Around the NHL
*Several agents and GM’s (including Pens GM Ray Shero) are in Slovakia for the World Championships and discussions are going on but don’t look for a flurry of signings for impending free agents to happen in the next couple weeks.
With it being early May, there is no incentive for agents to establish the market. Most agents like to wait until after the draft to engage in serious negotiations with a players current team before July 1 hits. The reason is there’s so much tampering that goes on during draft weekend, agents often get a good idea which teams are going to be hot after their client.
*The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers each getting swept in four games was stunning. I will give Philadelphia this that they were a banged up team. Meanwhile, with no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, everything was setting up for this to be Washington’s year in the playoffs.
What went wrong? One of my biggest complaints with Washington all year has been that they went too far in trying to be a defensive minded team.
They never found that even playing field and while a new defensive mindset was needed, they lost their dynamic ability offensively which made them so dangerous in the past, and their core players like Nicklas Backstrom suffered because of it.
The Capitals collapse should also fall more on the shoulders of GM George McPhee than Bruce Boudreau. By going defensive, McPhee did not put the right personnel in place and year after year, McPhee has failed to bring in that tough rugged defenseman every team needs come playoff time, like a Chris Pronger or even to a much lesser extent a Hal Gill.
McPhee’s job is believed to be safe but what about Bruce Boudreau? He has the support of McPhee but I’m being told not to read much into McPhee’s comments last week. However, there’s a good chance Boudreau will be safe but Washington is just having their organizational meetings this week so his fate hasn’t yet been determined from ownership.
*There is pressure on Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to hire a proven NHL coach after the failed Todd Richards experiement. Former Penguin head coach and current Wild scout Michel Therrien could emerge as a candidate and would be an excellent choice but it’s Therrien’s former assistant Mike Yeo who Fletcher is said to be very tempted to hire.
Yeo is the head coach of the Houston Aero’s (Wild’s Affiliate) and widely regarded as one of the fast rising coaches in the game. Some say Fletcher see’s Yeo as his long-term guy but is Yeo ready to coach in the NHL?
Also entering his 3rd year as GM, pressure is going to begin mounting on Fletcher to get the Wild into the playoffs next season.
Yeo would be a risk with limited head coaching experience and in the end Fletcher may go the safe route with a proven NHL coach. However, it is fully expected that Yeo will be among the top candidates for the job.
*It wouldn’t be an off-season without Kings GM Dean Lombardi heavily pursuing a Penguins free agent. The names making the rounds is that both Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot are on Lombardi’s radar in an attempt to solidify his 3rd and 4th lines and most importantly bring proven playoff performers into the mix.
*A top priority for the New York Rangers is clearing enough cap space as possible to sign Brad Richards, add offensive defenseman and take care of their restricted free agents. The team is expected to mull buyouts for Sean Avery and captain Chris Drury next month.