Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million

17 Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Shawn Matthias to a one-year contract worth a reported $2.3 million.

Matthias finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver, and he did so in a bottom-six role with barely any time on the power play.

Th 27-year-old can play either center or wing, making him a good match for a team that may or may not trade center Tyler Bozak.

Matthias could also net the Leafs something at the trade deadline, a la Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli this past season. That’s assuming Toronto’s out of the playoff picture at that time.

PHT Morning Skate: Scott Darling gets tattoo to commemorate Stanley Cup win

9 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goaltender Scott Darling got some ink done to commemorate the Stanley Cup victory. (Puck Daddy)

Ronnie Shuker takes a look at what a summer workout program entails for NHLers. (The Hockey News)

Chicago-area brewery, Hailstorm Brewing Co., has named a beer after Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews. The brewery now has Captain Serious #19 Pale Ale on tap. (Bar Down)

Following T.J. Oshie’s trade to Washington last week, a video of 5-year-old Libby Lu crying about the trade went viral. Oshie surprised Libby on SportsCenter over the weekend:

The Hockey News has the latest numbers on visor usage around the NHL. (The Hockey News)

The Toronto Maple Leafs may have finally unloaded Phil Kessel last week in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins; however, you’ll have trouble replicating the deal on the video game NHL 15. (Bar Down)

Photo courtesy of @chihawksart

Leafs sign Kadri to a one-year contract extension

9 Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed restricted free agent forward Nazem Kadri to a one-year extension, the club announced on Sunday.

According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, Kadri’s contract is worth $4.1-million for next season – a $1 million raise on his 2014-15 salary.

His two-year, $5.8 million deal expired last week.

The 24-year-old finished fourth in Leafs scoring during the 2014-15 season with 18 goals and 21 assists in 73 games.

Kadri has appeared in 250 career games, all with the Leafs, scoring 64 goals and 88 assists.

The London, Ontario native was Toronto’s first-round selection (7th overall) at the 2009 NHL Draft.

As Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston notes, with Kadri signed, goaltender Jonathan Bernier is the lone member of the Leafs eligible for arbitration.

Philly hires goalie coach Dillabaugh, formerly of Los Angeles

2 Comments

The Philadelphia Flyers have named a replacement for ex-goalie coach Jeff Reese.

Kim Dillabaugh, who spent the last eight years in charge of the Kings’ goalie development, was hired on Friday, the club announced.

More:

Dillabaugh comes to the Flyers from the Los Angeles Kings, where he spent the last eight seasons working in a goaltender development role for the club. In his time with the Kings, Dillabaugh contributed to the development of Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Martin Jones, while also working with goaltenders at the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, and prospects playing elsewhere in professional and amateur hockey.

During Dillabaugh’s time with the Kings organization, Los Angeles won two Stanley Cups and made the Conference Finals one other time, while Manchester won one Calder Cup and reached the Eastern Conference Finals two other times.

The goalie coach position in Philly is one worth monitoring, especially after what happened to Reese last season. A favorite of No. 1 goalie Steve Mason, Reese was fired abruptly in March after eight seasons on the job, amid rumors he had a “simmering relationship” with management and head coach Craig Berube.

Reese has since landed as the goalie coach in Dallas. Philly, meanwhile, added to its goalie depth on the opening day of free agency by signing Michal Neuvirth to back up Mason.

Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?

34 Comments

Yes, we’ve been in this spot before.

For all the star power that the NHL boasts outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s difficult to resist the siren call of a spike in the Sidney Crosby – Alex Ovechkin rivalry. It’s perfectly plausible that we’ll never get a sequel to that memorable 2009 playoff series.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s be honest: it’s been a while since the Penguins and Capitals were in a better position collectively to pull this off.

Serious firepower

It’s still strange to picture Phil Kessel in a Penguins uniform, firing home well-placed passes from Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin … but would it be that outrageous to imagine Kessel chasing Ovechkin in the Maurice Richard race now? As excited as Crosby and Malkin seem to be about the acquisition, Kessel and hockey fans should be especially thrilled.

Here’s the wrinkle that makes things even more fun: while the Penguins added the biggest name, Washington’s moves likely provide the Capitals with a deeper array of weapons.

Beyond the obvious in Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps now combine seasoned newcomers (Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie) with promising youngsters (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky) to form a frightening forward group.

Hockey’s a team sport, and Crosby – Ovechkin can only be so riveting on their own … so how about Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Kris Letang vs. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Williams, Oshie and Washington’s bevvy of pricey blueliners? Yeah, that sounds like appointment viewing.

While they’re still young

NHL TV Awards Show
via Getty Images

As strange as it sounds, the window might be closing on this rivalry, at least as a true showcase of two players who are seriously considered two of the best alive.*

Ovechkin will turn 30 on Sept. 17, and his hair is already looking a little grayer these days. Crosby turns 28 in August and people are already wondering if he’s starting to slow down.

No, the Penguins and Capitals haven’t totally mortgaged their futures this summer, yet the complexion of each franchise changed in some resounding ways in the past few days. You never know what might happen – we’ve been fooled before – but it’s tough not to picture an epic 2016 playoff series between these two players (and teams).

If nothing else, it’s fun to think about.

* – One could quibble about where the two rank among the elite, but they’re at least up there, right?