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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Is Lamoriello acting ‘foolish’ in negotiations with Matthews?

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Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick at this year’s draft, has already signed his entry-level deal.

So too has the No. 3 pick, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and the No. 2 pick, Patrik Laine.

In fact, only one of the top four picks in this year’s draft has yet to sign:

Toronto’s Auston Matthews, the first overall selection.

(More on that here.)

It’s been reported that Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, as old-school an executive as there is, remains steadfast in his belief against performance bonuses. This dates back to his time in New Jersey, like when he infamously refused to negotiate a performance bonus for Adam Larsson, the fourth overall pick in 2011.

For more on the current stalemate with Matthews, here’s Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star:

“This one, to me, feels foolish,” an NHL source not involved in the talks told The Star. “I don’t know what Lou’s reward is if he wins for the amount of risk you take by going this direction.”

The Leafs not only risk alienating Matthews and his camp — souring future talks when Matthews will have more leverage — but they may be sending a negative message to players around the league about how the team treats stars, he said.

“I hope Lou’s not holding his breath,” said an executive with a rival club. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Lou, but I would not be wagering the house on (the Leafs) being able to hold that line.”

The Star reported that Matthews is looking for an entry-level deal with $2.85 million in performances bonuses, on par with what Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — the top two picks in last year’s draft — received from Edmonton and Buffalo, respectively.

This is somewhat uncharted territory for the Leafs organization.

Matthews is the most ballyhooed prospect the club’s had in years, and it’s also Lamoriello’s first major draft pick as GM. Remember, he wasn’t around when the club took Mitch Marner fourth overall last year, and the performance-laden deal Marner signed was orchestrated prior to LouLam coming aboard.

Now, to be clear, there’s still no reason for panic. The Leafs are months away from training camp and we’re still six weeks out from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, in which Matthews will be suiting up for Team North America.

But with every passing day, the situation will be monitored just little bit closer.

Panthers re-up with rookie Shaw

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Florida signed depth forward Logan Shaw to a one-year, two-way deal on Wednesday, the club announced.

Shaw, 23, had reportedly inked his deal last week, per Cap Friendly. The Panthers didn’t release financial details, but it’s believed to be worth $660,000 at the NHL level.

Shaw played a pretty useful role for the Panthers last year, scoring seven points in 53 games. He also appeared in three games during the club’s opening-round playoff loss to the Islanders.

A rookie last season, Shaw has spent considerable time in the AHL, where he’s performed well. He was nearly a point-per-game producer in Portland last season (14 points in 19 games) and given his good size — 6-foot-3, 202 pounds — transitioned well to the NHL level.

The next step for Shaw is to try and make the Florida roster full-time. But that won’t be easy, given the Panthers brought in some additional depth forwards via free agency, notably Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault.

 

Coyotes hire ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Soetaert as AHL GM

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On Wednesday, Arizona GM John Chayka made a fairly significant hire, bringing aboard Doug Soetaert as the GM for the club’s new AHL affiliate in Tucson.

“We are very pleased to add Doug as the General Manager of the Roadrunners,” Chayka said in a release. “Doug has extensive experience as a general manager and is extremely knowledgeable. He is well-respected throughout the league and we are confident that he is an ideal fit for our team.”

Soetaert, 61, certainly comes with the wealth of experience Chayka alluded to:

— He’s worked as a scout with the Coyotes, and Red Bull Hockey in Europe.

— He’s served a GM and vice president of WHL Everett.

— He’s worked as an assistant GM with the Calgary Flames.

— He spent 12 seasons as a goalie with the Rangers, Jets and Canadiens, helping the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1986.

Hiring a 61-year-old with this much experience is noteworthy, given Chayka — the youngest GM in NHL history — is 34 years younger than Soetaert.

 

Report: Grigorenko requests $1.65 million from Avs in arbitration (Update: signs for $1.3M)

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Mikhail Grigorenko, one of the pieces acquired by Colorado in last summer’s Ryan O'Reilly trade to Buffalo, is asking for a fairly healthy raise ahead of Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing.

Per CBC, Grigorenko wants $1.65 million, while the Avs are countering at $950,000.

The 22-year-old just wrapped a one-year deal that paid $675,000.

UPDATED: CBC has since reported the two sides have avoided the upcoming hearing, and agreed on a one-year deal worth $1.3M.

The 12th overall pick in 2012, Grigorenko has been something of an enigma over the last few seasons. He made the Sabres out of training camp as an 18-year-old rookie, scoring five points in 25 games, but spent the following campaigns bouncing back and forth between AHL Rochester and QMJHL Quebec.

A gifted, dynamic offensive talent in junior, Grigorenko got his first full NHL season with the Avs in ’15-16, scoring six goals and 27 points in 74 games. He sat as a healthy scratch on a few occasions, but ended the year in Colorado’s top-six forward rotation with a decent uptick in minutes (though he did finish the year averaging just 13:10 TOI all told).

One thing Grigorenko has going for him is his relationship with Avs head coach Patrick Roy. The two worked well together in junior, most notably during the ’11-12 campaign when Grigorenko scored 85 points in just 59 games to win QMJHL offensive rookie of the year.

Report: One of NCAA hockey’s most storied rivalries is going to Vegas

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North Dakota and Minnesota are two of the best collegiate programs in the nation, and have long held a fierce rivalry.

Now, they’re taking it to Sin City.

Per the Grand Forks Herald, the two schools will take part in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Las Vegas in October of 2018.

More:

The Herald reported in November that the two schools had verbally agreed to play the game, but no contract had been signed as Minnesota transitioned to a new athletic director. Eight months later, that contract has now been finalized, the Herald has learned, and an official announcement is expected sometime in the next two weeks.

The single game is set for Orleans Arena, which is part of the Orleans Hotel and Casino. The 7,773-seat horseshoe venue previously served as home of the Las Vegas Wranglers of the East Coast Hockey League.

Orleans Arena is located roughly a mile and a half west of Strip hotels New York, New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur and Tropicana.

The game is yet another feather in the cap for Las Vegas. Earlier this month, the NHL announced that Vegas would become the league’s 31st franchise, granting owner Bill Foley an expansion club that will begin play in the 2017-18 campaign.

Related: Vegas names McPhee first GM in franchise history

North Dakota finished atop the NCAA landscape this year, capturing its first Frozen Four championship in 16 years. The club was led by Canucks prospect Brock Boeser and Most Outstanding Player Drake Caggiula, who went on to sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

The Gophers, meanwhile, have captured five national championships, though none since 2003. The program has sent a plethora of talented players to the NHL, including current standouts like Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Okposo.

Per the Herald, the two schools have set aside Saturday, Oct. 27 as the date for the Vegas game.