Matthews’ bonus-laden contract proves Lamoriello is flexible, but firm

Ken Campbell
Lou Lamoriello (left) and Auston Matthews (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

To hear Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello tell it, Auston Matthews was always going to get signed, always going to get the bonuses that were coming to him. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Yes, it took a little longer than usual, but an entry-level contract with Matthews was announced Tuesday, 27 days after he was selected first overall. There had been an enormous amount of consternation about whether or not the Leafs and Matthews were at loggerheads about entry-level bonus money. During his many days with the New Jersey Devils, Lamoriello had a policy of not giving them to anyone. He also had a policy of no beards for anyone in the organization and everyone in the office had to wear a tie even in the summer, but it looks like Lamoriello is changing with the times.

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Why fast-tracking might not be the best idea for Las Vegas

George McPhee (left) and Bill Foley  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It certainly doesn’t look as though either Bill Foley or George McPhee has the patience to slowly build their expansion team into a contender. Everything both of them said when McPhee was named GM of the team pointed to transforming this franchise into a contender sooner rather than later.

McPhee will certainly have a better chance at doing that than his predecessors. The expansion draft rules will give the team a chance to ice a competitive roster in the short term. By being able to protect only seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie, some of the other 30 teams in the league will be forced to expose some legitimate NHL talent. But when you’re looking at, in a best-case scenario, the No. 8 forward, the No. 4 defenseman and the No. 2 goalie on each team’s depth chart who are third-year pros, the pickings might not be quite as spectacular as you might think.

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Here are the need-to-know picks from the CHL Import Draft

Filip Hronek (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The CHL Import Draft establishes major junior rights for European players and it’s never a dull process. Because the kids picked are under no pressure to come over here, it’s never just a matter of Best Player Available. And since junior teams all have different rebuilding/contending cycles, sometimes BPA is irrelevant anyway. Some have already been drafted by NHL teams; other younger picks are hoping to boost their stock for upcoming drafts. Each CHL franchise gets two picks, but some pass because they are already set with their quota of two imports. With another draft in the books, let’s take a look at some of the most important names that were called today.

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Stamkos Sweepstakes part of a busy first week of the off-season

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – In the words of veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole, “Everything is happening.” Even though the draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, the off-season heavy lifting for most teams begins now.

With the free agent courting period beginning Saturday, that should create quite a frenzy over the next few days, particularly when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. Teams have called. Teams will continue to call. Whether Stamkos does a tour of each team who wants to speak to him or they come to him at the Newport agency’s offices in suburban Toronto, not unlike the conga line that showed up at its doors when Brad Richards became a free agent in 2011 is not known. But the line will be long and the talk will be rich leading up to the opening of free agency next Friday.

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Best picks by round on Day 2 of the draft

Carter Hart (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – On Day 2 of the draft, team preference plays such a huge role in when kids get picked. But for my money, there were some definite winners by round. In some cases, it was teams that made solid multiple selections. In other cases, it was a matter of the value they got in one player. Here are my winners for Day 2.

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