2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional

Columnist says Bruins should target Kevin Hayes


The Chicago Blackhawks still have time to sign 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes to a deal, but more than a few signs point to him eventually finding a deal elsewhere once his rights expire on August 15.

Reports already pointed to the New York Rangers being interested in the big forward, but CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes that the Boston Bruins should keep an eye on him, too.

For Haggerty, the most obvious draw might be the potential value that the 21-year-old Boston College alum could be bring:

The most attractive part about Hayes to the Bruins, beyond being a right-winger, and size/skill: the cost. As an NCAA free agent, Hayes would still need to agree to an entry level deal, and his maximum cap hit would be a team-friendly $900,000, along with any bonus money agreed to in the contract. It would essentially be like putting one of their own homegrown rookies into the lineup with minimal cost. There’s also the chance they could have a legit NHL player, based on his first-round ability and production at Boston College.

Along with the Rangers and possibly the Bruins, Haggerty notes other potential bidders such as the Calgary Flames (exec Brian Burke is fond of NCAA talent) and Florida Panthers (employers of his brother Jimmy Hayes). Those two teams would, on paper, provide less of a challenge for Kevin Hayes to make more of an immediate NHL impact, yet the money likely being more-or-less equal could score points in favor of a potential contender like Boston.

Of course, it would be foolish to count out Chicago altogether, even if they’ve failed to sign him after drafting Hayes 24th overall in 2010. Still, as this post details, he’d likely face a tougher climb to prominent NHL minutes and opportunities in the Windy City.

It all stacks up to be an interesting situation to follow if he doesn’t sign with the Blackhawks by August 15. While we wait, we can enjoy his occasional Instagram offerings, like this adorable video in which he uses his niece … as a prop gun?

(H/T to the Score on that one.)


DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”