All posts by Ailish Forfar

Kadri: Players like Tavares wouldn’t have wanted to sign with Leafs 8 years ago

Nazem Kadri first donned a Maple Leafs jersey on a stage at the Bell Centre in Montreal when he was drafted seventh overall by the club in 2009. Now, almost a decade later, John Tavares - his friend, former London Knights teammate, and longtime Leafs fan - will be joining Kadri in Toronto.

Kadri was drafted at one of the lowest points in the Maple Leafs' illustrious history. The team failed to reach the postseason in seven consecutive seasons from 2005-12. Finally cracking the playoff picture in 2012-13, Toronto suffered the most heartbreaking of exits in an epic Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins in the first round. The Leafs didn't return to the playoffs again for another four years.

Over the past nine seasons, Kadri, the longest-serving current Leaf, has witnessed restructuring and a total rebuild within the Maple Leafs organization, which he says helped land the biggest free agent in recent history.

"I don't think a player like (Tavares) would have wanted to sign in Toronto eight, nine years ago," Kadri said to the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan. "That's the culture we have been trying to rebuild, is trying to acquire those free agents and try to make Toronto a destination where players want to come and win. Johnny realized something special we had here and I think he made the right choice."

The buzz of adding one of the league's top centers brought restored faith to an organization that spent years trying to become a consistent Stanley Cup contender. Even though the addition of Tavares knocks Kadri down to a third-line role, his focus remains on bringing a championship to Toronto.

"You know what, winning is the most important to me." Kadri shared. "I don't care where I play, I don't care what role I play."

Few teams will be able to match Toronto's depth at center this upcoming season, sporting a trio threatening enough that Vegas oddsmakers favor the Leafs for the 2019 Stanley Cup.

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Maple Leafs sign Gauthier to 2-year contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Frederik Gauthier to a two-year, two-way contract with an annual salary of $675,000, the team announced Wednesday.

Last year with the Toronto Marlies, Gauthier netted 18 points in 57 games, adding another eight during their playoff run in which they were crowned Calder Cup champions for the first time. The Quebec native has laced up for the Leafs 37 times since being drafted 21st overall by the club in 2013.

The Leafs' newly appointed general manager, Kyle Dubas, is no stranger to the 6-foot-5, 232-pound center. The two spent the past three seasons together with the Marlies before Dubas was promoted to his new role in May.

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Lightning re-sign Erne to 1-year deal

The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Adam Erne to a one-year contract extension worth $800,000, the club announced Wednesday.

Erne, drafted by the Lightning 33rd overall in 2013, has skated in 49 NHL games, recording seven points. The 6-foot-1, 214-pound winger tallied 41 goals and 88 points over parts of four seasons with AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch.

The Connecticut native was the lone remaining restricted free agent to be signed by Tampa this offseason and will return to RFA status at the end of his contract in 2019.

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Truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash granted $1,000 bail

The semi-truck driver charged in the April collision that killed 16 people, including 10 Humboldt Broncos players, was released Tuesday on $1,000 bail, according to The Canadian Press.

Jaskirat Sidhu was arrested July 6 and charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death, and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury. While on bail, the Calgary native can't operate a motor vehicle and must give up his passport.

The RCMP won't release any further details regarding the investigation that led to the arrest of Sidhu, 29. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 21.

The parents of Adam Herold, one of the junior hockey players killed in the crash, have filed a lawsuit against Sidhu, the Calgary-based trucking company that employed him, and the bus manufacturer, The Canadian Press also reported Tuesday.

The negligence suit claims that Sidhu only received two weeks of training before his first route, and failed to obey a stop sign before colliding with the Broncos' bus.

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Islanders sign KHL forward Kovar to 1-year deal

The New York Islanders signed KHL forward Jan Kovar to a one-year deal Monday.

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports that the deal is worth $2 million.

The 28-year-old played the past five seasons with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, averaging over a point per game with 97 goals and 189 assists in 285 games.

The Czech-born winger has played internationally at five World Championships, and recently served as assistant captain at the 2018 Winter Olympics where he shared the team lead with five points in six games.

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Ennis signs with Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $650,000 deal, the club announced Friday.

Ennis was a first-round draft selection by the Buffalo Sabres in 2008, netting 20 goals and 49 points in his first full season. He was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2017, along with Marcus Foligno, in a deal for Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella.

Last season, the 28-year-old Ennis tallied 22 points, including three game-winning goals. The Alberta native joins the Maple Leafs with 258 career points in 492 games.

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Canadiens lock up de la Rose for 2 years

The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Jacob de la Rose to a two-year, $1.8-million contract, the club announced on Thursday.

de la Rose was drafted by the Canadiens with their 34th overall pick in 2013, and he's tallied 19 points in 119 games over four seasons.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Swede achieved international success in May, winning gold with Sweden at the 2018 World Hockey Championship in Denmark.

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Flyers ink Folin to 1-year deal

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed free-agent defenseman Christian Folin to a one-year deal, the club announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Swede led the Los Angeles Kings in average hits per game last season and averaged 15:35 of ice time.

In 183 NHL games, the right-handed blue-liner posted 36 points and owns a career plus-minus of plus-16. Folin signed with Minnesota as a free agent out of college, and spent part of four seasons with the Wild before joining the Kings in 2017.

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Bruins sign Kuraly to 3-year deal

The Boston Bruins have re-signed forward Sean Kuraly to a three-year deal averaging $1.275 million, the team announced Tuesday.

In two seasons with the Bruins, the 25-year-old center has been a dependable fourth-line player while recording 15 points in 83 regular-season games. In the 2017-2018 campaign, Kuraly appeared in all 12 of Boston's playoff games, tallying two goals and two assists.

The 6-foot-2 and 213-pound forward was acquired by the Bruins in 2016 in a trade that sent goaltender Martin Jones to San Jose for Kuraly and a first-round pick.

The Bruins also announced the signing of forward Anton Blidh to a one-year, two-way contract with an NHL cap hit of $650,000. The winger played 71 AHL games with Providence last year, netting 26 points.

Blidh was the Bruins' 180th overall pick in 2013. He's appeared in 20 games for Boston, scoring his first NHL goal in December 2016 against the Islanders.

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Hurricanes sign Zykov to 2-year deal

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed forward Valentin Zykov to a two-year, $1.35-million contract, the team announced Friday.

The Willie Marshall Award winner had a breakthrough season with the Canes' AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, leading the league with 33 goals and 21 assists. The 6-foot-1, 224-pound winger also posted a league best in power-play goals and shooting percentage.

"Valentin is a big body who proved he had the ability to finish around the net on the AHL and NHL levels last season," Canes general manager Don Waddell said.

In 10 appearances with the Hurricanes last season, Zykov put up an impressive seven points. The Russian-born forward was acquired by the Hurricanes from the Kings in February 2016.

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