Are The Colorado Avalanche Poised to Make a Big Splash in the NHL Trade Market?
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.
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.
“If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can be traded.”
That phrase is regularly trotted out whenever a National Hockey League superstar surfaces in trade rumors. Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion recently used it when discussing the future of defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Gretzky was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988. During the 1995-96 season, the Kings shipped the Great One to the St. Louis Blues.
The trade everyone remembers, of course, was the first one. At the time, Gretzky and the Oilers were at the peak of their powers. It was a stunning move that forever changed the NHL, paving the way for new hockey markets in the southern United States.
In the nearly 30 years since the first Gretzky trade, notable superstars such as Patrick Roy, Raymond Bourque, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla and P.K. Subban have been traded.
Why would a team deal away its best player, especially when they’re usually unlikely to get equal value in return?
In most cases, it’s because he’s approaching the end of his contract. That’s the scenario the Senators face with Karlsson. With unrestricted free agency beckoning next year, he could seek more than the Sens can afford. Rather than risk losing him for nothing to free agency, they could put him on the trade block.
Sometimes it can be a personality issue. A player can clash with ownership, management, the coaching staff or sometimes some of his teammates, reaching the point where a trade is the only resolution.
If a team is floundering in the standings and management is considering a roster rebuild, a superstar might prefer moving on to a club that has a better chance of competing for the Stanley Cup in the near future.
Following the “If Gretzky can be traded…” logic, it’s easy to assume that today’s biggest stars, such as Karlsson, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Toronto’s Auston Matthews, could one day be dealt to other clubs.
However, not every NHL superstar is certain to be traded during their careers.
Mario Lemieux spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Granted, he was in an ownership role with the club when he emerged from retirement in 2000. Still, for a Penguins front office heading toward financial difficulties by the mid-’90s, dealing their biggest draw simply to cut costs wasn’t an option.
Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic began his NHL career when that franchise was still the Quebec Nordiques. The Avs were so determined to retain Sakic that, in 1997, they matched a three-year, $21-million offer sheet he signed with the New York Rangers. After that, they made sure they paid him whatever he wanted.
Steve Yzerman and Niklas Lidstrom spent their entire Hall of Fame careers with the Detroit Red Wings. In 1995, Detroit management entertained the notion of trading Yzerman to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin. However, they wisely reconsidered and Yzerman went on to lead the Wings to three Stanley Cup championships.
In today’s NHL, trading a superstar isn’t easy. Most of them usually carry expensive long-term contracts containing ironclad no-trade/no-movement clauses, giving them full control over their trade status.
That’s one reason why, after 16 seasons, Daniel and Henrik Sedin remain with the Vancouver Canucks. While still putting up respectable numbers, they’re no longer capable of playing at the level that established them as the greatest players in Canucks history. The twins, however, have full no-trade protection on their current contracts (which expire in July) and no interest in playing elsewhere.
It’s also not uncommon for a club to retain its best player even when his career is on the downside. They’re still the face of the franchise and the guy the fans come to see. Sometimes there’s a loyalty toward the player born out of respect for all he’s done for the team throughout his career.
The day could come when the Penguins ask Crosby to accept a trade, or the Capitals place Alex Ovechkin on the trade block. Down the road, perhaps the Oilers part ways with McDavid or the Maple Leafs peddle Matthews.
After all, if Gretzky can be traded, so could they. But don’t be too sure they’ll face the same fate.
Game recaps, players and rookie of the month for November & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko tallied a hat trick to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 5-4 victory over the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning, who dropped their fourth consecutive game.
Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu each scored twice and Connor McDavid collected three assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 thumping of the Winnipeg Jets.
Sidney Crosby had three points, including the game winner, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 drubbing of the Dallas Stars.
Claude Giroux scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Two third-period goals by Jack Eichel gave the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers.
Marian Hossa tallied his team-high 12th goal to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Blackhawks move past the idle Montreal Canadiens for top spot in the NHL’s overall standings.
Jaroslav Halak turned in a 38-save shutout as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg rejoined the Isles lineup after missing seven games with a broken jaw.
Anze Kopitar has two assists and Jordan Nolan scored twice as the Los Angeles Kings edged the Arizona Coyotes 4-3.
Boone Jenner netted the game winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Earlier in the days, the Avalanche placed defenseman Eric Gelinas on waivers. Despite the Avs struggles, general manager Joe Sakic insists he still believes in his core and doesn’t plan to make any rosters changes right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change in January or February if the Avs haven’t significantly improved. They’re near the bottom of the NHL standings and six points out of a wild-card berth in the Pacific Division. If they don’t move up the standings soon, changes will have to be made, and it won’t be the coaching staff that feels it.
Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, their first under new coach Tom Rowe. The Wings also lost winger Justin Abdelkader to a lower-body injury.
Shootout goals by Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
John Gibson made 27 saves as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1.
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are the NHL’s three stars of the month for November 2016.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for November 2016.
TWINCITIES.COM: Is Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild the NHL’s best goaltender?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, he isn’t. Dubnyk is a streaky performer. He played well in half of the 2014-15 campaign and was inconsistent in 2015-16. He’s off to a very strong start to this season, but must maintain that level of performance throughout the remainder of the season to merit consideration as the NHL’s top goalie. For now, that honor belongs to Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: It’s going to become harder to accurately track the Carolina Hurricanes’ revenue. “Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the team’s parent company, will no longer report two annual hockey-related revenue figures to the Centennial Authority, the PNC Arena landlord – the amount received by the team from the NHL and from its local television contract.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s entirely legal, but it does make it appear the Hurricanes are being less transparent about their revenue, despite what Don Waddell says.
In today’s collection of notable NHL headlines, recaps of Saturday’s games plus updates on Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Bruce Boudreau and more. (more…)