Getty

NHL on NBCSN: Islanders ‘excited’ to be back home after nine-game road trip

1 Comment

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Islanders host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

As of right now, there are 10 points that separate the Islanders and Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference standings. At this point of the season, that’s a huge amount.

Even though they’re well ahead of Carolina, the Islanders still don’t find themselves in a playoff spot. They’ve accumulated 75 points in 67 games, and even though they have one more regulation/overtime win than the team they’re chasing, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Leafs have one more point in the same amount of games.

The good news for the Islanders, is that they’re still very much in the playoff race after their nine-game road trip came to an end with a 4-3 loss to the Blues on Saturday night. Overall, New York finished the trip with a solid 5-3-1 record.

“I think all we can do is just keep trucking forward; we’re still in a good spot,” John Tavares said after the loss to the Blues, per Newsday. “I think obviously we’ll be excited to be back home Monday in front of our fans.”

The first game back home from a long road trip is never an easy one, but the Isles have been terrific at Barclays Center in 2016-17, as they currently own  a 20-8-6 record at home. They also haven’t lost a game in Brooklyn since Jan. 11 (9-0-2).

At this point, it’s become clear that the Hurricanes will be playing spoiler between now and the end of the season. It’s a position they’ve been in often enough over the last few years.

Carolina is coming off an overtime loss to Toronto on Saturday night, and they’ll look to push the Islanders to the limit too.

Coming into this home-and-home series with the Isles, the ‘Canes have managed to win just three of their last 14 contests.

Rookie Sebastian Aho has been one of the few pleasant stories for Carolina this season. The 19-year-old hit the 20-goal mark last week, and it looks like he has a bright future ahead of him.

“There are some things you have to learn,” Aho said, per the Raleigh News & Observer “Everything here was new for me – new language, new country, new team.

“You can’t prepare for everything before you come here. I think I have gotten used to it pretty fast. After 20 games I got more comfortable and more confidence and was able to play my game.”

Report: Hobey Baker winner Butcher won’t sign with Avs, will test free agency

Getty
4 Comments

It looks like the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award winner won’t sign with the NHL team that has his rights … again.

Last year, Jimmy Vesey rejected the Nashville Predators’ offers in a very public way, ultimately signing with the New York Rangers. Defenseman Will Butcher will test free agency on Aug. 15 instead of agreeing to an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche, as his agent confirmed to BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater.

“We informed the Avalanche of that decision,” Butcher’s agent, Brian Bartlett, told BSN Denver. “We appreciate what Colorado has done, and we’re not ruling out the Avalanche as a potential destination. But we just feel there will be other opportunities that should be explored too, and therefore we’re going (to the 15th).”

Those who’ve followed Butcher’s situation probably aren’t too surprised by the news.

It became clear as early as 2016 that the Avalanche weren’t interested in signing Butcher, a high-scoring defenseman they selected in the fifth round of a disastrous 2014 draft class.

This disinterest came even as Butcher generated 32 points in 39 games for the University of Denver in 2015-16, and he topped that last season, generating 37 points in 43 contests to take home the Hobey Baker. Butcher also enjoyed team success in 2016-17, helping Denver win a national championship.

At 22, he’d sign a cheap entry-level deal, only getting more expensive bonuses if Butcher excels, which would be worth it for just about any suitor. He’s likely to draw plenty of interest, whether he takes the Avalanche’s offers seriously or not.

Pension Plan Puppets provides an argument for why the Toronto Maple Leafs should be interested, while Second City Hockey went in-depth on the pluses for the defense-challenged Chicago Blackhawks, just to name two possible destinations that could make sense for Butcher.

Sharks add assistant Barr as ‘eye in the sky’

Getty
Leave a comment

The San Jose Sharks added experienced assistant Dave Barr to Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff on Wednesday.

The team noted that Barr will serves as the Sharks’ “eye-in-the-sky” during the 2017-18 season.

DeBoer has experience with Barr, as he served as an assistant during the New Jersey Devils’ run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Barr was also part of that mess with the Florida Panthers last season.

Beyond that, Barr is quite experienced, as you can see from the team’s summary of his recent coaching travels:

Barr has spent the past nine seasons coaching in various capacities in the NHL, serving most recently as an associate coach of the Florida Panthers during the 2016-17 season. Prior to his time in Florida, Barr served as an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons, with stops in Buffalo (2015-16), New Jersey (2011-15), Minnesota (2009-11) and Colorado (2008-09). Barr was a member of Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff during his four-year tenure with New Jersey, helping the team reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. 

The 56-year-old Barr spent four seasons as the head coach and general manager of the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2004-08, where he was named the Matt Leyden Trophy winner as the OHL’s Coach of the Year in 2005-06. In addition, he was selected to coach Canada’s National Summer Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2007. 

Coyotes add MacLean and Allen to coaching staff

Getty
Leave a comment

John MacLean will, indeed, be an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff in Arizona, as reported yesterday.

So too will Scott Allen.

“We are very pleased to have John and Scott join the Coyotes organization,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a release. “Both individuals bring a wealth of hockey knowledge and coaching experience to our team and we are confident that they will be great additions to Head Coach Rick Tocchet’s staff.”

MacLean — who had a short, unsuccessful stint as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2010 — was last behind an NHL bench as an assistant on Kirk Muller’s staff in Carolina from 2011-14.

Allen spent last season as an assistant in Florida, before being let go to make way for Bob Boughner’s new staff.

The Coyotes also announced Mike Van Ryn as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate in Tucson. Van Ryn will be assisted by John Slaney and Steve Potvin.

Mark Lamb, last year’s head coach in Tucson, and Mark Hardy, Lamb’s assistant, will not be back.

Lamb was only hired a year ago; however, he got the job thanks in part to a previous working relationship with Dave Tippett. So it’s no surprise to hear Lamb won’t be back — especially after the Roadrunners missed the playoffs.

Related: John MacLean could reportedly join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona

Welcome Nick Holden to the trade rumor mill

Getty
3 Comments

Last summer, when Nick Holden was traded from Colorado to the Rangers, Patrick Roy called Alain Vigneault to say, “You just got one of my better defensemen.”

Now it seems that Holden may be on the trading block again.

From the New York Post, in the wake of Mika Zibanejad‘s contract extension:

The Blueshirts are projected to start the season with just $445,556 of cap space if they carry eight defensemen (including Alexei Bereglazov) and 14 forwards (including Andersson and Boo Nieves with Jesper Fast on IR). The Rangers are expected to attempt to deal defenseman Nick Holden ($1.65 million) in order to bulk up in the middle, if possible.

Holden played 80 games for the Rangers last season, scoring 11 goals with 23 assists. The 30-year-old is signed for one more year before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

If Holden is traded, the Rangers could go into next season with a top four of Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei. That would leave Marc Staal, Bereglazov, Anthony DeAngelo, and perhaps even Neal Pionk to fight for minutes on the bottom pairing.

What’s unclear is Holden’s value on the trade market. After all, the Rangers only gave up a fourth-round draft pick to get him from Colorado. Has his value risen significantly since?