Defenseman Bryce Salvador hasn’t played since Nov. 10 due to a back injury and at the age of 39, there’s a real possibility that his playing career is over. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and rather than immediately seek another contract, he plans to keep his options open over the summer.
“I won’t make a decision like that until training camp or after training camp,” Salvador told The Record. “It’s too tough to make a decision like that right now.”
He’s okay with the idea of entering training camp on a tryout basis and he even joked that he could follow Scott Gomez’s path as the veteran forward didn’t sign with New Jersey until Nov. 30.
In the meantime he’s resumed skating, but his health won’t be the only factor as he has family matters that need to be taken into consideration.
It also remains to be seen how much interest the Devils have in Salvador at a time when several members of their young defensive core are primed to play a bigger role. Salvador’s first choice would be to stay with New Jersey, but he is open to finishing his career elsewhere.
Vladimir Ruzicka has decided to step down from his post as the head coach of the Czech Republic’s national team amid a bribery scandal, per the Associated Press.
“I’ve decided to stand down following a concerted media campaign directed against me since April,” Ruzicka conveyed in a statement. He also maintained that he hasn’t done anything illegal.
He allegedly accepted a bribe from Miroslav Palascak of 500,000 Czech koruna ($20,000) while coaching Slavia Prague of the Czech league in 2012-13. Palascak was quoted by the media as saying that the money was given to Ruzicka to guarantee that his son would stay on the team. Since then other parents have claimed that Ruzicka sought money from them to aide in their respective sons’ playing careers.
Ruzicka won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 as a player and has coached the Czech Republic to world titles in 2005 and 2010. He’s also a veteran of 233 career NHL games with Edmonton, Boston, and Ottawa.
Defenseman Victor Hedman need some time to develop into a player worthy of the expectations thrust upon him when he was taken with the second overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry, but he’s certainly been a big part of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
In fact, Hedman has been playing at an elite level for a little while now and it’s gotten to the point where it’s encouraged of a reexamining of Sweden’s 2014 Olympic roster decisions. He was left off that team as they went with a defensive core of Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johnny Oduya, and Henrik Tallinder. That group is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but was there really no room in there for Hedman?
Swedish coach Par Marts was the one to reject Hedman and he doesn’t regret that decision, per Aftonbladet. As he pointed out, it’s easy to criticize in hindsight and he argued that Hedman wouldn’t have gotten the ice time he deserved if he was put on the roster, in part because they leaned towards the defensive pairings in Detroit (Ericsson-Kronwall) and Chicago (Hjalmarsson-Oduya). At the same time though, plenty of star players go into the Olympics with the understanding that they won’t get the minutes that they’re accustomed to.
“I was surprised that he didn’t make the team,” Blackhawks defenseman Hjalmarsson said during Tuesday’s press availability. “Obviously he’s a good player.”
Hedman admitted to being disappointed, but he said it wasn’t difficult for him to switch his focus to Tampa Bay’s next game after finding out he wouldn’t make the team. Certainly he has plenty to be pleased about at this point as he took another step forward in 2014-15 and needs just two more wins to win the Cup.
Marts did leave the door open to him reaching out to Hedman over the summer. The fact that he didn’t make the 2014 team was eyebrow raising, but it will be a far bigger story if NHL players go to the 2018 Olympics and Hedman is once again left off the roster.
Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan has spent the offseason dramatically altering the team’s staff in preparation for what could also be a summer of significant changes from a roster perspective. That’s created a number of big vacancies and while he’s already found a new bench boss in Mike Babcock, the Maple Leafs aren’t expected to hire a new general manager before the NHL draft, per the Toronto Sun.
If that proves to be the case, then the Leafs might end up making some significant trades with its current three-headed setup that includes Shanahan, and co-interim general managers Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas. Shanahan doesn’t believe it’s as complicated as it sounds though.
“We talk every day,” Shanahan said. “If people want to talk to us, they know where to find us.”
As for which of them teams should reach out to, Shanahan said that teams can contact whichever one they feel most comfortable with.
When the vacancy is finally filled, the Maple Leafs might not go with an external option. It’s possible that either Dubas or Hunter will get the role despite their relative lack of experience. Shanahan might also decide to assume the GM duties on a long-term basis.
In the meantime, Toronto is open to moving the fourth overall pick and there’s reportedly been inquires from other teams about Phil Kessel’s availability.
The NHL and KHL have a memorandum of understanding that was extended until June 30, but in the not too distant future the two leagues might have a transfer agreement. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the two sides are close, per Sportsnet.
The difference is that a transfer agreement would create a system where there could be fees per player that switches leagues. Right now the memorandum of understanding only states that the two leagues have to respect each others contracts. So, for example, Ilya Kovalchuk had to get his NHL contract voided before he could go to the KHL.
If the two leagues are able to secure a transfer agreement, it would mark the first time since 2004 that the NHL has had one with Russia.
The deal would reportedly run for four years, which is in line with of the NHL’s agreements with other European countries.