Saku Koivu

Bergevin, Lombardi, Murray named GM of the Year finalists

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Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, Los Angeles’ Dean Lombardi and Anaheim’s Bob Murray have been nominated for the 2014 General Manager of the Year award, the NHL announced on Friday.

This marks Lombardi’s first time as a finalist and the second for Murray and Bergevin, who finished behind Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero for last year’s award.

The voting, conducted among the 30 club general managers and a panel of NHL executives, managed to overlook what GM Jim Nill did in Dallas this year. Despite orchestrating the Tyler Seguin blockbuster, drafting Valeri Nichushkin and overseeing the end of a five-year playoff drought, Nill wasn’t named one of the three finalists — which has to come as something of a surprise, especially given this was his first year in charge.

That said, perhaps Nill will be relieved he wasn’t among the nominees.

Of the four previous GM of the Year award winners — the honor was implemented for the 2009-10 campaign — two have lost their jobs. Vancouver’s Mike Gillis, who won in 2010-11, was dismissed from his gig in early April; Shero, who won the award last year, was fired shortly after Pittsburgh’s collapse to the Rangers in the second round of this year’s playoffs.

Here’s the rundown of the three finalists, per NHL.com:

Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens

Bergevin guided the Canadiens (46-28-8, 100 points) to their second 100-point season since 1992-93, leading the team to the playoffs for the second time in as many years as general manager. He bolstered the offense with the summer signing of Daniel Briere and also added grit with the offseason acquisitions of Douglas Murray and George Parros. Bergevin then shored up the roster with midseason trades for Thomas Vanek, Mike Weaver and Dale Weise, all of whom played critical roles in the team advancing to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in the past five seasons.

Dean Lombardi, Los Angeles Kings

Under the direction of Lombardi, the Kings (46-28-8, 100 points) earned their fifth consecutive playoff berth, recorded their fourth 100-point season in franchise history and made their third straight appearance in the Western Conference Final. He solidified the team’s blue line by re-signing defensemen Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov and did the same up front by bringing back Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan. Lombardi then kick-started the club’s offense with the addition of Marian Gaborik at the Trade Deadline; after being blanked six times in 63 games prior to his arrival, the Kings were not shut out once in the final 19 contests of the regular season with Gaborik in the lineup.

Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks

Murray paved the way for the finest season in Ducks history, leading the team to its second straight Pacific Division title; the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in club history; and franchise records in wins (54), points (116), points percentage (.707), home wins (29) and road wins (25). He set the Ducks up for success by re-signing Matt Beleskey, Saku Koivu, Ben Lovejoy and Kyle Palmieri as well as enticing Teemu Selanne to return for one final season. Murray also traded for Mathieu Perreault during the preseason; added depth players in Mark Fistric, Tim Jackman, Stephane Robidas and Jakob Silfverberg; and oversaw the development of young goaltenders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.

In case you’re wondering, the two GMs that won the award and are still employed are Phoenix’s Don Maloney and St. Louis’ Doug Armstrong.

Ducks to revisit trading for Kesler?

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Interesting tidbit here from the L.A. Times on Anaheim GM Bob Murray’s plans for the offseason:

Murray said he might revisit his trade-deadline attempt to acquire Vancouver center Ryan Kesler, or pursue other upgrades.

“I don’t think I’ll offer as much as I did at the trade deadline,” Murray said, without naming Kesler. “There’s [other] things I might like to do and I would spend — I’m deep enough in players — to do so.”

Following the deadline, Murray essentially confirmed the club’s interest in Kesler, saying he put both of his first-round selections at the draft in play — which would later turn into the No. 10 and 24 picks overall — and was “confused” as to why he came away empty-handed.

At the time, Anaheim was keen to add to the center group of Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perreault, Saku Koivu and Rickard Rakell. With Koivu now uncertain to return, the need to add centers remains — and what’s more, both Murray and Ducks players suggested roster shortcomings cost them this postseason.

“Obviously, we’re missing a little bit of something,” Andrew Cogliano told the Times.

“We’re not as close as everyone thought we were,” Murray added.

Which brings us back to Kesler.

There’s no denying the Ducks were angling for something at the deadline — Murray shipped out Dustin Penner and Viktor Fasth in what appeared to be cap-clearing moves — and, after failing to land the Vancouver center, players spoke openly about the opportunity missed.

“You think about it for sure because you hear the rumors and you hear people talking about it,” Cogliano said on Mar. 31, per the O.C. Register (paywall). “I think you envision a little bit of a scenario if he did come.”

“When you get those kinds of rumors and the opportunities that a guy like Kesler is available, you get pretty excited,” Teemu Selanne added.

The lingering issue here is the value of Murray’s offer. He thinks it’s high — evident by the fact he plans to offer less this summer — whereas the feeling around the league is that two first-round picks (both outside the top five) in a relatively weak draft isn’t enough to land Kesler, a former 40-goal scorer and Selke winner.

Murray will also contend that at the deadline, he was getting Kesler for at least three postseasons (he’s under contract ’til 2016) whereas now he’d only be guaranteed two.

It’s also worth noting that another talented center — Ottawa captain Jason Spezza — is believed to be available via trade, and that Anaheim is reportedly interested.

Saku Koivu to ‘take a couple of weeks’ to decide on future

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“I’ll take a couple of weeks to decide [on my future]. Get away for a little bit and then take it from there.”

That was Saku Koivu today, per the Ducks’ Twitter feed, talking about his playing career, and whether he hopes to continue it next season.

Koivu is a pending unrestricted free agent. The 39-year-old forward had 11 goals and 18 assists in 65 regular-season games, but only one assist in 13 playoff games.

In Anaheim’s Game 7 loss to Los Angeles, Koivu logged just 6:37 of playing time.

“I thought Game 4 and Game 5, he was as good as we had at center,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “His ice time went down when we needed a goal.”

Boudreau added: “He’d win faceoffs, he would compete, he would do a great job. I don’t know what the plans are for him, what his mindset is or what [general manager Bob Murray’s] mindset towards him is. It’s just one of those things you wait out and see.”

Related: Teemu Selanne: ‘It has been a pleasure to be around for so many years’

Get your Game 7 notes: Kings at Ducks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Anaheim Ducks hosting the Los Angeles Kings at 9 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Kings and Ducks will meet in the sixth Game 7 of the 2014 playoffs, and third of the second round. The road team is 4-1 in Game 7s so far in 2014. Since the playoffs went to best-of-seven series in all rounds in 1987, it is only the third time that four road teams won Game 7s in a single postseason (previously done in 2009 and 2010). Never have five road teams won in a single postseason.

• The Kings became the fourth team in Stanley Cup playoff history to win four straight games after falling behind three-games-to-none, in their first-round series vs. San Jose. Then, they won Game 6 vs. Anaheim, down three-games-to-two. If they win Game 7 tonight, they will become only the third team in history to win six straight games when facing elimination in one postseason. The N.Y. Islanders won eight straight in 1975 and the Minnesota Wild won six straight in 2003. Elias Sports Bureau

• Kings winger Justin Williams has never lost in a Game 7 (5-0) and has figured prominently in each of his team’s Game 7 wins (See table). Williams (5-5–10) has the game-winning goal in two games, an assist on the game-winning goal in two others, and an empty-net goal that clinched a Stanley Cup title.

source:

• The Ducks’ 20-year-old goaltender, John Gibson (2-1, 1.69 GAA, .946 save%, one shutout), will join a select group when he starts Game 7 in his first-ever playoff series. Only Harry Lumley (DET, 1945), Patrick Roy (MTL, 1986), Jim Carey (WSH, 1995) and Carey Price (MTL, 2008) previously started a Game 7 in their first-ever playoff series before turning 21. Lumley, Roy and Price all won.

• Kings winger Marian Gaborik, who is also 5-0 all-time in Game 7s (2-0 with Minnesota, 2-0 with the N.Y. Rangers, 1-0 with L.A.), leads the playoffs in goals, with eight. Five of those goals have come in this series. Only one other player has scored five times in a postseason series in 2014: Colorado center Paul Stastny, in the first round vs. Minnesota. (The Avalanche lost in seven games.)

• Only one Anaheim player, center Saku Koivu, has a winning career record (2-1) in Game 7s, with both wins coming with Montreal vs. Boston (2004, 2008). Four current Ducks were on the squad that last won a Game 7 for the franchise, in 2006: forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne (who scored the game-winning goal in a 3-0 win vs. CGY) and defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Selanne was also on the winning side the only other time Anaheim won a Game 7, in 1997 vs. PHX.

• Kings center Anze Kopitar, who leads the playoffs in scoring (4-13–17), has not scored a goal this series, but has contributed in other ways. He leads all players with seven assists (including five in L.A.’s three wins) and a +4 rating. In Games 5 and 6, he went 16/19 (84.2%) on faceoffs vs. Ducks center (and fellow Selke Trophy finalist) Ryan Getzlaf after going 20/43 (46.5%) in Games 1-4.

Ducks’ Koivu, Boudreau aiming for first trip to conference final

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Bruce Boudreau oversaw four playoff runs with the Washington Capitals, but the talented squad headlined by Alex Ovechkin never got past the second round. If they had, perhaps he wouldn’t be in Anaheim now.

His Ducks are just one win away from taking him to a conference final for the first time in his career as a head coach. If Anaheim beats Los Angeles in Game 6 tonight, it will be proof that he is capable of guiding a squad through a deep postseason run, even if he couldn’t make it work with Washington.

Perhaps there’s someone on the Ducks that wants this win even more though. At the age of 39, this might be Saku Koivu’s last chance to finally get to the conference final.

“I think Saku, especially,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said, per NHL.com. “[Teemu] always wants to go out on a high note, I’m sure. Given the opportunity, I’m sure he’d love to. Saku, I know, really wants this. He wants to get to the Finals. He wants an opportunity to play for that Cup, and we’d love to give it to him.”

The Ducks know they can’t get ahead of themselves. The Kings want this too. Koivu, Boudreau, and the rest of the Ducks won’t get past them without earning it.