Mike Halford

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

Vegas GM search down to two — Tallon, Maciver not among them


Las Vegas owner Bill Foley has narrowed his general manager search down from seven candidates to two — and while he didn’t reveal who they were, he did shed some light on their respective qualities.

“I can tell you the people we talked to are all well-known in the hockey community and are well-respected,” Foley said Monday, per the Review-Journal. “They’re all very smart and they’ve done different things for different teams.

“Some are strong on the (salary) cap. Some are strong when it comes to assessing talent. But they all have strong backgrounds.”

Foley classified the two finalists as “primary candidates,” whittled down from an original group of seven interviewees. He also added he hopes to have a decision made within the next few days. That would put Vegas’ GM search ahead of schedule — earlier this month, Foley said he hoped to have a GM in place by the beginning of August.

And while we don’t know who’s in in the mix, we do know two rumored candidates that are out.

Those would be current Florida Panthers president Dale Tallon and current Blackhawks assistant GM Norm Maciver. Tallon, who was “promoted” from the GM role in Florida this offseason, was allowed to speak with the Vegas group after Foley was granted permission by Panthers owner Vincent Viola.

But Foley never reached out.

As for Maciver — “considered one of the top hockey minds in the league,” per the Review-Journal — he wasn’t contacted by Foley either.

Maciver, who appeared in over 500 games as a player, has been Stan Bowman’s assistant in Chicago since 2012 and reportedly interviewed with Pens CEO David Morehouse about Pittsburgh’s GM gig three years ago — a job that eventually went to Jim Rutherford.

Killorn, Johansson, Schwartz scheduled to open arbitration hearings


Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn, Washington’s Marcus Johansson and St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz have been scheduled as the first three of 25 salary arbitration hearings, the NHLPA announced on Monday.

Killorn, Johansson and Schwartz are set for July 20, the first day of the arbitration window (which runs until Aug. 4).

Here’s the full list:

Arizona Coyotes
Michael Stone – August 4, 2016

Colorado Avalanche
Tyson Barrie – July 29, 2016
Mikhail Grigorenko – July 22, 2016

Detroit Red Wings
Jared Coreau *
Danny DeKeyser – July 28, 2016

Minnesota Wild
Jordan Schroeder – July 27, 2016

Nashville Predators
Calle Jarnkrok – August 4, 2016
Petter Granberg – August 3, 2016

New York Rangers
Kevin Hayes – July 27, 2016
Chris Kreider – July 22, 2016
Dylan McIlrath – July 21, 2016
Jonathan Miller – August 2, 2016

New Jersey Devils
Kyle Palmieri *

Ottawa Senators
Mike Hoffman – August 4, 2016

Philadelphia Flyers
Brandon Manning – August 2, 2016
Brayden Schenn – July 25, 2016
Jordan Weal – July 29, 2016

St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz – July 20, 2016

Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn – July 20, 2016
Vladislav Namestnikov – July 29, 2016

Toronto Maple Leafs
Frank Corrado – July 26, 2016
Peter Holland – July 25, 2016
Martin Marincin – August 2, 2016

Washington Capitals
Marcus Johansson – July 20, 2016


Detroit Red Wings

Petr Mrazek – July 27, 2016

(asterisk signifies settlement)

Schwartz, who’s hit the 25-goal mark in two of his last three seasons, has never been through arbitration before but, in 2014, sat out the early part of the Blues’ training camp while hammering out a new deal.

The two sides eventually agreed to a two-year, $4.7 million extension.

Johansson went to arbitration with the Caps last season, and was rewarded a one-year, $3.75 million deal. That came after he sought a salary of $4.75 million, while the Capitals filed a request of $3 million.

Killorn’s situation is interesting, as the 26-year-old — coming off a two-year, $5.1 million deal — has been a terrific playoff performer for the Bolts over the last two years. He’s certainly deserving of a raise, but it will be difficult for GM Steve Yzerman to negotiate, as Yzerman also needs to reach new deals for RFAs Vladislav Namestnikov, and budding star Nikita Kucherov.

Jets’ Raffl heads back to Austria after injury-ravaged year


Thomas Raffl’s North American tour is over.

Raffl, the older brother of Philly’s Michael Raffl, has returned to Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian League after spending last season with the Jets organization.

Raffl, 30, never got to play for Winnipeg, despite impressing during his training camp tryout and earning a one-year deal from the club.

He was dispatched to AHL Manitoba at the start of the year, with many assuming he’d eventually get a call-up to the Jets. But a series of injuries — separated collarbone, broken rib, broken jaw and, finally, an undisclosed lower-body ailments — totally prevented him from gaining any sort of momentum.

“Every time it looked like you were seeing the signs of his game as to why he was put under an NHL contract, as a big man trying to get his speed back up — he was back on the IR,” Moose head coach Keith McCambridge said, per the Winnipeg Sun.

At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Raffl’s size and decent offensive production in the American League (five goals, 10 points in 31 games) had some thinking he could catch on with another NHL club.

But instead, it’s back to the Red Bull team Raffl starred for prior to coming overseas. He had great success in his home country in ’14-15 — Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg, then three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

Prospects Fleury, McKeown looking to crack talented young Carolina blueline


We’ve written before about all the good, young, intriguing talent GM Ron Francis has assembled in Carolina.

Come next year, even more of it could be on display.

A defense that already features Justin Faulk (24 years old), Ryan Murphy (23), Jaccob Slavin (22), Brett Pesce (21) and Noah Hanifin (19) could get another injection of youth next season, with former first-rounder Haydn Fleury (19) and Roland McKeown (20) looking to make the jump.

McKeown was acquired from Los Angeles in the Andrej Sekera trade, and actually played alongside Fleury for Team Canada at the world juniors. Described by ‘Canes amateur scouting director Tony MacDonald as a “world-class skater,” McKeown looks like he’ll challenge for a spot with the ‘Canes this fall.

More, from the News & Observer:

The 6-1, 195-pound blueliner was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, along with the first-round pick that became Julien Gauthier, in exchange for Andrej Sekera at the 2015 trade deadline.

In his first full season in the Carolina organization, he finished third in OHL Defenseman of the Year voting after his fourth campaign with the Kingston Frontenacs, tallying 42 points as team captain and leading Kingston to the best regular-season record in the conference. He called it a “special year” and said he developed substantially “in all aspects.”

Fleury, the seventh overall pick in 2014, is currently attending his third consecutive prospects camp. He’s been brought along slower than some of Carolina’s other defensive draftees — like Hanifin, for example — but there’s reason to believe he could challenge for minutes this year.

“I went back to junior the last two years and got better at the areas I needed to get better at to give myself the best chance to make the team this fall,” Fleury said. “I’m going to come into main camp in the fall and do my best to take that spot.”

The biggest question is how many spots Carolina will have available on defense. One was cleared out when Francis bought out the final year of James Wisniewski’s contract, and it remains to be seen how big a role Czech defender Michal Jordan will play next year — if at all, as Jordan is still unsigned.

Whatever the case, though, one thing is clear. The ‘Canes blueline has a very bright future.

(Oh, and by the way, Carolina has yet another good young d-man in the system — Jake Bean, the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft.)

PHT Morning Skate: The Bruins are going to China


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

From the B’s: The Boston Bruins, in partnership with O.R.G. Packaging, will make the team’s first-ever official visit to China when they tour Beijing and Shanghai during “Bruins Global: China 2016” from July 11-23. Current Bruins players Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak along with Bruins Alumni Andrew Raycroft, Bob Sweeney and members of the Boston Bruins Youth Hockey Development Team will host several youth hockey clinics in Beijing and Shanghai.

— Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Stephane Waite has been added to Team Canada’s staff for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. (Hockey Canada)

— There are rumblings out of Switzerland that Kris Versteeg is close to signing with National League A side Biel. (Swiss Hockey News)

— Exciting times at Philly’s development camp, where prized prospects Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are gunning to make the Flyers. (Philly.com)

— After missing extensive time last year with a concussion, Blues prospect Tommy Vanelli is back in the mix at Blues development camp. (STL Today)

— Former Oilers coach Dallas Eakins says that Edmonton “deserves some winning hockey. (Sportsnet)