Botterill Joins Several Former Assistant General Managers Who Failed As NHL GMs
The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Artemi Panarin, Matthew Tkachuk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Bob McKenzie yesterday reported Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is believed to be pondering his future during his current leave of absence from the club. There’s no timetable as to a decision or a return to the roster. Neither Byfuglien or his agent responded to a request for an interview. McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Jets are giving the blueliner as much time and space as he needs to contemplate his future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came as a shock for Jets fans still reeling from the club’s ongoing inability to get forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract and last June’s trade of rearguard Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers. Byfuglien, 34, missed 40 games last season to two ankle injuries, a concussion, and an upper-body injury.
McKenzie indicated he’s not saying Byfuglien will retire or not return to the Jets. Nevertheless, the possibility of either result is generating plenty of commentary over the effect his absence could have upon the Jets’ already depleted blueline this season.
There’s also speculation over how they might try to replace Big Buff. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left last night’s preseason game against the New Jersey Devils with a mild groin strain. Head coach David Quinn said it was a precautionary move and expects Panarin will be fine.
LONDON FREE PRESS’ Ryan Pyette tweeted Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is skating with the OHL’s London Knights this week. Tkachuk played for the Knights in 2015-16.
WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Lar Eller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and was scratched from last night’s preseason contest with the St. Louis Blues.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed former KHL forward Anton Burdasov to a professional tryout offer.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights are the top-selling team on the ticket exchange website StubHub for the third straight season.
THE SCORE: Former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is returning to the Los Angeles Kings as a part-time advisor to their hockey operations department. Hextall was the Kings’ assistant GM from 2006 to 2013.
The Rangers buy out Kevin Shattenkirk, the Flames to buy out Michael Stone, an update on Justin Williams, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: The New York Rangers yesterday officially announced they bought out the contract of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk is now an unrestricted free agent and could attract some interest as an affordable short-term pickup. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames yesterday announced they placed blueliner Michael Stone on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. The move frees up $2.33 million, giving the Flames around $7.75 million in cap space. With restricted free agents Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane to re-sign, they could be forced to shed another salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And I’ll have more on how this move could affect the Flames next cost-cutting move in the Rumors section.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes are still awaiting a decision on captain Justin Williams’ plans. He’s an unrestricted free agent still mulling whether to retire or return to the Hurricanes for one more season.
General manager Don Waddell believes Williams is leaning toward returning. The Hurricanes have around $2.5 million in salary-cap space with Anton Forsberg and Saku Maenalanen to re-sign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because Williams would be signing a 35-plus contract, Waddell indicated it could be a bonus-laden deal. Those bonuses would be charged against next season’s cap if they end up pushing the Canes over this season’s cap.
THE ATHLETIC: The search for the next Minnesota Wild general manager is underway. The club has already interviewed former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall and former Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, but that doesn’t mean they’re front-runners for the job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite managing the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011, Chiarelli’s tenure with the Oilers tarnished his reputation. Word that the Wild spoke with Chiarelli sparked some concern among Minnesota fans on social media.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Alex Meruelo was formally introduced yesterday as the new owner of the Coyotes. He vowed to keep the team in Arizona, is committed to building a winner, and praised team president and CEO Ahron Cohen and general manager John Chayka.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Matt Cullen as part of their player development staff. Cullen recently announced his retirement as an NHL player after 21 seasons.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward A.J. Greer to a one-year, two-way contract. On July 7, he was arrested in New York on misdemeanor third-degree assault charges. The club has declined to comment until the investigation is complete.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Remi Elie.
NHL.COM: Former players JP Cote and Stephen Gionta are among the new front-office hires by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cote becomes their new director of player development while Gionta becomes a professional scout.
Chris Kunitz retires, the Lightning ship Ryan Callahan to the Senators, fallout from the Wild firing GM Paul Fenton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: After 15 NHL seasons, winger Chris Kunitz is hanging up his skates and will become a player development advisor for the Chicago Blackhawks. He played for the Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Blackhawks.
Kunitz won four Stanley Cups, one with the Ducks and three with the Penguins, amassing 268 goals and 619 points in 1,022 games. He was also a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Kunitz in his new job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a straightforward salary dump by the Lightning. Callahan has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. A degenerative back injury has brought about the end of his playing career.
Rather than go through the salary-cap complications of placing Callahan on long-term injury reserve, the Bolts ship out his cap hit and give themselves over $11 million in salary-cap space. That should be enough to re-sign restricted free agents Brayden Point and Adam Erne to new contracts. However, the Bolts now have to address a logjam between the crease. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
The Senators, meanwhile, can afford to take on Callahan’s cap hit. Thanks to insurance, they’ll only pay over $940K.
THE SCORE: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Minnesota Wild are believed to have sought permission from the Philadelphia Flyers to speak with Ron Hextall regarding their now-vacant role of general manager. The Wild yesterday relieved GM Paul Fenton of his duties and are seeking a full-time replacement. Hextall was the Flyers GM from 2014 to 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall probably isn’t the only former NHL general manager the Wild could be interested in. It’ll be interesting to see how many they interview and how long it takes to announce Fenton’s replacement.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser’s father is once again battling lung cancer. He was previously diagnosed in 2017. The cancer returned six weeks ago and has spread to his liver and bones. A blood clot triggered heart failure on Monday, placing him into intensive care in critical condition.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Boeser’s dad makes a full recovery.
SPORTSNET: As expected, Calgary’s city council approved a 35-year arena deal with the Flames to replace the 36-year-old Saddledome.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Vladislav Kamenev to a one-year, $750K contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes announced Patrick Dwyer is the new assistant coach of their AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
THE DENVER POST: Former NHL defenseman Mike Christie passed away on July 11 of kidney disease at age 69. A standout defenseman with the University of Denver.
Christie spent seven seasons in the NHL from 1974-75 to 1980-81 with the California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, Colorado Rockies, and Vancouver Canucks. He netted 116 points in 412 games and was captain of the Rockies in 1979-80.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Christie’s family, friends, and former teammates.
The Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager Ron Hextall. Team president Paul Holmgren is overseeing the search for Hextall’s replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Didn’t see this coming. I expected head coach Dave Hakstol was on the hot seat, given the Flyers’ ongoing inconsistency. Hextall’s replacement could quickly relieve Hakstol of his duties and bring in his own man behind the bench.
Hired as Flyers GM in May 2014, Hextall took a different approach than predecessors like Holmgren and Bob Clarke. Gone were the days of big trades and expensive free-agent signings.
Hextall instead freed up salary-cap space by shipping out the contracts of sidelined or aging veterans such as Chris Pronger and Vincent Lecavalier while restocking the Flyers’ farm system. Promising youngsters such as Ivan Provorov, Travis Konency, and Nolan Patrick were Hextall draft picks.
Hextall preached patience as he attempted to rebuild his roster, and for a while, Flyers fans bought into his program. At times, the club showed promise but inconsistency plagued them. Like his predecessors, Hextall couldn’t find a reliable starting goaltender, turning instead to affordable, injury-prone or inconsistent options like Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth, and Brian Elliott. He also raised eyebrows with his hiring of Hakstol, a successful NCAA coach who lacked prior NHL experience.
This season, Hextall drew criticism for his ongoing inability to address the Flyers’ creaky goaltending and sloppy defensive play, especially on the penalty kill. As the club continued to blow hot and cold, Hextall’s calls for patience wore thin amid calls for change from frustrated Flyers’ followers. With the club in danger of tumbling to the bottom of the standings, the front office obviously felt a change in direction was needed.
No word yet as to who becomes Hextall’s replacement. Whoever gets the job will be expected to make moves that provide more immediate and positive results.
A roundup of analyses concerning the recent moves made during the 2015 NHL Draft. (more…)