Lost in the shuffle of “Boudreau out, Hunter in” was another significant change behind the Washington Capitals bench — assistant/defense coach Bob Woods was turfed in favor of ex-NHL defenseman Jim Johnson.
Johnson and Hunter played in Washington together from 1993-96 before joining the coaching ranks. Hunter went the OHL route while Johnson worked as an assistant with the U.S. national development team before becoming the head coach with AHL Norfolk.
“Dale and I, we speak the same language,” Johnson told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley following his first practice with the Caps. “I showed him some ideas of what I was doing when I took over in Norfolk and how I went in there to turn that team around in a very short period of time.
“We have a lot of the same philosophies and ideas and obviously, I’ve got a lot of admiration for Dale.”
Johnson will take over Woods’ role of handling Washington’s defensive pairings, which should be interesting to watch. With Mike Green and Tom Poti hurt, the Caps have been rolling Dmitry Orlov-Roman Hamrlik, Dennis Wideman-John Erskine and John Carlson-Karl Alzner. (Of note, Johnson’s son Derik played with Carlson on the U.S. national team.)
But based on Johnson’s philosophical approach to defensive play, one wonders if a change is on the horizon.
“I think if you can play a speed game, you can have success. But you’ve got to have some structure within that speed game,” Johnson said. “I think in order to create offense at this level you’ve got to get the defense up in the play. You don’t need them leading the rush.”
Video: Here’s Johnson speaking with Caps365 about his coaching style and defensive ideas.
The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.
Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.
The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.
“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”
For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.
Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.
Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.
“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.
“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”
Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.
He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”
It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.
A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.
(CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)
Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.
Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.
Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.
Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.
The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.
Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.
The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.
Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.
“Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.
“Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”