Rumor Roundup: To make room for young guns, Panthers veterans could be up for grabs

Fleischmann Kopecky featured

NHL teams shopping around for veteran depth should get in touch with Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon. According Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov, a team source claims the Panthers want to ship out some “unnamed veterans” to make room for youngsters Vincent Trocheck, Rocco Grimaldi and Quinton Howden.

Fialkov believes forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim are the likely trade candidates. The trio were part of Tallon’s mass acquisition of veteran talent during the summer of 2011. They become eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Fleischmann could interest clubs seeking a skilled scorer while Kopecky and Bergenheim could prove worthwhile additions for those seeking checking-line help. Read more

Radim Vrbata proving he’s more than a mirage

Vrbata Featured

To really understand what makes Radim Vrbata’s success this season so impeccable is to go all the way back to 2008, when a 27-year-old Vrbata was one of the lesser known yet still cherished free agents.

Coming off a career high 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points, Vrbata embodied the spirit of a player hitting his prime. He was rewarded for his play on July 1, 2008, when the Tampa Bay Lightning signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract. What should have been the next great chapter of his career turned into a nightmare scenario, which saw him out of Tampa Bay and back in the desert in 2009. Read more

Oilers legends were impeccable in Edmonton, but since they’ve moved on? Peccable. Very Peccable.

Adam Proteau
Kevin Lowe (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When you consider what the glory-days Edmonton Oilers accomplished as players, you have to stand back in awe. Few teams were ever as ferocious. Fewer could boast of the stunning depth and breadth of their talent. From Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier to Paul Coffey to Jari Kurri to Grant Fuhr and so many more, the franchise was like a Hockey Hall of Fame Factory that churned out legends the way potato chip companies now churn out preposterous flavors (coming soon: butterscotch pine blueberry guacamole mortadella cheese omelette), and their fans were treated to nightly exhibitions of the best the sport had to offer.

But since the Oilers won the last of their five Stanley Cups nearly a quarter-century ago, things rarely have gone the Oilers’ way. In fact, things have usually gone out of their way to avoid going the Oilers’ way. And if you look at the exploits of Edmonton’s key figures from those peak years after they left Edmonton – as coaches, as GMs – it becomes readily apparent that on-ice success doesn’t translate to the management suite.

In Phoenix, Gretzky had a slew of different titles (including alternate governor, managing partner, head of hockey operations and head coach), but he was unable to steer that team to any success before departing in 2009. In Manhattan, former Oilers coach and GM Glen Sather has been a success if you judge success by Eastern Conference championships (one in 13 seasons) and perpetual roster turnover, but not by any other metric. And of course, In Edmonton, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish have been at or near the Oilers’ reins of power since Sather left the organization in 2000, yet they’ve proven utterly incapable of pushing the franchise back into relevance.

And quite frankly, it’s shocking owner Daryl Katz continues to operate as if they’ve got the answers.

It may have felt great for Katz to bank on Lowe and MacTavish when he bought the team in 2008, and it’s easy to see why: Katz is an Edmonton native who was in his early twenties when the duo were playing integral roles in the Oilers’ dynasty, and bringing them aboard was always going to play well in the press. Lowe and MacTavish are confident, intelligent men who could inspire many who count themselves as hardened cynics. These weren’t snake oil salesmen.

The only problem with hiring former stars as management figures to deliver you a Cup is this: it doesn’t work.

Take a look through the list of Cup champions, and you will find few, if any who were being led by former star players for the franchise. Read more

The next great two-way center? Colin White headlines The Hot List

Team USA's Colin White (Photo courtesy of Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

It was a glorious weekend of Michigan hockey for me, as I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to take in games featuring the National Team Development Program (NTDP) and University of Michigan. The NTDP got two wins over United States League opponents while the Wolverines capped off a weekend sweep of American International on Saturday. All three games gave me a great look at some top prospects and here are a few of them below, plus more kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day.

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Rumor Roundup: Nervous GMs may make moves near American Thanksgiving

Tyler Myers

Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.

That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hurricanes’ Semin, Coyotes’ Vermette talk of trade market

Lyle Richardson
Alex Semin

For several weeks trade rumors have dogged Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal and defenseman Andrej Sekera. There was talk several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, inquired into Staal’s availability. Sekera’s eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July fuelled speculation he could be dealt at some point this season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bad start could lead to blow up for Coyotes

Lyle Richardson
Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes entered their Nov. 2 game against the Washington Capitals having lost six of seven games. That poor performance generated speculation of big roster changes.

Sportsnet’s Damien Cox notes the Coyotes lack a true superstar. Taking into account their sputtering start and the possibility of missing the playoffs, he wonders if the new owners and GM Don Maloney might blow up the roster. Read more

Five NHL coaches on the hot seat after one month

Edmonton's upcoming road trip will put Dallas Eakins' job security to the test. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

What does a slow start mean in the NHL? In some cases, it’s a harbinger of more poor play. Other times, it’s bad puck luck, which is correctable. Regardless of the cause, however, poor starts make heads roll every year. The advanced stats tell us GMs are often too hasty to axe their coaches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most common victims are bench bosses who ended the season prior on thin ice. They often get the boot as soon as they give their GMs an excuse to do so.

Here are five coaches who have to think about updating their resumes in the near future.

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