Jason Brough

Canucks name Cloutier goalie coach; Melanson to remain in development capacity

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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Dan Cloutier has been named the team’s goaltending coach.

The Canucks also confirmed that their outgoing goalie coach, Roland Melanson, will remain with the club in a development capacity. In his new role, Melanson will work with the organization’s prospects, a group that includes highly touted Thatcher Demko.

“Our team and goaltenders have benefited from some of the best coaching in the league and we’re very grateful to continue that tradition with Dan and Rollie in their new roles,” said GM Jim Benning in a release. “Dan has been instrumental in the development of our goaltending prospects over the past four seasons and will now work with our NHL team on a daily basis in his new role.

“We are also very pleased to have Rollie continue to work closely with our talented, young goaltending prospects. His hard work over the past six years contributed significantly to our franchise having some of the best goaltenders in the NHL. With both Dan and Rollie, we’re confident our goaltending will continue to be a position of strength for the future.”

Cloutier, of course, tended goal for the Canucks during the West Coast Express years. Though things did not always go well when he was a player…

…as a a coach, he’s been credited, along with Melanson, for the resurgence of Jacob Markstrom, who went from clearing waivers at the beginning of the 2014-15 season to starring in the AHL to pushing Ryan Miller for the starting role in Vancouver.

Report: NHL picks Vegas for expansion

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley

The Associated Press, citing a “person with direct knowledge of the NHL’s decision,” is reporting that the league has picked Las Vegas for an expansion team.

From the Associated Press:

The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because details have not been released by the league ahead of its Board of Governors meeting on June 22. Quebec City was also considered for expansion.

A second person who had been briefed on the decision said Las Vegas was a “done deal” following the recommendation of the NHL’s executive committee. 

The 2017-18 season would be the earliest the league would expand.

Assuming the report is accurate, this is the avenue most expected the NHL to choose — expand to Las Vegas, hold off for now on Quebec City.

As mentioned, the Board of Governors is set to meet June 22 in Las Vegas, before the NHL Awards. That’s when commissioner Gary Bettman has said to expect the official word on expansion.

Related: Bill Foley is ‘9.5’ out of 10 confident that NHL will expand to Vegas

UFA of the Day: Jason Demers

Jason Demers, Justin St. Pierre

Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Jason Demers

He’s not the flashiest player, but he’s probably the best right-shot defenseman that could hit the market, and that means he’s going to get paid.

Demers, 27, had seven goals and 16 assists in 62 games for the Stars in 2015-16. He logged 20:52 of ice time per contest, spending time on both the power play and penalty kill.

Dallas GM Jim Nill has three UFA d-men to decide on: Demers, Alex Goligoski, and Kris Russell. And with right shots John Klingberg and Stephen Johns under club control, Demers could be deemed expendable. (There’s been speculation that Goligoski will be the one Nill pushes to re-sign.)

If Demers does test the market, his list of potential suitors could be a long one. The Panthers just cleared a bunch of cap space, and they’ll need to replace Erik Gudbranson after trading him to Vancouver. The Oilers badly need more capable defensemen, and their coach, Todd McLellan, knows Demers from their time together in San Jose.

Demers could end up being a consolation prize of sorts for teams that are unable to land a right-shot d-man in a trade. Kevin Shattenkirk, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, and Jacob Trouba have all heard their names comes up in rumors, but it remains to be seen if any of them will actually be moved.

Other pending UFA d-men that shoot right include Luke Schenn, Ben Lovejoy, and Roman Polak. And if the Penguins don’t qualify Justin Schultz, him too.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

Penguins are 8/1 favorites to win Cup next year


There’s been no repeat Stanley Cup winner during the salary-cap era, and none in almost two decades, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are the favorites to win the next Cup at online bookmaker Bovada.

The Pens are at 8/1. They’re closely followed by the Blackhawks and Capitals, each at 10/1. This year’s other finalist, the Sharks, are at 14/1.

The longest shots in 2016-17 are the Sabres and Maple Leafs, each at 66/1.

Here’s the full list:

Pittsburgh Penguins 8/1
Chicago Blackhawks 10/1
Washington Capitals 10/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Los Angeles Kings 14/1
San Jose Sharks 14/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 14/1
Anaheim Ducks 16/1
Dallas Stars 16/1
Detroit Red Wings 18/1
Minnesota Wild 18/1
Nashville Predators 18/1
New York Rangers 18/1
Montreal Canadiens 20/1
New York Islanders 20/1
Boston Bruins 25/1
Florida Panthers 25/1
Philadelphia Flyers 25/1
Colorado Avalanche 33/1
Calgary Flames 40/1
Edmonton Oilers 40/1
Ottawa Senators 40/1
Arizona Coyotes 50/1
Carolina Hurricanes 50/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 50/1
New Jersey Devils 50/1
Vancouver Canucks 50/1
Winnipeg Jets 50/1
Buffalo Sabres 66/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 66/1

The Penguins played great defense their own way


SAN JOSE — For all the talk about the Penguins’ balanced scoring and how Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin didn’t have to do it all anymore, it was their ability to keep the puck out of their own net that head coach Mike Sullivan spoke about after winning the Stanley Cup.

“As I’ve said to them all along, I know our team is going to score goals,” said Sullivan. “In order to win championships, you got to keep it out of your net. You have to become a team that is stingy defensively. Everybody has to buy in to that idea for us to get to where we want to go. To their credit, they did, down to a man.”

Pittsburgh finished the playoffs with a 16-8 record, and a 2.29 goals-against average. In six games against the Sharks, the Pens never allowed more than 26 shots, and that included two games that went to overtime. That sure made Matt Murray‘s job a lot easier in goal. The rookie was solid in all four of his wins during the Final, but he didn’t have to stand on his head.

And by the way, the Penguins didn’t play heavy defensive hockey, the kind the Kings used to win a couple of Cups. The Pens used their main asset — their speed — to keep the big, powerful Sharks at bay.

“Their speed, the pressure they put on with their speed,” said San Jose coach Pete DeBoer. “It’s not just their speed, they have good sticks, too. They force you into quicker decisions.”

Let that be a lesson — you don’t need to be big to play good defense. But you need to play it somehow, however you can, because good defense wins Cups.

Goals against of past seven Stanley Cup champs
2015-16 Penguins (6th, 2.43)
2014-15 Blackhawks (2nd, 2.27)
2013-14 Kings (1st, 2.05)
2012-13 Blackhawks (1st, 2.02)
2011-12 Kings (2nd, 2.07)
2010-11 Bruins (2nd, 2.30)
2009-10 Blackhawks (6th, 2.48)