The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that Mark Hunter has been promoted to Assistant General Manager for the team. Hunter has served as the Director of Player Personnel for the Leafs, after leaving his long-time position as the GM of the OHL’s London Knights in 2014-15. His role in Toronto has been overseeing scouting and drafting for the Leafs, a job that he will hold on to in his new position. In fact, GM Lou Lamoriello stated that Hunter’s promotion was “essentially a formality” and a “more appropriate recognition of (his) role in the organization.” Hunter will for the most part serve the same purpose to the Maple Leafs, but will now share the Assistant GM title with young executive Kyle Dubas, as the pair work to support Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan in re-building the Toronto franchise.
In other news:
- NBC Sports’ Pro Hockey Talk reports that the front office for a Leafs’ division rival, the Boston Bruins, is busy working on a long-term extension for winger Brad Marchand. A fan-favorite in Boston who took off in his first full season and was a major piece in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship, Marchand has never looked back, enjoying year after year of solid production including a career-high 61 points (with nearly 40 goals) this past season. Now the 28-year-old faces unrestricted free agency for the first time after the 2016-17 season, but the Bruins brass is hoping to keep him from seeing the light of day. Marchand is as tough in the corners as he is tough to slow down on offense, and fits the culture of Boston and the Bruins perfectly. So what will it cost to make sure he sticks around throughout the prime of his career? Pro Hockey Talk believes that Marchand’s initial ask was a seven-year, $49MM extension, which carries a cap hit of $7MM. However, they also counter that such a deal would make him paid higher than career line mate and Bruins legend Patrice Bergeron. This begs the question: will GM Don Sweeney really pay Marchand more than a guy considered to be one of the most complete players in the NHL and who will more than likely have his name in the rafters of the TD Garden when all is said and done? The answer is easy – yes. The team already pays Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and David Krejci more than Bergeron and with the cap increasing each year, paying Marchand $7MM annually, if he can keep putting up 60+ points per season and annoying every team in the league, is a no-brainer for Boston.
- Another rugged left winger hoping to make a difference in the NHL is Calgary Flames prospect Pavel Karnaukhov. A 2015 5th round pick for the Flames, the big Russian forward played his junior hockey nearby with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. However, instead of signing an entry-level deal with the Flames for the 2016-17 season, he returned home to Russia, signing with CSKA. In a new development though, FlamesNation reporter Ryan Pike says that Karnaukhov is not on the team’s roster for today’s start to the KHL season. Whether he has been demoted to a lower level affiliate or is having second thoughts, it seems possible that Karnaukhov could wind up back in North America at some point this year if he is not getting what he expected out of CSKA.