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 email@example.com.
• Patrick Maroon isn’t sure if he’ll be back in St. Louis this season. (NHL.com)
• NHL commentators with rave reviews for Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland on Milan Lucic trade. (Edmonton Journal)
• After fives years away traveling the world and expanding his hockey mind, Mike Gillis is ready to return to the NHL — just not as a general manager. (Sportsnet)
• John Tavares knows Mitch Marner will play for the Maple Leafs this season. (NHL.com)
• Jets could find great value in acquiring Stars’ Honka. (Winnipeg Sun)
• The Vancouver Canucks have improved more than any team in the Pacific. (The Canuck Way)
• James Neal is feeling re-invigorated after move to Edmonton. (Global News)
• Colorado Avalanche star forward Mikko Rantanen isn’t going to the KHL. (Mile High Hockey)
• Flyers need impact from Hayes, Vigneault. (NHL.com)
• After years of stunted talks, Calgary may be ready to build a new hockey arena. (Globe and Mail)
• What it may take for a player to reach 50 goals or 100 points this season with the New Jersey Devils. (All About the Jersey)
• Predicting how long the Penguins’ Stanley Cup window will stay open. (Pensburgh)
• The Predators should make a push for Nikita Gusev. (Predlines)
• Why Peter DeBoer is confident Sharks can fill Joe Pavelski‘s scoring void. (NBC Sports Bay Area)
• Coyotes need more offense from well-paid blue line. (The Athletic)
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck
With GM Jim Benning and President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden running things in Vancouver, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has to like where things are headed.
Fans in Vancouver will be happy to know the owner is truly all about winning the Stanley Cup as Greg Douglas at the Vancouver Sun shared.
“Winning a Stanley Cup is everything,” Aquilini told attendees at a BC Business Top 100 gathering on Thursday. “If you don’t want to win the Stanley Cup, you shouldn’t own a team. I’m learning about the ups and downs of the business and realize the success of the hockey team is not in my control.”
Good thing he’s hired people like Linden and Benning then to be in control of the hockey decisions. It’s also a curious thing given the mess the team got into last summer when they hired John Tortorella to coach the team. That was a move then GM Mike Gillis wasn’t eager to make, but Aquilini reportedly wanted to happen very badly after firing Alain Vigneault.
Now the Canucks have a former team legend in charge, a smart hockey man as GM, and a new coach in Willie Desjardins who has had success in the AHL. See Vancouver? Things are looking up.
The Washington Capitals reportedly are close to locking down former Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz as their new bench boss, but the team still doesn’t have a new general manager.
As these types of situations go, hiring a new coach before a new GM is in place would be a rare move, but as Elliotte Friedman of CBC points out, the Capitals and owner Ted Leonsis have their field narrowed down and may have their man right under their nose.
The Capitals have talked to or interviewed around 10 people for the position including former GMs Craig Button, Jay Feaster, and Darcy Regier as well as Preds assistant GM Paul Fenton and Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney.
The most curious one is Capitals assistant GM Brian MacLellan and he’s the guy Friedman hints could be the top choice.
“According to several sources, the current assistant GM was involved in the Trotz interviews and helped show him around the U.S. capital. It is unlikely someone on the way out would be so heavily involved. When this process started, his hiring would be a surprise. Not anymore.”
Promoting MacLellan, who was former GM George McPhee’s assistant, would be a curious move. After 17 years with the Caps, McPhee was fired along with coach Adam Oates on April 26. One advantage MacLellan has going for him right away, as Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com points out, is he has history with Trotz.
After names like Ray Shero and Mike Gillis have also popped up in the discussion, keeping the hiring in-house like this would raise some questions as to what kind of change will come about in trying to make the Caps a Stanley Cup contender. With a big hiring like this, the Caps can’t afford a misstep.
Now that John Tortorella is out with the Vancouver Canucks, details about how he ran the show in his one season with the team are finding their way out.
Gary Mason of the Globe And Mail shared some curious tidbits he’s learned about how the embattled former coach handled the situation in Vancouver. To say the least, it’s an eye-opener.
— Tortorella wanted the organization to buy out forward Alex Burrows. In 49 games during an injury-addled season, Burrows, 32, had five goals and 15 points and has three more years left on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
— Injuries were a big problem for the Canucks this season and they had to dip into the AHL ranks for help often. Problem there, according to Mason, was Torts never spoke once with Utica Comets coach Travis Green. It’s tough to know who you’ve got on the way up if you’re not discussing it with the coach and that put former GM Mike Gillis even more on the spot to try and help the team.
— Torts wasn’t one much for practices this season, apparently. Mason said players felt the coach didn’t have the team practicing enough during the season. He also accused David Booth of being late for a meeting he was early for.
With this pile of apparent issues, it’s incredible to think the organization hurried to get Tortorella in place and signed him to a five-year contract last summer. Now that Torts and Gillis are both out of town, let’s just marvel at how this all came apart this season.
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis (pictured) has some big decisions to make now that he’s not bringing back now former general manager George McPhee.
Finding a new GM is something the Capitals haven’t had to do since 1997 when McPhee was brought in and, fortunately for Leonsis, there are a lot of qualified people to choose from.
CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley ran down a list of names that immediately jumped to mind. Gormley’s list includes some names that came up during the Buffalo Sabres’ search for a new GM including Boston Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning and Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton. Former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis is a curious name as is Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien Brisebois.
We ran down a list of other names when we took a look at who might be up for the Canucks GM position. Ones that stand out there include Canucks “capologist” Laurence Gilman, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill, and San Jose Sharks assistant GM Joe Will.
One name to keep an eye on? Phoenix Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving. Treliving was also in on the Sabres job that ultimately went to Tim Murray and he along with Benning were virtual finalists for that position.
Don Maloney has done a great job with the Coyotes and Treliving’s experience working with him could provide the sort of blueprint Leonsis is looking for in Washington.