The hiring of Ray Shero as general manager of the New Jersey Devils most likely means Martin Brodeur will not be returning to the organization where he spent most of his playing career.
“Especially with the change (the Devils) made, I think it’s a great opportunity for me to take a step back and go somewhere – or stay somewhere – that I’ll be able to learn and do things I want to do and try to learn as much as possible and who knows what the future,” Brodeur told northjersey.com. “But, it’s less and less likely it’s going to happen in New Jersey for a few years, that’s for sure.”
Brodeur, of course, does not have the same relationship with Shero as he does with former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. Though Lamoriello remains with the club as its president of hockey ops, the situation there has changed.
It’s expected Brodeur will remain with the St. Louis Blues in some sort of managerial capacity.
If the Ottawa Senators re-sign goalie Andrew Hammond — and it sounds like they intend to try — they’ll need to trade one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner.
If they decide to trade Anderson, should the Oilers be interested?
There’s no easy answer to that question, because there’s no certainty, not ever, when it comes to a goaltender. But at the very least, the veteran Anderson possesses a body of work that suggests a modicum of reliability.
In 406 NHL games for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Avalanche and Senators, Anderson has a .915 career save percentage. That’s in line with Jonathan Quick (.915 in 407 games) and Ryan Miller (.915 in 604 games). Anderson’s numbers this season, albeit in just 35 regular-season appearances, were among the best in the league. He was even better in the playoffs.
If there’s a concern about Anderson, it’s his age — he’ll be 34 next week. He’s had his share of injuries as well. But his contract is reasonable, with three years left at a cap hit of $4.2 million. Edmonton would pay that in a heartbeat to stabilize a position that badly needs to be stabilized.
Now, it’s possible the Senators try first to deal Lehner. So, might the Oilers be interested in him? Possibly. But Lehner is only 23, and he’s never started more than 30 games in the NHL. For all his upside — and he has quite a bit — his inexperience may not be a great fit in Edmonton. The same goes for a guy like Cam Talbot. Great NHL numbers, but a limited body of work. Plus, Talbot’s numbers (.931 save percentage in 57 games) were compiled with the help of some pretty good defensemen. (Remember that Ben Scrivens had good numbers with the Kings before the Oilers got him.)
Another experienced goalie the Oilers could pursue this offseason is unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. We’re just not sure that would happen if Todd McLellan ends up becoming their coach.
Barry Trotz knows the Washinton Capitals’ history. He knows they’ve never won a Stanley Cup. He knows they’ve had some good teams that have come up short in big games. He knows they’ve had their shares of 3-1 series leads, only to lose in seven.
And he’s fine with that.
“We can change that history,” Trotz said today, per the Washington Post. “I do believe the Boston Red Sox won a World Series, right? They went a long stretch there, right? But they did win, right? The odds were in their favor at some point. That’s what I’m saying. The odds are in our favor. This group can do something and you want to change history, you want to change perception. You just go out and do it. I think that should motivate you. Not bring you down. That to me should be very motivating.”
It’s the Capitals’ painful playoff history — from getting swept the first time they made it to the conference finals in 1990, to getting swept the first time they made it to the finals in 1998, to winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2010, only to blow a 3-1 series lead in the first round — that, combined with the tremendous opportunity they’ll receive should they beat the Rangers, makes Wednesday’s game in New York arguably the biggest in franchise history.
Said Trotz: “I know a lot of people are going to write about hey, we haven’t done this, and when we’ve been leading two, I was reading some stuff, our record’s not very good as an organization. True. Absolutely true. But we can change that.”
A history of blowing 3-1 series leads
1987: Led the Islanders 3-1 in the first round, lost in 7
1992: Led the Penguins 3-1 in the first round, lost in 7
1995: Led the Penguins 3-1 in the first round, lost in 7
2010: Led the Canadiens 3-1 in the first round, lost in 7
Citing a “growing concern over the lack of goal-scoring,” Sportsnet’s Damien Cox (video) reported this weekend that the NHLPA will bring that concern to the table when the competition committee meets in June.
Cox was short on any specifics, but it’s worth noting that, in 2012, NHL general managers debated whether there needed to be a “re-set” on obstruction. Fast forward to 2015 and the league is coming under increasing fire for what many see as a return to the bad old days of clutch-and-grab hockey.
Or, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks put it, “the NHL has decided fans and the sport are better served when its officials turn blind eyes toward the hooking, holding and obstruction fouls for which there was supposed to be zero tolerance coming out of the canceled 2004-05 season.”
Calling the games tighter isn’t the only way to increase scoring. We’ll have to wait and see what, if any, new ideas the players bring to the table, and whether the league’s representatives on the committee share the same concerns.
When the Anaheim Ducks drafted Hampus Lindholm sixth overall in 2012, it was somewhat surprising in the sense that NHL Central Scouting had him ranked behind three European skaters — Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Collberg — and the young defenseman from Sweden was taken before all three of them.
Heck, even Lindholm was surprised. “It’s like, whoa, so early,” he said at the time.
Safe to say, the pick has turned out all right for the Ducks. Lindholm has been excellent in these playoffs, paired with veteran Francois Beauchemin, who believes the 21-year-old has the ability to become one of the elite blue-liners in the NHL.
“He certainly does have the potential of becoming that type of defenseman,” Beauchemin said, per ESPN.com. “In five years from now, I’m sure Hampus will be if everything goes well and he keeps improving, obviously he’s got the capability of becoming [among] the top defensemen in the league.”
Lindholm isn’t quite in the elite category yet. He doesn’t play huge minutes like Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. But for a franchise that won its only Stanley Cup with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling the back end, and for a GM, Bob Murray, who’s been searching for “that guy” ever since those two moved on, Lindholm is clearly being groomed for big things.
Oh, and Lindholm isn’t the only talented young blue-liner in Anaheim. There’s also Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, and Simon Despres, all three just 23 years old.