Author: Mike Halford

Finland v Russia - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

Sharks sign Finnish scorer Donskoi


The San Jose Sharks have agreed to terms with Finnish forward Joonas Donskoi, per Sports Consulting Group agent Scott Bartlett.

It’s a two-year pact, with Finnish news outlet Ilta-Sanomat reporting an average annual value of $925,000.

Donskoi, 23, is coming off a banner 2014-15 campaign in which he scored 49 points in 58 games for SM-liiga club Karpat, then captured the Jari Kurri Trophy as playoff MVP.

A former Florida draftee (99th overall, 2010), Donskoi followed up his successful season with Karpat by scoring eight points in eight games for Finland at the World Hockey Championships. Donskoi finished third on the team in scoring, three back of Florida’s Jussi Jokinen.

This is the second young veteran San Jose has scooped out of Europe in as many years. Last summer, the club did very well in getting Swedish forward Melker Karlsson out of SHL club side Skelleftea; Karlsson went on to have a solid freshman campaign for the Sharks, scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 53 games.

Report: Sinden has role expanded in Bruins GM search

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins

Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Sinden, who coached the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 1970, has reportedly had his “senior advisor” role expanded in the wake of Peter Chiarelli’s firing — and is now helping in the club’s subsequent search for a new GM.

From the Boston Herald:

According to a well-informed NHL source, team owner Jeremy Jacobs, concerned that both son Charlie and Neely lack experience running an NHL franchise, also has asked the 82-year-old Sinden to play a larger role than in recent years.

Sinden might be involved in the selection of the new GM. That, of course, is widely expected to be assistant GM Don Sweeney.

In addition to his stints as head coach, Sinden served as Boston’s GM for 28 years and 17 as club president (a role he undertook in 1989.) It wasn’t until the summer of 2006 when he “retired” into his current consulting role which, according to the Herald, had Sinden frequently working out of his second home in Florida.

“I think [Jacobs] just wanted someone to be a sounding board and an advisor,” a source told the Herald.

Boston’s search for a new GM has been methodical thus far. Sweeney is the leading (and, importantly, the in-house) candidate, but the club appears to be leaving no stone unturned; Boston has already interviewed former Caps GM George McPhee and was reportedly denied permission to speak with Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton.

Report: Ex-Sabres coach Nolan in talks for WHL Vancouver gig

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres
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Ted Nolan might not be out of work for long.

Nolan, dismissed from the head coaching gig in Buffalo last month, has reportedly been in talks with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants about their vacant bench boss job, per The Province.

Nolan, 57, has extensive experience at the junior level. Prior to his first stint in the NHL in the mid-90s, Nolan achieved great success in OHL Sault Ste. Marie and replicated that success nearly 10 years later in the Quebec League, helping Moncton advance all the way to the Memorial Cup Final in 2006.

It’s unclear how serious talks are with the Giants but, per a source of The Province’s Steve Ewen, Nolan is interested in the job that’s been vacant since former Jets head coach Claude Noel was dismissed in March.

As for how Nolan’s contractual status would be sorted?

It’s difficult to get hard info on coaching salaries, but the consensus seems to be that an NHL head coaching gig starts in the $700,000 range. A major junior job is usually in the $100,000 range.

Noel still had a year left on his Winnipeg Jets’ contract, and, as the story goes, he kept getting that money when he joined the Giants after Ward was let go. Vancouver, in turn, paid Winnipeg the equivalent of a WHL coaching wage.

Nolan signed a three-year extension with Buffalo in March of 2014, and has two years left on the deal.

Report: Oilers to announce McLellan hire this week

Todd McLellan

Edmonton is set to name Todd McLellan as its new head coach this week, according to sources of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

McLellan, 47, would inherit a team that went 24-44-14 last season — the third-worst record in the league — under Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson, who took over as an interim bench boss in mid-December (no word yet on what Nelson’s future has in store.)

Despite those ugly numbers, the Edmonton situation has to be appealing for McLellan. He’ll not only get to further work with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle — the trio combined to win gold for Team Canada on Sunday at the World Championships — but will also inherit the No. 1 overall pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, which the Oilers will use to select OHL Erie phenom and “generational talent” Connor McDavid.

McLellan has spent the last seven seasons in San Jose, making the playoffs six times while recording at least 40 wins every year (and three 50-win campaigns.) A former assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit, McLellan’s been pegged as the frontrunner for the Edmonton job for a while; in early May, new Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli flew to the Worlds in the Czech Republic to interview him for the head coaching gig and the Edmonton Sun reported both Hall and Eberle had been asking “a lot of questions” of McLellan’s former player, Team Canada d-man Brent Burns, while also praising their experience under the ex-Sharks bench boss.

Assuming the Sportsnet report is accurate and McLellan does get the Oilers gig, the team will also get an assistant coach as well. In speaking with the Sun, McLellan acknowledged he already has a hire in mind: Jay Woodcroft, his longtime right-hand man in San Jose.

“Jay, if I get the opportunity to move on, will be part of my staff. I believe in him that much,” McLellan explained. “I think it’s really important when you find a guy that you can trust and who can keep you organized and prepared and works his butt off.”

Per Sportsnet, the announcement date hasn’t been finalized yet, but McLellan could be introduced as the new head coach as early as Tuesday.

Coyotes clean house, fire AHL GM and coaching staff

Don Maloney

In advance of their AHL affiliate moving to Springfield next season, the Arizona Coyotes have relieved the entire Portland Pirates coaching staff — Ray Edwards, John Slaney and Trent Whitfield — of its duties.

Edwards, who also served as the team’s GM, had been with the Coyotes organization since the days of the San Antonio Rampage affiliation, and was given an extension last spring (that also included his promotion to GM.)

“Ray is a good man,” said Pirates Chief Operating Officer Brad Church in a statement, per the Maine Hockey Journal. “I’d been hands on for the last season and a half and I thought as GM he did a good job on surrounding the prospects with quality character veterans and put together a competitive team with what he was given by the Coyotes.”

Slaney, an ex-NHL defenseman, had spent the last four seasons as Edwards’ assistant. Whitfield, who was playing with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate up until 2013, was in his first year behind the bench.

The move comes with Arizona eying some potentially significant front office maneuvers this offseason. Sean Burke, the club’s goalie coach and assistant to GM Don Maloney, is interviewing for other gigs across the league and it’s expected former Sabres GM Darcy Regier, brought aboard last season, will take on a more prominent role (per the MHJ, Regier had already assumed some of Edwards’ duties as AHL GM.)