Maple Leafs sign Nazem Kadri to one-year, $4.1 million contract

Jared Clinton
Nazem Kadri (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

For Nazem Kadri, the 2015-16 season could be the biggest of his career. If nothing else, the pressure to perform will certainly be there.

Sunday afternoon, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they have signed the 24-year-old center to a one-year, $4.1 million deal that will keep him in blue and white next season. But after a 2014-15 campaign and off-season in which Kadri’s name had been mentioned in trade talks and potential rebuilding of the club, the one-year contract is significant in that it could mean it might be Kadri’s last deal as a Maple Leaf.

Kadri was a restricted free agent heading into this off-season and signing the one-year deal helps the Maple Leafs and their young, potential star center avoid lengthy and possibly tenuous contract talks. It also shows the Maple Leafs are willing to give Kadri at least one more shot at becoming the player Toronto has hoped he would become. Read more

Importance of billets to NHL prospects can’t be understated

The Hockey News
Connor McDavid and his billet family, the Cataldes. (Matt Mead Photography)

By Joshua Kloke

With the end of another hockey year, most fans fret over their team’s shortcomings and begin the long wait for next season.

Yet the end impacts some on a much more personal level than others: fans such as Lori Bowman, longtime billet for the OHL’s Guelph Storm. Bowman and her husband, Blair, open their house at the start of every season to young Storm players who need the comforts of home away from home and the support to endure the demands of junior hockey.

Eventually though, like clockwork, the snow melts, the season ends and players return home. And it never gets any easier for Bowman. “It is heartwrenching,” she said. “The house feels empty.” Read more

Meet your 2019 Stanley Cup champs…the Winnipeg Jets

Ken Campbell

All right, let’s get one thing out of the way. It gets cold in Winnipeg. Ten months of winter and two months of bad skating. Heh-heh. The day this piece was written in mid-February, it was forecasted to go down to minus-38. Don’t bother with the Celsius to Fahrenheit calculations. When it’s that cold, they’re pretty much the same.

There are bigger cities in the NHL (about 25 of them) that play in bigger arenas (about 29). There are other places where a star can slide right under the radar if he wants. There are places with lower taxes and places where your Bentley won’t get wrecked by road salt. There are places with a few more entertainment options. Read more

Survey says…sight matters! Visor usage continues big climb

The Hockey News
Jordan & Eric Staal (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Rachel Villari

An historically sharp rise in visor users suggests the NHL and the NHLPA’s decision to grandfather-in face shields may be doing the league some good.

In the past year alone, visor wearers have grown five percent, with all but four teams increasing in usage. Toronto, Calgary, Columbus, Chicago, Vancouver and Carolina all increased over 10 percent each.

Of the 640 players league-wide with more than 20 games this season, 549 of them wear visors. The Canes were tops in eye safety with all 20 of their eligible players. Read more

The Russian NHL trailblazer you’ve probably never heard of

Viktor Khulatev (THN Archives)

By Denis Gibbons

If all Soviet players who died before their time or under tragic circumstances had been spared, the statistical history of hockey would have to be rewritten.

Evgeny Belosheikin, named best goalie at the 1986 World Junior Championship, took his own life after battling the bottle. Anatoly Fetisov, the younger brother of legendary national team captain Slava Fetisov and a prime prospect for the 1985 draft, was killed in a car accident. New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died from a heart ailment during a game in 2008.

Perhaps the best talent of all, Viktor Khatulev, was found dead at the age of 39 in 1994. It’s believed he was murdered, but the case was never solved. Read more

Why the AHL is becoming the new breeding ground for young Euros

Ryan Kennedy
David Pastrnak. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Czech Republic came into the 2015 world juniors with high expectations thanks to its deepest lineup in years. But glory wasn’t to be had.

The Czechs struggled throughout their stay in Toronto, and everything ended with a dispirited quarterfinal loss to a much more game underdog squad from Slovakia. One player who didn’t disappoint, however, was David Pastrnak, the Boston Bruins first-rounder who had been playing in the AHL.

Had his team gone further at the world juniors, Pastrnak would have garnered more consideration for the tourney’s all-star team because of his combination of talent and drive. But even in the midst of the event, he knew his time in the AHL had been valuable so far. “It’s definitely different hockey,” he said. “I try to do my best, but sometimes it doesn’t go well and you feel bad. I have to get better with everything. I’m not satisfied right now.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk, Lecavalier and Bozak trade talk continues

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Kevin Shattenkirk trade speculation that surfaced during the recent NHL draft gained momentum during the opening day of free agency. Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the defenseman’s agent denied claims his client was being shopped, but it did little to quell the rumors.

It remains to be seen how the speculation will be affected by the Blues recent trade of winger T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals. If they’re still fielding inquiries about Shattenkirk, Rutherford suggests the 26-year-old blueliner’s contract could be the issue. Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal at an average cap hit of $4.25 million. The Blues already have considerable long-term contracts invested in blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Rutherford notes they won’t part with Pietrangelo, while Bouwmeester’s struggles last season could hurt his trade value. Read more