Sweden’s Lehner withdraws from World Cup to heal ankle, Enroth takes his place

Jared Clinton
Robin Lehner (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Robin Lehner was only able to suit up for one-quarter of the Sabres’ games in his first season as presumptive starting netminder for the club. But in an attempt to avoid that in his second campaign, Lehner is making sure he takes his time to heal the ankle injury that sidelined him late in the season.

It was announced Friday that Lehner, 25, has decided to withdraw from Team Sweden’s World Cup team. Sabres GM Tim Murray said Lehner made the choice because he wants to be ready to go come training camp.

“As Robin continues to progress during the off-season in his rehab from last season’s ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup,” Murray said in a statement. “Robin felt it was important to continue his rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month.” Read more

Vesey met with seven teams, discussing options Thursday — what can each team offer?

Jimmy Vesey (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

For those tiring of hearing about NCAA free agent Jimmy Vesey, rest assured that the 23-year-old winger is nearing a decision on his destination.

According to a report from ESPN’s Joe McDonald, Vesey has finished meeting with the teams he has interest in joining — seven in total — and will begin discussing the options with his agents today with the possibility of coming to a final decision as early as Friday. Included on Vesey’s list of meetings were the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. That’s not to mention Vesey’s meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, who traded for his rights in mid-June.

Vesey comes with a lot of potential, having scored 56 goals and 114 points in 70 games with Harvard over the past two seasons, and he picked up the Hobey Baker Award in 2016 as the top player in the NCAA. But his performance doesn’t mean money can be used to sway his decision. Each team will have to table similar offers because Vesey will enter the league on a two-year, entry-level deal.

So which team will persuade Vesey to sign on the dotted line? Here are the pros and cons for each team in the running to land the college standout: Read more

Maple Leafs’ Bibeau pays tribute to ‘The Cat’ with awesome Potvin mask

Jared Clinton
(via Sylvie Poitras/Airbrush Zap)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ 100th anniversary celebration will include an outdoor game, dubbed the Centennial Classic, the re-raising of banners, additions to legends row and the debut of brand new uniforms that pay tribute to the team’s past. There will be one more piece of history brought back if goaltender Antoine Bibeau gets a shot between the pipes for the big club, though.

Bibeau, 22, is set to debut a brand new mask for the upcoming season, and the beautiful lid pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Maple Leafs by honoring Felix Potvin, one of the most beloved goaltenders in the history of the franchise. It isn’t just an homage to Potvin’s mask with a few design flares or touches, though. Instead, the mask has been designed to look like a modern-day version of the look Potvin rocked during his days as a Maple Leaf.

The mask features the cat eyes on top and the teeth along the bottom of the cage, but Airbrush Zap’s Sylvie Poitras, the mask designer, threw in some additional images along the right and left panels, as well as the back plate of the helmet. Take a look: Read more

Rumor Roundup: What will the Maple Leafs do with Joffrey Lupul?

Joffrey Lupul (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TSN.ca’s Kristen Shilton recently listed five questions the Toronto Maple Leafs must still address this summer. Among them was what to do about right winger Joffrey Lupul.

The oft-injured Lupul, who turns 33 in September, has two seasons left on his contract at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause. Shilton wonders if the Leafs will ride out those remaining seasons, package Lupul in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.

While the Leafs successfully dealt away supposedly untradeable players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, Lupul won’t be easy to move. His trade value is low and few teams can afford his cap hit.

The Leafs could try shipping him off to a club with lots of cap space and no notable restricted free agents to re-sign, such as the Carolina Hurricanes ($16.7 million in cap room) or the New Jersey Devils ($13 million). However, these teams are all above the salary-cap minimum of $54 million and aren’t facing any pressure to take on another contract.

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World junior camp: Canada must rely on stars

Mitch Marner (photo courtesy Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

PLYMOUTH, MICH. – It was a desultory loss for Canada, dropping their second-last contest of the summer world junior camp tournament 5-1 to Sweden. And to be fair, only some of Canada’s best players were in the game. Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Tyson Jost made up the marquee top line, but big performers such as Lawson Crouse, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Travis Konecny sat out.

But if Canada is going to win the real thing this winter, it’s players such as Strome and Marner who must lead the way.

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Five 2015 draft picks set to make impactful NHL debuts next season

Dylan Strome during the 2015-16 pre-season (Harry How/Getty Images)

The hype surrounding Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and first-overall selection Auston Matthews isn’t unwarranted, but sometimes lost in the excitement surround Matthews is the fact that there’s a fair chance he won’t be the rookie that makes the biggest difference this coming season.

That doesn’t just go for Matthews, either. Winnipeg Jets fans are excited about Patrik Laine, Edmonton Oilers fans have high hopes for Jesse Puljujarvi, Matthew Tkachuk’s got his sights set on the making the Calgary Flames this coming season and the Columbus Blue Jackets might even see Pierre-Luc Dubois make the jump to the NHL.

But the fresh faces of the 2016 draft class shouldn’t make us forget about the talented group of youngsters drafted in 2015 who could find their way into the NHL and become top scorers or go-to players for their respective clubs. Here are five 2015 draftees yet to see an NHL game who stand to be impact players in 2016-17: Read more

Arbitration clearly works, so why not make it available to more players?

Mike Hoffman  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

It should really come as no surprise that of the 25 players who were slated to go to salary arbitration this summer, none has actually sat in front of the arbitrator and 22 of them have resulted in contract resolutions. That’s pretty much the standard these days.

And it should also come as no surprise if the remaining three are resolved well in advance of their hearings. Well, except Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, largely because we have no idea what Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are thinking these days. He actually might end up going. He’s slated for Thursday. (Martin Marincin of the Toronto Maple Leafs is scheduled for Aug. 2 and Michael Stone of the Arizona Coyotes is on the docket for Aug. 4.)

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Signing bonuses could become next CBA battleground

Jamie Benn (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the NHL announced last fall its seven-year partnership that will see adidas become its official outfitter starting next season, your trusty correspondent asked commissioner Gary Bettman whether the deal would be extended by a year if there were another labor dispute. Bettman responded with a one-word answer.

“Really?” Bettman asked, with a good amount of offense and incredulity. Well, about as much offense and incredulity as someone who has shut down the game three times in the past 20 years could muster.

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