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The Columbus Blue Jackets are ready to move on from Steve Mason. Could Antti Niemi be the answer?
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said:
“We need a different look in goal. We need better play from that position. I told Steve in our exit interviews (earlier this month) that we’re going to have a different look at that position next year, but that right now, nobody can predict what form that’s going to take.”
Three years ago, a popular discussion in NHL circles was a debate about rookie goaltenders: if you started a franchise, would you rather have Steve Mason of the Blue Jackets or Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators as your building block?
A perfectly laid out plan often gets tossed in the trash before it can be executed.
Or at least, that’s what appears to be the case in regards to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s seemingly endless search to find a long-term goaltender.
Rational thought led many to believe the trades made by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman prior to the deadline were done with a primary focus in mind – acquire as many assets as possible and use them to work out a deal with the Vancouver Canucks to acquire 26-year-old goaltender Cory Schneider.
On Hockey Night in Canada, there was much speculation that Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins could be had for the right price, mainly because the Penguins might want to change things up and Staal might want a bigger role on a new team, as he is playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin right now. Said analyst Glenn Healey: “This player is not going to ask to be traded but the hockey world knows something has got to happen.”
Tim Thomas’s no-movement clause will expire on July 1. The same day, Tuukka Rask will become a restricted free agent. The Bruins could move Thomas and allocate part of his $5 million annual cap hit toward Rask’s next contract. Chiarelli, however, downplayed any possibility of trading Thomas.
While the Canadiens brass has maintained their general silence on the the hiring of their next general manager, reports have surfaced that they continue to speak with candidates. Renaud Lavoie of RDS, who seems to have good sources on this search, wrote on his blog this week that while Geoff Molson is not in any rush, it’s very possible the new GM could be in place within two or three weeks.
We’ll know that Daniel and Henrik Sedin are the identical faces of the franchise when the Vancouver Canucks are known universally for their talent, professionalism, humility and candour. Until then, it’s Ryan Kesler’s team.
It’s not like Kesler doesn’t also possess those noble traits, especially since humility made a late charge to the front of the pack on Tuesday when the Canuck centre discussed his National Hockey League season gone wrong.
The process will be the same in San Jose. GM Doug Wilson will meet with his players and will meet with his coaching staff and his ownership. On Tuesday, there will be a media availability in San Jose revealing explanations that might shed light as to why Logan Couture, Douglas Murray, Joe Pavelski and Dominic Moore underachieved at the biggest time of year.
The process will be the same, but the timing will be different. It’s way too soon for San Jose to be doing this evaluation.
The motto has been “Fail for Nail”. If I am the Toronto Maple Leafs, I may not be bad enough to outright get him and the 1st overall pick (without some ridiculous lottery luck involved. I still say the NHL needs to change it to be more like the NBA cause the NHL lottery is Boring, but I digress), so why not go out and trade for him?
The Columbus Blue Jackets would have a really difficult time in making this selection. While he may in fact be better than Nikita Filatov or Nikolai Zherdev, suffice to say this franchise has not had much luck with Russian forwards.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning. They would rather have Schneider because he’s seven years younger and the length of Luongo’s contract scares them, but GM Steve Yzerman was the man running the Olympic team in Vancouver and Luongo was the goalie in the gold-medal game. If they can’t get Schneider they would be looking at the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Bernier or Nashville Predators’ Anders Lindback, most likely. They have two first-rounders and the possibility of four second-rounders to dangle for a young goalie. They also need another top-six forward, so there are other holes to fill.
Brad Stuart almost certainly has played his last game as a Red Wing, as he wants to play close to his family in San Jose, Calif. The Wings will need to know whether Nicklas Lidstrom wants to play another season by the end of June. Tomas Holmstrom may have played his last game. Hudler might be gone.
Center Jordan Staal said Tuesday upon the Penguins’ arrival in Philadelphia that he was unaware of speculation regarding his future with the team.
Staal, with whom the Penguins can begin contract discussions July 1, is set to become a free agent following next season along with fellow center Sidney Crosby.
Both players will likely command raises from their current average annual salary — $4 million for Staal, and $8.7 million for Crosby.