After two crazy weeks in the NHL that saw blockbuster trades and nearly a billion dollars spent on the free agent market, teams now hold development camps for their young prospects, evaluating what they have and allowing the recent draftees to get their first taste of an NHL organization.
In Maple Leaf camp, much of the speculation has been around Auston Matthews and his yet-to-be-signed contract. With GM Lou Lamoriello being staunchly against performance bonuses, it’s been opined many times that this is the sticking point. Lamoriello tried to put and end to that today, speaking with Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun: “We’re certainly talking to his representative. I don’t think this is something that’s going to take long. I have total confidence that he’ll be under contract. He’s an elite player and will be (in the NHL). No one’s going to be rushed here.”
As we outlined this past week, Matthews could earn upwards of $3MM if he were to max out all the usual bonuses given to top draft picks. Here’s more from around the league’s development camps:
- Tyler Bertuzzi, nephew of former Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi is absent from camp today due to overall soreness, reports Brendan Savage of MLive. The former second-round pick is the elder statesman at Detroit’s camp as he tries to work his way into a bottom-six role in the NHL. After putting up 98 points in his last year of junior, Bertuzzi made an impact at the AHL level last season, scoring 12 goals and 30 points in 71 games.
- In Chicago, the Blackhawks are holding camp without one of their top prospects in Ville Pokka, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic. The Finnish defenseman was injured during the World Hockey Championship (in which Finland earned a silver medal), after spending last season with the Rockford Icehogs of the AHL. With 75 points in 144 games at that level, Pokka has turned into the puck-moving defenseman the Islanders hoped for when they made him their second-round pick in 2012. He joined the Chicago organization after being the centerpiece of a deal for Nick Leddy in 2014.