Boyle, Luongo, Staal are 2018 Masterton Trophy Finalists

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Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils, Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers and Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes have been named finalists for the 2017-18 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The award, which is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

PHWA chapters in each NHL market nominate a player for the award each year and the top three vote-getters are then designated as finalists.

The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Brian Boyle’s story – via the NHL:

Before Boyle set foot on the ice as a New Jersey Devil, he faced his biggest test. At the start of training camp the 33-year-old was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone marrow cancer. He worked his way back into the lineup by Nov. 1 and notched 10 goals over his first 25 games, including a memorable goal on the Devils’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Prudential Center, a 3-2 win over Vancouver on Nov. 24. Boyle missed just three games after his season debut and represented the Devils at the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay. While handling his own illness, his family and his career, Boyle has approached every day with the same optimistic attitude and perseverance that has inspired and lifted the Devils’ locker room.

Roberto Luongo’s story – via the NHL:

Luongo, 39, overcame hand and groin injuries during the season and backstopped the Panthers’ drive for an Eastern Conference Playoff berth. Sidelined by injury since early December, the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, shutouts and appearances returned on Feb. 17 to help the Panthers defeat Calgary 6-3 and ignite a Florida rally in the East’s Wild Card race. In a 13-game span, Luongo went 9-3-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .928 SV%. On Feb. 22, Luongo delivered a heartfelt, unscripted speech to the crowd at BB&T Center prior to Florida’s game against Washington. The 12-year resident of nearby Parkland, Fla., addressed the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting during the Panthers’ pregame ceremony to honor the victims.

Jordan Staal’s story – via the NHL: 

Showing leadership and strength amidst a family tragedy, Staal was a key component of the Hurricanes throughout the season. In late February, Staal and his wife, Heather, announced their daughter, Hannah, was delivered stillborn due to a terminal birth defect previously diagnosed by doctors. Staal, who had assumed a bigger leadership role with the young Hurricanes by being named co-captain before the season, missed just three games following the tragedy. He registered 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 79 games, the second-highest goal and point totals in his six seasons with Carolina. The 29-year-old skated in his 800th NHL game on Dec. 27 against Montreal and scored his 200th goal on Jan. 12 against Washington.

2018 NHL Award finalists
Calder Trophy (Sunday)
Lady Byng Trophy
Norris Trophy
Selke Trophy
Vezina Trophy


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Bill Peters opts out of contract to leave Hurricanes; next stop Calgary?

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Bill Peters had until Friday to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, freeing him from the final year of his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. He did just that, and will now hit the open market with the Calgary Flames a heavy favorite for his next landing spot.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill as a person and coach,” said Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said in a statement. “We thank him for his time with the Hurricanes and wish him success in whatever comes next.”

With $1.6 million guaranteed for next season if he stayed in Carolina, Peters wouldn’t be leaving without having a good idea that he’ll be able to step into another job this off-season. At the moment, there are head coaching openings with the Flames, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers.

Dundon wasn’t against Peters staying for the duration of his contract, as he’s shown he prefers keeping people around who have term left rather than firing them (Hi, Ron Francis!). But with Peters resigning, the Hurricanes are off the hook now for that $1.6 million.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

So where will Peters land? Well, the Flames have been the big favorite for a while, and the rumor mill sped up on Tuesday when Calgary decided to fire Glen Gulutzan after two seasons. General manager Brad Treliving said he wanted someone with NHL experience as a replacement and Peters would come to Alberta with a 137-138-53 record in four seasons with the Hurricanes, which includes zero playoff appearances.

It’s easy to tie Peters to the Calgary job. He’s from the area, worked with Treliving during the 2016 World Championships and got his start coaching in the Western Hockey League. It seems like it’s only a matter of time now.

As for the Hurricanes, they now have openings at GM and head coach. Team president Don Waddell is acting as interim GM during the search process. Rod Brind’Amour, who was one of Peters’ assistants, has seen his name out there as a potential replacement, same for the team’s assistant GM and AHL head coach Mike Vellucci. Both would come cheaper than what Alain Vigneault, Dave Tippett, Dan Bylsma or potentially Barry Trotz would command, so given Dundon’s methods so far, that just might be the direction they go.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters’ future with Hurricanes still an unanswered question

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The Carolina Hurricanes are already looking for a new general manager, but come Friday they could also be in need of a new head coach.

Per a clause in his contract, Bill Peters has three more days to activate his ‘out,’ freeing him of his deal which is for one more season at $1.6 million.

Peters has failed to guide the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a finish better than sixth in the Metropolitan Division in each of his four seasons behind the bench. New owner Tom Dundon is promising further changes, which began with moving Ron Francis from the role of GM to president of hockey operations.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

According to the News and Observer, other NHL teams have called the Hurricanes for permission to speak to the head coach. One of those teams that may have given Don Waddell, the Hurricanes’ president and interim GM, a ring is Calgary, where head coach Glen Gulutzan’s future is also up in the air.

“I’m not too worried about where I stand. I’ve never been too worried about where I stand,” Gulutzan said last week after the team’s exit interviews.

The Flames have been linked with Peters for his ties to the area and Calgary GM Brad Treliving, who tabbed him to lead Canada’s entry at the 2016 World Championships. Peters will coach Canada again this spring, no matter how things develop over the next few weeks. Then there’s the newly-opened position with the Dallas Stars. Peters was an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings when Stars GM Jim Nill worked there.

So, connections, Peters has a few. The question now becomes does he want to continue working under Dundon or are potential opportunities in Calgary, Dallas or elsewhere more desirable than the situation in Carolina?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Canada names staff for World Championship; Who should coach Rangers?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Washington Capitals have always played pretty well against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (DC Puck Drop)

• Who should replace Alain Vigneault as head coach of the Rangers? A head coach that’s currently employed and a hall of fame goalie could be on the short list. (FanSided)

Jeff Skinner could be in the playoffs as soon as next season, but it probably won’t be as a member of the Hurricanes. (Raleigh News & Observer)

Stanley Cup Playoffs streaming, schedule and more

• Avs head coach Jared Bednar believes that Nathan MacKinnon and Taylor Hall are the favorites to land the Hart Trophy. (Denver Post)

• Two of the NHL’s top four teams will be knocked out of the playoffs early because of the current format the league has adopted. (Associated Press)

• Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau really struggled during his stint in the NHL, he’s hoping to find his game in the minors, where he’s had a ton of success. (MLive)

• We all know that the captain of the team that wins the Stanley Cup is always first to raise the trophy, but who will each captain potentially pass it to if they win it this year? (NHL.com)

• Marc Bergevin seems to have a problem with the attitude his team had all year. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• Speaking of the Canadiens, they signed Notre Dame captain Jake Evans on a two-year, entry-level contract. (NHL.com/Canadiens)

• Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters will be the head coach of Team Canada’s squad at the World Hockey Championship next month. Blues bench boss Mike Yeo will serve as an associate coach, while Panthers coach Bob Boughner will be an assistant. (Hockey Canada)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Which NHL teams will make a coaching change after the season?

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The 2017-18 NHL season will come to an end this weekend and barring some last-minute decision, no head coach will have been fired; that’s something that hasn’t happened since the league expanded in 1967.

It’s a rarity that no coach has been canned, despite the calls for management to take action in a handful of markets. But general managers have decided to use a little patience and ride out the full 82-game schedule without seeking a new voice behind their bench.

Patience can swing in different ways, however. Remember when Philadelphia Flyers fans were calling for Dave Hakstol’s head as the team went through a long losing streak earlier this season? GM Ron Hextall wasn’t having any of it, and now they’re on the verge of a playoff berth. Then there are places like Calgary, Dallas, New York and Carolina where head coaches stayed put and left fans wondering if their seasons would have gone in an opposite direction had a change been made.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

The NHL has seen 34 in-season coaching changes over the last nine years, and since we’re likely to see zero this regular season, what does that mean for next week once those teams who’ve missed out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs reassess their futures?

Darren Dreger was on the NBCSN pre-game show Wednesday night and listed 10 NHL head coaches whose seats are feeling pretty warm these days.

Glen Gulutzan, Calgary Flames – In a conversation with Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun, GM Brad Treliving wasn’t going to speculate on the future of his head coach after a season that saw the Flames tumble out of a playoff spot in the second half.

“That’s an easy thing in sports to do — the first thing is to look at the coach. I think we’ve got a good coach,” Treliving said. “We’ve got some good players, but we’re all subject to scrutiny when a season goes like this.”

Gulutzan has an 81-67-14 record in two seasons in Calgary. He only got two when he was in Dallas. Will Treliving give him a little more rope?

Bill Peters, Carolina Hurricanes – New owner Tom Dundon has already started making his mark on his team, moving Ron Francis from the GM’s chair to president of hockey operations. A search for a new GM is under way, but will Dundon wait until that position is filled before making a decision on Peters? Peters has one year left on his contract and reportedly has an “out” in his deal. It’s hard to believe he’d walk away from what’s believe to be a $1.6 million salary, but the new boss can’t be happy with the team’s lack of progress the last few seasons.

Ken Hitchcock, Dallas StarsAnother disappointing season in Dallas will lead with questions about the future of the head coach and GM Jim Nill. Since his first tenure with the Stars ended in 2002, Hitch has had a bit of a shelf life as he moved on to three other organizations before returning last summer. Is he a one-and-done? The Stars were expected to be improved this season but a second half collapse could change owner Tom Gaglardi’s plans.

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings – Three Detroit outlets reported last week that not only will GM Ken Holland be back next season, but so will Blashill, who has a 104-104-36 record and one playoff appearance in three seasons with the Red Wings. The franchise is in a bit of a transition phase right now and letting Blashill ride out his contract — he has one year remaining — might be the way to go.

Todd McLellan, Edmonton Oilers – Is it McLellan’s fault that Connor McDavid‘s all-world season is being wasted because of the lack of talent surrounding him? Nope. That blame falls on one person’s shoulders only.

Doug Weight, New York Islanders – Time after time, loss after loss, you can see the frustration in Weight’s face during his post-game media scrums. The Islanders can score at will, but can’t keep the puck out of their own net. There will be no playoffs for the second straight season and summer looms with John Tavares eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and a question of whether owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky will bring GM Garth Snow back.

Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers – The Rangers threw in the towel in February to let the kids get experience for the future. But with Henrik Lundqvist still under contract for three more seasons, now is not the time for a tear-it-all-down rebuild. With plenty of cap space to fill this summer, Vigneault could be given time to coach into next season, but possibly on a short leash.

Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators – The Erik Karlsson decision is first and foremost for the Senators. Will he stay or does he want to go? Is he OK with Boucher returning as head coach? What is GM Pierre Dorion’s vision for the future and does it include being aggressive in free agency and the trade market this summer? There are many questions to be answered in Ottawa.

Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals – GM Brian MacLellan was quietly given an extension last month, but Trotz is still without one with an expiring deal after the season. What will keep him safe? Will reaching the conference finals be enough?

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.