Movements in the world of hockey Sunday:
National Hockey League
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING-Signed D Matt Smaby to a two-year contract.
Movements in the world of hockey Sunday:
National Hockey League
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING-Signed D Matt Smaby to a two-year contract.
Thatcher Demko warming up prior to an AHL game against the Toronto Marlies at Air Canada Centre. The 21-year-old is 7-5-1 with a 2.59 G.A.A. and a .909 save percentage in 14 AHL games this season.
The Canucks 2014 second-round pick is 7-5-1 with a 2.59 G.A.A. and a .909 save percentage in 14 American Hockey League games this season.
Vancouver's goaltending depth could get tested this weekend as the Canucks play back-to-back in Florida on Saturday night and then in Washington on Sunday.
Ryan Miller pulled himself during the third period of Thursday's 5-1 win in Tampa Bay due to what Iain MacIntyre of The Vancouver Sun reported is an ankle injury. With Miller hurting, the Canucks have recalled Thatcher Demko from the American Hockey League's Utica Comets.
Demko will serve as Jacob Markstrom's back-up in Florida. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Boston College product was ranked No. 57 on THN's list of Top 100 prospects 21 and under in November.
The 21-year-old, in his first pro season, started slowly losing his first four starts while allowing 21 goals-against in his first six AHL starts with the Comets, but has since settled down going 5-1-0 in his last six starts with a 1.50 G.A.A. and a .945 save percentage entering Friday's game against the Binghamton Senators.
"Thatcher has been humbled more and more and he’s learning his way in Utica — and that’s what we’re looking for. He’s able to get past the bad and good performances really quickly, and that’s a good sign for No. 1 goalies," Canucks goaltending consultant Rollie Melanson told The Vancouver Sun. “He’s getting more and more quiet in the goal as he gets more experience. Between what we do on the ice and what we do in the video room, he’s really starting to understand where we need to go. He’s going to be a good pro."
It's uncertain whether the Canucks 2014 second-round pick will get into game action over the weekend. Following Sunday's game, Vancouver travels to Carolina to play the Hurricanes on Tuesday before returning home to open a four-game home stand against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
At least two teams are reportedly interested in acquiring the Sedins for their full cap hit and Canucks veterans could draw interest at the trade deadline. The Kings are looking to clear cap space by moving out Teddy Purcell.
The ongoing struggles of the Vancouver Canucks this season generated some speculation over possible roster moves.
In early November, it was reported GM Jim Benning was in the market for a 20-goal winger. At one point, the Canucks were linked to Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, but Benning reportedly ended that inquiry.
By late-November, The Province's Jason Botchford suggested the Canucks could get an early start on deciding which players to move by the March 1 trade deadline. He felt veterans such as Ryan Miller, Alex Edler, Alexandre Burrows and perhaps even Daniel and Henrik Sedin could be on the move.
Unless those players want out of Vancouver, however, that's not going to happen. All carry some form of a no-trade clause in their respective contracts. Benning tells Botchford he won't move them unless they ask to be dealt.
Botchford said he knows of two teams that would be willing to acquire the Sedins for their full combined salary-cap hit of $14 million. If the Canucks were to pick up part of that cap hit (which runs through 2017-18), he thinks more clubs would be interested.
The sticking point, of course, is the Sedins' willingness to be traded. So far, they've given no indication that they want out of Vancouver. As Botchford points out, such a move would likely have to take place in the off-season.
Even if the Canucks put the Sedins on the block, they're unlikely to fetch a significant return. While they're still putting up solid numbers (17 points in 26 games), the 36-year-old twins are well past their prime. Teams aren't going to give up a lot for a couple of fading stars. Picks and prospects, sure, but nothing that would immediately reverse the Canucks' fortunes.
As for Miller, he and Canucks management could be willing to work out a contract extension. Botchford's collegue Ben Kuzma doubts the Canucks place the 36-year-old goalie on the block by the trade deadline.
Kuzma notes Miller's stats aren't great this season. However, he feels he'll still be a good fit with Jacob Markstrom, buying some time until promising goalie prospect Thatcher Demko is ready to move up. He wonders if Miller might be agreeable to a two- or three-year deal worth between $4-$4.5 million per season. That's a significant pay cut from Miller's current $6-million annual salary.
Considering Miller's no longer an elite goaltender, he probably won't get much better than that on the open market. He could test next summer's free-agent market, but will likely find few decent offers. He could prefer to avoid uncertainty over his future by staying in Vancouver for a reasonable contract.
KINGS TRYING TO FREE SPACE WITH PURCELL MOVE
Los Angeles Kings left wing Teddy Purcell cleared waivers over the weekend. Signed as a free agent last summer to a one-year, $1.6-million contract, the 31-year-old managed only two points in 12 games this season. Illness and a lower-body injury sidelined him in October, and he was a healthy scratch in the Kings' last four games.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggests contract and budget issues explain why Purcell, who exceeded 40 points three times in his career, went unclaimed. LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen reports of some trade talk with another club prior to Purcell hitting the waiver wire.
With 21 of 30 NHL teams carrying $2 million or less in cap space, moving Purcell's cap hit is difficult right now. The Kings obviously want to shed his salary without taking any back in a deal. They could be waiting until later in the season to find the right deal.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
Kevin Dineen father Bill Dineen head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers pose for a photo before the game against the Boston Bruins at the Boston Garden.
Inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2014, Dineen led the Adirondack Red Wings to Calder Cups in 1986 and 1989.
The hockey world lost a coaching icon on Saturday.
The American Hockey League confirmed the passing of Bill Dineen at age 84.
Inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2014, Dineen led the Adirondack Red Wings to Calder Cups in 1986 and 1989. During his six seasons behind Adirondack’s bench, he led the club to a 246-182-52 record and won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach twice.
“During his time as a player and coach, and in the values he instilled in his family, Bill Dineen created a legacy of greatness in the American Hockey League that still resonates today,” said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Dineen family at this time.”
Bill’s sons Shawn, Peter, Gord, Kevin and Jerry all went on to play and/or coach in the AHL. Gord Dineen is currently the associate coach of the Toronto Marlies.
Our thoughts are with Associate Coach Gord Dineen today, as the hockey community mourns with the family over the passing of Bill Dineen.— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) December 10, 2016
Kevin Dineen is currently an Assistant Coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Bill Dineen was a tremendous man," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN's Tracey Myers. "Everyone who had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy. He was probably one of the most liked people you'd ever want to meet.
"Great family man; the kids are just like the dad. We had a good time with him on the dad's trip last time. Seeing him at that stage and being around hockey again, it was fun to be there."
During his playing days, Bill Dineen was a four-time 20-goal scorer over six AHL seasons with Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester and Quebec, and made appearances in the Calder Cup Finals in 1959 and 1964. He recorded 271 points in 391 AHL games during his playing career.
Dineen also appeared in 324 NHL games with the Red Wings and Blackhawks, winning two Stanley Cups in Detroit. He later coached the Philadelphia Flyers from 1991-93.
Additionaly, Dineen won three other league titles as a head coach, with the Western Hockey League’s Denver Spurs (1972) and the World Hockey Association’s Houston Aeros (1974, 1975). He was twice named the WHA’s coach of the year (1977, 1978).
From big off-season acquisitions struggling to oft-maligned players proving their worth, the NHL has its fair share of players who are hard to figure out.
I'm still confused.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the NHL's five most confusing teams, at least from my perspective. These were the teams that I just couldn't figure out. Were they good? Bad? Somewhere in the middle? I'd spent the season trying to work it out, and come up empty.
As it turned out, I wasn't alone. More than a few readers confessed to being confused by those teams too, not to mention several others. It was like having a support group. A support group of confused hockey fans, all watching the games unfold with their heads tilted like a puppy seeing a toilet flush for the first time.
Well, today I'm going to call another meeting of the confused hockey fan network. But this time, we're not looking at teams. No, today we're going to dive into some specific players that have me perplexed. In most of these cases, I thought I had a handle on things. But now I'm not so sure.
Maybe you can help me out. Or maybe you're just as confused as I am. Either way, I think it will be good for my soul to admit that I just can't figure these guys out.
What I thought I knew: After an up-and-down start to this NHL career, Elliott had settled in to a predictable pattern with the Blues. He'd play well. He'd post strong numbers, sometimes even league-leading ones. And then, just when push came to shove, the Blues would lose faith in him and hand the starter's job to someone else. Maybe it was the backup. Maybe it was a pricey trade acquisition. Maybe it was even a semi-retired legend, in a move we'd all agree to just pretend never happened. But time and time again, the Blues had no faith in Elliott.
And I was convinced that they were wrong. This was the classic case of a team over-thinking things, or maybe letting dressing room politics or a faith in intangibles override basic logic. The numbers didn't lie: Elliott was one of the best goalies in the league. And when the Flames nabbed him at a discount in the offseason, I was sure that they'd found their starter.
Where I'm at now: Sitting around wondering what happened. Which is also where Elliott finds himself most games these days.
Chad Johnson has been a great story, and you can't blame the Flames for riding the hot hand. Elliott got off to a bad start, and when you're a young team that hasn't earned a ton of self-confidence quite yet, you can't let yourself fall too far out of the race. The Flames are being smart here.
But… Elliott is still good, right? Every goalie has the occasional slump, so we can't panic over 13 games. Then again, Elliott's never really done much outside of Ken Hitchcock's goalie factory, and the Blues still didn't believe in him. Did they know something that the rest of us, including the Flames, somehow missed?
What I thought I knew: Remember when Ryan was left off of Team USA in 2014, partly because Brian Burke didn't think he could spell "intense"? What a ridiculous snub that was. Hey guys, 30-goal scorers in their prime don't exactly grow on trees.
Where I'm at now: Has anyone noticed that Bobby Ryan doesn't score 30 goals anymore?
Well, sure, I imagine Senator fans were already in the loop on this one. But it feels like the rest of us have been slow to realize that Ryan just hasn't been the same player in Ottawa that he was in Anaheim. His best year since the 2013 trade was only 23 goals, and that was back in 2013-14. This year, he has just three goals through 21 games.
In hindsight, maybe we should have seen that coming. Ryan was 26 when the trade went down, and in today's NHL, that's already past the peak of many forwards. But the Senators clearly thought they were getting an elite player with some big seasons left in him – remember, we're just two years removed from them handing him a $50-million contract.
Ryan's had to overcome some tough hurdles in his life, including the loss of his mother this summer. It still feels like he could rebound and reclaim his status as a first-line player. But if not, the budget-conscious Senators may be stuck with an ugly-looking contract that they can't really afford.
What I thought I knew: Any Leaf fan who was paying attention was in on this one. Sure, Bozak had put up some decent stats over the years, but he'd done it as Phil Kessel's sidekick, inexplicably getting all the playing time with Toronto's best player and reaping the rewards. And even then, his numbers had been just OK, never topping 50 points in a season and struggling in his own end.
It was a classic case of a superstar propping up an also-ran. And once Kessel was shipped out of town, we'd see the real Tyler Bozak.
Where I'm at now: Hey, it turns out the real Tyler Bozak is pretty good.
Not "first line center" good. Certainly not "team MVP" good, despite some of the sillier hype from the Kessel era. But his production hasn't cratered without his superstar wingman. In fact, it's improved slightly, and he's on pace for the most productive season of his career this year.
Maybe he's benefitting from the Leafs finally having some depth at center. Maybe he's embracing his role as the "dad figure" on one of the league's youngest rosters. Or maybe he was just better than I thought he was all along.
What I thought I knew: He's easily one of the best young offensive defensemen in the league.
Where I'm at now: Pretty much the same place. Which is why what's going on in Dallas right now is so hard to figure out.
Last month, Lindy Ruff made Klingberg a healthy scratch, and everyone went "What?" Then we found out that Klingberg had missed a team meeting, so fair enough — the rules apply to everyone. But then last week he was scratched again, this time for performance reasons.
And sure enough, he hasn't been great this year. He's on pace for the worst offensive totals of his career, and he's getting creamed on possession, where he'd previously been very solid. Sure, maybe nobody would look good in front of that Dallas goaltending. And Ruff is carrying eight defenseman, which makes his decisions tougher. But Klingberg really has looked off this year, and with a 98.5 PDO, this isn't all about bad luck and shaky percentages. Something's wrong.
We're talking about a guy who finished sixth in the Norris voting last year, in just his second NHL season. It looked like the Stars had themselves a poor man's Erik Karlsson in the making. Maybe they still do. But this season has turned a sure thing into a major question mark.
What I thought I knew: No clue. None. He seems like a good guy. Smallish, and without any especially flashy numbers, but he always seemed like a nice underdog story who'd overachieved over the years on a long path towards earning some respect. I usually like those kind of stories.
But over the last few years, Russell has somehow morphed into the poster child for the debate between analytics and old school. And you're not allowed to stake out a middle ground. You have to either think he's the second coming of Scott Stevens, willing his team to victory by sheer force of heart, or you have to think he's hot garbage. Those are your only two options. And you better choose quickly, because as soon as his name get mentioned, everybody is going to start yelling.
Where I'm at now: SO MUCH YELLING!
Honestly, I have no idea. When Russell hit free agency this summer, I thought the big numbers being thrown around were a little ridiculous. So did the league, apparently, since he had to settle for a one-year deal with the Oilers. That seemed like a good fit, and you figured Russell could settle in, put together a decent season, and take another shot at a big UFA payday next year.
No such luck. No, apparently we all have to keep fighting the Great Kris Russell Battle until the end of time. Is he good? Bad? What position does he even play? Nobody remembers.
We have always been at war with Kris Russell. Now pick a side and go yell at somebody about it.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.