• Flames get Brian Elliott in trade with Blues and solidify their goaltending situation

    Ken Campbell
    Brian Elliott (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

    BUFFALO – There was a definitive St. Louis flavor to the Calgary Flames first round in the draft. Not only did they use the sixth overall pick to take Matthew Tkachuk, a product of the St. Louis minor hockey system and son of former Blues star Keith, they got the No. 1 goalie they’ve coveted when they traded for Blues goalie Brian Elliott in exchange for the 35th overall pick and a conditional third-rounder in 2018.

    The Flames came to Buffalo with a single-minded purpose and that was to get an NHL-caliber goaltender for next season. They had permission to talk to Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and that created a fair bit of traction. But in the end, the Flames were unable to come to terms on a contract extension and turned to Elliott, a player who has one year left on his contract with a $2.5 million cap hit.

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  • Auston Matthews reacts to putting on the (new) Leafs jersey for first time

    Matt Larkin
    Auston Matthews. (Getty Images)

    BUFFALO –– The moment was surreal. Especially considering where the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise was even two years ago. Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock, standing on the stage, handing a sweater to the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, representing the Blue and White? Did Leaf Nation dream this? Nope.

    Toronto selected what it believes will be a franchise-defining player in center Auston Matthews. It was only fitting that, when Matthews donned his Leafs jersey, he became the first player to do so. The old getup, associated with too many years of failure, wouldn’t do. The “new” look includes the veined logo worn from 1938 to 1963, a period during which the Leafs won eight Stanley Cups. The rest of the design is understated, simple and classy: two horizontal stripes on each arm and some thicker piping along the bottom.

    “It looks good,” Matthews said. “I like it. It felt unbelievable putting on the jersey. Such a storied franchise, so it was a big honor.”

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  • Canadiens benefit from Blackhawks annual dismantling, acquire Andrew Shaw in trade

    Andrew Shaw (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

    BUFFALO – In what has become an annual event, the Chicago Blackhawks have done a summer dismantling of their team in an effort to fit their roster under the salary cap. Along with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens are the beneficiaries. And it may have come one year late, but Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin got a Blackhawk he coveted.

    It was widely believed Bergevin was prepared to give Brandon Saad an offer sheet last summer, which was what prompted the Blackhawks to trade him to the Columbus Blue Jackets. But at the draft this year, Bergevin got Andrew Shaw, a player he scouted for the Hawks when he was their director of player personnel in 2011.

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  • Tyson Jost: Family, sacrifice and what it takes to get to the draft

    Ryan Kennedy
    Tyson Jost. (Garrett James Photography)

    BUFFALO – The first thing you should know about Tyson Jost is that he’s a character kid. He blew away teams at the draft combine with his interviews and it’s not hard to predict him wearing the captain’s ‘C’ in the NHL some day. The dynamic two-way center will go in the first round tonight but he’ll be the first to tell you he didn’t get there alone.

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  • Blue Jackets lock up center Karlsson to two-year, $2 million deal

    Jared Clinton
    William Karlsson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have much cap space, but that won’t matter if they lock up their restricted free agents to sweetheart deals like the one William Karlsson has inked with the club.

    It was announced Thursday evening that Karlsson, 23, has signed a two-year contract to remain with the Blue Jackets, and that’s a great contract for Columbus. CapFriendly reported the contract is worth $1 million annually.

    Though Karlsson didn’t exactly have the type of season that would lead any to believe he’s an offensive dynamo, he excelled as a depth center. In his first full campaign, he knocked home nine goals, tied for 15th in rookie goal scoring, and 20 points, which tied him for 20th in points for rookies.

    “William Karlsson made great strides in his first NHL season and we believe that he is just beginning to come into his own as a player,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. “He is an important part of our young, core group of players and we are pleased that he will continue to grow, develop and contribute to our team as we move forward.” Read more

  • Report: Chances are ‘quite high’ Thomas Vanek is bought out by Wild

    Jared Clinton
    Thomas Vanek (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    In 154 games with the Minnesota Wild, Thomas Vanek has scored 39 goals, 93 points and has logged second- and third-line minutes, but at a $6.5 million price tag, it simply hasn’t been enough.

    And with the Wild entering the off-season with little more than $9 million in cap space and only eight forwards under contract, something is going to have to budge. With free agency approaching, it appears more and more likely the pieces that’s going to move is Vanek, and it doesn’t appear the 32-year-old is going to be moving on via trade.

    According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, it has been indicated that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has talked with Vanek’s agent about buying out the final season of Vanek’s three-year, $19.5-million deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie more than backed up Russo’s report, too, saying the “probability…appears quite high” that Vanek will be bought out by Minnesota before next Thursday’s buyout deadline. Read more

  • Auston Matthews: From the Arizona desert to the Center of the Hockey Universe

    Ryan Kennedy
    Auston Matthews. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    Surely, the Matthews residence in Scottsdale, Arizona is a lovely abode. But when Auston Matthews was growing up, he tended not to stay within its walls for very long, even through the Xbox era. That’s because there were always sports to play outdoors. The neighborhood was full of kids up for games of football, soccer and basketball, while organized hockey and baseball went year-round thanks to summer hockey all-star tournaments and Arizona’s perfect ballpark climate.

    Auston’s father, Brian, must shoulder some of the blame for this as well, however. A college pitcher who went on to play semi-pro, he loved to challenge his son in the batter’s box. And the right-handed Brian had more than just fastballs in his arsenal against the left-batting Auston. Brian hurled sinkers and filthy stuff fathers don’t typically give sons. “I was throwing everything at him, mixing it up,” Brian said. “He never knew what was coming. But his hand-eye co-ordination was uncanny.”

    Auston was a catcher and a hard-hitting one at that. Coaches told him there was more money to be made on the diamond than the ice rink, but the Arizona Kid wasn’t having it. When time constraints forced him to choose between sports at 13, baseball lost out handily. “Auston was a better baseball player than he was a hockey player, but the game wasn’t fast enough for him,” said his mom, Ema. “He needed motion.”

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