Which teams (kind of, sort of) make sense for Marty Turco?

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turcosplit.jpgLet’s face it, things aren’t looking very rosy for Marty Turco at this point. There isn’t a slap-you-in-the-face obvious destination for the veteran puck-mover, so the goalie is playing the waiting game right now.

Still, as I discussed last night, he can bring something to the table. Does that mean he’s worthy of the contract he expects to receive? Probably not, but I feel confident in saying that he deserves a deal somewhere. (I’m also on record of saying that he might be wise to consider taking a chance with a one-year contract to prove his worth in the longer haul.)

With that taken into account, I thought it might be interesting to see who might consider giving Turco a shot. I want to emphasize that I have no insider information here; in fact, this is almost a brainstorming exercise more than anything else. Some of these teams would be long shots and maybe there are squads whose interest I incorrectly disregard. Still, here are a few teams who might make marginal sense.

As you’ll notice, none of them are anywhere close to perfect fits.

Edmonton – The Oilers are trying to bounce back from a horrible, horrible 2008-09 season. There’s an outside chance that they might be able to get out from under a problematic Nikolai Khabibulin contract, but either way, they’re far from settled in net. Two things would be imperative here: a) it would probably need to be a one-year deal and b) it also might have to be cheap, despite the Oilers’ substantial cap space.

PhiladelphiaThe Flyers are already over the cap, but they’re likely to move a piece or two after adding Nikolai Zherdev. They have Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher under contract, but considering the two goalies’ minuscule cap numbers, they could probably move one of them if they wanted to. He’d also be their best “fiery puck mover” since beloved goalie Ron Hextall hung up his skates.

San JoseESPN shot down Turco to San Jose rumors, but again, this is a highly hypothetical exercise. The bottom line is that a goalie duo of Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss is far from proven. Perhaps the Sharks will want a little insurance, especially since Greiss is (in my opinion) a fairly expendable goalie?

After the jump, I explore more long-shot possibilities for Turco.


masonpulled.jpgColumbus – So at this point we’re down to a lot of “Three’s Company” scenarios (without the foxy dames, sadly). Blue Jackets fans beat up on me a bit when I suggested that the Blue Jackets might consider Turco in March, but after Steve Mason’s Hindenburg-sque sophomore season, why not? Mason might rebound, but why tie your hopes to him and steady-but-mediocre Mathieu Garon? This one’s almost starting to make a little sense …

Chicago – With Antti Niemi set for salary arbitration and Cristobal Huet’s laughable cap hit primed for a possible relocation to the minors or the KHL, the Blackhawks and Turco could be an unlikely marriage. The guys at Hockeenight won’t be happy with this scenario, but if Turco came in a cheap, one-year deal he could be worth settling for. (And on Turco’s end, he could benefit from a still-strong team boosting his stats for a season.)

Washington – The Caps seem fine with counting on youngsters Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, a duo sure to depress spell-checkers around the D.C. area. I put them in the San Jose category; it seems like they’re set with putting an affordable combo in net, but I include them because it at least makes some sense for them to consider Turco.

Ottawa – The Senators lack much maneuverability when it comes to their goalies, particularly the stupidly expensive flop known as Pascal Leclaire. Still, the team is hurting in net and has enough expensive and/or veteran players (Sergei Gonchar, Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev, Daniel Alfredsson) that you can’t really make a “rebuild mode” excuse. Even for this list, they’re not highly likely, but I would argue they’d be more stable in net with Turco than Leclaire or Brian Elliott.

Montreal – This is the longest of the long-shots, I’d say, but what if the Habs decide they don’t want to pay Carey Price to be an average goalie with a considerable junior pedigree? Bonus points for the comedy of reuniting the not-so-dynamic duo of Turco and last year’s backup in Dallas, Alex Auld.

So, what have we learned from this little experiment? Well, there aren’t many good matches. Almost every single scenario would require an incumbent getting kicked out. That being said, there is some logic to these teams at least taking a glance at Turco.

What do you think? Should one of these teams roll the dice? Did I leave out a more logical suitor out in this process? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Avalanche’s new head coach Bednar is at least saying the right things

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via Colorado Avalanche
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Look, there are exceptions, but new head coach press conferences feature the same basic terms and buzzwords.

After witnessing the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins skate opponents ragged on their way to the 2016 Stanley Cup, any reasonable coach would throw “speed” into their phrasing.

Still, the Colorado Avalanche have been so deeply buried by even the most basic of modern measurements that you had to wonder: would they learn from Patrick Roy’s struggles? Can someone come in and at least attempt to keep up with the pack?

We won’t know for sure anytime soon, but hey, at least Jared Bednar seems to be saying the right things as he transitions from the AHL to the Avalanche’s head coaching gig.

When discussing his hire with NHL Network, Bednar seemed confident that his style in the AHL – “Up-tempo, aggressive style in all three zones of the rink” – will translate well in Colorado.

That interview hits the beats you’d expect from job interviews beyond hockey. There’s even a “detail-oriented” bit.

(If you space out, you might just assume there’s a mention of thinking outside the box, like every corporate interview in human history.)

Still, it’s OK to settle for baby steps, especially considering the tough situation Patrick Roy created in abruptly skipping town. For many, it might just be comforting to note that Bednar doesn’t outright dismissive “analytics” or “fancy stats.”

Mile High Hockey brings up a great point: if nothing else, the spotlight will shift from the Avalanche’s flamboyant head coach to the talented core of young players.

So, not only is Colorado bringing in a coach who is as savvy with spreadsheets as he is with the wipe-off board, but he’s going to allow the players to crawl out from under Roy and finally earn their own accomplishments. This is every bit as important as fixing the breakout play or eliminating the Collapse-O-Rama™ defensive system.

(Collapse-O-Rama, huh? Can we stash that term for future use regarding another coach or two?)

Bednar isn’t a retread, so we only know so much about what to expect.

There are positive early signs. Roll your eyes all you want, we have seen more than a few successful transitions from AHL glory (Bednar just won the Calder Cup) to the NHL.

He’s not necessarily anti-information and seems at least interested in implementing modern, attacking systems. Attacking systems that, theoretically, would best suit the talents of a gifted-but-flawed group.

It all feels a little vague, but then again, it’s not even September yet. So far, so good.

One way or another, Al Montoya will be important to Canadiens

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02:  Goalie Al Montoya #35 of the Florida Panthers looks on in the second period against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on February 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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This is part of Canadiens day at PHT …

Here’s an unsolicited opinion: a good backup goalie is often underrated.

Yes, getting a quality Plan B is easier said than done – goalies are an unpredictable lot – but it’s simple to see when it pays off.

(There are plenty of examples, but Matt Murray winning a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the shiniest one.)

Even if injuries aren’t a big issue, a No. 2 goalie is a pretty safe bet to play 20 games for a given team. In that regard, Al Montoya could be a significant upgrade over Mike Condon, and that could be important.

Waning workhorses

In 2015-16, no goalie played 70 regular season games. Jonathan Quick was the workhorse of the NHL with 68, while only 10 played at least 60. So, more than two-thirds of last season’s teams needed at least 24 games from their lesser-paid goalies.

Even in Carey Price‘s dominant 2014-15 campaign, he played 66 games while Dustin Tokarski was in net for 17.

Let’s ponder the outlook for a variety of scenarios as Price hopes to rebound from injury:

If Price resumes Vezina-caliber form

As PHT notes, Price seems confident that he’s at 100 percent.

That’s great … but what else is he going to say? Knee injuries can beguile just about any athlete.

He does admit that he’s getting up there in age a bit – relative to the sport, mind you – at 29. Earlier this summer, the Hockey News went over Montreal’s plan to scale Price’s workload a bit, injured or not.

So, even in a dream scenario, Montoya and/or Condon will still see plenty of reps.

If Price falters

The Canadiens are expected to live or die by Price. Let’s not kid ourselves.

The leash might not be very long for Michel Therrien if Price really falls on his face, however. A Condon-led Habs team stumbled terribly, but what might we see from Montoya being thrust into the spotlight for performance reasons?

  • With a .909 career save percentage, Montoya’s experienced his stumbles in the NHL. Montreal has to hope he follows more of the path from strong showings in 2013-14 (13-8-3, .920 save percentage with Winnipeg) and 2015-16 (12-7-3, .919 save percentage with Florida).

Long story short, there were flashes of the brilliance you’d expect from a guy who went sixth overall in 2004.

  • The good news is that he’s accustomed to a fairly heavy backup duty. He set a career-high with 31 games played and 26 starts with the Islanders in 2011-12. Including that season, he’s enjoyed 20+ appearances in five of his last six seasons.
  • The bad news is that he hasn’t ever even carried half of a season’s workload so …

Yes, a Price re-injury would be disastrous

Montoya hasn’t been “the guy” before, certainly not in a pressure-cooker like Montreal. Condon’s opportunity didn’t go especially well.

One can understand ownership giving Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin something of a “Price pass” after 2015-16, but would there be the same level of acceptance if they couldn’t thrive without their star goalie again? You’d have to ask about lessons learned.

***

Long story short, Montoya matters to Montreal. The Canadiens just have to hope that he doesn’t matter too much.

 

Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.

With Lehner injured, Enroth will be in Sweden’s goalie mix at World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jhonas Enroth #1 of the Buffalo Sabres and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators warm up to play at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Sweden has selected Jhonas Enroth to replace injured goaltender Robin Lehner on its World Cup of Hockey roster.

Lehner was bothered by an ankle injury last season while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said Lehner had not recovered 100 percent.

Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden’s roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game.

Enroth started for Sweden at the 2015 world hockey championship.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.