Did Bettman have a hand in the Yzerman hire?

1 Comment

Jim
Kelley at SI.com makes a very interesting
— and possible baseless
— assumption over the hiring of Steve Yzerman as the new GM of the
Tampa Bay Lightning. In a fairly long article praising the hire as a
great, inspired move by the Lightning, he proposes that Gary Bettman
might have had a hand in steering owner Jeff Vinik to Yzerman.

It’s fair to assume (because these things always go unspoken) that
Bettman steered Vinik to Steve Yzerman as Tampa Bay’s new general
manager. That’s because Vinik, who knows next to nothing regarding the
inner workings of a sports franchise, had intended to hire a CEO to run
his newly acquired business and then let the CEO hire a GM. Well, he
still hasn’t found that CEO, but someone advised him to go out and get
the best new face on the GM want-to-be scene.

So, Kelley acknowledges it’s just an assumption but it’s still one
heck of an assumption to make, especially coming from Sports
Illustrated.

For one thing, Jeff Vinik is not a clueless man. Even though he’s
unfamiliar with the hockey side of things, it wouldn’t take a genius to
figure out that if a team is looking for a “fresh” start then perhaps
picking one of the up-and-coming names on the GM circuit.

Is it possible that Bettman had a hand in the hiring, possibly
steering Vinik in that direction? It’s certainly possible, although you
wonder about the ethics of such a thing happening. The Red Wings
couldn’t have been too happy with losing their golden boy executive,
although Ken Holland made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon
just to make room for Yzerman.

I can understand where the thought comes from, although I’d rather
just assume that a man smart enough to be a self-made millionaire and
then able to win over the good graces of the NHL (who are now much more
picky about who they approve sales to) is also capable of deciding that
hiring Steve Yzerman as his general manager is a dang good investment.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

Leave a comment

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Video: Kuznetsov sets table for Vrana’s first NHL goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jakub Vrana of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).

Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.

See it for yourself:

Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.

He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.

Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.

Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:

Kulikov returns to increasingly healthy Sabres lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Dmitry Kulikov #77 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.

The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?

He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.

Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.

With Foligno out sick, Columbus gives Bjorkstrand another shot

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.

The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.

He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.

With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.

Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?

Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: