On Thursday, Minnesota announced the hiring of former NHL goalie and Edmonton goalie coach Frederic Chabot as the club’s new director of goaltender development.
Chabot, 47, was fired by the Oilers early last season with the team holding the NHL’s worst save percentage. How much of that was on Chabot is up for debate; Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth underwhelmed all year long, and with Fasth now in the KHL and Scrivens seemingly relegated to a backup role, it’s fair to say that neither was a legit No. 1 NHL netminder.
Of course, Chabot worked with other goalies during his five-plus years in Edmonton.
Chief among them? Wild starter and Vezina finalist Devan Dubnyk.
At first glance, bringing in Chabot based on his work with Dubnyk might seem odd, especially since Dunbyk was a flop in Edmonton and never posted very good numbers. But to hear Dubnyk explain it, his poor play in Edmonton had nothing to do with Chabot, a guy he holds in pretty high esteem.
“He’s been incredible for me,” Dubnyk told CBC Sports last year.
Note: The Wild still have Bob Mason as their goaltending coach, to clear up any confusion. Chabot will work with “goalie prospects throughout the Minnesota Wild organization, including goaltenders playing for the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League.”
Back in July, Edmonton made an intriguing, under-the-radar move by acquiring the rights to KHL goalie Anders Nilsson.
The deal didn’t garner much attention, possibly because the Oilers had already made a bigger splash in goal — trading for ex-Rangers backup Cam Talbot at the draft — and, of course, they still had Ben Scrivens in the mix.
But the attention could soon be on Nilsson.
“My mindset is to challenge for the No. 1 job,” the Swedish stopper told the Edmonton Journal. “That’s why I signed the one-year contract and it’s up to me to perform.”
Nilsson, 25, is an interesting entity.
Picked 62nd overall by the Isles in 2009, he appeared in 23 games for New York over three seasons before signing with KHL team AK Bars Kazan last summer. A few months later, the Isles traded Nilsson’s rights — he was an RFA upon leaving for Russia — to Chicago, as part of the Nick Leddy deal.
In Russia, Nilsson boosted his stock by going 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2015 Worlds, splitting time with Jhonas Enroth.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder signed with Edmonton almost immediately upon being acquired, seemingly determined to resurrect his NHL career. With the Oilers, he’s projected to battle Scrivens for the No. 2 gig behind Talbot — who, tentatively, is penciled in as the No. 1 — but if the last few years in Edmonton have shown anything, it’s that minutes in net are constantly up for grabs.
The Los Angeles Kings are giving Peter Budaj a shot at earning a contract in training camp, per LA Kings Insider.
Budaj, the 32-year-old veteran that spent last year with Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, will attend camp on a professional tryout, the club confirmed on Friday.
The news comes after L.A.’s backup from last season, Martin Jones, was traded away to Boston. The Kings later filled their No. 2 void by signing Jhonas Enroth in free agency.
Budaj will now try to secure a deal as the club’s No. 3 or 4 option and, if he’s successful, would presumably land with the club’s new AHL affiliate in Ontario (CA).
Though Budaj has fallen on hard times and was beaten out of the backup spot last year in Montreal by Dustin Tokarski, it’s easy to see why the Kings are giving him a shot.
L.A. is a little light on goalie prospects, having traded away the likes of Jones, Ben Scrivens and Jonathan Bernier in recent seasons, and could use a veteran stopgap. The Kings do have a pair of young fifth-round picks (Alec Dillon and Patrick Bartozek) in the system, though, along with J.F. Berube, who helped the Monarchs capture the Calder Cup last year.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Hey, this is pretty cool: Jenny Scrivens looks like she’ll join the NWHL’s New York Riveters, so consider Jenny and Ben Scrivens hockey’s power goaltending couple:
More than a few people clamor for the Anaheim Ducks to go back to their Mighty jerseys, but if these rumored duds are true, expect some really bad “Orange you glad …” jokes. (Puck Daddy)
Phil Kessel in a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater is weird, but it becomes flat-out fun combined with shorts.
Does Tyler Seguin represent a “new breed” of NHL players? Maybe, but he really just wants to emulate other sports stars like Lebron James. (Sportsnet)
Talk about direct nightmare fuel: Johan Franzen presented Gustav Nyquist with this custom bedspread on Instagram:
The caption is even better, though.
Hey Nyquist, I know you been sad ever since your dad signed for Toronto so I had these custom bed sheets made for u so u always can be close to him #detroit #detroitredwings #babcock #nyquist #separationanxiety #nhl
Honestly, if you need to kill some time, just pour over the Instagram account of “The Mule.”
Amazingly, that’s not the most jarring Red Wings-related image featured in this Morning Skate, at least if you follow this link to what they might wear at their next outdoor game. Maybe they won’t actually look like this? /Holds out hope for humanity (Sports Logos)
Signed through 2018-19 with a cap hit approaching $6 million, the Arizona Coyotes are indeed “married” to goalie Mike Smith.
As Coyotes fans will tell you, it wasn’t exactly wedded bliss last season, as Smith struggled to a 14-42-5 record with a .904 save percentage. Among goalies with at least 40 starts, only two — Kari Lehtonen and Ben Scrivens — had a lower save percentage than that.
Goaltending was a major reason the Coyotes finished 29th overall, just two points better than the dreadful Buffalo Sabres, and it left GM Don Maloney to deflect some of the blame away from the 33-year-old Smith.
“I think [next season] we’ll play better defense in front of (Smith), which is important,” Maloney said, per NHL.com. “I think we’ll have a better structure in front of Mike so he doesn’t feel like he has to be all-world every night and he can just do his thing.”
To be fair to Smith, he did post considerably better numbers in the latter stages of the season. He then gained even more confidence at the 2015 World Championships, as his solid play helped Canada win gold.
“It reiterates that I’m a pretty good goalie,” he said. “It’s been a tough year mentally on me. Physically, I got a good handle on that, but I think mentally, going into the summer knowing that I’ve played some pretty good hockey now for three months or so, I think it’s important.”
Smith will be backed up next season by Anders Lindback. Considering the Coyotes will be Lindback’s fifth NHL team since 2010, it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll perform. In 2014-15, he struggled badly with the Stars before playing considerably better for the Sabres.