The Minnesota Wild franchise is searching for answers after firing Todd Richards. The problem with this Wild team is that their roster is nearly devoid of bargain contracts (and cap space), so this team’s success will depend heavily on the quality of their coach.
Right now, it seems like that man might be former Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, according to Michael Russo.
My first thought when I heard this news was “Wait, isn’t MacTavish fighting cancer right now?” That still is the case, but MacTavish said that he has a “good prognosis” so perhaps he’ll be ready to re-enter the coaching ranks.
Beyond having the ultra-cool designation of being the last player to play in the NHL without a helmet, MacTavish was known as a strong defensive forward in his playing days. He coached the Oilers from 2000 to 2009, with his greatest achievement being that magical run to within one win of a Stanley Cup in 2006.
Here’s what former Oilers captain Ryan Smyth had to say about a coach often known as Mac-T.
“He’s one of my favorites,” Los Angeles Kings veteran forward Ryan Smyth, coached by MacTavish for six seasons, said in a phone interview Thursday. “He knows and understands the game very well and was exciting to play for. He understands the players very well. He knew me more than I did at times.”
Russo writes that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher hasn’t reached out to Ken Hitchcock yet while former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien has reportedly expressed interesting in that job. Here’s a bit more on potential alternate candidates from Russo.
The Wild is also believed to be interested in speaking with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland, former Florida coach Pete DeBoer and Atlanta Thrashers associate coach John Torchetti.
Fletcher is also expected to strongly consider Houston Aeros coach Mike Yeo, who has the Wild’s chief minor league affiliate in the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs. Yeo spent five seasons as a top assistant in Pittsburgh, winning a Stanley Cup in 2009 one year after going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Many believe Yeo is a future NHL head coach, so the thought is if the Wild doesn’t hire him now, it could risk losing out on him.
If the St. Louis Blues were enjoying another season like they enjoyed last year, they wouldn’t have traded Kevin Shattenkirk.
But in the words of GM Doug Armstrong, the Blues are currently “in a precarious playoff spot,” so yesterday Shattenkirk was dealt to Washington for a haul that included a first-round draft pick in 2017 and 22-year-old forward Zach Sanford.
“It just felt that where we are and where we need to go, it was time to make a move,” Armstrong said.
“I think when we got through last year’s playoffs, knowing that we were going to be entering unrestricted free agency with a number of players over a two- or three-year span, we wanted to turn the tide over to a different core group of players, and this just continues down that path.”
Armstrong listed Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Colton Parayko, and Robby Fabbri as parts of the new core.
“There’s change in this game,” said Armstrong. “All organizations go through it.”
The Blues enter tonight’s game against the Oilers just two points clear of the Kings for the second wild-card spot in the West.
The Ottawa Senators made Alex Burrows‘ contract extension official this morning.
The day after acquiring the 35-year-old forward from Vancouver, the Sens announced that Burrows had signed a two-year, $5 million extension with a 10-team no-trade clause.
Ottawa gave up 19-year-old prospect Jonathan Dahlen to get Burrows from the Canucks.
“I think we’ve become a tougher team to play against and with the acquisition of Alex Burrows we’ve become an even tougher team to play against,” said GM Pierre Dorion, per the Ottawa Sun. “We all know how games are at this time of the year and, hopefully, when our team gets in the playoffs, how they’re grinding, difficult games.
“Getting someone of Alex’s character is something we couldn’t turn (away from). Our players have done exactly what we’ve asked of them. They’ve played hard, they’ve played a system and we just felt it was time to add another piece. In Alex Burrows, we’re ecstatic to have that piece.”
After last night’s 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay, the Sens only have a four-point playoff cushion, so there’s still work to be done down the stretch.
Ottawa hosts Colorado Thursday.
Related: Canucks GM says he isn’t done after trading ‘heart and soul’ guy Burrows
Chicago re-upped with a pair of veteran skaters on Tuesday, agreeing to one-year contract extensions with d-man Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo.
At first glance, these deals certainly appear to be expansion draft-related. The Sun-Times notes this will allow ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman to protect former first-round pick Ryan Hartman, who’s enjoying a breakout campaign with 15 goals through 57 games.
Rozsival, 38, has been the more active of today’s signees, appearing in 51 contests while notching a pair of points. He’s won a pair of Stanley Cups in Chicago.
Tootoo, 34, was signed last summer and has appeared in 36 games. He’s gone scoreless while racking up 21 PIM.
Rozsival’s current deal pays $600,000, while Tootoo’s is at $750,000. Terms of their extensions weren’t released but it’s fair to suggest the dollar figures will be similar, given Chicago’s pressed right up against the cap ceiling.
Bowman certainly seems to be getting his house in order ahead of the aforementioned expansion draft. Last week, he inked journeyman goalie Jeff Glass to a two-year deal, another move that appeared to be with Vegas in mind.
Having already dealt away Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could be on the verge of moving another veteran out of town:
Fippula, 32, is in the fourth of a five-year, $25 million deal with a $5M average annual cap hit. He’s had a nice bounce-back offensive campaign, with 34 points through 59 games — last year, those totals dipped to 31 in 76 — and has been a dependable, defensively responsible center during his time in Tampa Bay.
So, why might he get moved?
Yzerman has plenty of business to attend to this summer. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin are all pending RFAs requiring new deals, and it’s going to be expensive trying to keep all three in the fold.
It’s also worth noting that Victor Hedman‘s monster extension kicks in next year and, per ESPN, Yzerman is still searching to add a top-four defenseman to the mix.
McKenzie notes it’s unclear if Filppula has agreed to waive his NTC. If he does, though, teams would undoubtedly be interested in acquiring an experienced middle man, with tons of playoff experience.
Filppula’s appeared in over 150 career postseason contests, winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.