Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Habs sign Quebec League sniper Waked

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On Friday, Montreal agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal with QMHJL Rouyn-Noranda forward Antoine Waked.

Waked, 20, is coming off a strong season in which he racked up 80 points in 67 games. He finished tied for ninth in the league in goals, with 39, in what was something of a surprise. Previously, the Quebec native had never scored more than 15 goals in a campaign, suggesting Waked could be the prototypical late bloomer.

An undrafted free agent, Waked had been tied to the Habs earlier this season, with reports he’d receive an ELC at the end of his junior campaign.

With pressure on, Ken Holland is scouting more than ever

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The last time Detroit picked inside the top 10, the year was 1991. The selection was Martin Lapointe.

Suffice to say much has changed since then.

For a quarter century, the Red Wings didn’t need to put a ton of effort into the top end of the draft. They often picked in the mid-to-late 20s — if they were in the first round at all — and did most of their work in the late rounds.

Now, things have changed again.

Detroit finished 25th overall and has a 6.7 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection at the June draft in Chicago. If the Red Wings don’t land one of the top three selections, they will pick at No. 7, 8, 9 or 10.

And, accordingly, GM Ken Holland is prepping for all types of scenarios.

“It’s probably the most (Holland) has scouted since he’s been GM,” assistant GM Kris Draper said, per MLive. “I’ve done a lot of scouting this year. Being in Michigan, you’re in an ideal situation to see a lot of the top kids.

“It’s been a great opportunity to see a lot of high-end names in the draft.”

This is a hugely important draft for Holland. He’s come under fire in recent years for questionable free agent acquisitions — veterans like Stephen Weiss, Jordin Tootoo, Brad Richards, Carlo Colaiacovo — which, in turn, have tied into a larger criticism. The one in which Holland’s accused of torpedoing the club’s future by continually chasing the now-defunct playoff streak.

And that, in turns, ties into an even larger criticism.

That Holland won’t entertain the rebuild idea at all.

“We’re going to continue to try and be competitive, we’re going to continue to try and make the playoffs and our ultimate goal is to eventually be a Cup contender,” Holland said a few months ago. “To me, rebuild means eight to 10 years, and there are teams that have made the playoffs one year in 10 while rebuilding.”

Which brings us back to the draft.

The two days in Chicago will be profoundly important. Holland has an opportunity not just to get an impact player in the top-10, but also walk away with a large collection of talent.

In addition to their own selections, the Wings added three third-round picks by selling off Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Jurco at the deadline.

“Somebody told me it’s the most picks we’ve had in a draft since 2002,” said Holland. “Usually we go into these drafts with five or six picks, (because) we’ve traded picks away.”

The end goal? Stockpile options that can hopefully join a youth movement that includes Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

“These moves that we made for these draft picks will allow us to pick more players,” said Holland, “and hopefully some of them will end up as Red Wings down the road.”

Related: It’s going to be a very different draft for Detroit

Rangers won’t let Drury interview for Sabres GM gig

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As a former player and well-regarded young executive, there was a fit for Chris Drury in Buffalo’s front office.

Of course, there’s the exact same fit with the Rangers.

That’s why today’s news can’t come as a huge surprise. Per Sportsnet and TSN, New York has turned down Buffalo’s request to interview Drury for its vacant general manager gig.

Drury, 40, has spent the last two years climbing the Rangers’ executive depth chart. He was brought aboard in 2015 as the club’s director of player development and, a year later, was promoted to assistant GM under Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers aren’t the only ones enamored by Drury’s front office skills. Recently, USA Hockey tabbed him — along with Bill Guerin — as the braintrust responsible for building Team USA’s entry in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

As mentioned above, it was easy to see why the Sabres were interested. Drury played three seasons in Buffalo, served as team captain, and the club appears primed to make a splash with its next hire after dismissing Tim Murray.

Drury, of course, spent four seasons with the Rangers and also wore the “C.”

Sutter won’t retire from coaching, willing to join a rebuild

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Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.

But that’s not happening.

In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.

Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.

In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.

Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.

That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.

History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.

That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.

“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”

McPhee won’t bring Stanley, Vegas’ lucky golden rooster, to draft lottery

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There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:

[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.

And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.

The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.