Author: Jason Brough


PHT arrives in Tampa, gets soaked (oh, and today is Media Day)


So Halford and I arrived in Tampa yesterday. Within hours of our arrival, we learned about Florida thunderstorms:


Lesson learned. Take taxis everywhere.

Anyway, today is Media Day. Both teams will be available for interviews in the concourse area of Amalie Arena.

Among the themes that will probably be pursued by the throng of reporters:

— How the Blackhawks would cement their dynasty status with a victory, making it three Stanley Cups in six years. A pretty tough thing to do in the salary-cap era.

— How the Blackhawks, whether they win or lose, will face a number of tough choices this offseason.

— Is Duncan Keith tired yet? No? …….. OK, how about now?

— How the Lightning have achieved so much with such a young roster. According to the NHL’s media website, Tampa Bay’s average age is 25.6 (compared to Chicago at 28.0).

— How the Lightning will have their own tough choices to make over the next few years. Steven Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, Victor Hedman the summer after that. Can they sign those two and keep the “Triplets” too?

People are starting to wonder what’s going on with Claude Julien

Claude Julien

It’s not everyday that ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun goes on a rant, so we thought we’d share an excerpt from his latest blog post, about the Boston Bruins and the decision they still haven’t made about head coach Claude Julien:

I agreed with the Bruins’ original decision after Peter Chiarelli was fired to wait until a new general manager was hired to decide Julien’s fate. That makes sense to me.

And certainly had a new GM been hired from the outside, you would understand that he would need some time to get to know Julien before making a decision.

But the fact that the GM was an in-house promotion — and I think Don Sweeney is going to be a very good GM — what’s the wait now? What does Sweeney not know about Julien now that he didn’t know for the past eight years Julien has been behind the Bruins’ bench?

I mean, it’s getting to the point where it’s almost unfair. Make a decision, fire him or keep him, but decide already.

For the record, Sweeney said last Wednesday that he didn’t want to rush his decision on Julien.

“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion, as to where I think things need to change, and what direction we need to change as a group,” he said.

“So it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward.”

But that was nine days ago. And as LeBrun points out, Sweeney and Julien have been in the Bruins organization for years and years together. It’s not like they had to get to know each other.

Anyway, it’s unlikely we’ll have to wait much longer for the B’s to make their decision public. We’ll be surprised if they don’t make an announcement in the off days leading up to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

Related: Sweeney won’t make ‘impetuous’ decision on Julien’s future

Wings expect Franzen (concussion) to play next year

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers

The Detroit Red Wings are operating under the assumption that Johan Franzen will be fully healthy by the start of training camp.

“I’m told he’s working out every day,” GM Ken Holland told MLive yesterday. “The expectation is that over the course of the summer, he’s going to be healthy.

“I expect to see him in training camp. I expect to see him playing hockey next year. Until I hear otherwise, that’s how I’m going to proceed.”

Franzen missed the entire second half of this past season with a concussion, finishing 2014-15 with seven goals and 15 assists in 33 games.

Earlier this month, the 35-year-old winger said he was feeling better, but remained unsure if he’d be able to keep playing.

Franzen has suffered multiple concussions throughout his career. He remains under contract to the Wings through 2019-20.

Difference of opinion: Craig Button has Hanifin 12th on final draft rankings

Noah Hanifin

Did you know there are players besides Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel that will be drafted into the NHL next month?

It’s true. There are like…lots of them.

If you haven’t started learning their names yet, TSN’s Craig Button has compiled his top 100 draft-eligible prospects list.

Yes, McDavid is number one and Eichel is number two. Rounding out Button’s top 10 are Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, Ivan Provorov, Kyle Connor, Zach Werenski, Timo Meier, Brock Boeser, and Lawson Crouse.

That’s eight forwards and two defensemen. (Four from the OHL, one from the WHL, one from the QMJHL, two from the USHL, and two from the NCAA.)

Of note, Button has Boston College d-man Noah Hanifin ranked 12th overall, as Button is “not yet convinced he will make an impact in the NHL worthy of investing such a high pick.”

NHL Central Scouting had Hanifin at No. 3 among North American Skaters in its final rankings.

Devils sign Russian forward Kalinin

Sergei Kalinin

The New Jersey Devils have signed forward Sergei Kalinin to an entry-level contract, the club announced today.

From the press release:

Kalinin, 24, spent the previous five seasons with Avangard Omsk (KHL). This past year, he set career highs across the board with 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points, 49 penalty minutes and 58 games played, while serving as the club’s captain. The 6-3, 190-lb. forward has scored 31 goals and 38 assists for 69 points and 113 penalty minutes in 213 career KHL games.

It was reported last week that the Devils had offered Kalinin a contract.

The free-agent signing (Kalinin was not drafted by an NHL team) would seem to fit with new GM Ray Shero’s plans to bolster the Devils’ prospects group by means beyond the draft.

“There are only seven picks in the draft and you need to look at different areas to try to add to the competition level or depth, depending on the risk factors involved,” Shero told NJ Advance Media.