Toronto Maple Leafs

Senators sign Methot to four-year, $19.6M extension

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You don’t often see NHL teams divulging contract details, but it seems like the Ottawa Senators are just that excited about keeping defenseman Marc Methot in the fold.

The team announced his four-year, $19.6 million extension on Monday. That works out to a $4.9 million cap hit starting in the 2015-16 season.

Ottawa also provided the blueliner with a modified 10-team no-trade clause. At 29, he gets a nice amount of freedom in dictating his future if the Senators decide to part ways.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that Methot compromised on term (he reportedly wanted a five or six-year pact) while the Senators bumped up his salary.

There was some concern that the Senators wouldn’t get a deal done with the then-pending unrestricted free agent, but it’s clear he wanted to stay in Ottawa. With Cody Franson dealt to the Nashville Predators, the trade market continues to dry up when it comes to defensemen.

Methot has had a rough 2014-15 campaign in some respects, collecting five assists while being limited to just 17 games played. (That said, his possession stats have been strong this season.)

He’s currently in his third season with the Senators after playing with the Columbus Blue Jackets for six years. His previous cap hit was $3 million, so this is a healthy bump for the blueliner.

Report: Habs’ Gonchar to miss game vs. Red Wings

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Montreal Canadiens defenseman Sergei Gonchar is expected to miss Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings due to an upper body injury.

Gonchar suffered the injury Saturday night thanks to a first period hit from Leafs’ forward David Clarkson.

Clarkson was assessed a major penalty for interference, five for fighting and a game misconduct on the play.

According to Lavoie, Clarkson isn’t expected to face supplemental discipline for the hit.

Gonchar has 12 points in 38 games this season while registering a plus-8 rating and averaging 18:37 in ice time.

Predators waive Stalberg (again)

Big moves like David Clarkson’s terrible contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs get a lot of attention, yet there are often under-the-radar signings that are pretty lousy in their own right.

Many were excited when the Nashville Predators added Viktor Stalberg to the mix, but he just hasn’t worked out. He was placed on waivers for the second time in 2015 on Sunday, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

The Predators also reassigned Anthony Bitetto on a busy day for the organization.

In other waiver news, the New York Islanders moved bruising defenseman Matt Carkner from IR to waivers.

The last bit of minor news is that the Dallas Stars sent Travis Morin to the AHL on Sunday, the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika reports.

Loading up: Predators acquire Franson, Santorelli from Leafs

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The Nashville Predators opened up a healthy lead ahead of the rest of the NHL on Saturday and then threw down the gauntlet on Sunday.

In a big trade, the Predators acquired Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic and Nashville’s 2015 first-round draft pick.

One interesting twist to this move is that both Franson and Santorelli will already have some familiarity with their situation, as they both played for the Predators before.

The Predators selected Franson, 27, with the 79th pick of the 2005 NHL Draft. He showed promise in his first two seasons with Nashville before being traded to Toronto in a package that also highlighted Matthew Lombardi.

(Let’s just say the Maple Leafs came out on top in that one.)

In a shallow free agent market, Franson is one of the most desirable defensive targets. Toronto couldn’t come to terms with him, and it remains to be seen if Nashville can (or even aims to). In the interim, the Predators’ already-loaded defense adds another dangerous scoring threat.

The Predators selected Santorelli, 29, with a sixth-round pick (178th overall) in 2004. He’s bounced around the league a bit, yet his efforts stood out on a troubled Toronto team.

From Toronto’s perspective, the best parts of the trade are focused on the future. More specifically, the Predators’ first-round pick is likely the gem of this deal, even if it’s probably going to be a late selection.

Brendan Leipsic was the 89th pick of the 2012 Draft. The 20-year-old’s the other main takeway for Toronto, as he’s shown some potential with 35 points in 47 AHL games and some big WHL numbers.

Jokinen provides some veteran experience, yet he was often lost in the Nashville mix. Apparently joining the Buds hasn’t improved his mood.

To little surprise, it sounds like the Maple Leafs still have some work to do, as multiple reporters point to Daniel Winnik as another target for contenders.

It’s easy to see where both teams are coming from here, with the Leafs continuing to build for 2015-16 (and beyond) while the Predators hope for the deepest run in franchise history.

Habs’ Subban stands up for Phil Kessel

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The Canadiens and Maple Leafs are fierce rivals, but Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban put that aside to support Toronto forward Phil Kessel following the Habs’ 2-1 shootout victory over them tonight.

“I don’t think Phil (Kessel) gets enough credit for his personality,” Subban told Montreal Gazette writer Dave Stubbs. “He’s a personable guy if he knows you. If you put a microphone in (Kessel’s) face and ask him stupid questions, he’s not going to show that (personable) side of himself.

“I don’t think (Kessel) gets enough credit for showing his personality. He’s an outgoing guy and he’s really funny.”

Kessel has certainly taken quite a bit of heat this season. Some of that comes with the fact that he’s the best and highest paid player on a team that’s in a free fall, but that’s not the extent of it. For example, after Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was fired, another former Toronto bench boss, Ron Wilson, called Kessel unreliable, which led to a heated exchange between Kessel and Toronto Star reporter Dave Feschuk over his coachability.

At this point Kessel might feel resigned to the possibility that the Maple Leafs will trade him, which wouldn’t be an unreasonable thing for Toronto to do for reasons that aren’t at all related to his personality.