Czech Republic will be burly at the World Cup, but survival will be tough

Dallas' Radek Faksa  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Today’s announcement of the Czech Republic World Cup roster made official what we had already known: Jaromir Jagr would not be suiting up for the national squad. And hey, that’s fair – the man is an icon and he needs some rest as he continues a marvelous NHL career. So let’s turn to the players who will be playing in Toronto this summer.

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All the latest on Dale Tallon, Pavel Datsyuk and Mike Van Ryn

Dale Tallon (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Scott Luce has been either the director of scouting or director of player personnel with the Florida Panthers since 2002. And like literally every other person in the talent evaluation business, he has some home runs and he has some skeletons in his closet.

So when the Panthers said they relieved him of his duties, saying they wanted a new voice when it came to scouting, there’s no reason not to take them for their word. Luce’s recent work has been splendid, but that many years in one position is a long time for anyone in this business.

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Ken Hitchcock is right – playoffs are for guys who wear big-boy pants

Vladimir Tarasenko.

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been around the game for a long time. He’s smart and experienced and there is almost nothing he hasn’t seen at the NHL level. That’s why when he spoke about the Blues’ struggles to score in the Western Conference final, it was, as usual, worth taking note.

After the Blues’ 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks that stretched their goalless streak in this series to 130 minutes and 45 seconds, Hitchcock was asked by reporters specifically about Vladimir Tarasenko, which is fair. He’s the centerpiece of the Blues offense and the player most likely to open the offensive floodgates.

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Kessel doing with Penguins what was impossible in Toronto and Boston

Phil Kessel. (Getty Images)

Should Phil Kessel continue his personal assault on the playoffs and be named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP, fans in Toronto and Boston should feel nothing but happiness for him. Wasting their time and emotional energy lamenting what might have been would be an exercise in futility.

And that’s largely because it never would have been. You see what Kessel is doing in the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Never would have happened in either Toronto or Boston. Fans in Boston can be thankful for what they got in return for Kessel – Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton for a while – then Jimmy Hayes and three prospects they got when they dealt the players they got for Kessel. Fans in Toronto can watch as Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington try to win a Calder Trophy for their minor league team and hope the first- and third-round picks turn into something nice.

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Penguins’ Rutherford, Capitals’ MacLellan, Stars’ Nill named finalists for GM of the Year

Jim Rutherford (Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Penguins took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference final with a convincing Game 3 victory on Wednesday night, and that means GM Jim Rutherford’s bunch is only two wins shy of winning the Eastern Conference and six victories away from taking home the Stanley Cup. As the architect of this team, though, Rutherford could be in line for some additional hardware at season’s end.

It was announced Wednesday that Rutherford has been named one of three finalists for the GM of the Year Award along with Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan and Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. Unlike other awards, the GM of the Year was voted on by GMs, executives and media members at the conclusion of the second round of the post-season, which helps take into account the impact deadline deals may have had on a club.

But even though that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine Rutherford doesn’t take home the hardware given what he managed ahead of the deadline. Read more

Stars’ Benn says he wants to sign extension, could be the next $10-million man

Jared Clinton
Jamie Benn (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Stars may not be celebrating a Stanley Cup victory this summer, but Dallas could be parading out Jamie Benn at some point over the next few months to mark the signing of a new, long-term deal with their captain.

Benn, 26, completed the fourth year of his five-year, $26.25-million contract this past season, and heading into the off-season he’ll become eligible to sign a contract extension with the Stars. And it sounds like Benn, who has blossomed into one of the league’s best scorers over the past four seasons of his deal, has every intention of coming back to Dallas and staying there for a long time.

“This is where I want to play,” Benn said. “This is where I want to be, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem…Going into the last year of your contract, you don’t want it to be a distraction for your team.” Read more

Tyler Seguin says playoff injuries made for ‘toughest time’ of his career

Jared Clinton
Tyler Seguin (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars came one win from advancing to the Western Conference final, but no one will ever know what could have been had star winger Tyler Seguin been healthy throughout the post-season.

Seguin, 24, battled back from an Achilles laceration before the post-season began and got back into the lineup in time for Game 2 of the first round series against the Minnesota Wild. However, after playing almost three full minutes less than his season average in that game, Seguin was back on the sideline with another lower-body injury, which was said to be unrelated to the Achilles. As the Stars met with media for the final time, it was revealed Seguin was battling through a calf injury.

“It was another fluke thing that happened,” Seguin said. “A weird step that made it go all fireworks in my leg…I’m a competitive athlete. I see my team working hard the last 10 games of the season with me hurt, and I get a chance for Game 2 against Minnesota, I’m not going to pass that up. It was unfortunate with what happened.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Trading core player could help Oilers land top-pairing defenseman

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers need for a top-pairing defenseman remains a hot topic among the media. With their depth in young scoring forwards, it’s assumed one of them will be dealt to address the Oilers’ blueline needs.

Appearing last Friday on 630 CHED radio, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed with host Bob Stauffer what it might take for the Carolina Hurricanes to pry center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out of Edmonton. Stauffer feels it’ll take more than defenseman Justin Faulk while Friedman countered it could take more than Nugent-Hopkins to land Faulk.

If the Oilers and Hurricanes are discussing Faulk, the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson points out Hurricanes assistant GM Rick Olczyk used to hold a similar position with the Oilers. He could help GM Ron Francis assess Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins. Read more