Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
It was as if Mike Babcock ordered up Brian Boyle by simply speaking his wish out loud.
Asked to assess his roster’s depth after Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs coach put out a not-so-subtle call for reinforcements at a certain important position.
“We have good depth in lots of spots — not as much at centre ice,” Babcock said.
And just like that, not much more than 36 hours later, Leafs management made a deal to address the issue. In acquiring Boyle, the 32-year-old fourth-line centreman formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto brought into its fold a rare NHL commodity — one of a dying breed of veteran grit guys in a league always looking for younger, cheaper versions of the type.
But Boyle, who came at the price of a 2017 second-round pick and the seldom-used Byron Froese, has a resume that differentiates him from the average bottom-six forward. Along with a six-foot-six frame that ought to be a turn-on to the size-obsessed Babcock, Boyle is in possession of something that’s mostly missing from the current Toronto lineup. That’d be a deep well of post-season experience, including back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup final in 2014 and 2015 as a member of the Rangers and Lightning, respectively.
Tampa Bay release is below...
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
On the verge of passing last year’s team point total of 69, Mike Babcock wasn’t about to make a big fuss about one game.
But a few Leafs are on notice after he saw red flags in Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers.
The red flags had to do with veterans, which Babcock thought would be the easiest Leafs to motivate this time of year.
“Most of the (young guys) have been in lots of playoff races,” Babcock noted on Friday. “It was just at a different level. They’re used to winning. The only guys who aren’t used to it are those who’ve been here for awhile. They have to get used to winning.
“Lots of nights you say, ‘OK, we’re young,' but I didn’t think our veteran guys up front were near as good as they are normally. We could have won more battles and we were way too respectful. We turned the puck over too much and made it hard on ourselves.”
With Mitch Marner hurt, pressure to produce has switched to players such as James van Riemsdyk, with no goals the past 10 games.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
A group of Rangers alumni will meet for Thursday’s game as they have across the continent in different cities on selected nights throughout the season in a program that is Adam Graves’ brainchild.
And among the half-dozen former Blueshirts to convene for this contest will be one of the unlikeliest alumnus imaginable, a man who, but for one exception, has been disconnected from the franchise for 56 years since he was traded at age 23.
I will introduce him to you as he introduced himself to me when I answered his return call on Tuesday: “Clear the track, here comes Shack.”
Yes, more than five decades after being run out of town, Eddie “The Entertainer” Shack will renew his ties to the Rangers, where he is expected to join Graves, Mike Gartner, Danny Lewicki, Wayne Dillon and Walter Tkaczuk in the season’s sixth such event.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Let this be a reminder about why there’s so much hype when Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are due to face one another.
It’s not so much a showdown between top picks from the 2016 draft, with personal stakes or a determination about who is ahead in some mythical race without a finish line.
No, it’s an event. Pure and simple.
These are two of the three best players in the NHL’s next generation and when you get them in the same arena the odds of seeing something magical dramatically improve.
“(They mean) a lot to the league, but maybe more to Canada,” Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said before Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss against Toronto. “This is such a passion across the country and (there’s) appreciation for young players. For stars, for gifts, right?
“We’ve all been on the ice as players and we all know how much better Patty and Auston are than we are.”
Watch the game highlights below...
A 9 1/2 minute clip.
feom Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Claude Julien owes a tip of the cap and maybe a whole lot more than that to his friend, Mike Babcock, for the $25-million deal he just signed with the Montreal Canadiens.
And he’s not alone in the coaching fraternity.
When Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings for Toronto, he did so with more than one intent in mind. He wanted to change the salary structure for the head coach in hockey. He wanted it more in line with what coaches are paid in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. He wanted to be the difference maker — not just behind the bench — and he did considerable research to establish a new paygrade for a coach in the National Hockey League.
Babcock is paid $6.25-million US salary per season with the Leafs and in signing that deal, he absolutely obliterated the previous marks. And with it has come a difference.
continued plus a few NHL topics...
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
They quietly placed Nathan Horton, Joffrey Lupul and Stephane Robidas on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) earlier this season — giving themselves the flexibility to operate more than $15-million above the $73-million cap for the remainder of the year.
That unlocks a world of possibilities in a cap-strapped league, especially since the cap itself is projected to rise only minimally in 2017–18.
In fact, some executives out there believe that cap space is almost as big an asset as draft picks when it comes to completing trades. And Toronto owns more of it at the deadline than any team not restricted by an internal spending budget.
Here’s the real kicker: Given their current situation, the Leafs are arguably incentivized to convert that LTIR room into something tangible.
They’re facing a significant 2017–18 overage either way and the $750,000 extra hit they’d take for going above the cap now could theoretically be offset by what they get in exchange for doing it.
At this stage, adding an $800,000 depth player in a deadline trade would have the same long-term impact on Toronto’s cap picture as acquiring someone who makes $4.25 million or even $7 million.
Yes it was.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
“We’re through two-thirds of the season and we’re in a good spot right now, but the league gets better and better,” said Babcock. “So if we want to continue to be in a good spot we have to get better.
“We haven’t been as good night in, night out as we’re capable of being so let’s find a way to get a little better.”
The NHL’s highest-paid coach remains, above all, a student.
He is constantly reading up on leadership and successful figures in sports – looking to glean inspiration from wherever he can find it. The 53-year-old takes pleasure in the daily grind of trying to get better and makes no secret of the fact that the biggest goal laying in front of his young team is finding its way into the playoffs this spring.
“April 12 is when the real season starts and you want to have an opportunity to be in that,” said Babcock.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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