If defenseman Brent Burns heads to free agency, he'll generate considerable interest, including from the Oilers, who still need to improve their blueline.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns could be the best player available in next summer's unrestricted free agent market. It remains to be seen, of course, if he tests the open market. The Sharks will likely do all they can to keep him in the fold.
If the 32-year-old Burns heads to free agency, he'll generate considerable interest. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites Oilers insider Bob Stauffer speculating the Edmonton Oilers could pursue the Sharks rearguard, just as they did power forward Milan Lucic this summer.
The Oilers still lack a true top-two defenseman and Burns would certainly address that need, but they'll have to pay a lot to get him. His current annual salary is $5.76 million and he could command upwards of $8 million per season on the open market.
With over $55 million invested in 17 players for 2017-18, the Oilers could afford Burns in the short term. However, rising star Leon Draisaitl is coming off his entry-level deal and could seek a significant raise on a long-term deal. In 2018, superstar Connor McDavid and promising blueliner Darnell Nurse will also be in line for lengthy and expensive new contracts. They must ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign those young stars.
The Oilers also won't be the only club with serious interest in Burns. A significant bidding war for his services could put him out of Edmonton's price range.
STARS NOT INTERESTED IN BROWN
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports a recent rumor had the Dallas Stars interested in Los Angeles Kings left winger Dustin Brown. However, Friedman claims that speculation was shot down.
Whoever started the “Brown-to-Stars” speculation was engaging in wishful thinking. The former Kings captain is in the third season of an eight-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $5.85 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause indicating eight trade preferences.
Even if the Stars were on Brown's list, they have no reason to pursue him. Since 2013-14, Brown's offfensive production has dried up, managing consecutive 27-point performances (2013-14, 2014-15) and only 28 points last season. At 31, his best seasons are now well behind him. The last thing the Stars need is a fading power forward on an expensive long-term deal.
RANGERS CAN'T FIND TAKER FOR McGILRATH
Earlier this month, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reported the New York Rangers were believed seeking a trade partner for little-used defenseman Dylan McIlrath. So far, however, they're not getting much interest in the 24-year-old blueliner.
Brooks followed up this week by speculating Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is likely listening to any trade offers for McIlrath. However, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder must establish himself as an NHL regular to bolster his value. Brooks believes Gorton would accept a third-round pick.
In his previous three seasons, McIlrath skated in only 37 games with the Rangers. Heading into Saturday's contest with the Washington Capitals, he played only one game this season. At this rate, McIlrath seems more likely to be a waiver candidate.
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.).
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Jonah Imoo and Dusty Imoo.
The AHL's Ontario Reign needed two goalies on short notice so turned to 22 year old Jonah Imoo to start between the pipes, while his 46-year-old father Dusty was his backup.
The Los Angeles Kings' goaltending woes resulted in some interesting hockey history on Saturday night.
When goalie Jeff Zatkoff was injured during practice and Jack Campbell needed to be recalled to the NHL, it created not one but two openings between the pipes for their AHL team, the Ontario Reign.
The Reign handed the starter's job to 22-year-old goalie Jonah Imoo on an emergency basis for their game Saturday night against the San Jose Barracuda. Imoo's backup goalie for the evening? His father, Dusty.
Dusty Imoo, 46, is a goalie development coach in the Kings' organization, and got to watch his son's AHL debut up close and personal, in full uniform, on the Reign bench. Jonah Imoo spent four seasons playing in the BCHL and had split last season in the Federal Hockey League and Southern Professional Hockey League before a finger injury and surgery ended his season after just three games.
Imoo stopped 26-of-31 shots and the Reign lost 5-4 in overtime but it didn't diminish the special moment for father and son.
"Old man crying, even as I think about it I kind of well up," Dusty told NHL.com. "It's emotional. It's weird. I watched him play exhibition games with us this season, the rookie games. I saw him put on a NHL jersey and it was all heartwarming to see, but this is different. . . I walked into the dressing room before anyone was there and I see the two jerseys and our nameplates."
Jonah & Dusty Imoo Take the Ice and Father and Son Goalie Duo
Earlier tonight, Jonah Imoo and Dusty Imoo took the ice as a father and son goaltending duo!Posted by Ontario Reign on Saturday, October 22, 2016
Dusty Imoo had a long career playing in professional leagues in Asia, including suiting up for the Japanese national team at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. His son's career is just beginning but got off to a memorable start.
"I found out I was starting after morning skate," Jonah said. "As I was getting undressed, one of the trainers said, 'Guess who is backing you up tonight?' And he put in another Imoo nametag in the stall next to me. I couldn't believe it. It was pretty surreal."
The Kings, of course, lost Jonathan Quick to an injury in their opening game of the season. With Zatkoff hurt, that mean both Reign goalies -- Peter Budaj and Campbell -- were recalled to the NHL. It means the younger Imoo might be sticking around a little while longer. Though that's probably not the case for dad.
“I don’t think they want a 46-year-old backup for too long," Dusty told Jim Alexander of the Press Enterprise.
Teemu Selanne was a part of dozens of memorable moments during his four-year tenure as a Winnipeg Jet, and he delivered another one with the game-winning goal in the Heritage Classic alumni game.
The Heritage Classic’s alumni game may have featured Hall of Famers such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Dale Hawerchuk, but the one player the Winnipeg Jets faithful were looking forward to seeing most was Teemu Selanne.
Selanne’s return to Winnipeg allowed Jets fans to get a look at one of the original franchise’s all-time greatse and relive the memories of Selanne’s brilliant rookie season. That campaign, the 1992-93 season, saw Selanne score an unbelievable 76 goals — breaking the rookie goal scoring record previously held by Mike Bossy — and 132 points. It also offered one of the most memorable moments in Winnipeg hockey history, with Selanne sliding on one knee and mock shooting his airborne glove.
But Selanne gave Jets fans another lasting memory Saturday afternoon in the alumni game.
The Jets and Oilers alumni were locked at 5-5 in the third period when Selanne picked up the puck in the Winnipeg zone and started to make his way up ice. As Selanne cut out front, he was tripped up the Oilers’ Craig Simpson, which resulted in a penalty shot. With 3.6 seconds remaining in the contest, Selanne stepped up to take his potentially game-winning attempt and he delivered a memory for the Winnipeg crowd:
Selanne’s goal was his second of the outing, and second penalty shot goal of the outing, and fifth point of the contest. It wouldn’t have been unrealistic to expect that from Selanne, though, as the 46-year-old is one of the greatest scorers in league history and only two seasons removed from his last game in the NHL.
Despite the fact that Selanne is most remembered for his time as an Anaheim Duck, he has remained one of Winnipeg’s favorite adopted sons. Selected with the 10th overall pick of the original Jets back in 1988, Selanne scored 147 goals and 306 points in 231 games, but he moved on to become a member of the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim by the 1995-96 season.
While he’s not a member of the Hall of Fame yet, there’s no doubting Selanne will be a first-ballot inductee. Over the course of his 1,451-game career, he netted 684 goals and 1,457 points, making him the 11th-highest goal scorer and 15th-highest point-getter in league history.
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Blake Wheeler, Dale Hawerchuk, Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid
The record books will show that the Winnipeg Jets lost the Heritage Classic, but the weekend’s events only serve to help the franchise down the road.
When the NHL returned to Winnipeg, it wasn’t a given the organization would go to any great lengths to draw a connection between the former, long-departed Jets franchise of the 1990s and the league’s most recent foray into Manitoba’s capital.
The fans, of course, were destined to chant, cheer and call for their former Jets, but True North Sports and Entertainment considered other monikers for the club. It wasn’t until the 2011 draft, more than one month after the team’s announced return, that the franchise unveiled that they would, indeed, be called the Jets. But even though both old and new share a name, the relationship between past and present has never been all that official.
In fact, famed numbers from the WHA-era Jets have been worn by present-day players, the logo was modernized with a heavier Air Force influence than the original team’s marks and, overall, the team made very few nods to the past in its first five years on the prairies. That wasn’t without reason, though. Instead of honor a team that left a city brokenhearted, the organization instead paid tribute to and acknowledged the hard work that went into the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
It was rightful acknowledgment, too, because if it weren’t for the Moose, the new-era Jets would have never had the opportunity to fly. Over the Moose’s original 15-year run in the city, the franchise laid the groundwork for the NHL’s return to Winnipeg. The Moose had its beginnings in the old barn, the same Winnipeg Arena that hosted the WHA and original Jets, and developed a strong enough fan base to warrant a new, downtown arena and brought the excitement of pro hockey back to the city.
But this weekend signalled a shift — a change from honoring what the former Moose accomplished to paying tribute to what the original Jets mean to hockey in Winnipeg.
From the induction of the WHA’s ‘Hot Line’ of Ulf Nilsson, Anders Hedberg and Bobby Hull into the team’s hall of fame to the raucous cheers for the home team during an alumni game that featured players who hadn’t suited up in the city for more than two decades. Take the applause for Teemu Selanne, one of Jets 1.0’s most beloved stars, which eclipsed that for even Wayne Gretzky, the game’s greatest player. Heck, even the Jets’ original mascot, Benny, made an appearance for the festivities.
Moments like those during the Heritage Classic aren’ be a one-off, either. While it may not be as grand a stage, the Jets have their sights set on continuing to embrace the alumni. After his participation in the alumni game, Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, the Jets’ first-overall selection in 1981, said he and Jets owner Mark Chipman discussed the organization’s inclusion of former greats.
“Mark and I have talked at length about it, and we're moving forward with it,” Hawerchuk said. “I think for any great franchise, you should have a strong alumni. And I can see better days ahead here for the alumni in Winnipeg, for the Jets for sure.”
Even still, there are those who scoff at the connection and those who believe the two teams, though sharing a name, should carry unique histories. Of course, in the league record books, that will be the case. But after this weekend, it seems much more like the teams can rightfully share at least some semblance of a true historical connection, like the argument that the two teams should be talked about in the same breath carries more weight.
There’s no denying it will never be a truly shared history — the Jets who featured the likes of Hawerchuk and Selanne have their history attached to the Arizona Coyotes and current Jets such as Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele share a past with the Atlanta Thrashers — but like the present-day Jets keeping former Moose captain Mike Keane’s No. 11 hanging from the MTS Centre rafters, the importance of the individuals and the original team to the city’s hockey history is what matters most.
That’s exactly what the Heritage Classic, and all its events, proved. Despite the hometown Jets being downed by the Oilers 3-0, Winnipeg won in finding a way to connect its bygone teams to its existing one.
“I have a picture in my head of yesterday's game and the ‘True North’ chant that came during the National Anthem,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “But I happened to be standing behind Mark Chipman…and what I will remember the most is wondering in my own head if he understands, and I'm sure he does — but he's such a humble man, I don't know that he does — the impact that he had on the community. I wondered if in the inaugural game of the Manitoba Moose years ago if (he knew) that hard work would come to this in a really short period of time.”
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