NHL NOTES: Campbell, Leafs still not settled


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For a team seeking long-term stability between the pipes, the Maple Leafs sure have let a lot of goalies through their net.

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The past 30 years, since Felix Potvin backstopped  Toronto to the conference final, he and five others who won 30 or more games – Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, Vesa Toskala, Andrew Raycroft, and Frederik Andersen – were traded or let go. James Reimer, like Potvin a home-grown product, was also moved.

Will Jack Campbell, coming off an NHL career-high in games (56 including playoffs), wins (34) and a regular season save percentage of .914, be next? It’s complicated.

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While enormously popular with teammates and fans and deserving of a raise, his desired number and what the cap-strapped Leafs can afford are quite different. With the opening of unrestricted free agent shopping two weeks away (July13) it pressures the Leafs to trim salary somewhere to retain Campbell – or him to concede either money or term.

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With this being Campbell’s best shot at a big payday at age 30 – he made $1.8 million US last year and should expect to be in the ballpark of $4.5 to $5 million – his loyalty to the Leafs can only extend so far. And general manager Kyle Dubas is conducting this with an eye to Soupy not stealing them a playoff series in two tries, losing Game 7 at home and that Campbell has been rather high maintenance with injuries and being notoriously tough on himself.

Agent Kurt Overhardt did not immediately respond to a request by the Sun on Wednesday about the state of negotiations which had been cordial in the weeks following the Leafs playoff elimination. The Leafs are also unsettled at back-up where Petr Mrazek’s 12 wins were offset by frequent injuries and a burdensome $3.8 million cap hit through ’2023-24. If Toronto can’t find a trade partner for Mrazek, a list that would be short, it can shed him when the NHL buyout window opens Friday. But that would put more than $1 million in dead cap space on the books for a couple of years, just when the last of Phil Kessel’s salary was finally cleared up.

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HOCKEY CANADA FALLOUT CONTINUES

Add fast food giant Tim Hortons to the list of Canadian sponsors of the national junior team who are withholding funds for the coming world championships in Edmonton until Hockey Canada provides “concrete details” it intends to take steps to improve the culture of hockey in its jurisdiction.

Following a settlement in an alleged sexual assault four years ago of a young woman by eight unidentified members of the junior team, Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Telus halted support. A statement from Tim’s on Wednesday says the company will re-evaluate the sponsorship agreement when they get some answers.

Hockey Canada officials were also roasted by the federal government this week on details of the settlement assuring the politicians no public funds directed to the sports body were used as part of the seven-figure payout.

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THE WRIGHT STUFF

The Montreal Canadiens are a week away from having to make a call on the first pick overall.

It seems Shane Wright fatigue might have crept in for some of those pundits who follow the draft rankings closely, with Kingston Frontenacs centre Wright no longer considered a lock. Juraj Slafkovsky, a 6-foot-4 left winger with a four-inch height advantage on Wright and Central Scouting’s top European skater, is getting lots of hype after Wright dominated headlines all winter and spring. A Slovakian playing in Finland, he was earmarked by many for the New Jersey Devils, who pick second.

Reading between the lines, Montreal general manager Kent Hughes has acknowledged Slafkovsky’s play in the Olympics certainly elevated his status, but in saying the club is thinking long term with whomever it chooses, it reflects months of homework on Wright.

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The Arizona Coyotes, picking third, could get Logan Cooley, a 5-10 centre from the U.S. National Development Program. The gambling website BetOnline posted Wednesday that Wright is still a slight favourite over Slafkovsky.

UKRAINIAN KIDS GET NHLPA AID

Though youth hockey is the last thing on the mind of most Ukrainian citizens right now as they stand up to Russian aggression, the NHL Players Association and International Ice Hockey Federation are joining forces to help about 600 young, displaced players in that country.

The union’s Goals and Dreams fund, with support from the IIHF, will donate $100,000 US worth of hockey equipment in coming months. The first deliveries were made last month through Poland, to be distributed to Ukrainian skaters aged 6 to 16 now living in Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.

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The equipment includes 100 sets of Bauer hockey helmets, gloves and sticks, 200 pairs of skates, goalie gear and PA-branded sweaters.

“This is an amazing contribution to the already overwhelming show of support shown by the international ice hockey family for Ukraine’s young players, said IIHF president Luc Tardif.

ICE CHIPS

Minnesota perked up off-season business Wednesday, trading the rights to pending restricted free agent forward Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles for a first-round pick next week (19th overall) and native son and University of Minnesota captain/defenceman Brock Faber. The Kings then gave Fiala a seven-year extension at close to $7.9 million … The Bruins search for a head coach remains expansive. The Boston Globe reports Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Mike Vellucci and Greg Cronin, coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, join David Quinn, Jim Montgomery, Jay Leach, Joe Sacco, and Spencer Carbery on the list… Perhaps add Montgomery to candidates in Winnipeg, where Barry Trotz’s surprise decision not to coach this season took him out of the favourite’s position with the Jets and left the team scrambling.

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