James O'Brien

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach

Wilson: Sharks will ‘explore everything’ to improve

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After all the turmoil of the last 12 months, Doug Wilson remains as GM of the San Jose Sharks. Many would agree that changing head coaches should just be the beginning of his work this offseason.

Whether it be trades, free agents acquisitions or moving around in the draft, it sounds like the situation is pretty flexible for the Sharks during during what Wilson described as “probably the most important part of the transition process that we’ve gone through the last year.”

“We’re putting this team in a position to bounce back and be very competitive come September,” Wilson said during a pre-draft address, according to CSNBayArea.com. “Will we explore everything? Yeah, we will.”

Exploring everything could mean giving up cap space to improve and it also may mean handing over a high draft pick.

The Sharks actually have a lot of both.

General Fanager estimates their cap space at $17.3 million, and while they need to re-sign or replace Antti Niemi, the Sharks could conceivably make a big splash in free agency or exploit another team’s cap crunch this summer. Wilson has also done an impressive job collecting draft assets, as San Jose boasts 17 selections in the next two drafts.

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle provides some interesting insight into Wilson’s possible aims:

While San Jose’s most immediate need appears to be a starting goalie, they’re also interested in adding on the blueline. That could come through free agency, as there’s a solid crop of defencemen available that includes François Beauchemin, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya, Andrej Sekera, Cody Franson and Mike Green.

Sure, it had to sting to miss the playoffs in 2014-15, and it’s possible that the team’s dysfunction may continue. That said, this team could make a dramatic push if Wilson’s on his game during (another) pivotal offseason.

Pens GM on moving up in draft, ‘competitive market’ for wingers

Jim Rutherford
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If there’s one way to describe how Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is approaching this offseason, it might be “open-ended.”

Rutherford has discussed (and sometimes denied) a variety of possibilities already, yet he shared some other interesting insights with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari.

With only a second-round pick in the first four rounds of the 2015 NHL Draft, it makes sense that Rutherford may try to move up, although that report implies that his goals might be modest. Then again, it could come down to circumstances.

“It’ll probably depend more on how the draft [unfolds],” Rutherford said. “If we get to a certain point in the draft and there’s a player who’s still sitting there who we’re surprised is still there, we could possibly look at a move at that point.”

It does indeed sound like the Penguins hope to land a top-six winger, although the lack of options is leading to a “pretty competitive market right now,” as Rutherford noted. With a shallow free agent pool in mind, Molinari reports that Pittsburgh has at least “kicked the tires” regarding Phil Kessel’s availability.

Considering how top-heavy the team’s structure already is, it would take some serious juggling to make a Kessel trade work.

Then again, maybe kicking the tires is the theme of the Penguins’ outlook in the summer of 2016 … at least so far.

Report: Dean Lombardi tabbed as U.S. GM for 2016 World Cup

Dean Lombardi
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While reports indicate that Canada will name Doug Armstrong as its GM for the 2016 World Cup, the U.S. will make Dean Lombardi its GM, according to John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor.

It’s unclear when this may be made official – assuming it is the case – while TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Canada is set to confirm Armstrong’s posting on Monday.

As the architect of the Los Angeles Kings, Lombardi faces a challenging summer, but few would deny that he’s accomplished great things in building a roster that won two Stanley Cups.

In particular, he managed some serious bargains that are only running out recently; Justin Williams’ $3.65 million cap hit is set to expire while Jonathan Quick registered less than a $2 million price the first time he raised the Cup, just to name two examples of crucial savings.

Lombardi is easily one of the best executive options the U.S. boasts, even with the Kings missing the playoffs in 2014-15.

Hoven points to Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards as a possible top candidate to be Lombard’s choice as head coach:

At the most recent IIHF World Championships, Todd Richards, coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, served as Team USA’s head coach. He previously served as an assistant coach at the 2014 Olympics and 2010 IIHF World Championships. Word is, he is considered a strong candidate for the 2016 World Cup job, as he guided the team to a bronze medal last month in Prague. Dan Bylsma and Ron Wilson will likely also receive some consideration and/or potentially serve as assistants.

PHT Morning Skate: A baby in the Stanley Cup (and the Cup in a helicopter)

baby
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Zoom way in on this super-high-resolution photo from the United Center. Your results may vary based on whether you were at the Stanley Cup Final game or know someone who was. (Gigapixel)

Jakub Voracek wins the Czech player of the year nod, then gets all he can handle from a rabbit mascot. (Puck Daddy)

Connor McDavid’s pose is impressive, too. (USA Today)

This is awkward: looking at what the shirts and other celebratory materials would have looked like if the Tampa Bay Lightning won it all instead. (The Hockey News)

Whoa.

Talk about a perfect Father’s Day gift; witness Antoine Vermette’s newborn baby Emilia resting preciously in the Stanley Cup:

From adorable to awesome, we have Marian Hossa bringing the Cup for a helicopter ride. (H/T to The Score.)

Kapanen is OK with Pens fans throwing his ‘name around’

Kasperi Kapanen, Jared Spurgeon
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The Pittsburgh Penguins seem poised to improve by getting better on the wings, but that doesn’t have to come through free agent moves alone.

Improvement may come from within, and Kasperi Kapanen seems like a pretty obvious catalyst for possible internal improvement.

The 18-year-old appears aware that some are clamoring for him to be a full-time member of the Penguins, and he gets it, as Kapanen told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Saturday.

“People throw my name around. That’s acceptable,” Kapanen said. “I know they want me to play over there. I want to play over there too. I’m trying to be there next year. If it’s meant to be, then I will be.”

The 22nd pick of the 2014 NHL Draft turned heads early on, including making a great first impression on Bill Guerin last summer. He got a little taste of the North American game, too, participating in four regular season contests and seven playoff games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2014-15 after finishing up his campaign in Finland.

While excitement continues to build about his potential, the young player continues to ready himself for the highest level, training with his father (former NHL player Sami Kapanen). It won’t be long before we find out if he can help the Penguins in 2015-16 or if the wait will continue a little bit longer.

At least he’s not denying his own excitement, though.

Related

GM Jim Rutherford hopes to improve Penguins’ supporting cast