Porter, 30, played 41 games for the Pens during the regular season, tallying three assists while “serving as a valuable member of the club’s fifth-ranked penalty killing.” A broken ankle suffered on March 3 kept him out of the playoffs.
Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
The back-up goalie is an important, and often overlooked, part of the roster. For a bubble team — and that’s a lot of teams in the parity-driven NHL — it can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs.
For a general manager, the hard part is choosing the right guy.
Consider Enroth, who went 7-5-1 with a .922 save percentage last season for the Kings. That’s an excellent save percentage, but in a limited sample size. In fact, Enroth was pretty frustrated at how little he played behind Jonathan Quick. Apparently, he didn’t sign in Los Angeles to start just 13 games.
“I really thought they were going to play me more,” he told the L.A. Times. “If you sign a guy for $1.2 million, you’re not going to play him 13 games, in my opinion. You should play him 20 or 25. I thought I earned more games, obviously. I played pretty solid in the games I got, but I got a lot of breaks in between games too, so it’s tough to get a groove going.”
Enroth played a lot more in 2014-15, when he started 44 games total for the Sabres and Stars. But his save percentage was just .903 for Buffalo and .906 for Dallas. So in reality, the Kings took a bit of a chance when they picked him to replace Martin Jones. The gamble was that his numbers would improve on a better defensive team, and that’s exactly what his numbers did.
At least, that’s the theory. It’s hard to say for sure if his numbers improved for that reason, or if he just played better. Or, maybe it was because he didn’t have such a heavy workload. Again, this is the hard part for general managers. With goalies, there are always so many variables to consider.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to sit out the first day of free agency.
“We’re not going to be looking that day,” GM Joe Sakic told the Denver Post. “As the summer goes on, we’ll see what good fits are. But on the July 1, don’t expect us to go after any big long-term deals. Within our own, we’re going to discuss what we have within, but outside on July 1 we’re not going to go after a big splash.”
This summer, after missing the playoffs for a second straight year, their priorities will be getting restricted free agents Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie under contract.
Related: UFA of the Day: Mikkel Boedker
Glen Gulutzan knows he’s been given an incredible opportunity. The Calgary Flames may have struggled last year, and they haven’t been a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for a while, but they’ve been building something, and now he gets to be their head coach.
“A really good, young base is what I see here, and then anchored by a defense,” Gulutzan said today at his introductory press conference.
“For me, it’s a team that’s on the cusp.”
A lot of people see the same thing. Up front, the Flames have three talented youngsters in Johnny Gaudreau, 22, Sean Monahan, 21, and Sam Bennett, 19. On the back end, there’s Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton. If the general manger can find a goalie, there’s no reason Calgary shouldn’t challenge for the playoffs next year.
Speaking of the GM, Brad Treliving called Gulutzan a “perfect match” for his roster.
“This is an individual who’s smart, he’s intelligent about the game, tactically, structurally,” said Treliving. “The interpersonal skills is what jumped out to me, his ability to communicate to people, his ability to drive players.”
Gulutzan has already been a head coach in the NHL. He spent two seasons behind the bench in Dallas, from 2011-13, but never made the playoffs. The past three seasons, he’s gained knowledge as an assistant in Vancouver, for one year under John Tortorella (alongside Mike Sullivan), the next two under Willie Desjardins.
How has he changed since his time with the Stars?
“When I was hired in Dallas, I was two years removed from the East Coast League and I’d spent two years in the American Hockey League,” Gulutzan recalled. “I was a young guy, I was 39. It was a great experience. That was my introduction to the NHL. When you’re a head coach, it’s a trial by fire. I could write you a long list of what I know I did well, I could write you a list of what I’d change. At the end of the day, the biggest thing is experience.”
In Calgary, Gulutzan replaces Bob Hartley, the 2014-15 Jack Adams Award winner who was fired because Treliving wanted the Flames, among other things, to have the puck more.
Not surprisingly, the first question Gulutzan got asked today concerned possession.
“Possession has become a popular word,” he said. “For me, what possession is, it’s not always having the puck, because you don’t have it all the time. What we want to be is a real connected group here. When I say connected, we want to be connected in fives in all three zones. We want to defend fast, we are going to defend fast. We’re going to utilize the assets that we have here. In defending fast, you want to get the puck back fast, you want to get it out of your end.”
Sound familiar? It should.
The hope is that the Flames will spend less time in their own end, meaning more time on the attack. Not exactly rocket science, but all the best teams aspire to it.
“There will definitely be a little bit of style change in how we play,” Gulutzan said. “It will lead to an exciting game. It’ll be an exciting, connected team that you’re going to see here. I’m looking forward to it.”
If you can’t move the puck, you’re not going to be very successful in the NHL.
In the end, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a defense corps that may have lacked in the intimidation department, but they could sure get that puck going.
And that right there is why the Coyotes have targeted Alex Goligoski, going so far as to send the Stars a fifth-round draft pick for the privilege of exclusively negotiating with the pending UFA blue-liner.
“I think he’s the perfect fit for our team with where we’re at with our young group of forwards,” new GM John Chayka said, per NHL.com. “They need someone who plays the new age of defense, which is transition to offense and getting the puck up to our forwards and joining the rush and supporting the attack.”
Yes, blocking shots, winning battles along the wall, and clearing the front of the net is still important. If you’re a defensive liability, if you’re all over the map in your own end, if you’re soft in one-on-ones, you can’t be out there. Or, at the very least you have to be sheltered (see: Justin Schultz). But the best teams have d-men that can start the attack quickly, then jump up and get involved. And the tactics they employ encourage it.
Not sold yet?
OK, consider the last three Stanley Cup-winning goals:
2016, starring Kris Letang
2015, starring Duncan Keith
2014, starring Alec Martinez
What a coincidence!
Chayka said of Goligoski, “He’s a very versatile player that our coaching staff would really enjoy.”
The Coyotes better put on quite the sell job, because a few other coaching staffs would enjoy him, too.
Related: ‘They play so slow’