Author: Jason Brough

Johnny Oduya

Oduya won’t be back with Blackhawks: agent


He wanted to stay, and they wanted to keep him.

Reality got in the way.

Per CSN Chicago, unrestricted free agent Johnny Oduya will not be back with the Chicago Blackhawks. The agent for the 33-year-old defenseman confirmed it Tuesday.

Oduya’s time in Chicago was all but officially ended when the ‘Hawks acquired veteran defender Trevor Daley from the Dallas Stars in the Patrick Sharp trade. With GM Stan Bowman unable to shed Bryan Bickell’s cap hit, and with RFA forward Marcus Kruger in need of a new deal, well, at least Oduya went out on a high note.

“We know the reality. This is what it is,” he said prior to the Stanley Cup Final. “You’ve got to take care of the time you have in front of you.”

Buffalo and Dallas are considered among the favorites to sign Oduya. His decision is expected to be made today.

Oilers hire Canadian university coach Herbers

Dave Adolph, Ian Herbers
1 Comment

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t have to search far and wide for their new assistant coach.

Ian Herbers has spent the last three seasons as head coach at the University of Alberta, located in Edmonton. The 47-year-old former NHL defenseman coached the Golden Bears to consecutive CIS national championships in his last two seasons at the school.

The Oilers announced today that Herbers would join Todd McLellan’s staff.

Herbers will work with new assistants Jay Woodcroft and Jim Johnson under McLellan.

As it turns out, the Oilers’ gain was the Kelowna Rockets’ loss. The WHL team had apparently hoped to hire Herbers as a replacement for head coach Dan Lambert, who left for the Sabres earlier this month.

Drouin: ‘Nobody wants to go to the AHL’

Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin admits he has “a little chip” on his shoulder.

The 20-year-old Tampa Bay forward — a healthy scratch for most of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final — told on Tuesday that he’s determined not to spend any time in the AHL next season.

Drouin was not eligible to play in the minors this past season.

“Nobody wants to go to the AHL,” Drouin said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking about making the team and making more of an impact. Last year a lot of people said it wasn’t my greatest year, but I gained a lot, I learned a lot, and I’m definitely more ready going into the season, into training camp.”

The third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Drouin’s absence from the Lightning lineup was a popular topic of discussion during the postseason. More than once, he had to deny there was a rift with coach Jon Cooper. He denied it again Tuesday, calling Cooper a “good guy” and “a great player’s coach.”

Back in May, Cooper explained the decision to limit Drouin’s role by saying, “There is more than one net in a rink. There’s two. You have to be able to play in front of both.”

Based on that, it seems Drouin’s ability to play a complete game will determine much of his fate next season.

Related: Johnson learned ‘there were two nets’ in the AHL; will Drouin be taught the same thing?

Rangers agree to terms with RFA Lindberg (Update: two years, $1.3M)

Calgary Flames v New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Oscar Lindberg, the club announced today.

From the release:

Lindberg, 23, skated in 75 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering 28 goals and 28 assists for 56 points, along with a plus-seven rating and 68 penalty minutes. He established AHL career-highs in goals, assists, points, power play goals (10), plus/minus rating, and shots on goal (214), and tied AHL career-highs in games played and game-winning goals (six).

The next year should be a big one for Lindberg. After two full seasons in the AHL, he’ll be aiming to make the jump.

Lindberg played one game for the Rangers last season, skating just 8:18 against the Flames on Feb. 24 at MSG.

UPDATE: Per the New York Post, Lindberg’s deal is for two years at $650,000, $1.3M total.

In ‘trying to fast-track’ prospects, do Coyotes risk rushing them?

Arizona Coyotes Prospect Development Camp

You know how they warn against rushing prospects into the NHL?

Well, the Arizona Coyotes should be an interesting team to watch in that regard.

“We’re trying to fast-track some people to the NHL,” coach Dave Tippett conceded at the team’s recent development camp, per The Arizona Republic.

Said GM Don Maloney: “We’ve got some unreal talent coming. We just have to hurry it along.”

Top prospects include forwards Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak. Domi is the eldest of those four, at just 20 years old.

Now, the optimist will say that the NHL is a young man’s league, where youth is actually an advantage, not a disadvantage.

But the skeptic will argue that the Coyotes have tried this before, and it didn’t turn out so well.

You’ll recall the Wayne Gretzky-coached teams that featured top draft picks Mikkel Boedker (eighth overall in 2008), Viktor Tikhonov (28th overall in 2008), and Kyle Turris (third overall in 2007).

Today, only Boedker remains with the club. And he first needed to be returned to the minors for more seasoning. The consensus, in hindsight, is that the Coyotes forced their prospects to bite off more than they could chew.

Not that there’s anything wrong with giving the youngsters a chance. If they’re ready, they’re ready.

The question the Coyotes will have to ask come the start of next season is, are they really ready?

Related: Coyotes praise Duclair’s ‘outstanding’ playmaking skill