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We cannot say this for sure, but ever since Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said that the No. 1 pick he received in Tuesday’s draft lottery could be available for trade, you have to believe that the first call he received was from Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke … or KHL president Alexander Medvedev.
The KHL could use Nail Yakupov — considered the top prospect — and they might get him if the NHL fails to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the players before the start of next season. But the Leafs, who have the fifth-overall selection, truly need this No. 1 pick. Not so much because it will help the team, but because it will help erase the bad feeling in everyone’s mouth after a lousy second half to the season.
There are still many questions surrounding the Vancouver Canucks even though they managed to stay alive in the NHL playoffs save one – is Roberto Luongo still their main man?
Luongo’s up-and-down career with the Canucks is almost certainly in its final weeks now that the Canucks’ organization, from general manager Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault on down, turned to emerging goaltender Cory Schneider for the last two games with the team’s season on the line. Schneider served notice Thursday he is ready for the No. 1 job with 43 saves in a 3-1 win, the Canucks’ first against three losses in their playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings.
When practice ended Tuesday, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider met near centre ice. They kneeled together, and enjoyed each other, talking and laughing.
In the eye of the storm, it was a long, loose, pressure-free moment.
But was it their last?
Nail Railovich Yakupov answered the phone Sunday night in Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan, Russia, and said it was true. That’s exactly what he told Russian hockey legend Igor Larionov — who also happens to be his agent.
When the bingo balls fell and the 29th-place Edmonton Oilers won last week’s NHL Draft Lottery to pick first in the draft for the third consecutive year, Yakupov said he was ecstatic.
“I definitely want to go to Edmonton and play for the Oilers, for sure,” said the 18-year-old that Central Scouting and every other scouting service and credible draft projector has rated No. 1 all year.
When it comes to their offseason plans, the Blue Jackets prefer reshape to rebuild. In this case, they’re not splitting hairs.
Rather than dismantle the roster and start on a three- or four-year rebuilding plan, indications are that the Blue Jackets will make moves this summer with the hope of being competitive — dare we mention the Stanley Cup playoffs? — next season.
As the debate heats up over whether Jarome Iginla should be traded to accelerate a rebuild, one of the biggest questions that needs to be asked is simple: What is the captain’s worth?
The Calgary Flames owners have a pretty good idea what he means to the club financially and otherwise.
But how much is he worth on the NHL’s open market?
The Jackets, of course, are also looking for a No. goalie and will use a trade of forward Rick Nash, the No. 2 overall pick and the Los Angeles Kings’ pick (in the Jeff Carter deal) to get one … It wouldn’t surprise me if the Oilers drafted Oil Kings forward Henrik Samuelsson’s in the second round.
Linus Omark, the offensively gifted winger from Sweden, has been a subject of trade rumours for some time now. He couldn’t buy his way into the lineup towards the end of the season, as head coach Tom Renney leaned on players like Darcy Hordichuk and Chris Vande Velde instead, at times even playing centre Eric Belanger on the wing rather than bringing Omark back into the lineup. He’s also at times made comments that have rubbed Oilers fans the wrong way, and seems to have less hesitation than most professional hockey players about speaking his mind on the record.
In that light, today’s tweet in response to a fan hoping he proved the Oilers’ limited use of him wrong by playing well at the World Championships, is perhaps unsurprising:
Being busy in the National Hockey League’s free-agent market means different things to different teams.
There’s the whole-hog approach, the million-dollar Band-Aids.
For the Calgary Flames, though, it often means pecking away.
Last summer, for instance, they corralled a number of small names. Perhaps no fireworks went off when Derek Smith agreed to a one-year deal. But, by Christmas, the defender had proved to be a capable NHLer. The cost? His relatively modest salary of $700,000. He’s since been extended.
The fans have spoken and so has Jarome Iginla, making it clear two-thirds of the parties involved are at least starting to come to grips with the possibility of a trade.
We’ll hear from the club at noon Tuesday when GM Jay Feaster treads carefully around an issue that has dominated the Calgary sports scene the last week like never before.
Here, apart from the obvious tasks – such as finding a great coach and getting better players – are five things the new GM has to do:
About all that’s certain regarding the Maple Leafs’ roster is that we know it will be different in September when training camp starts.
No teams, whether they’ve won the Stanley Cup or crashed and burned and missed the playoffs, stay the same one season to the next.
“You know changes will be made, regardless of what happened,” Leafs forward Matthew Lombardi said. “It’s always tough at the end of the year, saying goodbye to guys. But most hockey guys, everyone gets along pretty well and everyone can adapt. I have got to know that over the last couple of years.”
The Avs have a real decision to make about Paul Stastny. He entered Saturday’s season finale with 21 goals and 53 points. Respectable numbers, for sure. But, fair or not, the burden of expectations that came with his five-year, $33 million contract haven’t been met.
Too many times, his performance was lacking in big games, with a pointless, minus-4 game at San Jose a couple of weeks ago part of a contest that essentially sealed his team’s fate. We all expected Stastny to meet or exceed the two 70-plus point seasons he had in three of his first four in the NHL. But the fact is, he hasn’t hit the 60-point mark in the last two seasons.
Mike Heika: They have to study the leadership core of players like Morrow, Ribeiro, Ott and Robidas. All four are under contract, so they have to make some hard evaluations.
Then, I think they wait on all of their unrestricted free agents.
My guess is they go to July 1 and make a big push for Zach Parise or Ryan Suter (or both). Then, they will evaluate if they want Sheldon Souray , Radek Dvorak et al. back, depending on if they get the big fish.
Habs’ search for new GM gets underway
Montreal Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson’s news conference to tell Habs Nation that Pierre Gauthier, who seldom talked in French or English, had been fired as general manager — not just because he was aloof, but because he didn’t manage the iconic club well — highlighted the the team’s need for stability.
You can trace the origins of the sad demise of the Maple Leafs back to a single decision that then-CEO Richard Peddie made on Aug. 23, 2003.
A decision that, more than anything else, has been responsible for the lack of playoff games in Toronto since the season lost to lockout. A decision that cost Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the company Peddie is so often credited with building, somewhere between $60- and $100-million in lost playoff revenue alone.
Columbus is shivering with Final Four fever, spring football practice is under way, and baseball season has officially commenced. Meanwhile, Rick Nash is playing what are, with little doubt, his last games in a Blue Jackets sweater — and it is barely causing a stir. What a sad and strange denouement for our city’s best professional athlete. Nash played in his 669th game and registered his 541st point as a Jacket last night. The team he has represented for all of his nine NHL seasons defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 before a crowd of 12,432 in Nationwide Arena. Half the patrons wore red.
One of hockey’s most prestigious jobs is open after Montreal Canadiens president Geoff Molson fired Pierre Gauthier on Thursday and announced the process of replacing him has officially commenced.
Justin Schultz, the mobile, puck-moving defenseman taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of 2008, is in an interesting position. With his college season over, he’s welcome to sign with the team that drafted him, and by all accounts they’d love to get him under contract, and have him play for them in the NHL for the rest of this season.
The good people of Quebec will pay approximately $400-million for an arena to be built by 2015, in the hope that the National Hockey League will see fit to repatriate the Nordiques after all these years. And the Phoenix Coyotes, a franchise that has bled away in limbo for nearly three years, is the best bet.