Author: Cam Tucker

Benning: Canucks waiting ‘for the domino effect’ in goalie market


In 2013, the Vancouver Canucks, then under former general manager Mike Gillis, had goalies Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo and decided to send the former to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick.

In 2015, Jim Benning, entering his second year as the Canucks’ GM, is facing a similar decision in the goaltending department with the first round of the NHL Draft now just six days away. It’s not a Schneider-Luongo situation, but with Vancouver needing draft picks, and three goalies with varying degrees of NHL experience and success in Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, a decision looms.

The Canucks select 23rd overall, but as of right now, they don’t have another pick until the fourth round in what is considered to be a deep draft.

Benning made it known immediately after the trade deadline that he’d like to recoup picks for the draft.

Markstrom, who was the backbone for the Utica Comets in their run to the AHL championship series, is a pending restricted free agent. Lack has one year remaining on his current deal, which is cap-friendly at $1.15 million.

Ben Kuzma of The Province reported this week that Benning has taken trade calls from other teams on both Markstrom and Lack.

Any potential move the Canucks make at this position might be dependent on what, if anything, happens with New York goalie Cam Talbot. Previous reports had as many as six teams having “some interest” in Talbot.

“There’s good depth in the second round and I’d like to have a second-round pick but it’s a balancing act for us,” Benning told The Province newspaper in Vancouver.

“It might not be a pick but a way of making our team better — we’re looking at all options. But I think I’ll be able to figure something out on that (draft pick) because when one goalie goes, they’re going to move on to the next guy. We’re waiting for the domino effect.”

Related: Canucks might move a goalie, but it won’t be Ryan Miller

Blue Jackets plan to draft ‘best player’ available, but will that be a defenseman?


After losing prospect defenseman Mike Reilly, the Columbus Blue Jackets enter next week’s NHL Draft with the eighth overall pick and it will be interesting to see if they use that on another young blue liner to bolster that position within their organization.

Then again, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen may decide to go in a different direction when it’s that club’s turn to announce its first-round selection next Friday.

One name bandied around recently by the club’s director of amateur scouting Paul Castron on the Columbus website was right winger Mikko Rantanen, the top-ranked European skater heading into the draft, according to Central Scouting’s final rankings.

“Rantanen is a player who wouldn’t surprise me if he stepped in right away with his size (6-3, 211) and strength,” Castron told the Blue Jackets website. “He’s got tremendous upside. It’s not as high-end in Europe as we’ve seen in the past. But again, those guys tend to develop a little later.”

As per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Kekalainen conceded the organization is short of prospect defensemen. Reilly, selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Blue Jackets, opted this week not to sign with Columbus.

Report: ‘Contentious relationship’ between Coyotes, Glendale ongoing for past six months


The city of Glendale voted to terminate its arena-management agreement with the Arizona Coyotes. So, the Coyotes went forward with plans to obtain a temporary restraining order to stop Glendale from voiding the arena deal, which a judge granted eight days ago.

Seems like a toxic enough situation, right?

Well, the layers into this ongoing saga continue to be peeled back, reportedly revealing months worth of quarrelsome back-and-forths between city staff and Coyotes executives, according to

The latest From TSN’s Rick Westhead:

Emails between city staff and Coyotes executives document a contentious relationship over the past six months, during which time the Coyotes allegedly opposed the city’s move to hire professional sports executive Tony Tavares to oversee an audit of the NHL team, and bickered over whether the team was purposely delaying that audit.

The emails also reveal that the city has made Coyotes officials aware as early as March of their concerns that Coyotes lawyer Craig Tindall might inappropriately use information he obtained while previously working for the city to help the Coyotes.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Glendale filed a motion in court to withhold a $3.75 million payment to the Coyotes.

Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, the Coyotes have the third overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft and are loaded with picks through the first three rounds. They are also apparently open to using “assets” should they come across what GM Don Maloney recently called the “right deal.”

Comcast founder Ralph Roberts ‘will be dearly missed,’ says NHL commissioner


The National Hockey League has sent its condolences to the family of Ralph Roberts, the founder of Comcast who passed away Thursday in Philadelphia at the age of 95.

“Ralph Roberts was an innovator, a visionary who revolutionized the cable industry and the patriarch of an outstanding family,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.

“Founder of Comcast and chairman emeritus, Ralph was a devoted partner and friend of the National Hockey League. We send deepest condolences to Ralph’s family and his countless friends. He will be dearly missed.”

Comcast acquired the majority stake in NBC Universal, which includes the NBC Sports Group, in 2009. Two years later, the NHL and NBC Sports Group struck a record 10-year television and media rights deal.

Roberts founded Comcast in 1963, and transformed it from “humble roots as a small, regional cable company into the global Fortune 50 media and technology leader it is today,” Comcast said in a statement on its website.

“Ralph was a born entrepreneur, a visionary businessman, a philanthropist and a wonderful human being.  Ralph built Comcast into one of America’s greatest companies and his vision and spirit have been at the heart of Comcast and our culture for 50 years.  He will be truly missed.  Ralph’s greatest love was his family, and our deepest sympathies go to his wife Suzanne and the entire Roberts family.”

The futures of four marquee Hurricanes players rest with one agent, one GM


There is an interesting dynamic brewing with the Carolina Hurricanes when it comes to four of their top players, including Eric and Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner and goalie Cam Ward.

All four are represented by the same agent in Rick Curran, and Carolina general manager Ron Francis will have some important decisions to make about the futures of all four players, most notably Eric Staal, who is entering the final year of his contract, which includes a no-trade clause.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Basically, every high-priced, popular, star player the Hurricanes might even consider trading as part of a rebuilding process has the same agent, and this summer brings a new kind of time pressure.

Both Eric Staal and Ward need to be either re-signed or traded, because their contracts are up after next season. Jordan Staal is signed to a long-term contract but came here to play with his brother and may not want to stay without him. Skinner has three years left on his contract but is one of the Hurricanes’ most marketable assets.

As the NHL Draft nears — it was only two weeks away, as of Friday — the speculation around the future of the elder Staal, the Hurricanes captain, could intensify. It’s worth noting that on Friday, it was reported that Francis is not seeking to trade Staal at this point.