NHL Notebook: The Winnipeg Ice of the WHL are being relocated, Toronto Maple Leafs looking to sign Auston Matthews to max-term deal, and more

Aleena Aksenchuk
1 year ago
After a short four-year stint in the city, the Winnipeg Ice have been sold to an ownership group led by David White. The team will pack up and move to Wenatchee, Washington, and will be known as the Wenatchee Ice, effective for the 2023-24 season.
Initially known as the Edmonton Ice, the franchise started in Alberta’s capital city in 1996 and relocated to Cranbrook in 1998 and became the Kootenay Ice. The Ice won WHL titles in 2000, 2002, and 2011 and became Memorial Cup Champions in 2002.
In 2017 the team sold to the 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc and announced the relocation of the Club to Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the end of the 2018-19 season, changing their name to the Winnipeg Ice.
Part of the condition of moving the Ice to Winnipeg was that the club would receive a new arena within three years. That didn’t happen and the Ice played out of the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba for the entirety of their four seasons in Winnipeg.
Here’s what Daily Faceoff‘s Colton Davies reported on the news:
In four seasons in Winnipeg, the Ice compiled a 166-49-8 record, including a 57-10-1 record last season and an appearance in the WHL Final. They have been loaded with talent in recent years that, include first-round picks Matthew Savoie (Buffalo Sabres), Conor Geekie (Arizona Coyotes) and 2023 top prospect Zach Benson.
It is assumed the Wenatchee team will play in the U.S. Division of the WHL alongside the Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans. There is no word of whether or not a name change will be applied or if the new ownership group stays with the “Ice” name.

Toronto Maple Leafs aim to sign forward Auston Mathews to a max-term deal

The Toronto Maple Leafs are aiming to sign forward Auston Matthews to an eight-year deal to lock up their franchise superstar.
The Hart Memorial Trophy winner notched 40 goals and 85 points this past season scoring an additional 11 points in 11 playoff games. Matthews and the Leafs hit a milestone making it into the second round of playoffs for the first time since 2004.
His current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2023-24 season and it eligible to sign an extension as early as July 1st. The forward expressed a desire to stay in Toronto before the end of the 2022-23 season.
On the latest episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman talked about Toronto General Manager Brad Treliving’s meeting with Matthews and expressed that he believes the Leafs will get a max deal done.
Here’s Daily Faceoff‘s Colton Davies’ report on the situation:
“I think Matthews, especially with the people around him, think there’s two more big contracts in his future. I think the Maple Leafs are going to try to get a max-term deal out of this,” Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast on Friday. ” don’t know what the likelihood is, but I think they’re going to try.”
Friedman reported that new Leafs general manager Brad Treliving flew to Arizona to have dinner with Matthews to discuss his potential future in Toronto. Who was the last player Treliving met with for dinner, and then just a few days later, that said player signed a massive contract? Jonathan Huberdeau of the Calgary Flames.
Friedman seems convinced that this is going to work out. Both sides have made it clear that they want the deal done sooner rather than later. Matthews can officially put pen to paper on July 1.”

Calgary Flames forward Matthew Phillips is the top Group 6 UFA to watch this summer

Calgary Flames forward Matthew Phillips is popular within discussions regarding the best Group Six unrestricted free agents in the NHL set to hit the market this summer.
The young forward has only played in three NHL games since being drafted by the Flames in 2016 but he is consistently amongst the top scorers in the American Hockey League year after year. This past season, he played 66 games with the Calgary Wranglers of the AHL scoring 36 goals for 76 points and an additional seven points during the playoffs.
Phillips is a prime example of a player who, at 25 years of age, hasn’t reached a certain threshold of NHL in their current NHL organization and, under the group six rule, is eligible to elect for unrestricted free agency.
On Friday Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli and Mike Mckenna discussed some of the top kids of the Group Six unrestricted free agents.
Here’s Daily Faceoff‘s transcription of the episode:
Mike McKenna: We’ve got the unusual Group 6 free agents out there. I’ve got my eye on Joey Daccord, goaltender for the Seattle Kraken franchise, but you’ve got somebody else who may have some teams interested.
Frank Seravalli: By the way, side note, you mentioned the Kraken, they’re also looking to move Chris Driedger. Probably not a surprise, also coming off of significant injury. But on the Group 6 free agent front, we already saw Mikey Eyssimont re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a two-year deal, he was a pending Group 6 free agent. And Matthew Phillips of the Calgary Flames is another one who has, I believe, generated some interest on the market. Look, you take a look at his AHL numbers, 36 goals, 76 points, back-to-back years inside the top 10 in AHL scoring, someone who hasn’t gotten a crack at the NHL level under Darryl Sutter, and really wants and is ready for an NHL opportunity.
The Flames wanna keep him. Craig Conroy and Ryan Huska have a youth movement afoot and they’re trying right now to convince Phillips to stay, but because he hasn’t gotten that shot and he’s 25 years old, he is in line to become a total UFA on July 1. It’s the undersized, five-foot-seven frame that’s held him back to this point, at least in terms of a lot of teams believing he can be an impact NHL guy, but we’ve already seen small, undersized guys come through the Calgary Flames organization, go elsewhere, and blossom. Marty St. Louis, that would be one. If I were Matthew Phillips, I’d say it’s hard now, given your run in the organization, to convince me, even with new guys, that I’m going to get an authentic shot. I’d like to see someone, somewhere else, step up and put some money on the line in a one-way, guaranteed deal, to take a chance on me, knowing that I’m going to get a real authentic opportunity.

Aleena Aksenchuk is an intern with Oilersnation and the Nation Network. She can be found on Twitter at @A_Aksenchuk8.

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