NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2018

Capitals eliminated the Blue Jackets, Leafs push Bruins to a seventh game, Wild fire GM Chuck Fletcher, Flames hire Bill Peters. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Braden Holtby turned aside 35 shots as the Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 to win their opening-round series in six games. Nick Foligno scored two goals for the Jackets in a losing cause. For the third straight year and the fourth time since 2009, the Capitals will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby played a crucial role in his club’s series victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rallying from a 2-0 series deficit, the Capitals displayed plenty of character  against the Jackets. Holtby’s performance was a big reason for the turnaround, overcoming a disappointing regular-season effort to regain the starter’s job. He finished the series by winning four of five games, sporting a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. 

Speaking of overcoming a two-game series deficit, the Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Boston Bruins to a seventh and deciding game with a 3-1 victory in Game 6. Frederik Andersen made 32 saves while William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec tallied for the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After lopsided victories in the first two games, the Bruins appeared poised to sweep the Leafs out of the opening round. Thanks to Andersen’s outstanding play and an improved defensive effort, the Leafs rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to seize the momentum heading back to Boston for Game 7 on Wednesday. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild will not renew the contract of general manager Chuck Fletcher. Team owner Craig Leipold said he doesn’t anticipate head coach Bruce Boudreau or his staff leaving.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on Fletcher’s replacement. Whoever gets the job will be expected to shake up a Wild roster that reached the playoffs in six straight seasons but never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Fletcher’s record was a mixed bag. He got Devan Dubnyk and Eric Staal on the cheap, fleeced the New York Islanders for Nino Niederreiter and drafted Mikael Granlund. However, last year’s deal for Martin Hanzal was a bust, and signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to expensive long-term deals in 2012 are potential salary-cap millstones as age and injuries affect their performances. 

CALGARY SUN: To the surprise of no one, the Flames hired former Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters as their new bench boss. On Friday, Peters exercised the out clause in his contract with the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peters might bring a different approach to the Flames, but they won’t significantly improve until they address their depth in goal and at right wing. 

TSN: The Colorado Avalanche signed head coach Jared Bednar to a one-year contract extension, taking him to the end of the 2019-20 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved reward for Bednar, who coached the Avs from a dead-last performance last season to a playoff berth this year. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks won’t be renewing the contract of assistant coach Trent Yawney.

NHL.COM: The league announced the 31-team nominees for the 2018 King Clancy Trophy.

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf

Arizona Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara

Buffalo Sabres: Zach Bogosian

Calgary Flames: Travis Hamonic

Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Faulk

Chicago Blackhawks: Duncan Keith

Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog

Columbus Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin

Detroit Red Wings: Justin Abdelkader

Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Florida Panthers: Mike Matheson

Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty

Minnesota Wild: Jason Zucker

Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher

Nashville Predators: P.K. Subban

New Jersey Devils: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders: Anders Lee

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators: Mark Borowiecki

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks: Chris Tierney

St. Louis Blues: Alex Pietrangelo

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Callahan

Toronto Maple Leafs: Matt Martin

Vancouver Canucks: Daniel Sedin & Henrik Sedin

Vegas Golden Knights: Deryk Engelland

Washington Capitals: Brooks Orpik

Winnipeg Jets: Matt Hendricks

 











Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 22, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 22, 2018

Latest on the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WILD COULD FACE OFFSEASON CHANGES

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Improving the offense, determining what kind of contracts can be expected for restricted free agents Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker, and perhaps shaking up the roster with a trade are among the questions facing the Minnesota Wild this summer.

Chip Scoggins believes Wild owner Craig Leipold faces two choices: standing pat and hoping things improve next season or make major changes to the roster and/or management. While the Wild reached the playoffs in six consecutive seasons they’ve also made quick postseason exits, with just 15 wins in eight series. The first order of business is determining if general manager Chuck Fletcher returns for a 10th season.

Could Charlie Coyle become part of a potential offseason shakeup by the Minnesota Wild? (Photo via NHL Images)

Scoggins also points out players the Wild counted on for production, such as Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, failed to score in their series against the Jets.  “The Wild has had too many passengers in the playoffs, not just one or two guys falling short. Whether they underperformed or are just not talented enough, this situation requires a realistic assessment of where the organization stands.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani suggests “guys like Coyle and Niederrieter might have finally worn out their welcome after following up disappointing regular seasons with scoreless postseasons.” He also notes the Wild face the decision on whether to re-sign Zucker and Dumba to high-paying contracts, pointing out  Zucker’s lack of production against the Jets and Dumba’s “head-scratching plays on the blue line.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Leipold does after his club made yet another early exit from the playoffs. If Fletcher returns, he could be under orders to shake things up and that could include moving Coyle or Niederreiter or Zucker.

As per Cap Friendly, Dumba and Zucker are both restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Dumba’s developing into a reliable puck-moving rearguard and should get a long-term contract. If Zucker isn’t traded he might only get a one-year deal from the Wild taking him up to unrestricted free agency next summer. 

WHAT NEXT FOR THE DEVILS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan lists adding defensive depth and making decisions on rental wingers (and pending free-agents) Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon among her keys to the New Jersey Devils’ offseason.

Regarding the defense, she notes John Moore is an unrestricted free agent this summer while 35-year-old captain Andy Greene is showing signs of slowing down. Given their salary-cap space for next season, there’s room to make a splash on defense. Grabner was a bust but Maroon did put up 13 points in 17 regular-season games and could be worth re-signing if the money and term are reasonable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have $55 million invested in 17 players for 2018-19, with Stefan Noesen, Blake Coleman and Miles Wood as their notable restricted free agents. Even if they don’t spend to the projected $80 million cap ceiling they have sufficient space to re-sign their key players and perhaps add a top-four defenseman and perhaps a faceoff specialist.

I don’t see them re-signing Grabner. Maroon was disappointing in the playoffs with just one goal in five games. If the Devils are looking for offense they could pursue other options. 

 

 











Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

A look at the general managers and coaches potentially on the hot seat in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

GENERAL MANAGERS POTENTIALLY FEELING THE HEAT

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently listed Detroit’s Ken Holland, Toronto’s Lou Lamoriello, Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli, Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, the New York Islanders’ Garth Snow, Arizona’s John Chayka, Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher, Colorado’s Joe Sakic, Columbus’ Jarmo Kekalainen and Chicago’s Stan Bowman as the 10 NHL general managers potentially on the hot seat as this NHL season winds down.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is among several NHL GMs who could be on the hot seat. (Photo via NHL.com).

Holland was linked to Vancouver (before Jim Benning was re-signed) and Seattle’s expansion franchise. Mirtle also speculated Holland could be moved upstairs to a president’s role with the Wings or they could maintain the status quo. It’s expected Lamoriello will be moved out of the role as Maple Leafs’ GM at the end of this season, though he has a strong connection with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

There’s been rumors Chiarelli “is a man on an island in the front office as Wayne Gretzky exerts some influence,” while Oilers fans are “fed up”. Bergevin’s been given a vote of confidence by Canadiens ownership but Mirtle feels he’ll be on a short leash.

Snow has long had ownership support and contract talks with John Tavares could complicate any change before July 1. Still, Mirtle thinks the tide is shifting against the long-time Islanders GM. After two seasons with little improvement by the Coyotes under Chayka, a management change wouldn’t be surprising. Another early playoff exit by the Wild could prove costly to Fletcher.

Mirtle thinks this season’s improvement by the Avalanche means it’s safe to assume Sakic will be staying put. Kekalainen, meanwhile, could feel the pressure for Columbus to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Bowman likely isn’t going anywhere in the offseason but Mirtle wonders about his future if the Blackhawks get off to a poor start next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve summarize the main points from Mirtle’s piece. Holland’s contract is up at the end of this season and I think the Wings are ready for a management change. Lamoriello is expected to move aside to make way for assistant GM Kyle Dubas. I can see him taking another role in the organization.

I don’t think Chiarelli will be fired but, like Bergevin in Montreal, he’ll be under pressure to turn things around this summer. Maybe Snow will be replaced, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. I certainly don’t see it happening while he’s negotiating with Tavares. If Snow can’t get his captain under contract, that could spell the end of his long tenure as Isles GM.

The Coyotes have had a rough season, but they’ve played better in the second half of this season. That could justify keeping Chayka around for another season. I agree with Mirtle that another disappointing playoff for the Wild could lead to major changes, which could include firing Fletcher. I don’t see Sakic, Kekalainen or Bowman going anywhere. 

COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, Detroit’s Jeff Blashill, Edmonton’s Todd McLellan, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Washington’s Barry Trotz and Carolina’s Bill Peters as six coaches on the hot seat. 

The Rangers are committed to a rebuild but Vigneault has a reputation for being tough on young players. The justification for replacing Blashill could be the need for the younger players to hear a different voice. After Edmonton’s disappointing season, McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli could be vulnerable. 

Quenneville could be replaced if the Blackhawks’ front office believes the roster needs a fresh approach behind the bench. Allen feels the fact the Capitals haven’t extended Trotz’ contract speaks to tension between the coach and the organization. A new GM in Carolina could want to bring in his own coach, while could spell the end of Peters behind the Hurricanes’ bench. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an unusual season as no NHL head coach has lost a job…yet. Vigneault is under contract through 2019-20 so perhaps the Rangers will keep him around for next season. The fates of Blashill and McLellan could be tied to those of their respective general managers.

The Blackhawks’ struggles this season are of management’s making but it’s usually the coach who pays the price. If the Capitals make another early playoff exit, Trotz is a goner. With Francis out as the Hurricanes’ GM, his replacement will likely want to bring in his own staff.