New Coyotes owners envision mixture of changes, status quo

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While 2013 was a tough year, the combo of GM Don Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett have managed to make the Phoenix Coyotes competitive despite an array of off-the-ice headaches. It appears that notion hasn’t been lost on IceArizona, the team’s new ownership group.

Tuesday represents the official press conference, yet the group rolled out their vision for the team that boasts some key changes – and some important similarities – for the Coyotes’ future.

Putting the team together

Principle owner George Gosbee told Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan that the team expects a budget increase in each of the next four seasons. Tippett seems pleased with that development, although he warned that the team must use that influx of cash wisely (or else they might become “shackled” by bad decisions).

While the money is likely to change, the people spending it stays the same, as the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that the ownership group raved about Maloney and Tippett.

Not too surprisingly, more money doesn’t mean that the Coyotes will rank among the NHL’s biggest spenders; the group stated that they won’t spend to the cap.

Promoting the team

The Phoenix Coyotes will eventually become the Arizona Coyotes, although that reportedly won’t happen any sooner than 2014-15. Alternate governor Anthony LeBlanc seems excited about beefing up the team’s staff outside of hockey operations, although those tweaks might take some time.

“This has been an operation that has been running on a skeleton crew for years,” LeBlanc said.

Keeping the team

IceArizona is saying all the right things, yet they didn’t totally deny the threat of the five-year out clause, either.

Still, improving the team’s marketing – and possibly the group of players on the ice – might pave the way for the Coyotes to find their niche.

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If nothing else, the commentary seems pretty celebratory, as the Coyotes can finally focus their attention on seeking on-ice triumphs more than anything else.

Isles sign Gaudreau’s kid brother, beat deadline for Bischoff

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Busy day for Isles GM Garth Snow.

First, in an interesting move, the Isles have signed Boston College’s Matt Gaudreau — the younger brother of Calgary star Johnny Gaudreauto an ATO with its AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

Gaudreau, 22, is a diminutive forward (not unlike his brother), listed at 5-foot-9, 145 pounds. He had a good offensive campaign for BC, leading the team in scoring with 35 points in 40 games.

In a second move, the Isles finally agreed to terms with University of Minnesota d-man Jake Bischoff on an entry-level deal.

Five years ago, the Isles selected Bischoff in the seventh round of the draft (out of USHL Omaha). The 22-year-old then proceeded to build an impressive resume with the Gophers, which includes a solid senior campaign that saw him rack up 32 points in 38 games. He also captured the Big Ten defensive player of the year award.

New York had until this summer to sign Bischoff, otherwise it would’ve lost his draft rights.

Like Gaudreau, Bischoff will report to Bridgeport to begin his pro career. There, the pair will join yesterday’s signing — Northeastern captain John Stevens (the son of Kings associate coach John Stevens), who inked a two-year ELC with the Isles.

 

Devils sign d-man Michael Kapla

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The New Jersey Devils have signed UMass-Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla to a two-year, entry-level contract.

Kapla, 22, had three goals and 27 assists in 41 games this season. He’ll report to the Devils and likely burn the first year of his ELC by making his NHL debut sometime very soon.

The Devils host the Winning Jets tonight. They’re in Brooklyn Friday to play the Islanders.

Kapla spent four years in college. Per the Devils’ press release, he “most recently captained the River Hawks to the 2017 Hockey East Championship. He also received Hockey East All-Tournament Team honors and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team.”

 

Report: Penn State sophomore Pedrie leaves school, signs with Rangers

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For the second straight day, the Rangers have landed an undrafted college free agent.

Vince Pedrie, a sophomore blueliner that just wrapped his sophomore campaign at Penn State, has reportedly agreed to terms with the Rangers on an entry-level deal, per the Collegian.

Citing a post from Pedrie’s Facebook account confirming the move, the Collegian reports the 23-year-old is the youngest Nittany Lion in program history to leave the team for the professional ranks.

It comes after Pedrie emerged as a “dominant offensive force” for the club last season, racking up 30 points in 39 games while helping Penn State qualify for its first NCAA championship appearance.

As mentioned above, this is the second intriguing prospect to join the Blueshirts in as many days. On Monday, University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri agreed to join the team after an impressive four-year career with the Gophers.

Hjalmarsson says ‘Hawks are ‘too comfortable’ after rough trip through Florida

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When most people take trips to Florida, it’s to get away from the stress and struggle of everyday life. But it’s safe to say that this edition of the Chicago Blackhawks won’t want to remember their visit to the Sunshine State.

The ‘Hawks dropped an embarrassing 7-0 decision to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night before blowing a 4-1 lead in last night’s game against the Bolts (they eventually lost 5-4 in OT).

They still have a comfortable lead atop the Central Division (eight points up on the struggling Wild), but they aren’t satisfied with their play.

“It’s getting close to the end here and we’re getting a little bit too comfortable maybe,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “As soon as you do that, you’re going to lose games … At the same time I’m glad that we were playing like this before the playoffs so we can make some adjustments.

“Eighty-two games is a long season. It’s a mental grind more than anything. As soon as you’re not there 100 percent, it’s going to show in the scoring.”

As Hjalmarsson said, six games is still enough time to figure things out for Chicago. They just won’t have the luxury of facing easy opponents when they do try to sort out their struggles.

They’ll play the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday before returning home to play Columbus and Boston. They’ll then head back on the road to close out the season in Denver, Anaheim and Los Angeles.