Mike Halford

Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (34) stops a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) in the first period of Game 3 in a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Wings pick Salajko to replace longtime goalie coach Bedard

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Another significant move on Jeff Blashill’s coaching staff in Detroit — on Tuesday, the club announced Jeff Salajko has been promoted from AHL Grand Rapids to become the Red Wings’ new goalie coach.

Salajko, 41, takes over from veteran Jim Bedard, who’d been with the Detroit organization for the last 19 seasons.

Though there was little doubt Petr Mrazek was Detroit’s goalie of the future, this Salajko hire essentially cements it. The two worked together extensively with the Griffins over the last few years, and were in tandem for the club’s Calder Cup win in 2013.

Bedard and Howard were close. Not long after signing his six-year, $31.75 million extension, Howard thanked Bedard for having “a lot of faith in me,” and “[giving] me the ball four years ago and let me run with it.”

Salajko’s work goes beyond Mrazek, however. He’s also worked with farmhands Tom McCollum and Jared Coreau. Last year, the two goaltenders finished top-10 in the AHL in both goals-against average and save percentage.

As mentioned above, this is only the latest shift on Blashill’s staff.

Earlier, former B’s assistant Doug Houda replaced the outgoing Tony Granato, who’s now the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. Blashill’s other assistant from last year, Pat Ferschweiler, has been re-assigned and will work out of the press box next season.

 

Former first-rounder Bleackley facing possibility of re-entering draft

2014 NHL Draft - Round 1
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Two years ago, Conner Bleackley was taken 23rd overall by Colorado at the 2014 draft.

And it’s pretty much been downhill ever since.

After getting picked, his WHL Red Deer coach, Brent Sutter, said Bleackley wasn’t ready for NHL hockey. Bleackley then arrived at his first Avs camp out of shape, and was sent packing early. Colorado never signed him to an entry-level deal, shipping him to Arizona as part of the Mikkel Boedker trade at this year’s deadline.

Bleackley learned of the trade while recovering from a broken kneecap.

Two weeks after returning, he suffered a season-ending wrist tendon laceration.

Which brings us to the present.

Bleackley has until June 1 to reach a deal with the Coyotes. If he doesn’t, he’ll go back into the draft for a second time — something you don’t see very often.

“If that does happen, I think two teams would’ve made mistakes,” Bleackley said, per the Calgary Herald. “Whether I’m taken in the fourth round, fifth, seventh, not at all, or in the first round, my job doesn’t change — that’s to be a hockey player.”

Bleackley could take optimism from the case of Kyle Wood.

Wood, like Bleackley, was taken by Colorado at the ’14 draft. Wood, like Bleackley, never received a contract from the Avs and Wood, along with Bleackley, was shipped to the Coyotes in the aforementioned Boedker deal.

In March, Arizona signed Wood to a entry-level deal.

Bleackley is hoping for something similar. And hey, he did still manage to score 46 points in 55 games this year, which is good production given all his health issues.

He remains convinced he’s still a prospect worth investing in.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot left to give,” Bleackley said. “A lot of people may have counted me out already … but you won’t be able to convince me otherwise until it’s all said and done.”

Arizona’s Rieder hurt at worlds, expected to miss a month

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
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Coming off a career year, Tobias Rieder was looking forward to representing the German national team at the world hockey championships in Russia.

Unfortunately for him, his tournament has ended early.

Rieder has been knocked out of the worlds with a lower-body injury and will be sidelined for a month, Coyotes GM John Chayka told the team website.

“Tobi has a long summer to recover and get his training in,” Chayka said. “We expect him to be ready to go at training camp in September at 100 percent.”

Rieder, 23, is coming off a solid campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 37 points in 82 games. He was one of just two Coyotes to play in every game this year, and averaged over 17 minutes a night.

Looking ahead, it’s fair to speculate Rieder’s injury could make him questionable for Team Europe selection for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

He wasn’t named to the initial 16-man roster, but was considered to be in the mix for one of the final seven spots.

Canucks sign former Coyotes draftee Laplante

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Yan Pavel Laplante, 62nd pick overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, poses for a portrait during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Vancouver has added one of the top scorers from the Quebec League, inking Yan-Pavel Laplante to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Laplante, 21, was originally selected by Arizona in the third round of he 2013 draft, but went unsigned and re-entered the draft two years later.

He wasn’t picked in his second go-round.

That paved the way for him to play a final QMJHL season as an overager with Gatineau, and he fared well: 34 goals and 65 points in 63 games, finishing tied for 17th in the league in goals.

The Canucks may have been drawn to Laplante’s aggressive, physical game — he fought four times this year — as well as his pedigree as a former touted prospect. In ’13, Laplante shot up the pre-draft rankings while dealing with a serious shoulder injury.

 

Sabres name assistant coach Lambert AHL Rochester bench boss

KELOWNA, CANADA - JANUARY 16: Head coach Dan Lambert of Kelowna Rockets speaks to a referee at the whistle during third period against the Seattle Thunderbirdson January 16, 2015 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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Buffalo made a coaching change at the American League level on Monday, moving Dan Bylsma’s assistant — Dan Lambert — to the head coaching gig down in AHL Rochester, where he’ll replace Randy Cunneyworth.

“We had a plan in place going into last season to eventually promote Dan to head coach of the Americans and transition Randy back to player development,” Sabres GM Tim Murray said in a release. “With his experience as a Sabres assistant last season, we felt Dan was ready to take on the added responsibility of being a head coach and implementing our organizational philosophy in Rochester.”

Lambert, 46, joined the Sabres last season to reconnect with Bylsma. Lambert and Bylsma were teammates in both the AHL and IHL in the early- to mid-90’s and, when Bylsma was out of coaching two years ago, Lambert brought him on board to serve as a guest coach in WHL Kelowna.

With today’s move(s), there is a position on Bylsma’s staff at the NHL level that needs to be filled. Given the fluidity of the coaching market in the last few weeks, it’ll be curious to see who Buffalo targets for the job.

The Sabres were reportedly interested in ex-Sens assistant Luke Richardson prior to hiring Bylsma, but it’s believed Richardson wants a head coaching gig, not an assistant’s position.

What’s more, he’s believed to be in the running for the vacant Anaheim gig.