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from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
Even with a week to digest the unappetizing finish, Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon still can’t believe how the team lost.
The Stanley Cup finals will go on without them Saturday, despite outplaying the Florida Panthers in all four games in every metric except the only one that matters. The owner’s takeaway from that unlikely sweep: Let’s run it back again.
That means going to quick work on new contracts for Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei (more or less in that order of priority), and giving strong consideration to bringing back most of the Hurricanes’ unrestricted free agents, with Staal and Jesper Fast atop that list, Dundon said.
Because as bizarre as the finish may have been, the Hurricanes like their odds of getting back to that point.
“You have to look at all 97 games we played,” Dundon said Tuesday. “The last four I actually thought we played pretty well in most of them and didn’t win. You’re going to tweak around the edges but I don’t want to overreact and get worse. It’s hard to get better from where we are. It’s easier to get worse.”
While general manager Don Waddell and coach Rod Brind’Amour will meet with the media on Wednesday for the annual public debriefing, some of the offseason goals are already clear beyond a reasonable doubt in the owner’s mind.
On a contract extension for Aho, who has a year to run left on his deal: “We want to get him on an eight-year deal, done as soon as possible. It’s a top, top priority. I think we’re on the same page. It’s kind of his team now.”
With a four-day break until the puck drops on the Stanley Cup Final, the off-ice news is taking centre stage in the NHL. The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss the latest on Toronto's general manager search, Auston Matthews' future with the Maple Leafs, Calgary's hunt for a new head coach, and more.
added 7:53pm, ore watch it below....
from Michael Russo of The Athletic,
After two-plus decades of instability under different owners and general managers and a revolving door of coaches and players, the Panthers’ fans are back and are showing a hockey world that enjoys tossing potshots their way that if given reason to come, they will come.
“Historically, if you win in South Florida, people show up — they pay attention,” says longtime Panthers TV play-by-play guy Steve Goldstein. “Most of the teams are relatively new — and by new, I mean 25, 35 years. You don’t have the generations of fans. You don’t have the grandfather, the dad and the son that all went to the games. Now, what you’re seeing with the Panthers, you have the mom and the dad, and the daughter and the son are Panthers fans because their parents were.
“There’s a lot of things to do in South Florida. You can go to the beach anytime you want for free. So there needs to be a reason to come to the games. Once teams give that — and the Panthers have the last three, four years been a very good, exciting team with a committed ownership that spends big money — the attendance grows. And now, with this run, it’s off the charts.”
In an entertainment market as competitive as South Florida, you have to win. Period.
And since the Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, they didn’t win a playoff round until last spring. Slowly but surely, the fans largely and understandably stopped coming.
ARLINGTON, Va. - The Washington Capitals have named Spencer Carbery the team's head coach, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
"We are extremely pleased to name Spencer as our new head coach," said MacLellan. "Spencer is one of the best young coaches in the game who's had success at every level at which he has coached. We feel his leadership, communication skills, ability to develop players and familiarity with our organization will be a tremendous asset as he makes this next step in his coaching career."
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
GM Steve Yzerman has more than $31 million in salary cap space heading into this offseason. That gives him the opportunity to be as aggressive as he was last summer when he acquired Ville Husso in a trade and signed a handful of free agents....
If Soderblom, Johansson or Kasper make the team, it enhances Yzerman’s buying power because all three are are on standard entry level deals paying them less than $900,000.
Bottom line: Yzerman has the cap room to bring in a high-priced difference-maker through a trade or free agent signing.
Even Yzerman doesn’t know exactly what he will do this summer, because he has no idea who is willing to come to a rebuilding Detroit team or what kind of money specific players want. He doesn’t know what options will present themselves. But the Red Wings have a list and it seems clear Yzerman wants to be aggressive. He will be looking in the goalie market for a proven veteran to back-up Husso. He is also hunting for goal scorers, a veteran right-shot defenseman and some size and toughness. There was plenty of discussion in last season’s aftermath about making sure the Red Wings will possess more push-back next season.
Yzerman will look into the trade market. Will he call Toronto about William Nylander or Mitch Marner? Or, Calgary about Tyler Toffoli? The issue for Yzerman in trade scenarios is that teams are usually looking for youngsters and draft picks in return. It doesn’t seem that Yzerman is in the position to make those kind of deals. But you also must factor in that Yzerman has a history of being able to make deals.
from Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet,
The Vegas Golden Knights are misfits no more. Actually, they’re perfectly suited to winning a Stanley Cup.
After cuffing aside the Dallas Stars 6-0 Monday to win the Western Conference title in six games, the big, brawny, deep Knights look more like Godzilla than the Cinderella team of expansion-draft “misfits” that somehow made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 in the franchise’s first National Hockey League season.
Even using their fourth goalie in Adin Hill, who had a 23-save shutout in Game 6, and with their best player, Jack Eichel, goal-less in the conference final, the Golden Knights were just too much for the Stars and overwhelmed them with speed, power and scoring depth in the deciding game.
Only six original misfits remain from Vegas’ inaugural roster, but three of those players scored on Monday. William Karlsson had two goals and Jonathan Marchessault one, but the biggest catalyst was wrecking-ball winger William Carrier and his fourth-line mates.
via the NHL PR department,
Close Games and Overtime Dominated Conference Finals
* All four games in the Panthers-Hurricanes series were one-goal contests, as were three of six in the Western Conference Final between the Golden Knights and Stars. The seven total one-goal games in the round before the Stanley Cup Final were the most ever when the round is completed in 10 games or fewer.
* Overall, it was the 12th time the round before the Final featured at least seven one-goal games (regardless of how many total contests were played in the round). Three of those instances have come in the past four years (7 in 2020 & 9 in 2021).
The Golden Knights will host the Florida Panthers for the first two games of the SCF. Games are on Saturday, June 3rd and Monday, June 5th. Puck drop will be around 8:10pm ET. Every game will be on TBS, CBC, Sportsnet and TVAs.
Vegas earned their way to the Final by defeating the Dallas Star 6-0 tonight to take the series 4-2.
Below watch the trophy presentation, handshakes plus the game highlights.
Less than three minutes to watch.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
If Bettman awarding the Cup personally was the only option for the league, we’d be happy to let the process play out as it always does. But when there’s a legitimate option to choose instead, it’s worthwhile to discuss it and advocate for change.
As we’ve said numerous times over the years, imagine how much better the Cup ceremony would be if it was a former player with the winning organization handing over the trophy to the captain. It could be (and as a first option, it should be) someone who has won the Cup previously, but if there wasn’t that type of player available, you could turn to a Hockey Hall of Famer from the winning franchise or an icon from that team to do the honors.
Let’s look at the final teams remaining in this year’s playoffs and give you an example of who could be a better choice than the NHL commissioner. In Dallas, wouldn’t it be great if former star center Joe Nieuwendyk – who led the Stars to the first Cup win in franchise history – handed over the Cup to Jamie Benn? Of course it would. Nieuwendyk is the epitome of class, and Dallas fans would greet him with thunderous applause as he stepped onto the ice to present Benn with the trophy. Mike Modano would be another strong option as the face of the franchise for more than a decade and a Hall of Famer.
from Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News,
The World Championship was filled with NHL stars. Many of them, including MacKenzie Weegar, JJ Peterka, Moritz Seider and Dominik Kubalik, played exceptional hockey. Others, whether it was Nico Hischier or Mikko Rantanen, were at times overshadowed by players from European professional leagues, the AHL and college.
The top 10 performers from the 2023 IIHF men’s World Championship feature some familiar NHL faces, AHL standouts and one NCAA player who looks ready to make the NHL jump.
4. MORITZ SEIDER, D, GERMANY
A late addition to Germany’s roster, it’s hard to imagine Germany winning silver without Seider, a former Calder Trophy winner with the Detroit Red Wings. Seider led Germany in time on ice by a landslide, and despite being outscored by Kai Wissmann and Moritz Muller on the German blueline, Seider’s role in controlling the pace of games and ensuring top forwards did not have an easy ride to the net was crucial. Germany preached a team game the entire tournament, but whenever that approach floundered, Seider was there to clean up the mess with his ability to transport the puck and to physically contain opponents.
6. DOMINIK KUBALIK, F, CZECHIA
In four NHL seasons, Kubalik has been as consistent of a scorer as it comes. The Detroit Red Wings forward has always received critique for his 200-foot game, but he played a responsible role on both sides of the puck in this tournament. Voted a tournament all-star, Kubalik finished second overall in scoring with 12 points in eight games. He’s an opportunistic scorer, and perhaps there’s more offensive output that could come at the NHL level if those opportunities present themselves.
via Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
Several teams are looking for new goalies. And the goalie market is thin. The UFA list includes Tristan Jarry, Semyon Varlamov, Adin Hill, Joonas Korpisalo and Frederik Ansdersen as the most desirable. But how many those goalies will end up back with their own teams? Certainly Hill and Korpisalo are strong possibilities and Jarry could end up back Pittsburgh, depending upon who the new GM is.
The Penguins, Senators, Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes and Islanders could be in the goalie market. The list could grow longer. Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now points out that the Sharks historically don’t draft goalies effectively. Maybe they should be in the market as well.
The goalie trade market could be interesting if the Anaheim Ducks were trading John Gibson or the Calgary Flames moved Jacob Markstrom. The Winnipeg Jets are expected to move Connor Hellebuyck.
from Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
There was a prevailing narrative when Adin Hill took over at goalie for the Golden Knights about how his role was to just not screw things up for a team with the structure in place to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
That the job of the journeyman backup suddenly thrust into starting duties for a championship favorite was to not be solely responsible for derailing those aspirations.
Hill has rejected that storyline with similar confidence and authority to the many shots he has turned away off the sticks of the Oilers and Stars in the past two weeks
The Knights are in position to advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a Game 6 victory Monday over the Stars at American Airlines Center largely because of his efforts, not despite them.
Now they might need even more from a player who has chosen a good time to play at such a high level, leading a postseason run in his first playoff appearance just as he’s about to hit free agency.
from Taylor Baird at NHL.com,
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on the weekend that Dubas is very much coveted by Pittsburgh for its GM post, to the point where the Penguins let him speak to captain Sidney Crosby and visit their facilities.
Dubas’s unexpected availability after relations with Shanahan broke down over terms of a new contract made the Pens halt a search that was down to a short list of similarly young visionaries.
The heads of the Fenway Group, which owns the Penguins among other pro sports interests worldwide, were at the Monaco Grand Prix on the weekend and expected to settle the GM question this week.
The end of the world hockey championships might also speed up some announcements.
Bergevin, who has been over there in part as a special advisor to Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake since getting fired in Montreal, was also on the Penguins list at one stage. It’s believed Bergevin found his time with the Kings quite rejuvenating, though jumping right back into a big Canadian market such as Toronto might dim that enthusiasm.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen will also be headed home from Europe to deal with a coaching vacancy. Andrew Brunette, who was in line in Florida last year before it opted for Paul Maurice to replace Joel Quenneville, is getting mentioned there amid rumours the Jackets will also make a big pitch to Patrick Roy to get back under the NHL big top.
more including the situation in Toronto...
Today we mourn and honor all who gave their lives for our freedom.
With respect and gratitude we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It's that time of the year again when the NHL Free Agency battlefield unfolds. A common objective drives all: fortify your team.
Colorado Avalanche seems prepared to engage in another round of intense bidding wars and challenging contract negotiations for free agents. Although the team has crucial re-signings to prioritize, they're also exploring their opportunities in the market.
* Game 6 of the Western Conference Final goes Monday at 8 p.m. ET, with the Stars aiming to even the series after facing a 3-0 deficit – and move within reach of accomplishing an NHL first – while the Golden Knights take their third shot at advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
* Jason Robertson can climb multiple franchise lists with a goal Monday, including becoming the first player in Stars/North Stars history to score six in the round before the Stanley Cup Final.
* The Golden Knights could see a new franchise record for most goals in a playoff year should either Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson or Chandler Stephenson score in Game 6.
* With just five days remaining until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, #NHLStats spotlights Matthew Tkachuk as the player to watch after an electric Conference Final performance.
from Alain Poupart at the NHL's website,
"We just have a plan now of what we're going to do the next few days here before we travel," defenseman Marc Staal said. "So everyone knows what we've got the next few days and we'll prepare as best we can and go from there. So, it just gets a little more structured if we know what we're doing and prepare that way."
It will be 10 days between games for the Panthers. They completed a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday with a 4-3 victory at FLA Live Arena.
While concern about staying sharp might be valid, Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he preferred the idea of his players getting additional time to recover from the wear and tear of the Carolina series, which featured four games decided by one goal, starting with the quadruple-overtime victory in Game 1.
"None of the things that you would normally have wanted to have happen has happened to us and they all turned out good, so be careful what you wish for," Maurice said. "So we've just decided not to wish for anything, just take what it is. The positive for us is we do have players that are healing.
"That quadruple-overtime game, there was a cost to it for both teams and I don't think that you get to recover from that until the series is over. … It's a big block of time off and how do you stay sharp, but I would take the rest over worrying about how sharp we're going to be in Game 1."
Canada takes on Germany for the gold medal at the World Championship.
Puck drop is at 1:20pm ET and is on the NHL Network and TSN.
Earlier today, Latvia upset the US in overtime to win the bronze.
The game winning goal is below.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- A phone call I would make if I were Shanahan: Hello, Jon Cooper. Any interest in being a GM?
- The belief when Shanahan took over the Leafs: We are the Maple Leafs, we need to have the best of everything. The best coaches. The best front office people. The most progressive thinkers. You can’t consider Marc Bergevin, Peter Chiarelli or Jason Botterill to be the next GM if you’re still thinking that way.
- In the end, the Carolina Hurricanes suffered from not having Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty in the lineup while playing with a barely ready Teuvo Teravainen. That would be three of their top four offensive players. The Canes scored only six goals while being swept by Florida.
- The Dallas Stars have two more years of Jamie Benn at a salary cap hit of $9.5 million a season.
- ... This isn’t about taxes, salary caps, fans, and pressure about all the convenient reasons why Canadian teams don’t win. This is about getting better. This is about having a plan and a strategy and building a foundation. I saw Canadian hockey at its best in the ’70s and ’80s. The Oilers or the Maple Leafs could become one of those title teams. Or become like the 2011 Canucks, living a lifetime of what-if.
more notes, leaning heavily on the Leafs...
The IIHF streamed their Hall of Fame Ceremony and below you can watch Gord Miller on Henrik Zetterberg, a tribute video and Zetterberg receiving his medal.
from Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet,
It is easy to say – because it’s logical to project – that there’s no way the Dallas Stars are actually going to win four straight games to save their season against the Vegas Golden Knights.
This conclusion isn’t because the Stars aren’t an excellent team. They are. But so are the Knights.
It’s more math than emotion: only four teams in National Hockey League history have rallied from a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series, and it has never happened in a conference final, where teams that win the first three games are 46-0 in advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Golden Knights, a 51-win team that had 111 points in the regular season, aren’t going to lose four straight playoff games after losing only three times in the first month of the Stanley Cup tournament.
This Stars’ comeback almost certainly is not happening despite Dallas’ impressive 4-2 road win Saturday in Las Vegas.
But the fantastic thing about sports is that you actually have to play the games.
And ask yourself this: Can the Dallas Stars win two consecutive games? Because that’s all they have to do now after halting the Knights and stealing momentum by winning Games 4 and 5 in the Western Conference Final.
The Stars no longer have to climb Mt. Everest. They just have to get up the Eiger.
Game highlights are below.
* Another unsung hero of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs emerged after Ty Dellandrea tallied twice in a span of 1:27 in the third period – including registering the game winner – and became just the fourth player to record their first career multi-goal outing when his team was facing elimination in the round before the Stanley Cup Final.
* Dallas became the third team in NHL history to earn consecutive comeback wins when facing elimination in the Conference Finals/Semifinals.
* More League trends emerged Saturday after the Stars earned the fourth comeback win of the 2023 Western Conference Final and registered the 45th victory by a road team this postseason.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Here is a Pass/Fail exercise for the teams that won’t hold Stanley Cup parades next month after qualifying for, and then being eliminated from, the playoffs.
Could the season nevertheless be considered successful, gaining a Pass grade for 2022-23? Or was it a failure, colossal or otherwise, thus earning an F?
That is the existential question, and here are the marks for the 13 teams that had been ousted as of Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo has not been consulted....
Seattle: PASS for the second-year team taking out the defending champion Avalanche in a seven-game first round before pushing Dallas to seven games in Round 2.
Carolina: PASS earned with respect to the structure and work ethic the ’Canes bring night after night while ultimately undermined by the absence of their most productive forward, Andrei Svechnikov, when structure and work ethic weren’t going to be quite enough....
Boston: FAIL, as in epically, because nobody but nobody cares about their 65 victories or 135 points after they failed to protect a 3-1 first-round lead, just like nobody but nobody cares about the NBA Warriors, who won 73 games and failed to win the title. And no, it doesn’t make it any better because the Panthers have since turned into a juggernaut.
Edmonton: FAIL in coming up one round short of advancing to the conference finals and now with four series victories in eight years with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as opposed to Pittsburgh winning the Cup in Year 4 of the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin partnership.
the rest of the teams plus more topics...
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