Maple Leafs’ dozen debutants makes this team the greenest ever

Tobias Lindberg  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When Tobias Lindberg steps on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, he’ll be part of a team record that hasn’t been matched in almost 100 years.

Lindberg, one of the prospects acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Dion Phaneuf trade, will become the 12th player to make his NHL debut for the Leafs this season, joining William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Rinat Valiev, Frederik Gauthier, Garret Sparks and Viktor Loov. It’s actually 13 if you include goalie Antoine Bibeau, who dressed as a backup for 11 games this season, but didn’t see any action.

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No Canadian teams will make the playoffs, but everybody should relax about it

Goaltending hurt Calgary (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s official: no Canadian NHL teams will be making the playoffs this season. We knew this in our hearts for at least a month, but now it’s written in stone. And other than the Rogers TV execs trying to remember which of their molars contains the cyanide capsule, there’s no need to worry if you’re a Canadian.

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Update: Virtanen suspended two games for ‘late, forceful, blindside’ hit on Polak

Jared Clinton
Jake Virtanen checks Roman Polak (via Sportsnet/YouTube)

Jake Virtanen’s rookie campaign hasn’t been easy.

The 19-year-old winger has had to watch from the sidelines due to injury and as a healthy scratch, he has been released to play at the World Junior Championship in order to get some playing time and when he has suited up for the Canucks, he isn’t playing more than third- or fourth-line minutes. And now Virtanen’s rookie season could see him have his first run-in with the Department of Player Safety.

Virtanen was kicked out of Vancouver’s Tuesday evening tilt with San Jose when he levelled Sharks defenseman Roman Polak with a late, hard check early in the second period. The hit, which came on an unsuspecting Polak, saw Virtanen handed down a major for interference and a game misconduct. After being given the jolt from Virtanen, Polak remained on the ice but was eventually able to collect himself, skate off under his own power and head to the dressing room: Read more

Ranking all seven Canadian teams’ playoff hopes for next year

Carey Price and P.K. Subban. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

For shame, Great White North. For shame. A year after five of seven Canadian NHL teams booked tickets to the big playoff dance, 0.0 will participate in the post-season. Monday night’s results pretty much nailed the nation’s collective coffin shut. The Ottawa Senators would have to win their final six games, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings would have to lose out aside from their remaining head-to-head matchup. So, yeah, Ottawa won’t pull off a miracle two years in a row.

It seems most fan bases and local pundits accepted that fate several weeks ago, however, as no Canadian squad was anywhere near a playoff berth. The Sens still sit 10 points back. It’s time to move on and start asking about next year. Which Canadian team, if any, has the most realistic odds of returning to the post-season in 2016-17? It’s time to rank their chances, from worst to best.

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Rumor Roundup: If Stamkos hits open market Leafs, Canucks, Canadiens will be among suitors

Steven Stamkos (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

The 2016 NHL trade deadline is history and the start of unrestricted free agency is months away, but questions persist over contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and captain Steven Stamkos. Eligible for UFA status on July 1, the future of the 26-year-old sniper remains a subject of interest in the rumor mill.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes the longer Stamkos remains unsigned, the more speculation will grow over his future. If the Bolts captain hits the open market, Garrioch believes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres could be among the suitors.

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Canucks reportedly close to signing SHL MVP Anton Rodin

Jared Clinton
Anton Rodin (via CanucksTV)

Anton Rodin’s first foray into North American hockey wasn’t very successful, but it appears the 25-year-old is ready to give it another shot with the Canucks.

According to TSN 1040’s Tony Gallagher, Rodin is close to signing a deal to join Vancouver next season following the completion of the SHL campaign.Vancouver’s News 1130 is reporting a deal could be done this week. Rodin, who scored 16 goals and 37 points in 33 games, was recently named the SHL’s MVP even though he missed more than one-third of the season due to injury.

Rodin was a second-round pick, 53rd overall, by Vancouver in 2009. He signed his entry-level deal in 2010, but didn’t come over to North America until the 2011-12 season. After failing to make the Canucks out of camp, Rodin spent 111 games over the next two seasons with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, where he scored 14 goals and 41 points. He headed back to Sweden in 2013, but Canucks GM Jim Benning has acknowledged previously that signing Rodin is an option.

“We still own his rights so we could sign him and bring him back if that’s what we decide,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun’s Brad Ziemer in November. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kings, Milan Lucic in early stages of contract talks

Milan Lucic (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Kings left winger Milan Lucic is among this summer’s top potential unrestricted free agents. The 27-year-old power forward is enjoying a fine season with the Kings, on pace for a 20-goal, 55-point campaign.

Lucic is completing a three-year, $18-million contract, earning $6.5 million in actual salary this season. On March 8, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Lucic’s agent and Kings management exchanged contract proposals. He also said they’re in the early stages of talks which could take a while, pointing out how long it took the Kings to re-sign Anze Kopitar earlier this season.

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Watch Ryan Miller pull puck off goal line with desperation glove save

Jared Clinton
Ryan Miller (via NHL)

The Vancouver Canucks might not have much left to play for, but netminder Ryan Miller doesn’t look like he’s even close to giving up, especially after he made a handful of outstanding saves Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Canucks were trailing 3-1 midway through the third period, but Miller almost singlehandedly kept the Canucks within striking distance with a miraculous reaching glove stop. The save was the result of some unfortunate luck, but not even a pair of bad bounces could get the puck past Miller: Read more