Jason Brough

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 21:  Head coach Glen Gulutzan of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on November 21, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Gulutzan sees great promise in the Flames, a ‘team that’s on the cusp’

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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 manager 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.”

Goligoski ‘plays the new age of defense,’ and that’s why the Coyotes want him

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Goligoski #33 of the Dallas Stars shoots the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on February 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Stars 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

If you can’t move the puck, you’re not going to be very successful in the NHL.

The New York Rangers learned that this year. So did the Boston Bruins. They weren’t the only ones either.

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’

More changes for the Panthers, who’ve revamped their scouting department

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Lawson Crouse poses after being selected eleventh overall by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

More changes to the Florida Panthers’ hockey operations to pass along this morning.

From a press release:

Jason Bukala has been named Co-Director of Amateur Scouting while Al Tuer has been named Head Pro Scout.

Bukala spent the last five seasons with the Panthers as assistant head amateur scout while Tuer spent the last six years as a professional scout.

Additionally, the Panthers announced the hiring of Toby O’Brien as Co-Director of Amateur Scouting.

These moves, of course, follow the firing of Scott Luce, the Panthers’ director of player personnel. Luce had just been promoted into that role a year ago; he’d been their director of scouting the previous five seasons.

But new GM Tom Rowe “wanted to get a different voice at the top.” He told the Sun-Sentinel, “We’re going through a process of bringing in new people, changing things up a little.”

And today we saw the results of that process. From their website, here’s the Panthers’ new scouting hierarchy:


Related: Florida adds to crowded front office, promotes Mahovlich

Kings name Kopitar captain, so what now for Brown? (Updated)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 24:  Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings arrive with the Stanley Cup on the red carpet prior to the 2014 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Anze Kopitar has officially been named the new captain of the Los Angeles Kings. He’ll take the ‘C’ from Dustin Brown, who’s worn it since 2008.

It was reported in late May that Brown would be relieved of the captaincy, so today’s announcement was not unexpected. Kopitar, 28, is about to start an eight-year, $80 million contract extension, while Brown, 31, is coming off a second straight season in which he scored just 11 goals.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi is scheduled to address the media later today. When he does, expect him to be asked about Brown’s future with the club.

Brown is signed through 2021-22 for a cap hit of $5.875 million. His salary next season will be $7 million. Which is to say, even if the Kings wanted to trade him, and even if they were willing to assume part of his contract, they may not find a taker.

And per CapFriendly, this is what a buyout would like:



A couple of tweets from Lombardi’s conference call:

Canucks undecided on buying out Burrows and/or Higgins

WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 12:  Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks congratulates Chris Higgins #20 on his game-winning goal in shootout action in an NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on March 12, 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks have not yet decided if they’ll buy out veteran forwards Alex Burrows and/or Chris Higgins.

GM Jim Benning told Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy that what happens in free agency could be a factor. Benning is expected to try and add a top UFA winger like Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, or Kyle Okposo.

And that’s where it could get a bit tricky. The Canucks can start interviewing free agents on June 25, but they can’t officially sign them until July 1, after the buyout window ends June 30. So those could be an interesting few days for Benning. He’ll have to gain a good idea of his chances of landing one of his targets.

Burrows, 35, and Higgins, 33, each have a year left on their contracts, with cap hits of $4.5 million and $2.5 million, respectively. Buying out the former would mean a $2.5 million cap hit next season, and a $1 million hit in 2017-18. Buying out the latter would mean an $833,333 hit in each of the next two seasons.

Besides buyouts, other options include trading one or both of them (if possible, which it might not be), or keeping one or both of them.

Burrows had just nine goals in 79 games last season, though he did finish fourth on the team with 135 shots.

Higgins had just three goals in 33 NHL games. He spent part of the season with AHL Utica.

Related: Higgins clears waivers, assigned to AHL