Peter Chiarelli is already at work assessing the Edmonton Oilers depth chart.
The newly appointed President of Hockey Operations and GM of the Oilers was reportedly at prospect Leon Draisaitl’s game with the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night. With Chiarelli on the scouting trip was former GM Craig MacTavish.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Chiarelli has asked MacTavish to remain with the club at a position, which has yet to be defined. Chiarelli is also expected to meet with current Oilers’ head coach Todd Nelson in the coming days.
Friedman reports that prior to Chiarelli taking the Oilers job, the Leafs called the 50-year-old to gauge his interest in the in the Toronto vacancy.
The Leafs fired GM Dave Nonis along with interim head coach Peter Horachek and several scouts on April 12.
Leafs’ President Brendan Shanahan is also reportedly interested in both Sean Burke and George McPhee for GM role. The pair are currently part of Team Canada’s management staff for the upcoming World Hockey Championship.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Coyotes landed in the Western Conference finals this past season was goalie Mike Smith. Smith’s acrobatic saves, curious ability to draw penalties, and dogged work helped buoy Phoenix even when teams turned up the pressure late in games.
While he was stellar in the playoffs, he was arguably the team MVP all season long. Smith racked up stats unlike the kind he’s put up throughout his career. His .930 save percentage was by far the best he’s put up and was tied for third-best in the NHL with Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. His 2.21 goals against average was a career-best as well.
Of course, the biggest question facing Smith now is: Can he do it again? Many point to his success in Phoenix thanks to being both taught by goalie coach Sean Burke and being a part of coach Dave Tippett’s system.
While Tippett does have a defensive scheme in place, Jonathan Willis of The Cult Of Hockey says Tippett’s influence is a bit overstated. Goalie analysis blog Brodeur Is A Fraud (a divisive and awesome name, by the way) says Smith’s 2011-12 season is not likely to be repeated and a regression is likely. Good goalie? Yes. Consistently great goalie? Perhaps not.
That said, Smith’s defensive corps in front of him next season is set to be really good, and really deep. Thinking he’ll return to the kinds of numbers he put up in Tampa Bay that saw him wind up playing behind Dan Ellis would be a mistake.
Sean Burke is movin’ on up.
That was the word out of Phoenix on Tuesday as ‘Yotes GM Don Maloney promoted Burke to assistant (to the) general manager.
Burke signed a three-year contract extension with the club, one that will see him undertake a new gig while still serving in his previous roles as goalie coach and director of player development.
“For the past three years, Sean has done a tremendous job working with all the goaltenders in our organization helping them improve and succeed on the ice,” Maloney said in a statement. “We look forward to him continuing in this role and also assisting our hockey operations department in all areas of the business.”
Burke has been largely credited with Mike Smith’s remarkable turnaround, arguably the defining act of his time in Phoenix.
Last season, Smith reached career highs in games played (67), wins (38), goals-against average (2.21), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (eight) — this after he was allowed to walk from Tampa, where he served as Dwayne Roloson’s backup.
What’s more, the Coyotes signed Smith for $2 million — a bargain basement price considering he finished fourth in this year’s Vezina voting (earning two first-place votes) and 11th in Hart Trophy voting.