Waiver news: Canadiens claim Blair Betts from Philly, Sean Avery goes unclaimed

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Waiver madness has struck and we see two moves you could call “expected” go through.

Montreal claimed Blair Betts from the Philadelphia Flyers. For Montreal it was a no-brainer move as they were in need of a fourth line center to win face-offs and play strong defensive hockey. They’ll get that with Betts as he won just over 50% of his draws last season. Betts also gives Montreal a little bit of size at forward being 6’3″. In case you hadn’t heard, the Habs have a few small-sized forwards.

Philadelphia losing Betts makes for an interesting turn of events there as it likely means that Maxime Talbot will now slot in as the fourth line center. Given that Talbot is making $1.75 million against the cap for the next five years, they’d better hope he becomes a superstar shutdown guy up the middle. It also means that Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn (once he’s recalled from the AHL) will do battle on the third line for bragging rights there. Expect Schenn to win that battle.

source:  The least surprising non-move of the day concerns Sean Avery. Avery cleared waivers and the Rangers are now free to send him to the AHL if need be. It’s also possible that Avery could be brought through on re-entry waivers to see if a team will take him at a discounted price.

With Avery being paid by both the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, if he were to be claimed on re-entry waivers that team would be getting him at a double discount only having to pay 25% of his contract. The Stars still pay half of what Avery is owed while the Rangers would pay half of what he was owed. Having to pay Avery only 25% of what he’s worth might make him attractive to another team.

Then again, after what Rangers coach John Tortorella had to say about Avery yesterday, you wonder if anyone will want him even at that big of  a discount. At the very least, the Dallas Stars might like to see another team pick him up just to save themselves some trouble in dealing with the salary cap. With the buzz going on around the league, the chances we’ll see Avery play again in the NHL this season are slim.

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

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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…

Auston Matthews to skip Worlds

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Auston Matthews is going to take some time off.

As such, the 19-year-old star forward won’t be heading overseas to represent the United States in the upcoming World Championship.

You can hardly blame him. Matthews just finished his rookie season in the NHL, playing all 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus six more in the playoffs.

Oh, and he also played in the World Cup for Team North America.

Matthews did participate in last year’s Worlds. He had six goals and three assists in 10 games on the way to a fourth-place finish.

Related: Gaudreau, Eichel commit to USA Worlds roster

Blackhawks fire their AHL head coach

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Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired longtime assistant coach Mike Kitchen.

Today, it was longtime AHL coach Ted Dent who got the ax.

Dent has been the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs the past six seasons, and he was an assistant coach for Chicago’s AHL affiliate the previous five seasons.

“The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization,” GM Stan Bowman said. “He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best.”

The IceHogs missed the playoffs this season, finishing last in the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 25-39-12.

Related: A furious Bowman addressed the Blackhawks’ postseason failure

Report: Canucks close to naming Travis Green head coach

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The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly set to announce Travis Green as their next head coach.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the announcement will be made in the next couple of days.

Green, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL including the playoffs, has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons. Under his watch, the Comets have played mostly winning hockey in spite of some rather depleted lineups.

Ever since Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of the season, Green has been the leading candidate to take over in Vancouver. The only question, really, was whether he’d be a candidate for another NHL head-coaching vacancy, perhaps with the Florida Panthers.

Assuming no last-minute hiccups, Green will take over a transitioning Canucks team that has finished 28th and 29th overall in its last two seasons, respectively.

“We’re going to be young,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said. “Young players make mistakes. There’s going to be some growing pains. We need a coach that understands exactly where we are.”

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players