Phil Kessel reportedly close to re-signing with the Maple Leafs, Devan Dubnyk faces a crucial season with the Oilers, plus the latest news on the other Canadian NHL clubs.

New contract for Phil Kessel coming soon?

New contract for Phil Kessel coming soon?

KUKLA’S KORNER: cited a collection of “tweets” from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs may be close to a new contract extension with winger Phil Kessel, who is eligible for UFA status next summer. McKenzie suggested a new deal could come as early as Tuesday (October 1) and speculated it could be an eight-year deal worth $8 million per season “give or take $500K”.

TSN.CA: The Maple Leafs also demoted defenseman John-Michael Liles, clearing $925K of his salary from their books, thus making the Leafs cap compliant by $66K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve said for months Kessel could get between $8-$8.5 million per season. I also stressed the importance of the Leafs re-signing Kessel as soon as possible, rather than risk his asking price rising by next summer. Looks like Leafs management was thinking the same thing. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson suggests this season could be Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk’s last to prove himself as an NHL starting netminder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite playing behind one of the worst defenses in the NHL, Dubnyk has lowered his GAA in each of the past three seasons and improved his save percentage over the same period. With a better club, Dubnyk’s numbers would be even better. It’s not Dubnyk that’s the problem, but rather the lousy defense in front of him.

CALGARY HERALD: Flames 2013 first round pick Sean Monahan will start the season in the Flames lineup.

CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis believes the Flames will finish dead last this season, but points out they’ll be in good position for a top five draft pick next June.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the next two or three seasons, landing high first round draft picks is probably the best thing Flames fans can look forward to.

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray is out four-six weeks with an upper body injury, opening the door for young blueliner Jarred Tinordi to nail down a full-time roster spot.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: The Senators surprised observers by demoting Mika Zibanejad.  Cory Conacher, Stephane Da Costa and JG Pageau survived the club’s final cuts.

WINNIPEG SUN: Young Jets blueliner Jacob Trouba is looking forward to his NHL debut.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks sent prospects Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce back to their junior clubs.