Welcome back to the Futures Mailbag, where I will answer any prospect and draft-related questions you the readers may have. If you have a query, hit me up on Twitter (@THNRyanKennedy) and use the hashtag #thnfutures to make sure I scoop it up. If you don’t see your question this week, stay tuned – there’s always some overflow. Let’s get to it:
If I could sit down with Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning right this second, the conversation might sound like Skyler probing Walter in season 2, episode 1 of Breaking Bad:
“Will you talk to me, please?”
“I don’t know where to begin.”
Where would Benning begin if asked to describe his team’s off-season? Summer 2015 makes summer 2014, which was wacky and contradictory in its own right, look like a confident vision by comparison.
A brief timeline of Benning and team president Trevor Linden’s key moves since Benning took over as Canucks GM in May 2014:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a pair of moves that should help address their perceived depth issues.
Tuesday morning, the Penguins announced they had dealt center Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a 2016 second-round pick. Within minutes of announcing the trade, the club also announced the signing of pivot Eric Fehr to a three-year, $6 million deal.
“The two deals went hand-in-hand so we could add more depth,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford in a conference call. “The conversations with Vancouver have actually gone on a long time. I can’t remember exactly when, but it was prior to the draft.” Read more
Nothing puts Cam Talbot’s new life in a nutshell like the simple act of trying to speak with him.
He’s easy enough to find at Smashfest, Dominic Moore’s charity ping-pong tournament. Talbot, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, towers over most of the NHL players, journalists and fans in attendance. He’s a game interview subject, too, polite as can be and suggesting we find a quieter part of the building to hear each other better.
Every step Talbot takes, however, he’s mobbed. Fans cling to each of his appendages, begging for photo ops, and he obliges each with a smile. Every time it appears he’s home free, three more people grab him.
He apologizes, but I just shake my head.
“Don’t worry about it. Welcome to life on a Canadian team.”
The 2015 off-season hit Logan Couture like a punch in the face, because it began in April. It’s a horrible feeling to realize your season is over the day the regular season ends, and Couture, 26, never experienced it in his first five NHL seasons. His San Jose Sharks missed the post-season for the first time in his career this past spring, and he makes no effort to sugarcoat how much he hates that.
“It sucks. It really sucks.”
Couture resents the fact he hasn’t played competitive hockey since April 11 – a date he quotes, like he circled it on his calendar. He and the teammate he calls ‘Jumbo,’ fellow center Joe Thornton, felt a wave of frustration hit them earlier this summer when they realized they were used to playing hockey in May.
“We were golfing, and we both talked about how much this sucks, how we don’t want this to happen again,” Couture said. “It makes you hungrier and hungrier, and we’re ready to get an extra serving right now.”
Lou Lamoriello was the mastermind behind three Stanley Cups in New Jersey, but he didn’t get there through the draft-and-develop route that teams in the modern era need to. Rather, Lamoriello was a dealmaker, reshaping his team through a number of genius trades.
From the time Lamoriello landed with the Devils in 1987 to the end of his 28-year run as GM this off-season, he made more than 150 trades. Some were minor, some were major, but almost all made an impact on the future of the club and helped create one of the most successful clubs of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
One deal you won’t find is the acquisition of Scott Stevens from the St. Louis Blues, simply because acquiring the rugged defenseman was more Lamoriello prying Stevens away through arbitration than it was about acquiring him via trade. The Blues, who had signed Brendan Shanahan via offer sheet, didn’t have the compensatory picks, and the Devils asked for Stevens instead. Eventually, the deal went through. While not a trade, it was one of Lamoriello’s greatest strokes of genius.
There is, however, one defenseman who changed the franchise for the better who Lamoriello did acquire through conventional trading methods. Here are Lamoriello’s five greatest trades: Read more
When the players who finished last season for the Dallas Stars stuck out their hands, only three Stanley Cups were to be found. Two of them belonged to Tyler Seguin and Alex Goligoski, guys who played small roles in their teams winning championships.
With his moves this summer, Stars GM Jim Nill has tripled that number, with the most recent coming in the form of defenseman Johnny Oduya, a two-time Cup winner who signed a two-year deal with the Stars worth $7.5 million. Add to that Patrick Sharp’s three Cups with Chicago and Antti Niemi’s championship with Chicago in 2010, to go along with the Stanley Cup Travis Moen won with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Hall of Famer Steve Shutt once famously had this description of how Scotty Bowman’s players felt about him: “You hated him 364 days of the year, and on the 365th day you got your Stanley Cup ring.” Ken Dryden wrote in his book, The Game, that, “Scotty Bowman is not someone who is easy to like.” And Dino Ciccarelli had this evaluation: “He was a great coach and a rotten person.”
Chicago Blackhawks GM and Scotty’s son Stan Bowman does not generate the same kind of derision and admiration, but as a hockey executive, he is indeed proving that the apple does not fall very far from the tree. The moves he has made since the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup, while dictated by salary cap constraints, are proving that, in many ways, the younger son has the same cold blood running through his veins when it comes to dealing with players.