Tag: Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils

Winnik returns to Leafs via two-year deal reportedly worth $4.5M


Mere months after trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs are bringing back Daniel Winnik.

The contract spans two years, and while the Leafs didn’t reveal financial details, HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s worth $4.5 million ($2.25 million cap hit) overall.

Winnik, 30, nabbed Toronto quite a nice haul around the trade deadline, including second and fourth-round picks.

He’s clearly happy to be back, too, as you can see in emoticon form:

Winnik is by no means a spectacular producer – his 34 points from last season marked the best total of his career – but he’s a nice find by “fancy stats” standards. Just ask the Leafs:

With Winnik and P.A. Parenteau added to the mix, the Maple Leafs stand a chance to nudge their possession numbers in the right direction, even if that difference will be subtler than the void left behind by Phil Kessel.

Columbus character: Blue Jackets ink Gregory Campbell

Gregory Campbell

The Columbus Blue Jackets confirmed that they signed Gregory Campbell to a two-year deal today.

They didn’t provide the financial terms, but Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that it’s worth $3 million overall (so a $1.5 million cap hit each season).

Hockey fans, writers and executives sometimes obsess about “character” – just watch some TV analysts discuss the Phil Kessel trade to soak in such talk to your heart’s content – and Campbell is generally regarded as a heart-and-soul guy.

If you’re even somewhat aware of Campbell, you likely remember him fighting through broken leg during a shift during the 2013 playoffs, as you can witness in this memorable clip:

He’s not going to light up the scoreboard (six goals and 12 points in 70 games with the Boston Bruins in 2014-15), but Campbell brings hustle and grit – not to mention hits – to the table.

He also fits the general theme of the Blue Jackets team as a relentless bunch. Back in March 2014, Ryan Johansen made a positive comparison between Columbus’ roster and “rats,” and Campbell would likely add another layer of greasy resilience to that group.

Campbell, 31, isn’t going to be a make-or-break type presence, yet he might be the kind of grinding force who could conceivably wear down other teams if the Blue Jackets are dangerous in 2015-16.

Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’

Official Announcement Of Mike Babcock As Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach

In the words of Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, here’s why Phil Kessel was traded today:

“This is really about a recognition on our part that what we’ve been doing here, and the group that we’d assembled here, wasn’t getting the job done, and it wasn’t good enough.

“We are here to build a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup. There are no shortcuts to go around doing that. We didn’t see that this group was going to get a whole lot better, in getting us toward that goal.

“Going out and hiring a coach like Mike Babcock was a huge bonus for us, so this was really about us saying, once again, we’ve got to build this thing the right way, through the draft, with prospects. Sometimes that might take a little bit longer.”

So basically the same thing Shanahan said in April, and the same thing Babcock said in May.

While Shanahan conceded today that they “gave up a heck of a player…a very, very productive player,” Kessel is also 27 years old. Theoretically, by the time the Leafs hit their sweet spot in terms of competing for the Cup (assuming they ever do), Kessel will be past his prime, if he’s not already. 

Going forward, expect the Leafs to continue dismantling their flawed core. Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, and maybe even James van Riemsdyk; they could all be traded.

And any others that don’t fit into the club’s long-term plans, them too.

Related: Babcock lays down the law — ‘Anything that’s been going on is going to get cleaned up’

‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

Phil Kessel

For all the criticisms of Phil Kessel — and we’re not saying they’re all without merit — here are some facts:

— He has 247 goals in 668 career NHL games. Among active players, that’s the 29th-most goals. And he’s only 27.

— Over the last five seasons, only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry have scored more goals than Kessel. And Kessel’s center has mostly been Tyler Bozak. In Pittsburgh, it’ll be Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

That’s why Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is excited to have acquired Kessel, whom he considers “right there” in a class with Ovechkin and Stamkos.

“It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel,” Rutherford told TSN.

Not only did Rutherford get the player he wanted without giving up Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta, two young defensemen the Pens will need even more now, he convinced the Leafs to eat $1.25 million per year of Kessel’s salary.

Without that concession by the Leafs, the deal couldn’t have happened, Rutherford said, noting that the Penguins already have Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury signed to big, long-term contracts.

Oh, and Rutherford isn’t done yet. He still hopes to add another winger, as well as a fourth-line center.

Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins


In a blockbuster deal that’s been rumored for some time now, the Toronto Maple Leafs have traded winger Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The return is a couple of well-regarded prospects, forward Kasperi Kapanen (22nd overall in 2014) and defenseman Scott Harrington (54th overall in 2011), plus a conditional first-round draft pick, a third-round draft pick (previously New Jersey’s) and forward Nick Spaling.

The Leafs also sent the Penguins defenseman Tim Erixon, forward Tyler Biggs and a conditional second-round draft pick.

Much has been said and written about Kessel’s time in Toronto, not all positive. But in Pittsburgh, he’ll be able to skate with two of the best centers in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The 27-year-old played mostly with Tyler Bozak as his center with the Leafs.

Kessel, one of the NHL’s premier scoring wingers, has 247 goals in 668 career NHL games.

The Leafs were reportedly forced to eat $1.25 million of Kessel’s annual salary, leaving the Pens with a $6.75 million cap hit through 2021-22.

Related: Are we seeing the last of Kessel in Toronto?