Winnipeg Thrashers Hockey

Report: True North offers newly vacated GM job to Chicago assistant Kevin Cheveldayoff

We’re still waiting to find out what the Winnipeg team’s name will be, but perhaps True North Sports and Entertainment should keep a simple goal in mind. If nothing else, they need to make their team name easier to spell than the name of their potential new GM.

The Winnipeg Free Press backs up previous rumors that the new team is looking to add Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to fill Rick Dudley’s vacated position. Gary Lawless states that “several sources” confirmed the rumor but didn’t mention names, so it’s far from official but could very well be true.

If that indeed comes to pass, it’s rather interesting that the Winnipeg team will replace a Blackhawks product (Dudley, who worked closely with former ‘Hawks GM and current Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon) with another Blackhawks front office member in Cheveldayoff. Lawless provides a little more background on Cheveldayoff.

Cheveldayoff has held the position of assistant GM and senior director of hockey operations with the Chicago Blackhawks for two years and was part of that organization’s Stanley Cup winning management team in 2009-10.

Here is a little more from his bio on the Blackhawks Web site.

Before joining the Blackhawks on Aug. 3, 2009, Cheveldayoff spent the previous 12 seasons as the general manager of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, guiding the franchise to four league championships, which included the 2008 and 2002 AHL Calder Cups and 2000 and 1998 IHL Turner Cups. Overall, the Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan native has been a part of six league championships during his 15-year management career, which includes two Turner Cups in three seasons as the assistant vice president of hockey operations and assistant coach for the Denver and Utah Grizzlies (1995-96).

Cheveldayoff was the architect of 12 Wolves teams that compiled a .615 regular-season winning percentage (544-320-114) and ten postseason berths from 1997 to 2009. Eight of those clubs reached the 100-point mark during the regular season while earning four division titles and six postseason conference championships.

Without knowing many specifics about which specific decisions Cheveldayoff made, it seems like his ascension might be a bit rapid. Then again, he did spend a long time as an AHL GM and it’s not as if we haven’t seen examples of quick learners at the position this season. Just look at the fantastic work Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has done in his first campaign if you’re wondering if someone call pull off such a quick climb.

That being said, Cheveldayoff won’t inherit players on the level of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, either. Dustin Byfuglien is an interesting (if odd) talent, Evander Kane has some promise and the Thrashers have a few other decent pieces in place, but Cheveldayoff will face a tough challenge to construct a winning team from the current ingredients if he does indeed become the new GM.

Naturally, he hasn’t accepted the position (if it was indeed offered) yet, but the Free Press claims that he should make his decision soon. We’ll let you know if/when that happens.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

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Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

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The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.