Following his career year, Shawn Matthias didn’t cash in quite as big as Matt Beleskey, but the 27-year-old winger did earn a healthy raise Monday, signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, worth a reported $2.3 million.
Matthias earned $1.85 million in 2014-15 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks and took his chance on the free agent market this off-season. It paid off, as less than a week after his nearest comparison, the aforementioned Beleseky, signed a five-year deal with the Boston Bruins worth $3.8 million per season, Matthias has himself a considerable raise. Over his career, Matthias has notched 69 goals and 131 points in 408 games.
With the Canucks this past season, Matthias scored 18 goals and 27 points, the best single season totals of his career, which is impressive considering 17 of his tallies came at even strength, second on Vancouver behind only Radim Vrabta’s 19. Even though Matthias spent a mere 7:15 total on the power play over the course of his 78 games this past season, his only non-even strength goal came with the extra man. With numbers like that, if he can find chemistry with the right linemates, this could be a tremendous signing for Toronto. Read more
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
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
Toronto Maple Leafs left winger Leo Komarov, 28, has reportedly found himself in some legal trouble back in his home country of Finland.
According to the Helsingin Sanomat, a daily subscription newspaper in Finland, and based off of a loose translation, Komarov has been slapped with two traffic charges and two fraud charges in Espoo District Court.
The charges, according to the report, stem from an alleged incident of dangerous driving and Komarov reportedly providing false information about his income to authorities. In Finland, traffic tickets and other fines can be based on income, which has resulted in some pricy punishments in the past, like a 39,000 euro ticket Teemu Selanne was hit with in 2000 for reckless driving. According to the Sanomat, Komarov’s alleged traffic crimes could be punishable, “by fines or up to six months in jail,” whereas the fraud charge can carry up to three months behind bars. Read more
While Daniel Winnik isn’t the biggest name free agent available, the Toronto Maple Leafs stuck to their plan this off-season and brought the 30-year-old winger back into the fold.
Winnik spent 58 games in Toronto this past season before becoming a trade deadline acquisition of the Pittsburgh Penguins. During his tenure in blue and white, the Toronto native notched seven goals and 25 points and added another two goals and nine points in 21 games with Pittsbugh. In the deal that sent Winnik to the Penguins, the Maple Leafs added Zach Sill, a fourth-round selection in 2015 and a second-round pick in 2016.
His 34 points in 2014-15 were the most Winnik has registered in a single season and the .43 points-per-game is the best mark of his professional career. His deal with the Maple Leafs is for two years at a cap hit of $2.25 million per season. However, this upcoming season Winnik will be paid $3 million in actual salary. Read more
The same day Connor McDavid wore his Edmonton Oiler colors for the first time ever on the ice, his bosses were upstairs going about the process of giving him some legitimate NHL players to surround him.
It’s difficult, nay impossible, to declare the winners and losers of a free agent frenzy day before Canada Day has even included, but it’s difficult to not get excited about what’s going on in western Canada these days. The oil patch has been sucked dry of good hockey for so long that sometimes it looked as though neither the Oilers nor the Calgary Flames were ever going to get it right.
The first thing fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to get their heads around is that there’s a very good chance Phil Kessel will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins and score 40 goals a year. He might even score more. He could end up being wildly successful with the Penguins and might even win a Stanley Cup there. Kessel could end up being happier and more productive than he ever was in Toronto. And people will have to learn to be perfectly OK with that.
Because that’s very well what might happen here. But the Maple Leafs traded their franchise player on free agent day because they knew he was never, ever going to do those things for them. Kessel was a terrible fit from the day he first signed with the Leafs, cast in the role of the face of the franchise and the undisputed leader by a GM who obviously failed to do his homework on the player. And the problem was perpetuated when his successor signed Kessel to an eight-year deal worth $64 million prior to last season.
The CHL’s Import Draft was held today, giving every major junior team on the continent a chance to pick up some prime European talent. Franchises are allowed to play two Euros on their roster, but no goaltenders. Teams that have a European player taken in the first round of the NHL can select a third player’s rights as well, in case the first-rounder ends up leaving.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how things went down. Consider this a non-comprehensive list, as I am cobbling together commitments or denials as I receive them from various sources in the industry.