This is the latest THN mailbag. If you want to submit a question to be considered for the next one, send me one via this form. Thanks to those who’ve done so.
What do you think the chances Sharks GM Doug Wilson moves either Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau before the start of next season?
Eric Semmelmayer, Pleasanton, Calif.
I wouldn’t hold your breath on both players being dealt, but after San Jose’s stunning first round playoff collapse against L.A., I think the odds are very good that at least one of the two will be wearing a new uniform next season. I’ve spoken to Wilson often over the years and he’s made it clear his organization doesn’t react to one post-season series loss in a way that would hurt the organization over the long term. But his comments in the wake of the Sharks’ disastrous end to this season indicate he’s no longer interested in recommitting to the same core group.
It’s unlikely Wilson will deal a young star such as Logan Couture, but simply allowing Dan Boyle to leave as an unrestricted free agent and buying out or trading Martin Havlat isn’t enough of a change to that core. The cuts have to go deeper and it might be better for all involved if one of Marleau or Thornton moves on. Both players have no-trade clauses built into the three-year contract extensions that begin in 2014-15, but in his post-playoff news conference, Wilson spoke of “flexibilities and windows” he could take advantage of to make moves happen. So yes, I’d expect something major to take place with one of their veterans. Read more
The St. Louis Blues’ re-signing of Brian Elliott to a three-year, $7.5-million contract spells the end of Ryan Miller’s short tenure as their starting goalie. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends to use Elliott and the promising Jake Allen as his tandem going forward.
Armstrong acquired Miller in a multi-player swap at the March trade deadline. The 33-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Armstrong could shop Miller’s rights before then, but Rutherford points out that would prove costly for the Blues.
If the Blues trade Miller’s rights before the NHL Draft (June 27-28), their first round pick (24th overall) would go to the Sabres. If they wait to trade his rights until after the first round, the 2016 third round pick they sent to the Sabres would become a second-rounder. They could try to move his rights after the draft, but with free agency beginning on July 1 there won’t be much time for an interested team to negotiate a contract with Miller.
In the wake of Elliott’s signing, there’s growing speculation over where Miller will end up this summer. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough lists the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins as possible destinations. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl also suggests Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver.
Miller’s wife is actress Noureen DeWulf, so he probably prefers signing with a California-based team. CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz believes signing Miller makes sense for the Sharks if they move current starter Antti Niemi. Read more
Hey guys, only two more shopping days until Mother’s Day on Sunday. I’ve always found a day at the spa works well. A driving lawnmower? Not so much.
With that in mind, here’s a tip of the cap to some of the memorable hockey moms I’ve dealt with, spoken to or read about over the course of my career: Read more
It’s coach-canning season, folks! Time to throw your curmudgeonly bench boss overboard and blame your team’s failures on the easiest guy to get rid of.
John Tortorella, Adam Oates, Peter Horacek and Barry Trotz have already been fired, and they won’t be the last ones to be shown the door. In some cases (read: Tortorella), it just wasn’t a fit. In others, the guy wasn’t quite ready for full-time coaching yet (Oates). And we all knew the Barry Trotz era would end eventually, right?
But none of the guys who lost their job this year – or who are going to lose it soon – deserve to be slapped with the ‘disaster’ label.
No, that label is best reserved for this dubious list of coaches from NHL history (minimum 30 games played).
Mailbag time again. Thanks for your submissions.
I know whistles are swallowed in the playoffs, but what does it take to get suspended? Matt Read put a clear shoulder into Daniel Carcillo’s head. Nothing happened. Milan Lucic spears Danny Dekeyser in the you-know-what. Nothing happens. Ryan Garbut spears Corey Perry in the stomach. Nothing happens. The league complains about player safety, yet is doing nothing to protect them. Matt Cooke and Brent Seabrook were suspended. Why not these guys?
Scott Brofman, Los Angeles, Calif.
We’ve known for years now that the NHL sees every incident as being inherently different from all the others, which is the league’s justification for not installing a uniform set of punishments based on unacceptable actions. So it should come as no surprise that, for instance, the rash of vicious spearing we’ve seen in the first round of this year’s playoffs would lead to different punishments – Lucic gets a $5,000 fine for spearing Danny DeKeyser; Garbut received a $1,474.56 fine for doing the same thing to Perry; and Perry received no fine at all for spearing Jamie Benn – and mass confusion.
This disparity is a manifestation of the league’s overall attitude toward players: it’s a Wild West mentality that encourages a culture of retribution, because NHLers understand the league isn’t going to exact justice for anything but the most egregious acts – and even then, the suspensions usually aren’t tough enough (see Cooke, Matt vs. Barrie, Tyson). Read more
When you look at the roster of current GMs in the NHL, it’s uncanny how one thing stands out. What you come to realize is that the Old Boys’ Network™ is rapidly shrinking and is being replaced by young executives who have done their time in the industry, but don’t necessarily come with long hockey resumes as players.
There are currently 28 men occupying the top job in hockey operations departments around the league – the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks are currently seeking replacements – and for 20 of them, this is their first GM job. Twelve of them were brought in from outside the organization for which they currently work. Of the 28, it’s pretty much split down the middle in terms of those coming from a high playing background – 15 of them played at least one game in the NHL and 13 did not. (I’m including Joe Sakic in that list, even though technically Greg Sherman is still the GM of the Colorado Avalanche in title.) Read more
By acquiring Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals Thursday, the New York Islanders and GM Garth Snow are indicating this will be an aggressive summer for them. The Isles have a goalie who St. Louis, if they could do it all over again, would probably run into the Stanley Cup playoffs with instead of Ryan Miller.
The Isles have him – so long as they can sign him.
The 28-year-old Halak, you see, is a pending UFA, hence the low price of a single fourth round pick to acquire him. If he signs, the Islanders will finally have the leading goalie they haven’t had in place for years. They should have had it with Roberto Luongo, thought they had it with Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov has been a placeholder while they’ve searched for a guy specifically like Halak.
So Snow will surely begin trying to strike a new deal with Halak as soon as possible. And to get maximum return for this trade, a contract with the goalie should be signed before June 1. That’s the deadline for the Islanders to make another big decision: keep their first round pick, or give it up to the Sabres? Read more
After being criticized most of the 2013-14 season for not addressing his team’s defense in a meaningful way, Islanders GM Garth Snow moved quickly to shore up the back end, trading a fourth-round draft pick to Washington Thursday for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Jaroslav Halak. While the deal might not have been the first choice for either the Isles or Halak – Snow’s first choice may have been someone younger than the 28-year-old Slovakian, while Halak’s first choice was likely a team that has a solid record of playoff success in the past decade – it’s a move that can pay off for both parties.
Of course, Snow has to get Halak’s name on a new contract, but that shouldn’t be difficult. It’s not as if Halak was going to have his pick of suitors this summer; the goalie market is as flat as it’s ever been and although Halak’s statistics last season (including a .917 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average in 40 games with the Blues, and a .930 SP and 2.31 G.A.A. in 12 games with the Caps) were solid, St. Louis dealt him because he hadn’t grabbed the starter’s job as the organization hoped he would. Read more