Why a Marc Savard deal would (and wouldn't) make sense for the Kings and Bruins

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screamingsavard.jpgWhen the Boston Bruins chose to honor Blake Wheeler’s $2.2 million salary arbitration award, speculation began regarding how the team would clear up salary cap space. Shortly after the Bruins honored the deal, rumors began to circulate that the Los Angeles Kings might be interested in trading for playmaking center Marc Savard.

Now, it’s important to note that this is just a rumor and there aren’t even any specific details about who would go Boston’s way. That being said, there are a few reasons why a deal could make sense.

Pardon me as I get hypothetical for a bit.

Why the Kings should send a defensive prospect (or two … or a draft pick) to the Bruins for Marc Savard

LA lost out in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes and has some money to burn. They can spin things any way they want, but it’s hard to imagine that they’re satisfied with Alex Ponikarovsky, especially since he might only take up Alexander Frolov’s spot on the roster. While Jarret Stoll is a solid center, the team needs a strong number two center behind Anze Kopitar and a reasonably healthy Marc Savard would fit the bill. His bargain $4 million cap hit would also make it easier for the Kings to wrap up future pieces Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds.

From Boston’s perspective, the Kings have a treasure trove of prospects that GM Peter Chiarelli could stash in the Bruins’ minor league system. Kings GM Dean Lombardi seems a bit obsessed with stockpiling young defensive talent, but my guess is that they can part with someone after looking at a list of their young blueliners (Colten Teubert, Thomas Hickey, Vyacheslav Voinov, Davis Drewinskie, Johan Fransson, Derek Forbort and more).

Obviously, the Bruins and Kings would have to find a happy medium to make it work, but look at the pluses for both sides. The Bruins would bolster an already improving farm system and save most (if not all) of that $4 million hit for Wheeler and Tyler Seguin to boot. The Kings wouldn’t have to sacrifice an NHL-level talent to get a guy who – if healthy – could bring All-Star playmaking skills to the table.

After the jump, I’ll add a brief counter-argument


derekforbortdefense.jpgWhy both sides might not want to make such a deal

I discussed some of the risks involved with trading for Marc Savard before, but here they are in bullet point form (with a few bonus blemishes).

* – His concussion problems make him a serious risk (and Kings fans might still have some emotional scars from the Adam Deadmarsh concussion days).

* – His cap hit might be light, but he’s already 33-years-old so his production will decline over time, making the deal a long-term risk. (Especially if he decides not to retire toward the end)

* – Savard isn’t an especially rigorous defensive player and he’s quite small. Will that make him less effective in the Western Conference and in Terry Murray’s system?

* – The Kings don’t have a Phil Kessel-type sniper, so he’ll have to boost players who either are still going through a maturation process or simply don’t have the same finishing touch.

There are also some minuses for the Boston Bruins.

* – Savard is obviously a catalyst for what was a very sluggish Boston Bruins offense last year. Are they really willing to put that much pressure on rookie Tyler Seguin to carry some of their offensive burden in his first year?

* – As any sports writer will tell you, there are few guarantees when it comes to prospects. Especially if the Bruins settle for a second-tier prospect or two. What if those bluechippers go sour?

Again, it’s important to note that the Savard talk is just a rumor. No one discussed prospects being involved – in fact, the Bruins might demand a Jack Johnson type roster player – but I think that would be one of the most realistic options for a trade.

How would you feel about the Kings and Bruins making such a swap? Would both sides benefit or would it be lopsided? Share your thoughts in the comments.

No hearing scheduled for Wingels after Wilson headshot (Updated)

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Ottawa forward Tommy Wingels doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled for his late game headshot on Pittsburgh’s Scott Wilson, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

The incident occurred with seconds remaining in the Penguins’ 7-0 Game 5 win on Sunday afternoon. Wingels wasn’t penalized on the play, and Wilson exited the ice immediately without celebrating with teammates as the final horn sounded.

Pens head coach Mike Sullivan was asked about Wilson’s condition in his postgame presser, but didn’t have an update. The 25-year-old did not participate in today’s optional skate.

Update:

Wilson has appeared in 13 of Pittsburgh’s 17 games this postseason, and chipped in nicely. He’s scored two goals — including one in yesterday’s blowout win — and four points, while averaging just under 11 minutes per night.

Wingels has been less of a factor for Ottawa. He’s appeared in just nine of 17 games, going pointless while getting 9:53 TOI.

 

Report: Defenseman Viktor Antipin expected to join Sabres next week

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Earlier this month it was reported that defenseman Viktor Antipin was on the verge of joining the Buffalo Sabres after terminating his contract in the KHL.

Following the IIHF World Hockey Championships on Sunday, where Antipin was a key player for the Russian team that won the Bronze Medal, Antipin told a Russian news outlet (via the Buffalo News) that he will be leaving for Buffalo on May 29th so that he can join the Sabres.

The 24-year-old Antipin spent the past six years playing for Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the KHL.

In 59 games this past season he scored six goals and added 18 assists.

He had a really strong showing at the recent World Championship tournament, playing close to 18 minutes per game and recording four assists to go with a plus-five rating.

The Sabres defense was a major sore spot this season as the team took a pretty significant step backward in its ongoing rebuild, resulting in the firing of general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma. As a team the Sabres allowed more than 34 shots on goal per game (the worst mark in the league) and 2.82 goals per game (20th in the league).

The only defensemen the Sabres have under contract for the 2017-18 season at the moment are Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe and Justin Falk so Antipin should get a pretty good opportunity to get a significant role right from the start.

Blues owner gives Armstrong vote of confidence

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Given all the upheaval in St. Louis this season, it was fair to ask questions about GM Doug Armstrong’s job security.

So last week the Post-Dispatch did exactly that, posing the query to Blues owner Tom Stillman: Do you think Armstrong’s the right guy for the job?

“Yes, I do,” Stillman replied. “A lot of GMs, I think, are inclined to be focused on what’s going to keep my job next year and the year after. Some would perceive it as taking a risk to be looking farther down the road even though it might not lead to as many wins in the current year.

“That’s an important quality, looking long-term for the organization and not looking at your short-term survival. I think Doug knows that I am in tune with looking at things in that longer-term way.”

Speaking of term, Armstrong is heading into the last of a five-year deal signed back in 2013. At that time, the Blues were coming off an 109-point campaign and Armstrong was the reigning NHL GM of the Year.

In announcing the deal, Stillman was full of praise.

“First, [Armstrong’s] an outstanding general manager, so we want to make sure he’s with us for a longer period,” he said, per NHL.com. “And second, I think you have to give him time to do his work and develop the team he wants to develop.”

If he extends Armstrong, Stillman could probably use the same quote again.

Because the Blues are, again, sort of in a developmental phase.

First, there was the massive hockey operations overhaul. Over the last three months, Armstrong has given six coaches their walking papers: Ken Hitchcock, Jim Corsi, Ray Bennett, Steve Thomas, Rick Wilson and Ty Conklin.

Mike Yeo was inserted as the head coach, while Martin Brodeur temporarily added goalie coach to his assistant GM duties, before dropping the role at the end of the season.

(Brodeur will lead the charge to find a replacement, now that he’s back to being AGM and Conklin was let go.)

The coaching shakeup wasn’t the only significant change Armstrong oversaw.

The club’s younger prospects continued to push for bigger roles at the NHL level. At forward, the likes of Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford both worked their way into the mix, while Robby Fabbri was on pace for a career year before a season-ending ACL tear in early February.

The youth movement could continue into next season, too. Tage Thompson, the 6-foot-5 forward taken 26th overall last year, left Connecticut after his sophomore year to turn pro, and gained some valuable experience with AHL Chicago. Vince Dunn, a defenseman taken in the second round in 2015, had a great year with the Wolves and led all d-men in scoring.

So if there’s going to be an ongoing developmental phase in St. Louis, it makes sense that Stillman wants Armstrong to oversee it. He’s done a good job of it throughout his seven years on the job — he’s the NHL’s ninth longest-tenured active GM — and the club has been successful, with five consecutive playoff appearances.

It is worth noting, however, that “club policy” kept Stillman from talking about actually signing Armstrong to an extension.

Report: ‘Hawks could add Ulf Samuelsson to coaching staff

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The Chicago Blackhawks are searching for an assistant coach, and Ulf Samuelsson might just be their guy.

According to the Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Samuelsson is the “top candidate” to replace Mike Kitchen, who was fired after the ‘Hawks were swept by the Nashville Predators in the opening round the playoffs.

The obvious connection here, is that Samuelsson and head coach Joel Quenneville were teammates with the Hartford Whalers back in the 1980s.

Samuelsson, 53, was an associate coach with the Arizona Coyotes from 2006 to 2011 and he was an assistant with the New York Rangers from 2013 to 2016. Last season,  he served as the head coach of Carolina’s farm team, the Charlotte Checkers.

He led the Checkers to a 39-29-8 record during the 2016-17 AHL campaign.