NHL NOTES: Maple Leafs get McCann, hire Carbery

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The Maple Leafs chose a very familiar trade route to insure against the loss of free agent Zach Hyman and potential Seattle Kraken pick Alex Kerfoot.

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In a deal just before Saturday’s NHL freeze on roster moves ahead of submitting protected lists for the expansion draft, Toronto acquired forward Jared McCann from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-round draft pick in 2023.

If you follow the Phil Kessel trade tree from 2015, Kasperi Kapanen came to the Leafs for Kessel, then back again in 2020 in a six-player deal that included young Hallander.McCann is a six-foot, sixth-year NHLer, a former first-rounder who played a year for his draft team, the Vancouver Canucks, and a couple with Florida. The 25-year-old can play wing or centre, but the key part of his CV is three years with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, from which Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe have often mined players, picks and staff from their time there.

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With a salary of $2.94 million US, McCann comes with a cap hit a half-million dollars less than Kerfoot, a year from becoming a restricted fee agent. As it’s unlikely the already squeezed Leafs would keep the salaries of both (unless another trade happens before the weekend NHL draft), look for Kerfoot to be exposed regardless of the Leafs electing the model of protecting seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie or eight skaters and a goalie.

If it’s the West Coast-born Kerfoot the Kraken want (Toronto might already know that after it dealt with Seattle GM Ron Francis to release assistant Dave Hakstol to be their head coach) it won’t lose one of defencemen Travis Dermott or Justin Holl. Protected lists will now be double-checked by the league, forwarded to Kraken management Sunday morning and released later in the day. Seattle’s selections will be revealed Wednesday.

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McCann had 32 points in 43 games for the Pens last year, with an assist in six playoff games. His 353 career regular season games yielded the Stratford, Ont., native 155 points.

Hallander had 24 points in 51 games for Lulea in Sweden last year. With only three picks at the moment and no first-rounder, the Leafs punted the seventh selection two years down the road.

SPENCER FOR HIRE

Keefe has turned to a former AHL rival coach to fill out his bench staff.

Though there were some older NHL veterans who would’ve been interested, Spencer Carbery was added on Saturday. He was named AHL Coach of the Year in 2021 with the Hershey Bears. The 39-year-old is a year younger than Keefe and earlier worked in the AHL as assistant with Providence and in the OHL with Saginaw. Dean Chynoweth, formerly an assistant with the Carolina Hurricanes, was hired Monday.

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“Spencer possesses a great mind for the game along with the necessary work ethic, energy and communication skills we were looking for,” Keefe said in a club release. “I’m thrilled to have him join Manny (Malhotra), Dean and myself on the bench”.

Assistant Paul MacLean has been the team’s ‘eye in the sky’ since last year.

MIRO ADDS ZEROES TO CONTRACT

There was a nice big 22nd birthday present for Dallas Stars defenceman Miro Heiskenan on Saturday. He signed an eight-year, $67.6-million contract to head off restricted free agency and solidify the Dallas blueline.

He was the first defenceman picked in the 2017 draft, third overall behind forwards Nico Hischier (New Jersey), Nolan Patrick (Philadelphia) and just ahead of 2020 rookie of the year blueliner Cale Makar of Colorado. Heiskanen has 88 points in the regular season and playoffs since the start of the ‘19-20 season.

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Makar is in current RFA limbo, though Pierre Lebrun of TSN reports his agent says there have been “cordial conversations” with Colorado.

ICE CHIPS

Winger Max Domi (Columbus) and 35-year-old goalie Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles) are among the big names to be exposed according to various reports … Asked how many mock drafts he and his staff have run through the past few months, Francis said “easily in the hundreds” … The Canucks added some versatility up front with Jason Dickinson in a Saturday trade from Dallas, giving up their third-round pick this week. The Stars faced losing the 26-year-old for no return, while Vancouver had protection space … Goalie Jaroslav Halak will leave the Boston Bruins and explore free agency. The Leafs, who gave young Joseph Woll a one-year, two-way deal on Saturday ($750,000 at the NHL level), might look at Halak, though he just turned 36.

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