TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. As the Penguins begin their search for a new AHL coach, a few longshot but interesting names are being discussed internally.
After Jim Rutherford’s bizarre coaching search last summer when he failed to land Bill Peters or Willie Desjardins that forced the Penguins to go back to square one, the two new candidates in Part II of the coaching search Rutherford primarily focused on was Mike Johnston and Todd Nelson. If Johnston had declined the job like others did, there’s a good chance Nelson would have been offered the job.
It would be fitting a year later if Rutherford two final choices from the so called second coaching search both end up with the organization.
As the Penguins search for a new coach in Wilkes Barre is underway, Nelson is high on the Penguins wishlist, who is evaluating his options after being by-passed for the Oilers job. Nelson is under contract with Edmonton for the next three seasons.
Nelson wants to coach in the NHL and may return to Edmonton as an assistant. The Wilkes Barre job, though, could be attractive to Nelson due to Mike Johnston, one of the NHL lowest paid coaches, being a popular pick around the NHL to be one of the first fired coaches next season if the Penguins struggle out of the gate.
Another interesting name being floated around among the Penguins brass is former Penguins defenseman Bob Boughner. Regarded as an excellent teacher and a name the Penguins discussed internally last summer as an NHL head coach candidate, it’s anticipated the Penguins will reach out to Boughner, now the coach of the Windsor Spitfires, but sources say Boughner remains comfortable coaching in the junior ranks.
If Mike Johnston gets a strong influence on the Wilkes Barre hire, Portland’s Kyle Gustafson could come into play.
Jason Botterill’s influence on the coaching search will be known as to whether Alain Nasreddine gets serious consideration or not. Nasredinne is highly liked by the Shero left overs, while former Charlotte Checkers head coach Jeff Daniels, who has strong ties to Jim Rutherford, is not among the five to six names on the Penguins shortlist right now. while
2. Always subject to change, but the Penguins have not emerged as a serious contender to sign coveted college defenseman Mike Reilly, a Nick Leddy type of player, scouts contend. The Penguins haven’t been a team that Reilly has had his eye on and that hasn’t changed with teams preparing to meet with him this week. The Penguins have talked with Pat Brisson, the agent, and have been trying to set up a meeting in Buffalo, so you never know. Would help off-set the loss of Simon Despres in a big way.
3. The NHL is a copy cat league. In previous years, it was all about being a heavy team and trying to become the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings — now the rage in hockey is all about speed and wanting to be the Lightning or the Blackhawks —
Speed is the name of the game and the final four teams left in the playoffs were among the fastest in the NHL and a Stanley Cup matchup of Lightning – Blackhawks will highlight that, especially through the neutral zone.
Tampa Bay and Chicago are two of the most efficient teams at creating offense off the rush.
With obstruction back, how coached up the game is, especially in the East, and how well players block shots, a lot of scouts, coaches are identifying a significant need for their respective teams to target players with speed who can create offense off the rush through the neutral zone and that has so many teams identifying the need to get faster.
The Blues are talking about it, Ray Shero was talking about it yesterday, it’s something the Penguins have also identified.
4. A.J. Burnett
at age 38 is now 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA. It’s interesting how things even out. Early in the year he was getting no run support and failing to rack up wins despite excellent starts. Now in his last two starts, Burnett’s allowed 16 hits and 9 runs, and has picked up wins in both starts despite failing to record a quality start in either.
5. The Trib’s Travis Sawchik
, who by the way wrote a book on the Pirates ‘Big Data Baseball’, examined this week whether the Pirates had the perfect off-season. From a value standpoint, A.J. Burnett, Jung Ho Kang, Francisco Cervelli, resigning Francisco Liriano at $13 million per, adding relievers Rob Schaill and Arquimedes Caminero for pennies, maybe you can make the argument that the Pirates had one of the best if not the best off-season from a value standpoint.
However, having a great off-season from a value standpoint doesn’t mean the Pirates did enough to take the next step which is the ultimate goal this season.
Overlooking the outfield position and not having a true No. 4 outfielder who is starter capable as insurance for Gregory Polanco continues to be an area that could come back to haunt the Pirates if not addressed between now and deadline.
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