Botterill Joins Several Former Assistant General Managers Who Failed As NHL GMs
The Minnesota Wild today fired Paul Fenton after just one year as their general manager. Assistant GM Tom Kurvers takes over on an interim basis until a full-time replacement is found.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Wild owner Craig Leipold believed the club wasn’t heading in the right direction under Fenton and made a change now rather than drag things out another season. In breaking this news, The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported sources claiming there were accounts of unhappy employees and other turbulent incidents behind the scenes during Fenton’s tenure. Combine that with the inconsistent results from his roster moves, and it’s little wonder Leipold opted for a change.
On the other hand, Leipold should’ve made that decision at season’s end rather than let Fenton control their decisions at the 2019 Draft and during free agency.
Fenton joined the Wild as GM last year to great fanfare. He’d worked for years as assistant GM with the Nashville Predators and had a hand in building that club into a Stanley Cup contender. He was expected to change the Wild’s culture and help them shake the tag of playoff underachievers.
He was very active in the trade market last season, trading away core players Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter for Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato, and Victor Rask. He also tried and failed twice to trade winger Jason Zucker, the most recent being the attempt to ship him to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel. His efforts, however, failed to improve the Wild, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Fenton’s replacement will have some important decisions to make. Veteran defenseman Jared Spurgeon is a year away from UFA eligibility. Russo reported this weekend veteran winger Zach Parise is concerned over the state of the club and Fenton looked into trying to trade him. The new GM could also insist upon bringing in his own people in the front office and behind the bench.
Updates on the Flames and Wild plus a new Erik Karlsson rumor for the final Sunday of August 2018 in your NHL rumor mill.
FLAMES GM TRELIVING FACING MOMENT OF TRUTH?
THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson recently suggested the coming season could be Brad Treliving’s last as GM of the Calgary Flames if the club fails to significantly improve. While Wilson acknowledges Treliving’s good work in re-signing players and improved drafting, he’s dealt away part of the club’s future for “dubious present-day benefits” such as Travis Hamonic, Mike Smith, Michael Stone and Curtis Lazar. Wilson considers Treliving’s inability to resolve the Flames’ shaky goaltending “the biggest blight on his resume to date.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a certainty Treliving could lose his job if the Flames miss the playoffs next spring but he’ll certainly be on shaky ground. He made several significant moves this summer, shipping Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, hired former Hurricanes coach Bill Peters as the Flames’ new bench boss and brought in veteran leadership and right-wing depth by signing James Neal.
The goaltending, however, remains their biggest question mark. If Smith can stay healthy throughout this season the Flames should reach the playoffs. If not, it could be a struggle to stay in contention. I think Treliving will keep a close eye on his netminders and on available goalie options in the trade market.
WHY NO MAJOR WILD MOVES THIS SUMMER?
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Rand explains why the Minnesota didn’t make any significant trades during this offseason, their first under new general manager Paul Fenton. Though he suggested he’d consider all options to improve his club, including big trades, Fenton did little to shake up his roster.
When asked why at a recent Wild fan festival, he explained there haven’t been any good deals to make because his rivals were trying to take advantage of a team in transition. Rand believes the February trade deadline could be Fenton’s best chance to swing a blockbuster move after he’s had most of the season to evaluate his roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much of the trade chatter focused on defenseman Matt Dumba and forwards Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Dumba and Zucker were re-signed to long-term contracts while the trade chatter about Coyle and Niederreiter faded throughout the summer. I concur with Rand’s take that Fenton will take most of the coming season to assess his roster’s strengths and weaknesses before deciding if a big trade is necessary.
KARLSSON TO THE DEVILS?
PUCKS AND PITCHFORKS: Nick Villano examines a rumor kicking around claiming the New Jersey Devils are offering up an attractive offer to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Erik Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Villano does a good job dissecting this one. Sure, anything’s possible, but I doubt we’ll see Karlsson landing in New Jersey via trade.