Toronto Maple Leafs

Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’

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Expectations for Nazem Kadri have always been high. When you’re a seventh overall draft pick, that’s going to be the case.

But with Phil Kessel gone and Tyler Bozak potentially out the door next, new coach Mike Babcock expects the 24-year-old Maple Leafs center — armed with a one-year, prove-it contract —  to take his game to another level next season.

“I expect him to be an elite player,” Babcock said of Kadri, per the Toronto Star.

“He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us. Why wouldn’t he? If I’m him, I’m going to have the best year of my career because I’m training the way I should and living the way I should, then why wouldn’t I have a short-term deal?”

Kadri finished 2014-15 with 18 goals and 21 assists in 73 games. While those numbers don’t exactly scream “elite player,” it should be noted he played mostly with Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli.

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Babcock gives Kadri more time with James van Riemsdyk, who skated almost exclusively with Kessel and Bozak on Toronto’s much-maligned first line.

Related: Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million

Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million

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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

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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

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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

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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.