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Panthers ask Habs permission to interview Gallant about coaching job

The Florida Panthers are getting more serious in their pursuit of a new head coach.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told L.A. Lariviere of TVA Sports the Panthers have asked for permission to speak with current assistant coach Gerard Gallant about their open top job.

Over the weekend we shared a report saying the Panthers were interested in Gallant as well as Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters. Gallant has head coaching history after leading the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons from 2004-2007.

The Panthers’ closer look at Gallant may have a bit to do with his history with star young player Jonathan Huberdeau.

Gallant coached Huberdeau with the St. John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL and led the team to back-to-back Memorial Cup championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12. The success Huberdeau had playing for Gallant was staggering.

In the 11-12 season, he had 72 points in 37 games. In 10-11, he had 105 points in 67 games. If Gallant was able to get Huberdeau back on track after a tough season this past year, that’d go a long way to helping the Panthers climb out of the basement. He had just nine goals and 28 points in 69 games this season after winning the Calder Trophy the year before.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.