Cam Tucker


Report: Capitals expose Nate Schmidt in expansion draft


The Washington Capitals have reportedly decided to go with the 7-3-1 option for their protected list ahead of the Vegas expansion draft.

That is according to Washington Post hockey writer Isabelle Khurshudyan, who expected the Capitals to protect Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and goalie Braden Holtby.

No real surprises with that list.

All 30 NHL clubs had to submit a protected list by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday — just two hours after the trade/waiver freeze began.

That would expose defenseman Nate Schmidt to the expansion draft. A pending restricted free agent, Schmidt scored three goals and 17 points this season — both single season career bests for him. He entered the playoffs due to an injury to Karl Alzner and played 11 postseason games before Washington was eliminated.

Schmidt, 25, also thought, based on his performance in the postseason, that he would be able to take the next step toward becoming a top-four defenseman in Washington. And with two pending unrestricted free agent defensemen — Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk — the opportunity could still be there if Vegas doesn’t take him.

“I thought the playoffs were really good for me personally,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic after a second-round exit versus Pittsburgh.

“I thought I could have brought a little bit more, especially in the last game. [But] I think that hopefully the management or the staff believes that I can make the next jump and move up to that ever elusive top-4.”

Ryan Kesler out 12 weeks after hip surgery


Ryan Kesler is no stranger to hip surgery.

He underwent an operation in the summer of 2011 following Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Final loss. And on Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks announced the 32-year-old center had hip surgery last week — a general “cleaning” that included the removal of bone fragments.

The Ducks’ forward is expected to be out 12 weeks, when the club states he will be able to resume full activity.

Kesler appeared in 17 playoff games this spring, with one goal and eight points, often matched up against the opposition’s best centers. That includes Connor McDavid of the Oilers in the second round and Ryan Johansen of the Predators prior to his injury in the Western Conference Final.

Related: Kesler calls Game 6 loss to Nashville the ‘toughest’ of his career

‘A proven history of success’ — Hurricanes name Mike Bales new goaltender coach

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Heading into the offseason, Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis identified goaltending as a major issue that needed to be fixed.

He’s already taken steps to do so:

— The Hurricanes acquired Scott Darling from Chicago and then signed him to a four-year contract extension at a $4.15 million cap hit.

— Prior to that, they dismissed goalie coach David Marcoux.

On Saturday, as the hockey world calmed somewhat from the events leading up to the trade/waiver freeze, the Hurricanes announced they had agreed to terms with Mike Bales to become the team’s new goaltending coach.

Bales joins the Hurricanes after spending the last four seasons as goalie coach in Pittsburgh, which just won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row with Matt Murray, who only turned 23 years old in May.

“Mike has a proven history of success as a goaltending coach with the Penguins, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups,” said Francis in a statement. “Based on our research, we are confident that he is someone our goalies and coaching staff will enjoy working with, and we’re thrilled to have him in our organization.”

Before becoming the Penguins goalie coach, Bales worked as a goalie development coach with that organization, and in a scouting role to evaluate amateur puck stoppers.

He was promoted to Penguins goalie coach in August 2013 — about 14 months after the club selected Murray in the third round.

“He’s not a guy who’s going to yell at you if you do something wrong. He’s a guy that you want to work hard for and not in fear of, which is great for us,” Murray told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review in November.

“He’s not the guy that’s going to yell at you, but he’ll tell you when he thinks you can do something differently. He’s not going to tell you exactly what to do, but he’ll ask for your opinion on it, and if you agree on it and you think it’ll work better, he helps you implement it.”

The Wild didn’t make a move prior to trade freeze deadline


With the expansion trade/waiver freeze approaching, the Wild was one of the intriguing teams to watch, given their surplus of defensemen — not to mention the fact they still don’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the NHL Entry Draft.

It had been previously reported that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher had received “quality offers” for defensemen Mathew Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Yet, Minnesota didn’t make a move prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline on Saturday.

You’ll recall a couple of weeks ago, it was believed Minnesota and the Boston Bruins were involved in ongoing trade talks, and Brodin’s name had been floated out there as a possible fit in Boston, which had been in the market for a top-four puck-moving defenseman.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Leading into Saturday, the Wild had received interest in several players the past few weeks, especially Dumba, Brodin and, interestingly, Scandella. The Wild was in on trade talks with Tampa Bay on Jonathan Drouin and Montreal with Alex Galchenyuk. It’s unclear how deep into talks the Wild got with Montreal, but sources say the Canadiens especially wanted Scandella in a package. It’s very likely that’s a deal that Fletcher could not make happen unless he knew for a fact he could ensure Vegas would not take the exposed Brodin or Dumba. It’s believed McPhee wouldn’t make such a commitment before the deadline.

The deadline for teams to submit their protection lists is Saturday, at 5 p.m. ET. The expansion draft signing moratorium and trade/waiver freeze ends Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.

Teams, however, can still talk trade with Vegas. That will include the Wild, per Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Devils acquire d-man Mirco Mueller from Sharks


The New Jersey Devils have added a young defenseman to their organization, acquiring Mirco Mueller from the San Jose Sharks.

The Devils also picked up the Sharks’ fifth-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, in exchange for New Jersey’s second-round pick and fourth-round pick this year.

Mueller, who just turned 22 years old in March, was selected 18th overall by the Sharks in the 2013 NHL Draft. He’s played in 54 games for the Sharks, splitting his professional career so far between the NHL club and their minor league affiliate.

His play in the minors this past season had given the Sharks reason for optimism, with coach Pete DeBoer speaking highly of the prospect blue liner when he was recalled earlier in the year.

“All the reports out of the American League team were that that he’s been excellent,” said DeBoer in December. “I think he’s really taken a step maturity-wise as a player and as a kid this year. Everybody’s saying that he looks like he’s ready for full-time NHL duty. … He’s a guy that belongs up here.”

But, as a young and developing defenseman, gaining the trust of the coach through consistent stretches of play was also something DeBoer stressed upon Mueller as he went up and down between the NHL and AHL.

He’s also a pending restricted free agent, at the end of his entry-level deal.

Mueller becomes another former San Jose first-round pick to be traded. The Sharks also dealt Nikolay Goldobin to Vancouver prior to the trade deadline.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for Mirco to continue his development and with our organization’s depth on the blueline, an opportunity for us to acquire assets for the future,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson.