Blake Geoffrion wins Hobey Baker

If you’re not familiar with the Hobey Baker Award in college hockey, it’s their version of the college football Heisman Trophy.  In a race between Maine’s Gustav Nyqvist, New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler and Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion, it was Geoffrion coming away with college hockey’s top individual prize, the first player in Wisconsin’s history to do so.

This season, Geoffrion has already helped lead his team to the National Championship game (against Boston College tomorrow night) and lead the team in goal scoring with 28, while notching 50 points overall. On a team as loaded with talent as Wisconsin is this year, it’s could be easy to get lost in the mix but Geoffrion’s goals and overall gameplay have been outstanding all around.

Geoffrion, who comes from a long lineage of hockey greatness including his grandfather Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, is a prospect of the Nashville Predators and even hails from Brentwood,Tennessee. Hello instant marketing! The Predators have to be overjoyed at getting a player of this pedigree and talent to come their way sooner than later. Geoffrion will be graduating from Wisconsin this year and will soon be able to team up with last year’s Hobey Baker Award finalist from Boston University, Colin Wilson.

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    ‘Nothing’s different’: Dale Tallon says he still has final say in Panthers’ personnel decisions

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Dale Tallon, General Manager of the Florida Panthers, speaks on the phone on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Despite having a terrific season in 2015-16, the Florida Panthers made a number of changes to their front office. Some of the moves include: Tom Rowe being promoted to general manager, Dale Tallon being named the director of hockey operations and Eric Joyce and Steve Werier serving as assistant general managers.

    There’s a lot of confusion as to who gets to make the final call on player personnel decisions in Florida, but Tallon tried to clear that up during a radio interview with 560 WQAM on Thursday.

    “It allows me to focus on what I do best,” Tallon said of the front office changes. “And that’s evaluate, travel, scout and give us information on players that will help us win a championship and keep us as a top team for the next 15 years.

    “I have a lot to say. I’m a stubborn guy, I have opinions, I have strong opinions and I let them know where I stand and I let them know how I feel. That’s the way it is. The bottom line is what’s best for the team.”

    When asked if he still has the final say on personnel decisions, Tallon said: “yes, I do”.

    When pressed on the issue, Tallon said this:

    “Like I said, it’s by committee, we do it together. We’ve always done that. Nothing’s different. We’ve got great support and things are terrific. We’re really excited about our future, we’re excited about having a chance to win this year.”

    It seems curious that the Panthers made all these changes after finally having success and qualifying for the playoffs, but they appear to have strong, committed owners, who are willing to do whatever it takes to put a winning product on the ice. We’ll soon find out if the changes were for the better or not.

    To listen to the full interview, click here.

    Update: Coyotes sign Connor Murphy to six-year extension

    GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 18:  Connor Murphy #5 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Washington Capitals at Gila River Arena on November 18, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Capitals defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    Coyotes GM John Chayka is putting the finishing touches on a productive off-season. Chayka was able to acquire Alex Goligoski, re-sign Shane Doan, sign Jamie McGinn, he improved his position in the draft by acquiring Pavel Datsyuk and also signed former King Luke Schenn.

    Now, it sounds like he’s close to locking up another piece of the puzzle. Connor Murphy‘s agent, Brian Bartlett, believes that his client will have a new deal with the Coyotes by the end of the week, according to Arizona Sports 98.7. 

    UPDATE: The Coyotes announced that they’ve re-signed Murphy to a new six-year contract reportedly worth $23.1 million (3.85 AAV).

    “We are extremely pleased to sign Connor to a long-term contract,” said Chayka, in a team release. “At only 23, Connor has established himself as a very good NHL defenseman. He’s a great skater, a fierce competitor and he has an excellent work ethic. We look forward to him taking the next step and having him on our blue line for many years to come.”

    Murphy is coming off his entry-level deal. He scored six goals and 17 points in 78 games with Arizona last season. The 23-year-old was the Coyotes’ first round pick, 20th overall, back in 2011.

    The Coyotes now have two restricted free agents to sign before the start of the season, as defenseman Michael Stone and forward Tobias Rieder also need new deals.

    Stone and the Coyotes are scheduled to go to arbitration on Aug. 4, while negotiations between the club and Tobias Rieder don’t seem to be going very well.

    Marchand might be ‘obnoxious,’ but he helped convince Backes to sign in Boston

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    Brad Marchand is one of those players that you hate to play against, but you love him if he’s on your team. That much is fairly obvious.

    But last month, Marchand (as well as teammate Patrice Bergeron) proved to be effective recruiters for at least one free agent. David Backes admitted that the phone calls he received from the two veterans definitely helped him settle on the idea of joining the Bruins.

    “Talking to [Marchand] a little bit during the interview process before July 1, I hung up the phone and kind of had to take a deep breath and say, ‘Is that the little disturber, pain-in-the-butt? He’s actually a pretty good guy,” joked Backes, per the Bruins’ website.

    In an exclusive interview with CSN’s Joe Haggerty, Backes reiterated that both Bergeron and Marchand are a “pain-in-the-butt” to play against, but he quickly added (with a smirk) that Marchand is more ‘obnoxious’ (click the video at the top of the page for the full interview).

    So what exactly did Marchand and Bergeron say to Backes during the phone calls?

    “Those guys are the best teammates when you get them on your team,” Backes said of Marchand and Bergeron. “When they talk about sharing critical ice, and hard ice, and hard minutes with a couple of lines, to me that’s what you need in this league.”

    Backes has always been known for his physical style of play, but at 32-years-old he may not be able to do all the dirty work for much longer. It sounds like both Marchand and Bergeron convinced Backes that the heavy lifting will be a team-effort, as opposed to a one-man or one-line thing.

    Of course, the five-year, $30 million contract the Bruins gave Backes was also an effective recruiting tool.

    Flames say there’s still ‘no real update’ on contract talks with RFA forwards Monahan, Gaudreau

    CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 7: Johnny Gaudreau #13 (L) of the Calgary Flames confers with his teammate Sean Monahan #23 during a break in play against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 7, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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    NHL training camps open in September and although most teams have done the bulk of their off-season tweaking, there’s still at least one team that has some serious work to do.

    The Calgary Flames are still working on signing forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to contract extensions. Both players are currently restricted free agents.

    “No real update there,” said general manager Brad Treliving, per the Calgary Herald.  “We’ll continue to work away at it.”

    The Flames have just under $15 million in cap space remaining, according to General Fanager. There’s a good chance both RFA forwards will take a deep bite into those remaining dollars.

    Monahan already said he’d be willing to take less money to get a deal done, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap. The 21-year-old scored 58 goals and 125 points in 162 games over the last two seasons.

    As for Gaudreau, he’ll cost a pretty penny as well. The 22-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored 30 goals and 78 points in 79 games.

    Here’s an excerpt from the Herald regarding these two players:

    With 11 weeks until the regular season begins, here is what we know:

    • Both players are restricted free agents and received qualifying offers from the Flames earlier this month. Talks are ongoing.

    • Both are expected to receive whopping raises.

    • Both are seeking long-term contracts, expressing that they’d like to play together for the foreseeable future.

    • Both could be getting paid in the neighbourhood of between $6-million and $7.5-million for between six and eight years (if you use the com parables of Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg, Seth Jones, Aleksander Barkov, and Nathan MacKinnon).

    Thankfully for Calgary, they’ve done a decent job of managing their roster and the cap. Gaudreau and Monahan are the only two players on the roster that still need new contracts. The rest of the team is locked up for at least one more year.