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NHL Insider

Penguins excited to add Kessel's skill on the wing

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 6:35 PM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford did what he said he would.

Rutherford declared after Pittsburgh was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games that he would bring in at least one top-six wing. He did just that Wednesday, when the Penguins acquired forward Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I'm very excited about what happened today," Rutherford said. "We've worked on this deal with Toronto for a month, or over a month. It got a little bit of legs on draft day, but it really heated up last night, and we were able to complete the deal today.

"We set out this offseason to bring in more skill on the wing and some more speed. I certainly think we covered that by adding Phil Kessel. We also liked to get some consistency of wingers for [Evgeni Malkin] and [Sidney Crosby]."

Kapanen, Harrington add to Maple Leafs' young cadre

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to add youth and skill to their roster with the additions Wednesday of forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling and defenseman Scott Harrington from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.

Kapanen, whose father Sami Kapanen played 831 NHL games scoring 189 goals and 458 points, is another young player the Maple Leafs hope will develop into a top-six forward.

"He's one of the youngest players that was drafted two years ago," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said. "He came over this year and played a little bit in the [American Hockey League]. He's a talented guy; a top-six forward, we are hoping. I think he adds to another group of players that we have in our stable, that with a lot of work and a lot of patience and some development, we hope he can become a very productive Leaf at some point."

Shanahan continues shakeup of Maple Leafs' core

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 6:20 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs' new direction continued Wednesday with the trade of veteran right wing Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kessel has led the Maple Leafs in scoring the past six seasons, but was traded along with minor-league center Tyler Biggs, defenseman Tim Erixon and a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington and a first- and third-round draft pick in 2016.

Having not yet hired a general manager, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan orchestrated the trade, which he said started at the draft last week in Florida.

"I had said at the end of the season there were going to be changes," Shanahan said. "For whatever reason we had a lot of talented individuals on this team, but as a group, the core group, it hadn't worked. This is about winning. Phil is certainly a very talented player and we knew changes had to come."

Analysis: Kessel trade begins Maple Leafs' rebuild

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 4:07 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Brendan Shanahan made his first major mark on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster on Wednesday, opening the door to the long-term, sometimes painful rebuild he knows the franchise needs to go through in order to once again become relevant in the chase for the Stanley Cup.

After spending months wielding his power mostly to build Toronto's front office and coaching staff, Shanahan, the Maple Leafs president, went to work on his roster rebuild by trading forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In trading Kessel, Shanahan opened $6.8 million in salary-cap space for the next seven seasons. The Maple Leafs retained 15 percent ($1.2 million) of Kessel's $8 million cap charge.

Kessel was the best trade chip Shanahan could play to start his rebuild if Toronto does not want to be in a win-now frame of mind, even after bringing in Mike Babcock as coach.

Anisimov set to help Blackhawks battle for more titles

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 3:15 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Artem Anisimov wanted to be part of the Chicago Blackhawks just as much as they wanted him to be their second-line center.

That's the main reason the two sides came together Wednesday on a five-year contract extension announced by the Blackhawks a day after they acquired Anisimov in a seven-player trade that sent forward Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I want to be part of the team," Anisimov said Wednesday. "Every year, they've battled for the Stanley Cup. To sign for five years in Chicago is big for me, and I'm really excited to sign with the Blackhawks."

Saad 'a little shocked' by trade to Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 07.01.2015 / 12:49 PM / NHL Insider

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Brandon Saad, the newest Columbus Blue Jackets left wing, is still getting used to no longer being a member of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

"I was a little shocked," Saad said Wednesday after being traded Tuesday. "It was my first time going through the process. At the same time it's a business and you have to expect it. After that, I'm definitely excited to come to a good, young team in Columbus.

"Things are going to happen, and most guys don't play their entire career in the same place."

Blackhawks expect big things from Anisimov, Dano

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 9:51 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has won the Stanley Cup twice after retooling his roster, and that was on his mind again Tuesday when he traded Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bowman wasn't confident with the direction of contract negotiations with Saad, who can become a restricted free agent Wednesday, and he didn't want to find out what kind of offer the 22-year-old forward might receive from another team.

So he switched gears and made the trade, acquiring four players and a fourth-round pick at the 2016 NHL Draft for Saad and two prospects.

The Blackhawks' haul is headlined by 6-foot-4 center Artem Anisimov and 20-year-old forward Marko Dano.

"My job is to prepare our team for next season to remain competitive and to have a chance to win the [Stanley Cup] again next season," Bowman said. "Sometimes that involves difficult decisions. It's a challenge to try and negotiate a contract. We gave it our best shot. We worked hard at it with Brandon and his agent, and weren't able to reach an agreement. And when that became apparent, then we turned our focus to trying to improve our team for next season."

Depth allowed Blue Jackets to pull off trade for Saad

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 8:30 PM / NHL Insider

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have been stockpiling draft choices and prospects for years now to allow them to pull off a trade like they did Tuesday, when they sent four players and a future pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for left wing Brandon Saad.

"If we get good depth, some quality depth, then maybe we can put together a package and try to get an elite player like Brandon Saad on our team," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.

Columbus traded forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp, and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to Chicago.

In addition to Saad, the Blue Jackets received two prospects: center Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta.

Saad can become a restricted free agent at noon ET on Wednesday, but Kekalainen said he is confident the 22-year-old forward will sign a long-term contract with Columbus, possibly even Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets have scheduled a teleconference with Saad for Wednesday morning.

Saad's eight goals were third on the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 67 NHL playoff games, Saad has 34 points, including 15 goals.

"He's a winner," Kekalainen said. "We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength.

"He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come."

Bruins GM Sweeney says team not rebuilding

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 3:14 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Tuesday they are not in rebuilding mode.

During the past week the Bruins traded forward Milan Lucic and defenseman Dougie Hamilton for draft picks and prospects. Lucic's 44 points were third on the Bruins this season, and Hamilton's 42 points led Boston defensemen.

"I don't think it's a rebuild. We didn't strip this down," said Sweeney, who was promoted last month from assistant general manager to replace Peter Chiarelli. "We have a tremendous core group of guys that are going to obviously carry an even heavier load here in the short term while these other kids can come in and start to take footing. ... I've always referenced that we need patience in terms of development and then we also, we can't be impatient in terms of the integration."

Sweeney made another trade Tuesday, sending goaltender Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks for a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and the rights to forward prospect Sean Kuraly.

Kopitar, Stamkos headline free agent class for 2016

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

Role players and depth defensemen are going to be the biggest currency of the day Wednesday when the 2015 NHL free agent market opens.

A big reason for that is most of the impact players who could be free agents have already signed new contracts with their current employers. Players in the free agent class of 2016 can begin signing extensions Wednesday, so it's time to take a look at the biggest names who can become unrestricted and restricted free agents a year from now.

There are plenty of impact players on these two lists, and any number of them signing a new contract could end up being the biggest news of the day and have the greatest lasting impact on a franchise.

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