carkner made his professional debut in 2001-02 with the AHL’s Cleveland Barons and played 587 games in the AHL with Cleveland, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Binghamton and Bridgeport.

Welcome back: Kelly returns to Ottawa on one-year, $900,000 deal

UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 05:  Chris Kelly #22 of the Ottawa Senators skates during an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on February 5, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

What’s old is new again in the Canadian capital.

Chris Kelly, who broke in with Ottawa 13 years ago and played the first 463 games of his career there, has signed back on with the Sens on a one-year, $900,000 deal, the club announced on Thursday.

“We are excited to welcome Chris back to Ottawa,” said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion in a release. “In our evaluation of our roster we felt that we needed to add another player with the ability to succeed in close situations and on the penalty kill.

“Chris will be able to contribute to both of those while adding another accomplished leader to our group. He understands the type of commitment that is necessary to play at a championship level.”

Kelly left the Sens organization in 2011, when he was traded to Boston. He was a key cog in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship — scoring 13 points in 25 games — and was a key faceoff man and defensive center in the club’s run to the 2013 final.

Ottawa’s special teams were atrocious last season, especially the penalty kill, which is why Dorion alluded to Kelly’s influence on the PK.

The big question, of course, is how much Kelly has left in the tank. He turns 36 in November, and is coming off a broken femur that cost him almost all of the ’15-16 campaign.

Flames sign first-rounder Tkachuk to entry-level deal

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Matthew Tkachuk celebrates with the Calgary Flames after being selected sixth overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Calgary was thrilled to land Matthew Tkachuk with the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft, and it wasted little time locking him in.

On Thursday, the Flames announced Tkachuk has signed his three-year, entry-level deal. Per General Fanger, it carries a $925,000 cap hit and a $1.775M average annual value.

Tkachuk, 18, is coming off a stellar junior season in which he helped the OHL’s London Knights capture the Memorial Cup. The son of longtime NHLer Keith Tkachuk, he’s considered to be a very strong prospect and racked up 30 goals and a whopping 107 points in just 57 games this year, then piled up another 40 in 18 playoff games.

Shortly after selecting Tkachuk, Flames president Brian Burke spoke highly of the club’s newest young talent.

“Kid’s a kind of pain in the ass,” said Burke, per the Calgary Herald. “We don’t have enough guys who are pains in the ass. And the way I like to play, I like guys who are pains in the ass.

“So, I thought that was a real important pick for us.”

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see where Tkachuk starts next season. There will undoubtedly be temptation within the Flames organization to have him start the year in Calgary, as he can play nine NHL games before burning the first year of his entry-level deal.

Tkachuk would be a compelling addition to a gifted forward group that includes fellow youngsters Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett — and it’s worth noting the latter two debuted in their draft years.

Tkachuk goes 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, so he’s got big-league size. He’s also on record saying his goal is to make the team this fall.

“It’s to make an impact and try to make the Calgary Flames,” he said, per NHL.com. “It’s everybody’s goal, to try to turn some heads and make themselves known around the organization, the management, the coaching staff, and try to give yourself the best shot at making the team.”