So who should coach the Devils?

Earlier today, Brandon posted about how there’s some seemingly logical scuttlebutt about how Ken Hitchcock makes sense as the successor to Jacques Lemaire in New Jersey as head coach. The comparisons are easy to make as Hitchcock’s defense-oriented system mimics that of what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in New Jersey the last 15 years or so.

Larry Brooks, while not antagonizing John Tortorella, took some time out to make the case for former Devils player John MacLean.

Lamoriello should reach into another winning organization for the Devils’ next head coach.

And that would be his own.

For the timing is right and the time is now to promote John MacLean, who guided the AHL Lowell Devils to the playoffs in his first year running the show behind the bench after seven seasons as an assistant in New Jersey.

In strangely impassioned words, Brooks makes a nice speech for MacLean lauding him as one of the greatest forwards in Devils history (along with Patrik Elias). Luckily for Lamoriello, there’s already precedent for success in making a move that’s bold like this. If you take a look at what Joe Sacco did in Denver after being a coach in the AHL for only a short tenure and leading an Avalanche team that everyone expected to be awful into the playoffs this year.

Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger compiled a short list of coaches to look at who also might be a good fit with the Devils outside of MacLean. Aside from Hitchcock and MacLean, Chere mentions Scott Stevens as a possibility and he could be the scariest head coach in the league. After all, would you cross Scott Stevens when he gives out an order? No way. I’d also be terrified to be on the ice with him at practice.

The other names are yawn-inducing and beyond questionable: Former Habs head coach Mario Tremblay and former Devils head coaches Larry Robinson and Robbie Ftorek. If other re-tread coaches are your thing, the name Michel Therrien has been halfheartedly thrown around as a dark horse possibility and given what Dan Bylsma has done in Pittsburgh, you could say that Therrien was more of a road block to success than a builder of it.

Of course, given the amount of burgeoning offensive talent on the Devils, one has to wonder if looking for a coach to plug in and continue playing the same system is the right move. After all, it wasn’t defense and goaltending that lead to the downfall of the Devils this year.

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    Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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    For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

    Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

    Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

    Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

    Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

    Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

    Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

    Daley – 33
    Girardi – 33
    Hainsey – 36
    Campbell – 38

    In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

    As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

    When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

    Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

    At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

    Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

    Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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    Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

    The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

    Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

    The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

    That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

    NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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    NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

    After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

    He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

    Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

    Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

    The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey:

    Which NHL teams face toughest, easiest schedules in 2017-18?

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    For NHL schedule nerds, Tuesday felt a bit like Christmas.*

    On the Forecheck’s Dirk Hoag is mostly retired from hockey blogging, but he still puts out his beloved “super schedule,” and he combined with Alex Daugherty to do a 2017-18 version, which you should absolutely check out here.

    Hoag and Daughtery listed all 31 teams’ total miles traveled and also their number of back-to-back games for next season.

    Here are the top five teams for most miles:

    1. Avalanche – 48,639
    2. Flames – 47,931
    3. Blackhawks – 47,926
    4. Coyotes – 46,856
    5. Oilers – 46,815

    Note: the Panthers are the sixth-ranked team and face easily the most travel among East teams with 44,395, up from 41,891.

    Now, here are the bottom five for travel time:

    31: Penguins – 34,041
    30: Devils – 34,052
    29. Sabres – 34,175
    28. Red Wings – 34,759
    27. Maple Leafs – 35,689

    The Los Angeles Kings tend to be frequent flyers, but not here; they face the least travel of any West team with 39,915.

    That’s not the entire picture, however. These teams face the most back-to-back sets:

    1 (tied) – Penguins and Senators with 19
    3. Hurricanes – 18
    4 (tied) Blackhawks, Blue Jackets – 17
    6 (tied) Blues, Islanders, Sabres, and Devils – 16

    While these teams face the fewest.

    1. Jets – 9 (Winnipeg faces 43,296 miles of travel.)
    2. Canucks – 10
    3 (tied) – Avalanche, Oilers, Predators, Ducks, and Rangers – 11

    Oh, and in their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights travel 42,128 miles and must endure 12 back-to-back sets, so they deal with a pretty middle-of-the-road haul.

    ***

    As you can see, plenty of teams see their low travel rates balanced out by high back-to-back game totals. The Penguins are a good example of that.

    Then again, some teams just suffer tough draws. As much as conspiracy theorists love to harp on the Blackhawks, they face the third-most travel miles and deal with 17 back-to-back sets.

    On The Forecheck’s full list can be seen here, yet they are not the only outlet to do some interesting schedule analysis. Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy put together a list of rested/tired games for each team:

    Though he also narrowed it down in a way that might make the biggest difference: a rested home team facing a tired road opponent.

    Long story short, it’s difficult to really boil down who has the toughest schedule based on one metric. It’s a subjective matter, as you can weigh these “rest/tired” factors, go broad with sheer back-to-back sets, and even lean on jet lag more than anything else.

    Still, if you’re the type to wear a tin foil hat, the lists above could really help you cook up some theories about the bad hand your team allegedly drew.

    (Opinion: it does seem like Chicago faces more than just salary cap challenges next season, however.)

    * – Or whatever holiday resonates. So, Festivus?