Leafs sign Mikheyev to 2-year, $3.29M contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed forward Ilya Mikheyev to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.645 million, the team announced Tuesday.

The two sides were set to have an arbitration hearing on Wednesday. Mikheyev filed for a one-year contract with a value of $2.7 million and the team filed for two years at an average annual value of $1 million, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Mikheyev appeared in 39 regular-season games during his rookie campaign, registering eight goals and 15 assists. He was cut by a skate on his wrist in December but was able to return for the playoffs.

Prior to joining the Maple Leafs, Mikheyev spent four seasons in the KHL, in which he racked up 62 goals and 60 assists in 224 games.

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Report: NHL tentatively grants 7 non-playoff teams longer training camps

The seven teams excluded from the NHL's return-to-play postseason over the summer will get to hit the ice sooner to get back into the groove of things.

The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed to allow the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks to get extra training time before regular training camps resume for all teams, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported on Tuesday's edition of "Insider Trading."

The clubs' general managers reportedly requested the extra training camp time in August. While the extension's details are still unknown, their proposal has reportedly requested a minimum of two additional weeks of camp.

The NHL paused its season on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. After the league agreed on a 24-team format to finish the campaign, it eliminated the bottom-seven clubs. Players that participated in the return-to-play had the opportunity to join voluntary workouts and condensed training camps before games resumed.

With the NHL aiming to begin the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1, it could be nearly a full year between games for the teams that did not participate in the return-to-play.

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Blackhawks commit to ‘rebuilding our roster’

The Chicago Blackhawks are shifting their attention toward the future.

The team released a statement to season-ticket holders Tuesday and admitted they're focused on rebuilding the roster.

"We recently said goodbye to a pair of popular, two-time champions and acquired some new players via trade and free agency," the statement read. "We understand it was tough to see those respected veterans go and realize you may have some questions about our direction. We'd like to address that direction and share why we're hopeful for the future of Blackhawks hockey.

"We're committed to developing young players and rebuilding our roster. We want more than another window to win; we want to reach the summit again, and stay there - an effort that will require a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players."

The Blackhawks veteran core reportedly voiced their frustration last week with the team's moves this offseason. Chicago allowed perennial puck-stopper Corey Crawford to walk in free agency, dealt goal-scorer Brandon Saad, and opted not to extend qualifying offers to Drake Caggiula and Slater Koekkoek.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who said the team's moves came "as a shock," and superstar Patrick Kane each have three years remaining on their contracts.

General manager Stan Bowman said he spoke with Toews, Kane, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith to ensure everyone is on the same page.

"We had a very good discussion, in-depth discussion about where we're going," Bowman said, according to NBC Sports' Charlie Roumeliotis. "I think part of this communication here is to clear up some miscommunications or perceptions.

"It's really not a rebuild in a (sense) of 'we're tearing this down and we're just getting rid of all the players.' Sometimes you do have to make difficult decisions to trade away popular players and it's hard for our veterans who've been together."

The Blackhawks upset the Edmonton Oilers in four games in the best-of-five play-in round in 2019-20. Chicago missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons before this past campaign.

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Agent: Interest in Hoffman ‘very strong’

Mike Hoffman's representative says his client isn't lacking suitors 11 days into free agency.

Interest in the productive forward "has been very strong," Robert Hooper told The Athletic's Adam Vingan on Monday.

Hooper revealed that 13 teams have inquired about Hoffman, five or six of which he described as having serious interest. However, the agent cited teams' financial limitations and the general uncertainty about next season as reasons for the winger still being available.

“I think teams are a little paralyzed at this point in time by the flat cap,” Hooper said. “I think some of the teams that would love to add Mike Hoffman to their roster have had difficulty moving pieces around in order to make room for a guy like Mike. The feedback on him has been very positive. It’s just a matter of making it fit.

“It’s just a situation where until we know when the puck’s being dropped, there’s no pressure on either side to really do anything.”

Last week, it was reported that Hoffman was considering signing a one-year contract, much like the one Taylor Hall inked with the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 11. Hooper confirmed Monday that his client isn't ruling that out.

“There’s no issues on a one-year deal,” Hooper said. “Obviously, if you’re going to take a one-year deal, you want to put yourself in a good situation, because you’re going to be back in the market next year again.”

Hoffman is arguably the best UFA remaining on the market. The nine-year veteran, who'll turn 31 in November, racked up 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games this past season. He's notched 0.364 goals per game since becoming an NHL regular in 2014-15, which equates to 29.9 per 82 games over that span.

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2021 world juniors to begin Christmas Day

The upcoming 2021 World Junior Championship will kick off on Christmas Day for the first time since 2005.

The tournament, which will take place in a bubble in Edmonton and use only Rogers Place to play games, will run from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.

Here's the schedule:

Teams Date Time (ET)
Switzerland vs. Slovakia Friday Dec. 25 2 p.m.
Germany vs. Finland Friday Dec. 25 6 p.m.
Russia vs. United States Friday Dec. 25 9:30 p.m.
Sweden vs. Czech Republic Saturday Dec. 26 2 p.m.
Germany vs. Canada Saturday Dec. 26 6 p.m.
United States vs. Austria Saturday Dec. 26 9:30 p.m.
Finland vs. Switzerland Sunday Dec. 27 2 p.m.
Slovakia vs. Canada Sunday Dec. 27 6 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Russia Sunday Dec. 27 9:30 p.m.
Austria vs. Sweden Monday Dec. 28 6 p.m.
Slovakia vs. Germany Monday Dec. 28 9:30 p.m.
United States vs. Czech Republic Tuesday Dec. 29 2 p.m.
Canada vs. Switzerland Tuesday Dec. 29 6 p.m.
Austria vs. Russia Tuesday Dec. 29 9:30 p.m.
Finland vs. Slovakia Wednesday Dec. 30 2 p.m.
Switzerland vs. Germany Wednesday Dec. 30 6 p.m.
Russia vs. Sweden Wednesday Dec. 30 9:30 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Austria Thursday Dec. 31 2 p.m.
Canada vs. Finland Thursday Dec. 31 6 p.m.
Sweden vs. United States Thursday Dec. 31 9:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals Saturday Jan. 2 12 p.m.
Quarterfinals Saturday Jan. 2 3:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals Saturday Jan. 2 7 p.m.
Quarterfinals Saturday Jan. 2 10:30 p.m.
Semifinals Sunday Jan. 3 6 p.m.
Semifinals Sunday Jan. 3 9:30 p.m.
Bronze Tuesday Jan. 5 5:30 p.m.
Gold Tuesday Jan. 5 9:30 p.m.

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Dadonov ready to mentor young Senators players

Evgenii Dadonov has only a handful of NHL seasons under his belt, but he's set to find himself in a veteran role with the youthful Ottawa Senators.

"They told me I would have a good role on the team because there's not a lot of veterans on the team," Dadonov said, according to Sportsnet's Wayne Scanlan. "It's time for me to step up, as one of the most experienced guys on the team. I'm ready for that."

The 31-year-old inked a three-year pact with the Senators as a free agent. He's set to join a club undergoing a massive overhaul, with seven forwards who are 25 years old or younger.

Dadonov went overseas to play in the KHL for five seasons from 2012 to 2017 before rejoining the Panthers ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.

Over the past three seasons, Dadonov scored 25, 28, and 28 goals, respectively. He'll bring a much-needed goal-scoring presence to the budding Senators lineup, and he hopes the team will compete for the Stanley Cup while he's there.

"I'm really excited to play for this team," Dadonov said. "It wasn't a decision made because of the contract - I hope this team is going to have success and be in the race for the Cup for the next few years."

Dadonov also expressed his confidence in franchise cornerstones Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot, saying they "have a chance to be superstars in the league."

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Sharks GM: Young players ‘need to step up to the next level’

With the departure of franchise cornerstone Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is calling on his young players to take the team to the next level.

"Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, it's their time," Wilson said, according to NHL.com's Tracey Myers. "They need to step up to the next level.

"We have to be the sum of all our parts. There are teams around this league that have lost some good players. Some teams lost their best players in their prime and they found their team game, they found their collective connection and had a lot of success. We need everyone to bring something to the table, learn from what happened last year, re-establish our game and bring that love and juice and energy that 'Jumbo' brought to the rink."

Thornton's departure marked the second straight offseason in which a key veteran player moved on from the Sharks. Last year, Joe Pavelski opted to sign with the Dallas Stars after spending 13 years in San Jose.

The Sharks have only two forwards on their active roster who are at least 30 years old: Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Wilson expressed his confidence in his team's young lineup and sees the potential for players to step up and take on bigger roles next season.

"We have five top-six forwards, guys who have scored 30 goals or close to 60 points, we need someone to come in and compete for that (sixth) spot," Wilson said. "I like our defense. I want to leave a spot open for some competition for some of the younger guys. We think we have the bones of a good team. We have some competition. We have some young guys coming in."

The Sharks finished last in the Western Conference this past season with a 29-36-5 record.

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Hockey world honors ‘Doc’ Emrick’s memorable career

Legendary broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick announced his retirement Monday, and the hockey world is celebrating the 74-year-old's storied career and already missing his distinct voice.

Here are kind words from the many people Emrick impacted over his 47-year career, along with some of his most memorable calls.

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