Morning Hits: Datsyuk, Alzner, Kessel, Bozak and some other Leafs notes


  • Chris Nichols of SportsNet: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said that Pavel Datsyuk won’t be heading back to Russia when his contract expires after next season.

    “You mean how long is his deal and how much is he gonna make? Well, there’s this much possibility he’s going back to Russia,” said Babcock, making a zero with his thumb and index finger. “I mean, we’ll get it done (new deal) in the summer.”

    Datsyuk’s agent and GM Ken Holland will talk about an extension in July.

  • Craig Custance of ESPN: There have been no contract yet between Dave Nonis and Phil Kessel’s camp.

    “He’s in my mind one of the top players in the league. Would we look to extend Phil? Again, he has a year left in his contract, there is no urgency in getting him signed to an extension,” Nonis said. “Phil Kessel is going to be a good player in this league for a long time. If there’s a deal there that makes sense for both of us, no question, we’ll look to bring him back for an extended period.”

    It will be a challenge to find a deal that makes sense. Kessel will be entering the last year of his deal that is paying him $5.4 million and he’ll be looking for a nice raise.

    “Kessel’s value will not go down,” he said, but added that Kessel’s game isn’t as well-rounded as that of some other stars, which may hurt him at the negotiating table.

    “He doesn’t possess four or five tools,” he said. “He’s a guy who is a sniper.”

    Alex Semin could be a comparable for Kessel. Semin signed a five year, $35 million deal this season. $8 million a year for Kessel could be their starting point.

  • Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star: McGran notes that Maple Leafs Tyler Bozak could be the best center in this year’s UFA crop. He could be looking for a deal in the Mikhail Grabovski range, $5.5 million a season.

    “My agent will deal with that stuff,” Bozak said of his contract status. “I would like to stay here. This is a place I like playing.”

    Bozak might have to take a hometown discount if he wants to remain with the Leafs.

    “If there is a contract that makes sense for us and makes sense for Tyler, we’ll sign him,” said GM Dave Nonis. “It’s not a situation where we have to sign Tyler Bozak. There are numbers that make sense for the team and there are numbers that make sense for Bozak.

    Leafs GM Nonis thinks teams will be active trying to trade high-salaries players before or at the draft. If teams aren’t able to trade them, they may have to buy them out. Compliance buyout period starts 48 hours after the Stanley Cup and ends on July 4th, a day before the start of free agency. Players that are 26 and older receive 2/3′s of their contract, while players under 26 receive 1/3 of their contract.

    “We are in fairly good position cap-wise,” said Nonis. “We have some players we have to re-sign. That’s going to eat in to cap space a little bit. We’re not in a position where we have to shed money, which some teams clearly are.

    “I would expect the weeks leading up to the draft are going to be fairly busy. The draft itself will be busy. It usually is with player movement. I think you’ll see some bigger movement this year, just because of the cap situation.”

  • Michael Grange of SportsNet: Leafs GM Nonis plays things a little differently than former GM Brian Burke.

    Nonis, for example, said he would trade Dion Phaneuf, the team’s captain and the best defenseman albeit in a fairly shallow pool. And he said it without flinching. I asked him and Nonis said an unblinking “yes” before I’d even finished the question.

    That’s not saying that he will trade him, but he would consider it.

    “I’ve always felt the word untouchable is really silly in this sport,” said Nonis. “There are players you would be unlikely to move and players we see as being long-term solutions to success here. But untouchable doesn’t help you if you’re looking to get better. You look at the some of the teams that have gotten better and been good for a long time, they’ve moved some people that may have made fans shake their head, but they’ve gotten better doing it.”

    The Leafs have $45.1 million committed to 12 players and a Mike Komisarek or John-Michael Liles buyout could give them more flexibility. They could use help at center and on the blueline.

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