What Colin Campbell should say tonight on NHL Overtime

Tonight at 11:00 pm, embattled NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell will make a phone appearance on Versus’ new program NHL Overtime to discuss, we hope, what’s come out lately about him disparaging Marc Savard and being overtly critical of NHL officials regarding their treatment of his son, Bruins forward Gregory Campbell, during games.

We’re assuming that Campbell will be talking about these subjects and not about the handful of suspensions handed down today to Mattias Ritola and Olli Jokinen. With Campbell going under the microscope thanks to Tyler Dellow putting the pieces together to figure out that Campbell is potentially using his position to influence, he’s got a huge opportunity to do the right thing after all this. While we’ve already heard a little bit from Campbell regarding this whole thing, choosing to talk about one incident and chalking it up to being too much of a hockey dad, he can start to make things right in a different way. He can start by being honest.

If Campbell opens things up tonight discussing with Bill Patrick, Billy Jaffe, and Aaron Ward doing what we’ve heard from other’s in the NHL media by discussing his history in the game and having the respect of his peers, he’ll immediately be losing us. Colin Campbell the man has never been the problem through this entire escapade. I’m sure that Colin Campbell is a great guy, a good friend, and a loyal compatriot to have in any situation. If you look at his e-mails to Stephen Walkom and Mike Murphy in a certain point of view, that aspect of him is very evident. But that’s not the problem here. The problem here surrounds Colin Campbell the league executive.

What’s gotten lost in the discussion about this whole situation is how Campbell seemingly abused his role in an authority position to to get breaks for his son. That’s the part that’s got most people discussing this in an uproar. It’s not about how good of a guy Colin Campbell is off the ice and how a good guy doesn’t deserve to get treated harshly because of that. That’s about as far from the point as anything can get. Sometimes good people make mistakes. Sometimes good people can get carried away if they’re left unchecked in a position of power.

That’s why Colin Campbell has to show the rest of us that haven’t been in the locker room with him as a player, or worked with him in the media while he was a coach or as the NHL disciplinarian what makes him as good a guy as we’ve read or heard about the last few days. A good guy, a guy that won’t allow pride to get in his way, would own up to making a mistake. That’s what he’s done here, he’s made mistakes. We’re human, they happen and sometimes when family gets involved emotions get the best of us and our “ugly” side can come out. They just don’t usually come out in e-mail or make it appear that your potential conflict of interest is more than just a possibility.

So Colin, for the rest of us so we can go back about our business and talking about what a great game hockey is, fess up. Own what’s happened. Don’t try to give us a PR-friendly answer. Honesty is hard and it can sometimes seem like it’ll be the thing that stings you the most, but if he can go on NHL Overtime tonight and say this:

“I’m really sorry for what I’ve said about Marc Savard and I am incredibly sorry for letting the love of my son get the best of me and potentially interfering in my focus on the job at hand. I’ve learned from all this that doing the right thing for my family and doing the right thing for my job can sometimes get in the way of each other and it won’t happen again.”

I’m willing to bet that we’ll be able to see what others are talking about when they tell us about what a stand-up guy Colin Campbell is. Giving us a prepared statement that tip-toes around and doesn’t directly address everything that’s been questioned will just be damage control and appear to be dishonest. The fans aren’t the fools we’re sometimes mistaken for, treating us as such will only let fans continue to feel like aren’t capable of handling the truth. Trust us here Colin, we can handle the truth.

Predators first-rounder Tolvanen becomes youngest to score hat trick in KHL

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Talk about making a great first impression.

Nashville Predators prospect Eeli Tolvanen became the youngest KHL player to score a hat trick while adding an assist in his debut for Jokerit against Dinamo Minsk.

Tolvanen turned 18 in April. It’s ludicrously early, but with a night like this, people are already wondering if the forward was a steal; the Predators nabbed him with the 30th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Here’s some footage of his performance:

If that Jokerit debut is any indication, he could have a special season, especially for an 18-year-old in the KHL.

A scouting report from Pension Plan Puppets touted Tolvanen’s shot as the best in the 2017 draft, and they believed he could be one of the big steals. And that was if he ended up landing in the teens, let alone No. 30.

BREAKING: Predators GM David Poile and his staff know what they’re doing.

Hextall deserves to see Flyers rebuild through

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This post is part of Flyers day at PHT…

If you look at GM Ron Hextall’s playing career, you might have expected the Philadelphia Flyers to continue their charming-yet-maddening run of impulsive, often-reckless moves. After all, Hextall echoed Billy Smith in goalie-stick-swinging rage.

Instead, Hextall’s almost writing the blueprint for how to rebuild a team in a tasteful way. Almost to the point where you wonder if his absence may partially explain the erosion of the Los Angeles Kings’ salary structure.

(Hextall was even rebuilding on the fly without the typical run of lottery ball luck, but that trend changed in Philly’s favor when they ended up with the second pick and Nolan Patrick.)

Let’s consider the great job Hextall is doing, even if there’s some fear that someone else might ultimately get the greatest credit if management grows impatient with this incremental approach.

Cleaning up

Hextall inherited an absolute mess in Philly, and he’s been making lemonade out of Bobby Clarke’s lemons.

Moving Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn for Jordan Weal and a third-rounder felt like wizardry. The assets he managed for Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Schenn, and Braydon Coburn brought the Flyers a mix of picks, solid roster players, and financial breathing room.

Even mixed moves seem to point to better things in the future.

One imagines the Flyers getting a little more than they did when they took Valtteri Filppula off of Tampa Bay’s hands, especially since the Bolts didn’t retain salary in the process. You’d expect Jori Lehtera‘s time with Philly to be short, as the team seemingly took on his contract merely to get nice picks from the Blues for Schenn.

Prospects and picks

Hextall has assembled quite the war chest of prospects that mixes quantity with, ideally, quality choices.

Even heading into the 2018 NHL Draft, the Flyers currently hold an extra choice in the first, fifth, and seventh rounds. That’s promising, especially since they’ve already made a lot of picks.

Take a look at their draft history during the last three years.

2015: two first-rounders, zero second, two third-rounders, two fourths. Nine picks.
2016: Normal number of picks, except: three second-rounders and two sixth-rounders. Ten picks.
2017: two first-rounders, plus Isaac Ratcliffe, who was close to a first-rounder at 35th. Also two fourth-rounders. Nine picks.

And, again, they currently hold 10 choices in 2018. If the Flyers can aim those “darts” with even any accuracy, things look good for the future.

Still some problems

The troubling thing is that the Flyers don’t exactly look like a no-brainer playoff team in 2017-18. (Vote on that subject here.)

They’re standing as something of a fringe team even as they still spend quite a bit of money; they’re only about $5 million under the cap ceiling right now, according to Cap Friendly.

Still-troubling spending is part of the reason why Claude Giroux ($8.275 million per year) is under pressure. It’s not necessarily that Giroux and Jakub Voracek ($8.25M) are bad, but there are questions about one or both of them slipping, and with contracts that begin to look frighteningly long.

Combine those deals with Andrew MacDonald‘s $5M punchline of a cap hit and that’s about $21.5M on the books, just like that.

There’s a path to greater financial freedom, especially if they part ways with Filppula ($5M) and Lehtera ($4.7M). Hextall’s run of strong goalie moves continues with the cheap pairing of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth after Steve Mason‘s surprisingly impressive run, and Philly isn’t locked into any Bryzgalovian deals in net.

So there are a lot of positives, even if it still feels like Hextall is hitting the “backspace” button on some salary cap death sentences.

Who gets to see the light at the end of the tunnel?

The Flyers boast a bounty of prospects, especially on defense; plenty of teams likely look at that farm system with some envy.

Will everything fall into line at the right time, though? Key forwards such as Giroux, Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds might see declines in the near future, to the point that Hextall must be willing to at least consider bold moves there, too.

Philly is getting close to the finish line as far as cap struggles go, which means that, sooner or later, they need to start making bigger gains toward being a stable contender. Hextall deserves to see it through, but we’ve seen more than a few examples of a GM laying the groundwork for someone else to put together the finishing touches.

Maple Leafs may look to Russia to improve defense (again)

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Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs confirmed that Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello recently made a visit to Russia, but they didn’t admit why they went.

It turns out that they were scoping out KHL defenseman Igor Ozhiganov, who plays for CSKA, according to Johnston and others.

Ozhiganov, 24, did not go drafted. He does, however, have some interesting NHL connections. For one thing, he suited up for the same team that Nikita Zaitsev did, so that experiment has already worked out quite well for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As you can see from the tweet above, Ozhiganov will play in the KHL through 2017-18. That’s impressive due diligence from the Leafs’ brass, although you wonder if such maneuverings might put the defenseman higher on the radars of other teams hoping to add depth to their bluelines in the future.

Raw Charge notes that Ozhiganov is a buddy of Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, who definitely sings the defenseman’s praises. Even with Mikhail Sergachev in the mix, the Bolts are a group that will probably want to bolster their mix (especially in the uncomfortably likely event that Dan Girardi disappoints).

Either way, NHL fans will need to wait at least a season to see what Ozhiganov is capable of … and where he lands.

Devils give Jimmy Hayes a shot with PTO

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The New Jersey Devils have made dramatic moves to improve their forward group over the last few years, but even with Taylor Hall, Marcus Johansson, and Kyle Palmieri in the mix, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

With that and the Devils’ recent struggles in mind, it only makes sense for GM Ray Shero to be open-minded to “reclamation projects.”

Perhaps that will be the case with towering forward Jimmy Hayes, then. The Devils announced that the winger has been invited to training camp on a PTO.

Look, there’s no doubt that Hayes has frequently struggled to make a difference at the NHL level. Not that long ago, he broke a 35-game pointless streak.

Still, it’s probably fair to give him an incomplete grade instead of a failing mark from 2016-17. After all, there are only so many players who can produce much offense when they’re receiving 9:14 TOI per game.

Hayes went from averaging 15:09 per contest in his best season (2014-15, when he scored 19 goals for Florida) to 13:50 TOI with Boston in 2015-16 and then that new low last season.

So, no doubt about it, Hayes’ stock couldn’t get much lower.

We’ve seen fringe guys become valuable assets after getting clean slates, including with bigger forwards. Zack Kassian resurrected his career following some significant struggles, just to name a recent example.

The Devils could use another NHL-caliber forward, particularly with valuable center Travis Zajac slated to miss a chunk of 2017-18. Maybe Hayes can be part of the solution.