Is John MacLean the right coach for the Devils?

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MacLean.jpgThe Devils took a route most expected was coming, promoting John
MacLean from coach of the Lowell (Albany) Devils to be the next head
coach in New Jersey. MacLean is young and should have a new approach
that will do the team good, after a number of years of coming up
disappointingly short in the postseason.

John
Fischer of In Lou We Trust
, as he always does, as a very lengthy
breakdown of the hiring as he goes over various pros and cons of John
MacLean being named the next coach of the Devils. Fischer is lukewarm on
the hiring, as he’s worried the move was made perhaps more out of
loyalty to arguably the greatest Devils player in franchise history
after he had just one season under his best of coaching at the
professional level. Says John, speaking of one of his “cons” of the
hiring:

When things go south for some period of time
for this team – and it will
happen at some point – what will MacLean fall back on?  When a player
comes to him with an issue, will MacLean have the acumen to handle the
issue well for both sides?   These are questions I’m sure were raised,
but his inexperience doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence at this
juncture.  MacLean has been a head coach for Lowell last season and that
was his only season of being a head coach in pro hockey.    He’s still
relatively new and still learning.  Fortunately, the promotion of
Robinson, who has been a head coach for several years in LA and NJ, to
be an assistant can help and teach MacLean further.

The
initial reaction by Fischer is one of cautious optimism, especially in
light of the news that MacLean isn’t expected to make sweeping changes
on the team and that the one issue that might have been at the heart of
the matter — Lou Lamoriello — is still in charge and likely picked a
coach he’s certain will be a company man.

Fischer also
acknowledges that hiring MacLean from within the organization could be a
good thing, as the three previous hires were from outside the Devils’
organization. MacLean is familiar with the players and the system, and
there shouldn’t be much — if any — of a rough transition from Lemaire
to MacLean. In fact, even if MacLean doesn’t change much overall, you
would hope that the team and the players will respond to a coach like
MacLean much more favorably.

He might not be making sweeping
changes, but it’s not as if the Devils need complete rebuilding. What
needs to be done is for the coach to find a way for the players to
believe in what they are trying to do on the ice, something that wasn’t
in place last season. MacLean may be young and relatively new, but
Lamoriello is confident in him as a coach.

Too confident? Well, he
didn’t seem to be looking elsewhere for a coach and didn’t go on a
long, drawn out search for coaches. MacLean was his first choice and
that’s who will be behind the bench next season in New Jersey.

Preds avoid arbitration with Granberg — two years, $1.225 million

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MARCH 28:  Petter Granberg #8 of the Nashville Predators lines up for a faceoff against the Colorado Avalanche during the third  period at Bridgestone Arena on March 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Nashville has retained the services of depth defenseman Petter Granberg, inking him to a two-year, two-way, $1.225 million extension ahead of his Aug. 3 arbitration hearing, per CBC.

The contract will pay $575,000 at the NHL level in year one, and $650,000 in year two.

Claimed off waivers from Toronto in November, Granberg appeared in 27 games for the Preds last season, scoring two points while racking up 13 PIM.

He was a healthy scratch for all of Nashville’s playoff run.

Looking ahead, Granberg could be in line for a bigger role with the Preds next season. He only turns 24 in August, and the team did buy out the remainder of veteran Barret Jackman’s contract in late June.

That should open up some minutes on the back end, though Granberg will likely compete with free agent signings Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin for those depth spots.

 

With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

Ken Holland
AP
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There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet

It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

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Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.