Tonight's games: Caps and Pens meet again

Boy, I wish there was at least one game with some kind of panache. I mean, really, what a boring slate of — oh yeah. Washington vs. Pittsburgh is tonight. I guess that game, you know, has a tiny bit of relevance … right? Maybe.

Today’s Best

Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-6, 90 pts) at Washington Capitals (48-14-10, 106 pts) 7:00 PM ET

The Penguins have a lot more to play for in this one being that New Jersey is now in first place in the Atlantic. Still, something tells me the Capitals will have plenty of motivation too. Some might say that the Caps are playing to see which round the Penguins will play against them, but Pittsburgh is struggling right now. A lower seed might make it difficult for Pittsburgh to meet Washington halfway.

Los Angeles Kings (42-24-5, 89 pts) at Colorado Avalanche (40-25-7, 87 pts) 9:00 PM ET

The Colorado Avalanche cannot afford to slip much further because the Calgary Flames are only 4 points behind them for a playoff spot. Considering their 3 game losing streak, I’d be a little concerned if I were Joe Sacco and Co. For the Kings, it’s all about maintaining their superior position over the pesky Nashville Predators.

The Rest


New York Islanders (29-33-10, 68 pts) at New York Rangers (31-32-9, 71 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Want more evidence that the East is an inferior division compared to the West? Thanks to a 3 game losing streak, the playoff-hopeful Rangers are now under .500.

Montreal Canadiens (36-30-7, 79 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (39-22-10, 88 pts) 7:30 PM ET

The Buffalo Sabres are sitting pretty as their other Northeast division neighbors slug it out for a playoff spot. Montreal needs to keep an eye on Atlanta right now.

St. Louis Blues (34-29-9, 77 pts) at Detroit Red Wings (36-23-13, 85 pts) 7:30 PM ET

The Blues might be the strangest team in the league: they have more road wins (22) than Detroit has at Joe Louis Arena (20). Someone explain this to me.

Anaheim Ducks (34-30-8, 76 pts) at Vancouver Canucks (44-25-4, 92 pts) 10:00 PM ET

My guess is that Roberto Luongo is just fine. Relax, Canucks fans.

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    Report: Hobey Baker winner Butcher won’t sign with Avs, will test free agency

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    It looks like the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award winner won’t sign with the NHL team that has his rights … again.

    Last year, Jimmy Vesey rejected the Nashville Predators’ offers in a very public way, ultimately signing with the New York Rangers. Defenseman Will Butcher will test free agency on Aug. 15 instead of agreeing to an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche, as his agent confirmed to BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater.

    “We informed the Avalanche of that decision,” Butcher’s agent, Brian Bartlett, told BSN Denver. “We appreciate what Colorado has done, and we’re not ruling out the Avalanche as a potential destination. But we just feel there will be other opportunities that should be explored too, and therefore we’re going (to the 15th).”

    Those who’ve followed Butcher’s situation probably aren’t too surprised by the news.

    It became clear as early as 2016 that the Avalanche weren’t interested in signing Butcher, a high-scoring defenseman they selected in the fifth round of a disastrous 2014 draft class.

    This disinterest came even as Butcher generated 32 points in 39 games for the University of Denver in 2015-16, and he topped that last season, generating 37 points in 43 contests to take home the Hobey Baker. Butcher also enjoyed team success in 2016-17, helping Denver win a national championship.

    At 22, he’d sign a cheap entry-level deal, only getting more expensive bonuses if Butcher excels, which would be worth it for just about any suitor. He’s likely to draw plenty of interest, whether he takes the Avalanche’s offers seriously or not.

    Pension Plan Puppets provides an argument for why the Toronto Maple Leafs should be interested, while Second City Hockey went in-depth on the pluses for the defense-challenged Chicago Blackhawks, just to name two possible destinations that could make sense for Butcher.

    Sharks add assistant Barr as ‘eye in the sky’

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    The San Jose Sharks added experienced assistant Dave Barr to Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff on Wednesday.

    The team noted that Barr will serves as the Sharks’ “eye-in-the-sky” during the 2017-18 season.

    DeBoer has experience with Barr, as he served as an assistant during the New Jersey Devils’ run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Barr was also part of that mess with the Florida Panthers last season.

    Beyond that, Barr is quite experienced, as you can see from the team’s summary of his recent coaching travels:

    Barr has spent the past nine seasons coaching in various capacities in the NHL, serving most recently as an associate coach of the Florida Panthers during the 2016-17 season. Prior to his time in Florida, Barr served as an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons, with stops in Buffalo (2015-16), New Jersey (2011-15), Minnesota (2009-11) and Colorado (2008-09). Barr was a member of Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff during his four-year tenure with New Jersey, helping the team reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. 

    The 56-year-old Barr spent four seasons as the head coach and general manager of the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2004-08, where he was named the Matt Leyden Trophy winner as the OHL’s Coach of the Year in 2005-06. In addition, he was selected to coach Canada’s National Summer Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2007. 

    Coyotes add MacLean and Allen to coaching staff

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    John MacLean will, indeed, be an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff in Arizona, as reported yesterday.

    So too will Scott Allen.

    “We are very pleased to have John and Scott join the Coyotes organization,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a release. “Both individuals bring a wealth of hockey knowledge and coaching experience to our team and we are confident that they will be great additions to Head Coach Rick Tocchet’s staff.”

    MacLean — who had a short, unsuccessful stint as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2010 — was last behind an NHL bench as an assistant on Kirk Muller’s staff in Carolina from 2011-14.

    Allen spent last season as an assistant in Florida, before being let go to make way for Bob Boughner’s new staff.

    The Coyotes also announced Mike Van Ryn as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate in Tucson. Van Ryn will be assisted by John Slaney and Steve Potvin.

    Mark Lamb, last year’s head coach in Tucson, and Mark Hardy, Lamb’s assistant, will not be back.

    Lamb was only hired a year ago; however, he got the job thanks in part to a previous working relationship with Dave Tippett. So it’s no surprise to hear Lamb won’t be back — especially after the Roadrunners missed the playoffs.

    Related: John MacLean could reportedly join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona

    Welcome Nick Holden to the trade rumor mill

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    Last summer, when Nick Holden was traded from Colorado to the Rangers, Patrick Roy called Alain Vigneault to say, “You just got one of my better defensemen.”

    Now it seems that Holden may be on the trading block again.

    From the New York Post, in the wake of Mika Zibanejad‘s contract extension:

    The Blueshirts are projected to start the season with just $445,556 of cap space if they carry eight defensemen (including Alexei Bereglazov) and 14 forwards (including Andersson and Boo Nieves with Jesper Fast on IR). The Rangers are expected to attempt to deal defenseman Nick Holden ($1.65 million) in order to bulk up in the middle, if possible.

    Holden played 80 games for the Rangers last season, scoring 11 goals with 23 assists. The 30-year-old is signed for one more year before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

    If Holden is traded, the Rangers could go into next season with a top four of Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei. That would leave Marc Staal, Bereglazov, Anthony DeAngelo, and perhaps even Neal Pionk to fight for minutes on the bottom pairing.

    What’s unclear is Holden’s value on the trade market. After all, the Rangers only gave up a fourth-round draft pick to get him from Colorado. Has his value risen significantly since?