NHL Roundup: Leafs extend coach; Sabres give Eichel medicals to interested teams; Toews returns; and more

Latest NHL news.

By Forever Blueshirts
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Feb 15, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) waits for a face-off ]during the third period against the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The calendar is about to flip to October signaling the start of another NHL regular season. There’s been plenty of news over the course of the day, so let’s get you caught up.

We start in Toronto where the Maple Leafs just gave their bench boss a vote of confidence.

NHL: Leafs extend Sheldon Keefe

The Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly extended the contract of head coach, Sheldon Keefe. According to Pierre LeBrun, he has agreed to a 2 year deal which will take him through the 2023-24 season.

“They believe in him, but it’s a prove-me contract at two years, no five,” LeBrun said on TSN.

Keefe, 41, took over the bench for the Maple Leafs during the 2019-20 season for the fired Mike Babcock. He went 27-15-5 in a COVID shortened season. Last year, the Leafs posted a 35-14-7 record to win the All-Canadian North Division under Keefe. The contract extension is a huge vote of confidence for the young coach, although playoff success has eluded the franchise.

Sabres release Eichel’s medicals to interested teams

TSN Insider Trading tonight had some news, possibly in a positive direction in the Jack Eichel saga with the Sabres.

“The NHL and NHLPA have been involved with all parties for quite some time,” Darren Dreger said. “An interesting twist is that teams with trade interest Jack Eichel are being given the medical information as it’s being collected. So the process is moving along.”

Recently, on the latest edition of the newly named 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman suggested that the Sabres should do this with Jack’s permission.

“There are some teams that feel the same way Buffalo does about the surgery (getting a fusion),” Friedman said. “There are teams legitimately interested in trading for Eichel, who feel they don’t have all the information. How can you make the best possible offer for Jack Eichel without knowing exactly what all the doctors are saying? My goal to end the log jam is that teams can see his records.”

Maybe this gets things moving to a conclusion.

NHL News: Toews back in action

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Aug 16, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews skates before game four of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Back in December, the Blackhawks announced that Jonathan Toews would be out indefinitely. At the time, all that was revealed was the symptom of chronic fatigue. This summer, he revealed he had been battling with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome

Toews, 33, played in a 4-3 SO loss to the Detroit Red Wings last night. He picked up a secondary assist in the first period and finished the game with a TOI of 22:48. It was his first game action in over a year.

“Obviously, I’ve got my work cut out for me, but it’s coming. So just happy to be out there,” he explained. “We’ve got pretty good skates in practices, but I feel better than Day One. I think I feel pretty good about my progress and, you know, just getting in shape, I guess, pretty much.”

The revamped Hawks are much better than last year with the addition of Seth Jones on the blue-line and Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. They are a team to watch in the Central Division.

Canadiens will be allowed full capacity for home games

The Montreal Canadiens and CF Montreal will be allowed to expand to 100 percent capacity following Quebec’s latest health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province’s health minister announced Thursday that capacity restrictions on “venues with assigned seating,” which includes the Canadiens’ Bell Centre and CF Montreal’s Stade Saputo, were being lifted Oct. 8.

All fans must be fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors.

NHL Rumors

The NHL Trade Bait Tracker for the 2021-22 season has been set. While training camps continue, a few names have emerged as possible trade deadline rentals already. Read More.

-Field Level Media contributed to this report