Pittsburgh Penguins make minor league coach Todd Reirden an assistant

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they hired Todd Reirden as their assistant coach. Reirden was the head coach of the Penguins’ AHL team in Wilkes Barrie/Scranton before GM Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma decided to give him a promotion.

Here’s more from the team.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, who spent the previous year and a half coaching the Baby Penguins following Bylsma’s promotion to Pittsburgh on Feb. 15, 2009, was hired by Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero on Saturday to fill the void that opened earlier this summer when Mike Yeo left to become the head coach of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.

“We interviewed between 10 and 15 candidates and conducted an extensive search, and the most qualified coach was in our organization the whole time,” Bylsma said. “Todd and I have developed a strong working relationship, which started when we played college hockey together at Bowling Green and continued in our time together in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He’s a valuable asset to our coaching staff.”

For Reirden, this promotion marks his first National Hockey League coaching assignment. The 38-year-old Deerfield, Illinois native began his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Bowling Green, in 2007-08, before spending the past two seasons in WBS, where posted a head coaching record of 55-43-8 in 106 games.

One reason the Penguins promoted Reirden was to help manage their young defensive group. He played five seasons at the NHL level with high-end guys like Chris Pronger but – most importantly – worked with many of the young D-guys in training camp and at the AHL level.

Of the Penguins’ projected top-five defenseman, Reirden has worked with Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang in Pittsburgh, while Alex Goligoski was Reirden’s top defenseman in WBS in ’08-09. Reirden is also familiar with newcomer Zbynek Michalek after the two spent the ’04-05 lockout season playing together with Houston in the AHL.

[snip]

“The only defenseman among those who will be competing for roster spots that I haven’t been around is Paul Martin, but I’ve seen him play at a high level for a while. He makes our group that much better and makes it a core that I can’t wait to get to work with.”

Reirden definitely held the familiarity advantage over other candidates. Who knows how much of a difference that will actually make, but at least Penguins fans won’t be able to blame everything on former assistant coach Mike Yeo anymore.

Scroll Down For:

    Blackhawks’ Anisimov suffered high-ankle sprain in mid-March

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov was not himself in the playoffs, and by the fourth game against the Predators his ice time was limited to just 14:18.

    It turns out he had a pretty good excuse. Anisimov suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 14 against the Montreal Canadiens, and that’s a tough injury to overcome in less than a month.

    Anisimov missed the rest of the regular season with the injury. He returned for the playoffs but failed to register a single point in four losses to Nashville.

    “Being away for that time period and coming right back into the playoffs, obviously you’re not as sharp as you want to be,” Anisimov’s agent told the Daily Herald’s John Dietz.

    PHT’s second-round playoff predictions, featuring the red-hot Random Thing Picker

    10 Comments

    It was a tough first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for many of the so-called experts of the world.

    Upsets included the Predators over the Blackhawks and the Blues over the Wild. The Rangers over the Canadiens was a quasi-upset, too.

    Here at PHT, it was a mixed bag. Mike Halford and Cam Tucker each went an impressive 6-2. And so too did the Random Thing Picker, which as its name suggests, picks random things. (And picks them rather well, apparently.)

    Of note, the Random Thing Picker and James O’Brien were the only ones to pick the Preds over the ‘Hawks. So congratulations to both robotic lifeforms on that bit of soothsaying.

    Rounding out the rest of the first-round results, Adam Gretz and Joey Alfieri went 4-4, while at 3-5, O’Brien and yours truly couldn’t even crack .500. (Stupid Jake Allen.)

    On to the second round!

    Washington versus Pittsburgh (Stream Capitals-Penguins)

    Brough: Capitals in 7
    Halford: Penguins in 6
    O’Brien: Capitals in 7
    Gretz: Capitals in 7
    Tucker: Capitals in 6
    Alfieri: Capitals in 7
    Random Thing Picker: Capitals

    New York versus Ottawa (Stream Rangers-Senators)

    Brough: Senators in 6
    Halford: Senators in 7
    O’Brien: Rangers in 7
    Gretz: Rangers in 6
    Tucker: Rangers in 6
    Alfieri: Senators in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Senators

    St. Louis versus Nashville (Stream Blues-Predators)

    Brough: Predators in 6
    Halford: Blues in 7
    O’Brien: Predators in 6
    Gretz: Predators in 6
    Tucker: Predators in 7
    Alfieri: Predators in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Blues

    Anaheim versus Edmonton (Stream Ducks-Oilers)

    Brough: Ducks in 7
    Halford: Ducks in 6
    O’Brien: Ducks in 6
    Gretz: Oilers in 7
    Tucker: Oilers in 6
    Alfieri: Ducks in 6
    Random Thing Picker: Ducks

    Feel free to add your picks below…

    Sharks say getting Jones, Vlasic signed before camp ‘a priority’

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Doug Wilson has a busy summer ahead.

    Decisions need to be made on veteran leaders Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, both pending UFAs. Those figure to be crucial negotiations but, to hear the Sharks GM explain it, there are equally vital deals to be reached with goalie Martin Jones, and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

    “Both of them are extremely important to get under contract,” Wilson said yesterday, per NBC Sports California. “We can start those discussions in the next little while.”

    Both Jones and Vlasic have one year remaining on their current deals, and are eligible to sign extensions on July 1. Wilson said it’s a “priority” to get them done before September’s training camp.

    Jones, 27, is heading into the last of a three-year, $9 million deal with a $3M average annual cap hit. It’s safe to assume he’s in for a lengthy extension with a significant raise, given how good he’s been since joining the Sharks. He backstopped them to the Cup Final last season and has been one of the league’s busiest workhorses, starting 65 games in each of the last two years.

    Vlasic, 30, has spent his entire 10-year career in San Jose. He’s developed a reputation as one of the league’s better defensive defensemen, strengthened by his role on Canada’s gold medal-winning side at the 2014 Olympics, and 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

    “Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

    At this point, it’s fair to speculate when all these deals will get done. Wilson has a full plate with the four aforementioned negotiations, and also has to hammer out contracts for a trio of RFA forwards — Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Chris Tierney.

    Are the Leafs getting into ‘go for it’ territory?

    Getty
    5 Comments

    Two years ago, Mike Babcock came to Toronto and predicted there would be “pain.”

    He was right for one year. The Maple Leafs finished dead last in 2015-16, then got Auston Matthews as a reward.

    But the pain didn’t last long, in large part thanks to Matthews. The Leafs made the playoffs in Babcock’s second season as head coach, and they even gave the Washington Capitals a good scare in the first round.

    Now the question has to be asked — should the Leafs start going for it?

    Your first instinct may be to laugh. But it is not such a ridiculous question when you consider Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, and Drew Doughty were all in their early 20s when they won the Stanley Cup for the first time.

    Mathews turns 20 in September, and he’s already one of the NHL’s best centers. Wingers William Nylander, 20, and Mitch Marner, 19, aren’t too bad either, and neither is 26-year-old center Nazem Kadri.

    All four of those forwards are under club control for years to come. Also locked up long term is starting goalie Frederik Andersen.

    If there’s a weakness, it’s the back end. Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Nikita Zaitsev can all move the puck well, but defensively they’re still suspect. What the Leafs could really use is a top-four defenseman who can match the Leafs’ pace while also killing penalties and shutting down the opposition’s top players. And if he can play the right side, even better.

    Of course, you know who else could use a defenseman like that? The other 30 teams. Top-four defensemen are not cheap to get on the trade market. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers.

    Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello met with the media Tuesday to reflect on the season, and also give his thoughts on the future. He said the Leafs have to be careful not to get complacent, that it only gets harder now. He was asked about the market for defensemen. He said it’s hard to gauge because of the expansion draft.

    But Lamoriello also said, “There’s a five-year plan that changes every day.”

    Which would suggest the Leafs are willing to accelerate their schedule — that they may, in fact, see an opportunity to compete for the Cup a lot sooner than they originally thought possible.

    Consider:

    The Penguins went from out of the playoffs in ’06, to losing in the first round in ’07, to the Stanley Cup Final in ’08, then won it all in ’09.

    The Blackhawks went from out of the playoffs in ’08, to the conference finals in ’09, to a championship in ’10.

    The Kings went from out of the playoffs in ’09 to winning the Cup in ’12.

    So… if you were the Leafs, wouldn’t you see an opportunity, too?