Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Chicago stays busy and re-signs Panik, who they believe can be ‘a dominant player’


Quite the day in the Windy City.

Not long after a noteworthy trade — sending Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina — the Blackhawks announced they re-signed Richard Panik to a one-year deal.

Financial terms have yet to be disclosed.

Panik, 25, was acquired in a mid-season deal with Toronto and fared well upon joining the ‘Hawks, scoring eight points in 30 regular season games, and three in six playoff contests.

Based on GM Stan Bowman’s comments last month, it was clear Chicago valued Panik and wanted to keep him in the fold.

“Can play right wing or left wing, and he’s played on the first line, third line, fourth line because he’s got some versatility to his game, which is what we like,” Bowman explained, to the Athletic. “He’s got a great skill set. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s competitive. He’s physical. So now we’re just looking for him to put it all together on a consistent basis.

“Because when he brings his best game, he’s a dominant player.”

Panik showed flashes of his potential late in the campaign and again in the postseason. He benefited from being thrown into a good situation on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, a trio Joel Quenneville went to a few times in the playoffs.

It’s probably worth noting Panik, who was set to become a restricted free agent, had an uptick at the tail end of a contract year. His one-year, $975,000 deal was set to expire on July 1.

Video: Crosby parades Cup through Pittsburgh streets

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Electric atmosphere in the Steel City on Wednesday, as Penguins captain Sidney Crosby rode through the streets with Lord Stanley’s Mug on display.

This marks the second time in Crosby’s career he’s paraded the Stanley Cup through Pittsburgh, and the fourth time it’s happened in franchise history.

It’s worth noting that this most recent championship puts the Penguins on par with the New York Rangers — one of the NHL’s original six teams — in terms of Stanley Cups won.

More from the Pens’ Stanley Cup parade:

Schultz: ‘It still hasn’t sunk in — it’s awesome’ to win Stanley Cup

‘Dream come true’ for Bonino

Get to know a draft pick — Auston Matthews

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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Auston Matthews (C)

Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 210 pounds Shoots: Left

Team: Zurich (Switzerland)

Country: U.S.

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 European skater

Kennedy says: “Even though he has been the top prospect all season long, it still seems like Matthews is underrated. Perhaps it’s because of the flashiness of Patrik Laine, or the fact Zurich games weren’t easy to watch in North America, but trust me: Matthews is the real deal.

“He’s the big, dominating center that teams are built around. Matthews has already drawn comparisons to Jonathan Toews (in terms of style and potential — ­ chill out, folks) and his performance at the World Championship confirmed just how deadly he is.

“His shot and creativity are weapons, while his motor makes him elite. He played against men all year in Switzerland and exceeded expectations.”

Related: Matthews ‘physically and mentally’ strong enough for pressure of Toronto

Click here for all the 2016 NHL Draft profiles

As expected, Leafs waive Cowen for buyout purposes

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The Jared Cowen era in Toronto is over, and what an era it wasn’t.

Cowen, acquired as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster with Ottawa, was placed on waivers today by the Maple Leafs, a precursor to the club buying him out of his contract.

The former ninth overall pick never played a game for Toronto after being acquired. Dealing with a hip injury that’s dogged him throughout his career, Cowen was sent home shortly after the Phaneuf trade.

The Leafs didn’t want to risk playing him and potentially re-aggravating the injury, because the goal all along was to buy Cowen out.

See, Cowen has a curious clause in his deal — per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, any team that buys out Cowen this summer gets a salary cap credit of $650,000.

The 25-year-old rearguard — the ninth overall pick in 2009 — has one year left on his four-year, $12.4 million deal.

Of course, once the buyout’s complete, that won’t be of concern for teams looking to acquire him — and it’s safe to assume there will be teams looking.

Despite questions about his mobility, Cowen is still a 6-foot-5, 240-pound defenseman that showed some promise early in his career.

Trade: Hawks unload Bickell to Carolina, but it costs them Teravainen

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The albatross that is Bryan Bickell’s contract has cost Chicago one of its brighter young prospects.

On Wednesday, the ‘Hawks sent Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina in exchange for a second-round pick in 2016 and a third-rounder in ’17.

“I would like to thank both Bryan and Teuvo for their contributions to the Blackhawks organization,” ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman said in a release. “Both players were drafted by our organization and developed to play important roles on Stanley Cup championship teams.

“We wish them the best as they continue their careers with Carolina.”

Chicago has been trying to unload Bickell’s four-year, $16 million contract for quite some time. With a $4 million cap hit, he was a major problem for a team routinely pressed up against the cap ceiling — and even though the club gained some financial relief by sending him to AHL Rockford last season, it was obvious that solution wasn’t ideal for the team or player.

With the NHL’s buyout window opening today, there was some thought Chicago would rid itself of Bickell, and take a reduced cap hit.

But in the end the ‘Hawks got Bickell off the books entirely, though it did cost them a good young talent in Teravainen, who had 13 goals and 35 points in 78 games last year — his first full NHL campaign.

The Finnish center is under contract for one more year and will now join for a pretty intriguing group of centers in Carolina, along with Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.

From the ‘Canes perspective, this is a very nice move from GM Ron Francis, who had an excess of draft picks at his disposal thanks to deadline deals for Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles.

“This deal allowed us to use some of our collected draft picks to improve our group of forwards for the coming season by added two Stanley Cup champions,” said Francis. “Teuvo is a young, highly-skilled player still on his entry-level contract who is coming off of a strong first full NHL season, and Bryan is a veteran who has experienced great success in his career.

“Both players give our organization more options and flexibility among the forward ranks.”

‘Canes fans should be excited about the recent influx of young talent at forward.

As mentioned, Teravainen is only 21, as is Lindholm. Rask isn’t much older (23), and the club also recently signed prospects Aleksi Saarela (19, acquired in the Staal trade) and Sebastian Aho (18, coming off a terrific World Championship performance with Finland.)