NHL News: Aho’s next contract, Boucher’s hiring, Dunn’s extension

Today’s NHL news follows up on the latest regarding Sebastian Aho’s next contract, the Toronto Maple Leafs hiring Guy Boucher, and Vince Dunn earning an extension. 

Whether you are into the latest trade buzz, signing news, and more, stick with The Daily Goal Horn.

According to the Carolina Hurricanes, they are close to extending Sebastian Aho

One of the trending topics in hockey is the future of Auston Matthews and William Nylander in Toronto. However, a new elite player has entered the discussion, which will get fans talking about something else for a change. Although he’s still got a season left on his current deal, Carolina Hurricanes’ star Sebastian Aho is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2024 and will command top dollar if he hits the market. 

Historically, the last time Aho was in this position, as a restricted free agent, was in the summer of 2019. Shockingly, the Montreal Canadiens came in with an offer sheet, forcing the Hurricanes’ hand to sign the Finnish native to an absurd $8.45 million deal for five seasons. 

Statistically, Aho hasn’t disappointed in the least, leading the team in scoring for the first three years of his deal and coming in second last year. After 520 games and 468 points, he’s already ranked amongst the five top scorers in Hurricanes’ history, meaning he’s earned every penny of that deal and, surprisingly, should get a raise next time. 

Moreover, since signing his latest contract, he’s been the league’s 22nd-highest scorer, behind names like Johnny Gaudreau ($9.7 million), Steven Stamkos ($8.5 million), Aleksander Barkov ($10 million), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), and Alex Ovechkin ($9.5 million). Even if his raise isn’t substantial, he’s bound to get an increase in salary and stay in Carolina, where he’s on a mission to bring the Stanley Cup back to Raleigh. 

Toronto Maple Leafs shuffle coaching staff, hire Guy Boucher

The Maple Leafs can’t be out of the spotlight for more than one news cycle, so on Friday, the team announced they hired former NHL head coach Guy Boucher to run their power play. Although the club is going to extremes to employ the best coaching staff in the league, it is curious that one of the league’s largest markets would hire a former head coach to be an assistant.  

Of course, this isn’t unusual since many franchises employ former coaches in various positions; however, this particular move raises a few eyebrows. As many know by now, the Maple Leafs have been unsuccessful in the Stanley Cup playoffs for decades and are approaching 60 years without a championship. Right now, Sheldon Keefe is entering his fifth campaign as head coach, and despite a 166-71-30 record, he’s 13-17 in the playoffs and has one win in the second round. 

Although no one in the Maple Leafs’ organization would openly admit it, Keefe’s days at the helm could end sooner rather than later. Hiring a guy like Boucher to run special teams is a chance to bond with star players on the powerplay. Ultimately, if things go sideways under Keefe, Boucher will already have a connection with key players, and if he took over as head coach, implementing a new system would be less troublesome.

Considering Toronto is in win-now territory with some star players on the verge of leaving town, a potential coaching change could be in the future. 

Seattle Kraken lock up Vince Dunn with a four-year contract

May 2, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn (29) checks Dallas Stars left wing Mason Marchment (27) in front of goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) during the overtime period in game one of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Kraken were playoff contenders in their second season, coming within a win of advancing to the Western Conference Final. Although they exceeded projections by contending for a division title and the Stanley Cup in year two, general manager Ron Francis has to keep the team’s core together because they are on the cusp of playoff success. 

On Friday, the Kraken announced that Vince Dunn is staying in the Emerald City by inking a four-year deal worth $29.4 million. Considering he’s the third leading scorer in team history, Francis rewarded the former Stanley Cup champion with a significant pay increase. As a restricted free agent, Dunn agreed to a new deal before his arbitration hearing, resulting in a $3.35 million salary increase. 

Interestingly, Dunn finished second in team scoring last year, and fifth the season prior, so there’s a chance that Francis got a great player at a bargain price. Although he may not win the Norris Trophy, his experience and ability to collect points mean there’s a good chance people will talk about how favorable this contract is for years to come. Considering the Kraken appear to be building something special in Seattle, having a player like Dunn in the room will help keep the team in the contender conversation for the next four years.