Author: Mike Halford

Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers

Oilers re-sign AHL farmhands Hunt, Miller

Edmonton has agreed to new one-year deals with defenseman Brad Hunt and forward Andrew Miller, the club announced on Monday.

Hunt, 26, appeared in 11 games for the OIlers last season, scoring a goal and three points. Miller, also 26, scored six points in nine games — a pretty good point total in a season which he impressed offensively at the AHL level, having scored 60 points in 63 games with the Oklahoma City Barons.

It’s expected that both will serve as depth options next year, and will spend most of their time with Edmonton’s new AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if Miller gets an extended look at the NHL level given how he scored in an admittedly small sample size last season.

Despite ‘win right now’ mentality, Sharks unlikely to shop No. 9 pick at draft

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach

Even though they hired a veteran head coach in Peter DeBoer — who, upon taking the job, said his expectation is to “win right now” — the San Jose Sharks don’t sound as though they’ll be entertaining offers for the ninth overall pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

“The strength of this draft year, it impacted some of our decisions this season,” GM Doug Wilson said, per “We were not going to move our first-round pick regardless.

“The chance to add a high-end quality player [in the draft] was not something we were going to compromise on.”

While this approach fits with the “tomorrow team” label Wilson put on his team prior to last season, there was some thought the Sharks could have altered their philosophy, largely based on what DeBoer said upon being introduced in late May.

“I think if you enter the San Jose Sharks organization, like I am as the head coach, the expectation is to win right now,” he said. “Regardless of the ages or the birth certificates of the players, there’s a tradition here of winning and of challenging to go deep into the playoffs. That’s my expectation. I think that’s [GM Doug Wilson’s] expectation, and I don’t think anyone’s looking for anything less than that here.”

DeBoer then predicted a “big bounce-back” for the Sharks after they missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. That belief is based partly on a veteran core group of players — Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic — who will (presumably) return next season, and not so they can be part of a rebuild.

But even with that core group in place, Wilson was adamant he wants to stockpile future talent at what’s expected to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

“We see it as a very good draft,” Wilson said. “It was forecast as a good draft and it’s playing out that way.”

Less than three weeks to draft, Eichel remains undecided about going pro

Jack Eichel

CHICAGO — Call it posturing if you want.

But if you do, be sure to mention the lack of wavering.

With less than three weeks before he’ll be chosen second overall by the Sabres at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel continued to insist — even after participating in the Buffalo-based scouting combine — there’s still no decision on whether he’ll turn pro next year, or return to Boston University for his sophomore campaign.

“There’s a lot of pros and cons about going both places,” Eichel said Monday as the top draft prospects met the media at the United Center. “It’s not an easy decision — that’s why I haven’t really made it yet.”

Eichel, who has already stated he’ll announce his decision after the draft, was then pressed further on exactly when that will happen.

And, on cue, he offered up the same reply he’s given in the past.

“After the draft,” he said. “Probably sooner than later. I’d like to know what I’m doing this summer. Probably pretty quickly after the draft, I’ll finalize my decision.”

Talks then turned to what would bring Eichel back to school. The most obvious thing, of course, is what was left on the table — he and the Terriers fell agonizingly short of a national title, losing to Providence in the Frozen Four finale.

There’s also the fact BU named Eichel an assistant captain for next season at their end-of-year awards banquet.

“There’s some unfinished business,” he explained. “It was definitely tough to lose the last game, and I think that’s one of the lures of coming back — we didn’t graduate too many guys. Obviously we lost our goalie [Matt O’Connor, signed in Ottawa] and two of our top-six forwards [including Evan Rodrigues, who signed in Buffalo].

“But coach Quinn did a great job of recruiting, so we’re bringing in a lot of great players. I think we’ll be another competitor next year.”

During his media availability, Eichel made it clear he knows the Sabres are taking him — “obviously nothing’s set in stone, but it seems like Buffalo is where I’d be,” he said — so the decision is this: It’s either Buffalo or BU next season.

There was no “I need to see who takes me first”-type talk and, as mentioned above, this comes after participating in the combine, during which Sabres GM Tim Murray revealed that, during the team’s interview, Eichel proclaimed he’d eventually be better than No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid.

That such information became public took Eichel a bit off guard:

Of course, there are few who actually expect Eichel to return to BU. Outside of winning a national title, the reigning Hobey Baker winner has little to accomplish at the NCAA level. Coaches, teammates and his soon-to-be bench boss, Dan Bylsma, have all said he’s ready for the pros, and an impressive performance for Team USA at the world championships cemented that. But there is a certain hesitancy in Eichel when it comes to committing to the NHL and, by proxy, the Buffalo Sabres.

Here’s his answer to a question asking if, had BU won the national title, the decision to go pro would be a no-brainer.

“No. I don’t really make decisions that lightly. I don’t think I’d be able to leave BU that quickly.”