We don’t vote on our GM of the year at The Hockey News until after the season and Calgary GM Brad Treliving just put his name high on the candidate list by grabbing Dougie Hamilton from Boston for a first-rounder and two second round picks.
Considering the increased trade speculation entering the 2015 draft, it’s only fitting Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic and defenseman Dougie Hamilton should resurface in the rumor mill. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Bruins are listening to offers for Lucic. The asking price is apparently “big,” though Garrioch didn’t mention specifics.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty notes there was talk of the Bruins shipping the 27-year-old Lucic to the New York Rangers for defenseman (and Boston native) Keith Yandle. Another rumor linked the power forward to the Vancouver Canucks for a defenseman. Haggerty claims Canucks blueliner Alex Edler was mentioned in previous Bruins trade rumors. He also wonders if the Bruins could target Kevin Bieksa or Dan Hamhuis.
The increase in the NHL salary cap ceiling from $69 million to $71.4 million does little to help the Chicago Blackhawks escape from salary cap hell for 2015-16. They have over $64 million invested in cap payroll, leaving only $7.3 million to invest in new contracts. With restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Markus Kruger to re-sign plus several UFAs to re-sign or replace, the Blackhawks must shed salary.
It’s widely assumed left wingers Patrick Sharp ($5.9-million annually for two more seasons) and Bryan Bickell ($4-million annually, two years) are the likely trade candidates. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports that, as of Monday evening, the Hawks weren’t far along in trade talks about any player.
Heading into the 2015 world juniors in Toronto, there were many Canadian players we could basically check off as guarantees long before the roster was decided. Connor McDavid, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart, Zach Fucale, Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey were all locks, for example.
With the tournament shifting to Helsinki for 2016, Canada’s braintrust will have some tougher decisions to make, as evidenced by the summer camp roster.
The Flames vowed to get bigger last summer and did with the acquisitions of Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland. But president of operations Brian Burke and GM Brad Treliving wanted to beef up the system as well. Three of the five skaters drafted in 2014 are big boys getting bigger. Hunter Smith, Adam Ollas Mattsson and Austin Carroll average 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. Don’t expect that mandate to change.
The Calgary Flames were a nice little story this season, but no team wants to be just a nice story. Signing center Mikael Backlund to a contract that provides upside in both directions is evidence that both the team and the player have their heads on right.
In the aftermath of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s claim last Saturday the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting trade inquiries for Phil Kessel, there’s growing speculation over where the 27-year-old scorer could be dealt.
If a Kessel trade happens, Friedman believes it will be a couple of weeks before it takes place. That’s likely because the NHL draft weekend (June 26-27), where many off-season trades generally take place, is fast approaching.
Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer who twice reached the 80-point mark, has value on the trade market. His contract, however, is a sticking point. He has seven years left at an annual cap hit of $8 million. Factor in the projected marginal increase in the cap ceiling for 2015-16 from $69 million to $71 million and it could prove difficult for the Leafs to find a suitable deal.
Friedman subsequently appeared on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central panel to discuss potential destinations for Kessel. He notes Predators GM David Poile had interest in the Leafs right winger, but doubts Nashville is a destination now, pointing out it has young stars like left winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Seth Jones to re-sign the following season. Other destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.
It’s hard to top Larry Robinson’s resume. Not only did the Hall of Famer win six Stanley Cups as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, but he also hoisted the trophy as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2000. Now the director of player development for the San Jose Sharks after three years as an associate coach, Robinson has been helping this generations’ defenders hone their craft in Northern California.
But there’s always the one that got away and for Robinson, it came in 1989, when he played his last season for the Habs, before joining the Los Angeles Kings the next year. Montreal faced off against Calgary in a rematch of the 1986 final (won by the Habs) and despite the fact the Flames had a slightly better record in the regular season, Robinson believes the Canadiens should have won the Cup.