Author: Mike Halford

Travis Zajac

Zajac ‘not sure’ how Shero hire will affect future with Devils


Like many of his Devils teammates, Travis Zajac doesn’t know what the future holds with Lou Lamoriello out and Ray Shero in as GM.

“To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll be affected,” Zajac told NJ Advance Media. “I think I’m a very coachable player. Whatever they expect from me or want me to do, I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team in any way. I believe in this organization.

“I don’t see the change being too much of a problem for me. But with Ray, and when we get a new head coach, we’ll sit down and see what they expect from me. I have a lot to give still and I feel like I can still help this organization and this team.”

Zajac — who Lamoriello signed to an eight-year, $46 million extension in 2013 — has been something of a disappointment in recent campaigns and has yet to rediscover the form that saw him score 67 points in 82 games in 2009-10. Of course, that team featured the likes of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, a far cry from the offensively-challenged Devils of last season, when Zajac scored just 25 points.

To that end, he feels it’s important for Shero to add some talent that’ll help the team find the back of the net.

“We would all like to score more goals. There is no doubt about that,” he said. “We could use some help at some positions and hopefully we can get that. If not, everyone will have to elevate their game. I don’t think we’re far away from where we want to be, but you can always bring in pieces that can help.”

Holland: Wings offered Babcock max five-year deal, Blashill ‘leading candidate’ for replacement

Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings

Shortly after Mike Babcock announced he’d be leaving Detroit for Toronto — and the 50 million dollars that came with it — Red Wings GM Ken Holland met with the media and unveiled two important developments: 1) Term was an issue in retaining Babcock, and 2) Jeff Blashill, the club’s AHL bench boss in Grand Rapids, is near the top of what will be a short list of replacement candidates.

“My offer last June was for a four-year term, and again in January with a four-year term,” Holland explained of his negotiations with Babcock. “When we started the process, he wanted to go out and talk to teams that had interest, and then I said yesterday [Tuesday] morning ‘Mike, the best I can do is five years.’

“When you’ve been in the same city as long as I have and as long as Mike has, you don’t get much longer term than four or five years. It’s certainly part of the decision-making process for Mike, the term he was able to get in Toronto, versus what we were prepared to give.”

Toronto gave Babcock eight years of term, with a front-loaded contract that could see his average annual salary hit $8 million over his first three seasons.

Shifting away from contract negotiations, Holland said Wednesday was a day of “mixed emotions” while thanking Babcock for his 10 seasons in Detroit. The Wings GM said he didn’t feel like he was “left at the altar” by Babcock, but did acknowledge disappointment in losing him.

Holland was then quick to point out that with Babcock’s decision made, the Red Wings now must make some of their own.

Chief among those will be a replacement head coach, which Holland was asked about at length — specifically, queries about Blashill, who’s long been thought of as the head-coach-in-waiting, having previously served as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit before achieving a high level of success (and a Calder Cup championship) in Grand Rapids.

Holland said that he’ll start devising a shortlist of candidates, but noted that his familiarity with Blashill put him out in front of the field.

“He’s certainly a leading candidate,” Holland explained. “I haven’t made a final decision — I need to spend some time with him before I know anything.

“Certainly with Blash, we’ve worked together.”

Finally, and perhaps fittingly, Holland acknowledged exactly why he had mixed emotions on Wednesday. While he understood that “all good things must come to an end,” he also admitted just how talented a bench boss the organization was losing.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches in the league,” he explained. “If not the greatest coach.”

Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million

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Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs have their man — Mike Babcock has reportedly agreed to a eight-year deal worth “around” $50 million.

The deal will make Babcock the NHL’s highest-paid coach (no kidding), with an average annual value of roughly $6.25 million (TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports Babcock’s salary in the first three years could be as high as $8 million annually.)


Specific contractual details have yet to be released but, regardless, the move is a gargantuan one in Toronto president Brendan Shanahan’s massive rebuild, which began last month with a wholesale housecleaning that included firing GM Dave Nonis, head coach Peter Horachek, director of pro scouting Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes.

Shanahan later fired a large portion of the club’s scouting department and, yesterday, assistant GM Kyle Dubas announced a significant shakeup of the AHL Marlies coaching staff.

As for Babcock, the move to Toronto officially ends his 10-year stint with Detroit, during which he racked up 458 wins and a Stanley Cup. The move also reunites him with Shanahan, his former Red Wings player — Shanny scored 40 goals in his lone year under Babcock in 2005-06 — and returns Babcock to the province of Ontario, where he was born.

UPDATE: Toronto has made it official…

Per the club’s release, Babcock and Shanahan will conduct an introductory presser on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.

Here’s the latest info on compensation headed Detroit’s way…

Habs rookie de la Rose (wrist surgery) out three months

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Five

Jacob de la Rose’s first NHL campaign ended on a sour note.

De la Rose, who celebrated his 20th birthday today, underwent wrist surgery that will sideline him for the next three months, the Canadiens announced. The club didn’t reveal when he sustained the injury.

As mentioned, the procedure is a tough way for de la Rose to finish what was an otherwise good rookie campaign. The 34th overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, he appeared in 33 games for the Habs during the regular season, scoring six points while averaging 13:48 TOI. In the playoffs, de la Rose struggled — no points in 12 games — but still received over 12 minutes per night while playing a bottom-six forward role.

It’s expected that de la Rose will be ready in time for September’s training camp, where he’ll be in the drivers’ seat to retain his spot at the NHL level.

Flyers add to crowded blueline, sign veteran KHLer Medvedev (Update: one year, $3M)


The Philadelphia Flyers made a rather intriguing pickup on Wednesday, signing 32-year-old blueliner Yevgeni Medvedev out of the KHL.

Updated: Per Sportsnet, it’s a one-year pact worth $3 million.

Medvedev has spent the majority of his professional career with Ak Bars Kazan, and is regarded as one of the Russian league’s best defensemen. He’s represented his country internationally on several occasions — including each of the last four World Championships — and, domestically, has captured two Gagarin Cup league championships (2008-09, 2009-10) and has been a three-time KHL All-Star (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14).

Described by GM Ron Hextall as a solid, two-way defenseman that can move the puck, Medvedev is a relatively tall, lanky d-man (6-foot-3, 187 pounds) that has good skating ability for his size.

Given his age and experience level, it’s safe to assume Philly signed Medvedev to play in the top-six. In light of that, GM Ron Hextall has some decisions to make — Philly has six d-men under contract for next year (Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Nick Schultz, Radko Gudas), still has to decide the future of RFA Michael Del Zotto and also signed Swiss prospect Christian Marti to an entry-level earlier this month.

What’s more, Philly has a crop of talented prospects on the horizon — Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg — and it’s possible new head coach Dave Hakstol could be much more aggressive in activating his defense than his predecessors were.

“His teams go at the net, shoot for rebounds, make plays, and really emphasize the defense being an active part of the offense,” NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman said, per “His use of weak side [defensemen] to pinch and extend plays is a huge component to their offensive success, and defensive as well, as they don’t retreat and regroup as much as other teams did.”