Dale Tallon (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Just because some teams haven't been playing for a month doesn't mean there is not a lot going on behind the scenes in the NHL. And the rumor mill certainly hasn't slowed down, either.
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.
But it does kind of beg the question – what exactly are the Florida Panthers doing? They had the first 100-point season in franchise history and since then have kicked their GM upstairs, fired their director of hockey operations, their director of player personnel and an assistant coach. They’ve replaced their assistant GM, who took over the GM’s role, with two people who have extensive analytic backgrounds.
Perhaps this will all work out very well for the Panthers. Like the Arizona Coyotes, the Panthers are at the forefront of analytics by not just talking a good game, but actually putting people with analytics backgrounds in positions of power. It will not be a indictment of the analytics movement if these guys don’t succeed because there is so much more to doing the job than just crunching numbers. But you can’t help but wonder whether the Panthers have messed with a winning formula that took them so long to build.
And word is that it may eventually cost them Tallon. As one source said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone by the end of the summer.” One rumor that won’t seem to go away is Tallon moving to the Vancouver Canucks in a prominent front-office role. GM Jim Benning, who has been on the job for a year now, is not real big on the public face-of-the-franchise aspect of the job and Tallon, who is uber comfortable in that role, would be able to provide that.
The possibility of Tallon going to Vancouver is strictly at the rumor stage right now, but it’s something to keep monitoring. Not certain how much credence there is to it, but it's definitely out there.
Coming off his bronze medal at the World Championship, Pavel Datsyuk will spend another week in Russia before returning to Detroit to discuss his future with GM Ken Holland. It’s believed Datsyuk has already met with a number of KHL teams and will meet more this week.
Datsyuk is expected to talk to Holland after the draft combine ends, sometime after June 5, and has a hockey school in Detroit that runs from June 14 through 16. Holland would like some clarification at that time so he can begin to explore trade options in the 10 days leading up to the NHL draft.
Datsyuk’s agent has said his client is cognizant of the situation he’d put the Red Wings in if he turns his back on the final year of his contract and said Datsyuk would like for the Red Wings to have options.
“He understands the predicament he would put us in, so now we wait,” Holland said. “I’m hoping he walks into my office and says, ‘Ken, I want to honor the last year of my contract,’ ” Holland said. “Am I expecting to hear that? No. Would I be surprised if he said that? Yes.”
Holland will almost certainly try to move the $7.5 million cap hit to a team that needs that amount to get up to the salary cap floor, which is expected to be about $55 million next season if the players elect to trigger the five percent inflator in the salary cap. But Holland will not be giving away any high picks or prospects to have a team take the cap hit off his hands. After all, he’d be doing his trading partner a favor by giving them a $7.5 million credit to the cap without the team having to pay a penny
The most prominent suspects are the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes or New Jersey Devils. Holland was asked whether he has spoken to any teams about Datsyuk yet.
“I’ve talked to a lot of teams about a lot of things,” Holland said. “That’s what happens when your team gets eliminated early and you have a lot of time on your hands like I do. There’s a whole bunch of us out there.”
VAN RYN TO ARIZONA?
Former Kitchener Rangers coach Mike Van Ryn, who left the Ontario League team after this season for personal reasons, is expected to be named a player development coach for defensemen for the Arizona Coyotes. Steve Sullivan will continue to be the development coach for forwards.
Van Ryn moved back to Florida with his family and is expected to work with the Coyotes young defensemen, flying into Tucson as needed to work with players.
When asked about the Van Ryn speculation, Coyotes GM John Chayka responded to thn.com via text message: “We’re still working through solidifying our player development group. Nothing definitive as of today.”
And Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson, who interviewed for the Arizona GM job but bowed out when they couldn’t come to terms on money, is said to be still talking to the Coyotes about taking a job in another capacity. Jackson still could land in Arizona as a mentor to Chayka.