Ryan Dadoun

’16 Draft prospect Bellows, son of Brian, joins USNTDP


Kieffer Bellows has agreed to play for the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team in 2015-16, per NHL.com.

Bellows, 16, is regarded as one of the top prospects for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He had 52 points and 78 penalty minutes with Sioux Falls Stampede en route to being named the USHL Rookie of the Year. Some of the other recent ROY winners include Johnny Gaudreau (2011), Max Pacioretty (2007), Kyle Okposo (2006), and Joe Pavelski (2003).

He’s also the son of Brian Bellows, who had a 1,188-game career with the Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, and Washington Capitals.

“We are excited to have Kieffer join us next year,” USNTDP U-18 coach Danton Cole said. “He had a tremendous season in Sioux Falls, winning a USHL championship while also being recognized for several awards. Coach [Cary] Eades and his staff did an excellent job with Kieffer and it will serve him well as he embarks on our USHL, NCAA and international schedule.”

Boudreau remains, but Ducks fire assistant Lauer

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Although Anaheim made it to the Western Conference Final this year, Ducks GM Bob Murray wasn’t happy with how the team handled itself in Games 6 and 7 of that series against Chicago. Murray consequently wouldn’t even guarantee the return of head coach Bruce Boudreau until after he had time to conduct an evaluation of the franchise.

Now that process is over and the Ducks have announced that assistant coach Brad Lauer will not be retained. The rest of the coaching staff, including Boudreau, will return, per the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens.

“We’ve spent the last week evaluating everything from top to bottom, including all player and staff performance,” Murray said. “This process is something I believe is essential each and every year, no matter the results of the season. We’ve decided to refocus and change the responsibilities of one of the assistant coach positions. We want to thank Brad Lauer for his hard work and dedication, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”

There was some speculation about Boudreau’s future with the club, but Murray’s decision to retain him doesn’t come as a surprise. Boudreau has more than his fair share of big game losses, but there’s been a clear line of advancement since he took over as the team’s bench boss. This was the Ducks’ first trip to the Conference Final since 2007.

Coyotes ‘open for business’ as draft day nears


The Arizona Coyotes missed out on one of the coveted top two picks when the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 draft lottery. That left them with the third overall selection, which is where things start to get interesting as there’s no consensus number three after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

Certainly there’s still plenty of high-end talent available after McDavid and Eichel though and teams have consequently contacted Coyotes GM Don Maloney about acquiring the pick.

“I was approached by three teams, had a call right before now asking me what would it take to get that pick, and I’m like, first born, second born, maybe I could use a helicopter to take me to work,” Maloney joked during the Coyotes’ “State of the Union” press conference. While that obviously sounds like a way to rule out moving the pick, he actually is open to the idea. Rather than move it straight up for a player though, he thinks it’s more likely that the Coyotes will trade down in the draft.

The Coyotes also have five other picks in the first three rounds, including Chicago’s top selection and they’re willing to part with some of them to help address their current holes. Among other things, Arizona is in the market for centers.

“Nobody is going to give us good players without giving up something, and that’s why we are certainly open for business,” Maloney said.

It also helps matters that the Coyotes have more cap space right now than any other team, per General Fanager. If the cap ends up being $71 million, then they will need to spend nearly $19 million just to reach the floor and thus are in a great position to take on contracts from squads struggling to get below the ceiling.

Adding to that is the fact that the Coyotes will be operating with an increased budget for the 2015-16 campaign. Although the specifics of that aren’t clear and some of the money is going into things like scouting and player development rather than player salaries.

All that’s left Maloney optimistic about the future despite the Coyotes’ disastrous season.

“If we can fill in the rest of the holes, I think we can all get back to where we want to be in a hurry.”

Salvador won’t decide on future before training camp


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.

Czech national team coach Ruzicka resigns amid bribery scandal


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.