Mike Halford

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Matt Hunwick #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs grabs the puck against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Leafs announce Hunwick, a Babcock favorite, will have season-ending surgery

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Matt Hunwick, the journeyman blueliner enjoying one of his finest NHL campaigns, has been shut down for the year to have surgery on a recurring injury, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock announced on Tuesday.

Hunwick, 30, was playing on the club’s top defensive pairing with Morgan Rielly prior to getting hurt, averaging a career-high 22:34 TOI per night (second only to Rielly among Toronto skaters).

Signed to a modest two-year, $2.4 million deal last summer, Hunwick has emerged as one of the better value contracts on the club, and has earned the trust of head coach Mike Babcock, who’s used Hunwick in almost every situation imaginable this season.

Of course, it’s tough not to look at the Hunwick shutdown without a bit of cynicism.

The Leafs, having been accused of going full tank these last few months, currently have the likes of James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak on IR, and traded away former captain Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer, Daniel Winnik and Shawn Matthias.

With Hunwick now sidelined, Toronto’s available defensemen for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders will be Rielly, Martin Marincin, Jake Gardiner, Frank Corrado, Connor Carrick and Viktor Loov.

 

 

 

Reimer shoots down report of $6M asking price

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer reacts during a break in the first period of Toronto's NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Shortly after James Reimer was dealt from Toronto to San Jose, Sportsnet reported part of the reason the pending UFA goalie was shipped out was because of his asking price — $6 million annually over six years, a whopping $36M total.

Now, Reimer is trying to set the record straight.

“I don’t even want to dignify it with a response,” Reimer said of the report, per the Calgary Sun. “That was definitely untrue.”

Reimer, 27, is in the last of a two-year, $4.6 million deal with a $2.3M average annual cap hit, so the $6M would represent a fairly massive raise.

Not that he doesn’t deserve some kind of pay bump.

Reimer was solid this year playing behind a weak Leafs team, posting a .918 save percentage and 2.49 GAA, snatching the No. 1 gig away from Jonthan Bernier in the process.

And now — barring some major development in San Jose — Reimer will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

It promises to be an interesting bit of negotiating.

Reimer is near the top — or, depending on how you feel about him, at the top — of a UFA goalie list that projects to feature the likes of Cam Ward, Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Career backups like Anton Khudobin, Alex Stalock, Chad Johnson, Jhonas Enroth, Al Montoya, Antti Raanta, Carter Hutton and Jonas Gustavsson are also available, but Reimer could be a legit No. 1 option for a few clubs.

The question, of course, is how much teams are willing to pay a potential starting goalie in free agency?

Last summer, Ramo scored a one-year, $3.8M deal with Calgary — one of the teams rumored to be interested in Reimer — while Dallas sort-of inked Antti Niemi to a three-year, $13.5M pact (the Stars technically acquired Niemi’s negotiating rights prior to signing him).

Given the limited number of starting gigs available and cap uncertainty, it’s tough to see Reimer cashing in come July 1.

Getzlaf: ‘No doubt’ Perry makes Canada’s World Cup team

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 11:  Ryan Getzlaf #15 and Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks watch from the bench during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on April 11, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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That Ryan Getzlaf made Team Canada’s inaugural 16-man roster for this year’s World Cup of Hockey wasn’t much of a surprise.

That his running mate in Anaheim, Corey Perry, failed to crack the roster did come as a surprise.

Especially to Getzlaf.

“It’s one of those things that I wasn’t even sure I was going to be picked,” the Ducks captain said, per the Los Angeles Times. “We went into that day with a different outlook than normal, I think, when you’re talking about the talent coming and the fact they’re naming only 16 players.

“I have no doubt that Pears will end up on the team, and I’m sure it’s going to fuel him the rest of the way.”

Perry was one of the most prominent forwards omitted. While there was no denying the 10 named deserved to be there — Getzlaf, Jamie Benn, Patrice, Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews — there were some very talented forwards left off the list, like Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall, Claude Giroux and Matt Duchene.

And of course, Perry.

The 30-year-old has been nothing but golden for Canada throughout his international career. He helped his country win the 2005 World Juniors, the ’10 Olympics in Vancouver and the ’14 Olympics in Sochi — a resume that, you’d think, would have him in line for a spot this September in Toronto.

But it’s not that clear cut.

Perry is having a bit of a down year. He’s on pace for his lowest point total in five seasons, though most of that was a result of his (and Anaheim’s) horrific start to the year.

Of course, he’s rebounded. Perry currently leads the Ducks in goals, with 28, a total that ties him with Crosby, Bergeron and Duchene for fifth-most among Canadian forwards.

‘Canes acquire McDavid’s old junior linemate from Canucks

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Dane Fox, who once scored 64 goals in 67 games playing alongside Connor McDavid in OHL Erie, has been traded from Vancouver to Carolina in exchange for future considerations, the ‘Canes announced on Monday.

Fox, 22, has spent almost all of this year with ECHL Kalamazoo, a bit of a fall from a guy the Canucks organization was once high on. Back in 2014, former GM Mike Gillis listed Fox — in a letter penned to season ticketholders — as part of a “talented group of prospects” that included Nicklas Jensen (traded to the Rangers), Frank Corrado (lost on waivers to the Leafs) and Hunter Shinkaruk (traded to Calgary).

Fox originally signed with the Canucks in the midst of that banner 64-goal campaign with the Otters, but has since only appeared in one game at the AHL level, spending almost all of his professional hockey career in Kalamazoo.

The ‘Canes did say Fox would immediately report to AHL Charlotte.

Goalie nods: ‘Now it’s time for Varly to step up’

Semyon Varlamov

The Colorado Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives, and have a crucial tilt tonight when they host the Coyotes at the Pepsi Center.

As such, they’ll go with Semyon Varlamov in goal.

After Calvin Pickard started each of the last two games, Varlamov gets the nod for the first time since getting hooked against Minnesota last Tuesday.

More, from the Denver Post:

“We knew he was going to play eventually,” Roy said of Varlamov after Monday’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center. “I thought he had really good practices (while) Pick played really well in those games. Now it’s time for Varly to step up.”

Varlamov is 1-3 in his last four starts and trailed 3-1 when Pickard replaced him after the first period last Tuesday against the Wild. The Avs ended up losing 4-3 and Pickard absorbed the loss.

It’s been a difficult year for Varlamov, who’s failed to find the sort of consistency Roy’s been seeking. Stretches of good play — during the club’s winning streak in December, Roy called Varlamov “our best player, no doubt” — have been matched by equally poor stretches, resulting in mediocre numbers overall.

Heading into tonight’s action, Varlamov is 22-17-3 with a .912 save percentage and 2.79 GAA.

For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue is likely to start.

Elsewhere…

Ben Bishop gets the night off for the Bolts as Andrei Vasilevskiy starts in Philly. Steve Mason is back in goal for the Flyers after shutting out Columbus on Saturday.

— It’s Chad Johnson versus Garret Sparks as the Sabres take on the Leafs in Toronto.

— Good matchup percolating in Florida: Roberto Luongo‘s confirmed for the Panthers, while Tuukka Rask is likely for the Bruins.

— After James Reimer lost in his Sharks debut on Saturday, Martin Jones is back in goal as San Jose plays in Calgary. Joni Ortio will make his second straight start for the Flames.

John Gibson gets a big start for the Ducks, as they host NHL-leading Washington. No word yet on a Caps starter.

— No starters confirmed from either side for the Vancouver-L.A. tilt yet.