Cross Checks: Nashville Predators

Caps coach Barry Trotz back in Nashville

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
Even before fans were allowed into Bridgestone Arena on Friday, there was a crowd waiting to see Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz.

"There weren't this many people when I got hired," Trotz joked as he entered his news conference, according to The Washington Post.

[+] EnlargeBarry Trotz
Twitter/@washcapsBarry Trotz earned 557 wins and made seven playoff appearances as coach of the Predators.
After coaching the Nashville Predators for 15 seasons -- their first 15 seasons as a franchise -- Trotz will be on the visitors bench for the first time.

Trotz has the Capitals playing very well. Since a Dec. 2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Washington has gone 14-1-4 and sits in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

But the Predators have been one of the surprises of the season. Fighting for a chance at the Presidents' Trophy, Nashville leads the Central Division and is sparking award discussion for defenseman Shea Weber, goaltender Pekka Rinne and coach Peter Laviolette.

You would think the Predators' turnaround from missing the playoffs last season would be a cause for jealousy from Trotz, but the coach insisted that isn't the case.

"Everybody thought that I might be a little jealous, but I must have matured," Trotz told The Canadian Press. "I'm not jealous at all. I'm actually cheering for them."

While Trotz has said it was time for him to leave the Predators to give himself a new challenge and the team a new voice, Nashville will always be his home and his legacy will stand in the city.

"When I look back at it now, I think, 'That was crazy,' you know?" Trotz said of being hired by the Predators in 1997, according to The Canadian Press. "When I went there, I was just trying to survive that first year. I never thought in a million years that I would be there that long. I just wanted to coach for a year, and I found a home in Nashville, Tennessee.

"The great game of hockey's going to be in Nashville for hopefully another hundred years. I look at myself as part of a building process."

The first-place Nashville Predators won’t be shy about adding a piece before March 2, but right now there’s nothing that tickles their fancy.

[+] EnlargeJames Neal
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyThe return of James Neal meant that the Predators had to put Mark Arcobello on waivers to send him down to the AHL.
"I think it’s still early for me to say," Predators GM David Poile told Tuesday. "We’re happy with where we are, we’re happy with our depth. We’re just finishing up our pro [scouting] meetings right now, going over each team and what might be available, I can’t tell you that there’s something that’s jumping out at me that I’m dying to do.

"But it’s Jan. 13 today, there’s a lot of hockey to played before March, a lot to play out in terms of how you’re playing, your health, and where you are in the standings. Today it’s just about preparation. There’s nothing in the works as we speak."

No obvious need, but if the Predators do anything of significance, it’ll likely be up front.

"I’m sure if you ask 20 general managers who are trying to improve their team they’d say a top-six forward, we’d all like to have that," Poile said.

In the meantime, Poile placed recently acquired forward Mark Arcobello on waivers Tuesday.

"Just numbers, [James] Neal is coming back," Poile said.

The plan likely is to send Arcobello down to the AHL if he clears waivers Wednesday.

"He’d be really good depth for us," the veteran GM said.
Trending up: Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks -- Though his production has been inconsistent this season, the 28-year-old winger made the most of a promotion to play on a line with veteran center Brad Richards and superstar Patrick Kane. Bickell tallied twice in Chicago’s 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, notching both the game winner and an empty-net goal in the third period. Bickell now has four goals in his past five games for the Blackhawks.

Trending down: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- It’s been a stunning season for the 22-year-old Seguin, who leads the league with 26 goals. But he’s gone cold lately with three straight games without a goal, which not surprisingly coincides with the Stars’ current three-game skid. Seguin has just one goal in his past eight games.

Surprise of the week: Mikkel Boedker, Arizona Coyotes -- The young Dane’s three-point effort propelled the Coyotes to a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night in a performance that few saw coming. Boedker was scoreless in eight of his past nine games, with only two assists during that span, yet he turned it on for the struggling Coyotes.

[+] EnlargeMarc-Edouard Vlasic
Trevor Hagen/The Canadian Press/AP ImagesSharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the game winner against the Wild and the Jets.
Trending up: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators -- Before the season, many of the league’s star players took part in an informal poll during which they were asked which players they’d take if constructing their own team. One of the names that was brought up repeatedly? Shea Weber, and it’s no wonder. The star defenseman continues to anchor a competitive Predators squad that is battling for the top spot in the Central Division. Weber tallied twice in the Preds’ 3-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, notching the deciding goal to snap a 2-2 deadlock in overtime. It was Weber’s second multigoal performance in his past five games.

Trending down: Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals -- I still love the addition of Niskanen in Washington as one of the premier offseason signings this summer, but he was in coach Barry Trotz's doghouse Thursday night after the Capitals' 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Niskanen took a hooking penalty in overtime that resulted in NHL scoring leader Jakub Voracek's game-winning goal. Trotz was understandably upset after the game, as his team gave up its fourth power-play goal in overtime.

Surprise of the week: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks -- No surprise here to see the dynamic Sharks defenseman producing for San Jose, but the fashion in which he was able to contribute this week deserves some extra accolades. Though he was scoreless in the Sharks’ 7-2 rout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, Vlasic had an otherwise fantastic week, notching game-winning goals in back-to-back games for San Jose. He snapped a 3-3 draw with his overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and scored with less than five seconds left in regulation one night prior to help the Sharks edge the Winnipeg Jets.

Trending up: Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers -- Chalk it up to maudlin sentimentality, but Thursday’s 3-1 win for the Panthers gave me the warm fuzzies, knowing what it must have meant to the 35-year-old Luongo in his first game in Vancouver since being traded last March. For all the scrutiny and criticism Luongo endured while playing in one of hockey’s most notorious fishbowls, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the Vancouver crowd and delivered a 32-save performance to boot. Luongo ranks among the top 10 in the league in both goals-against average (ninth, 2.23) and save percentage (sixth, .926) and is a huge reason for Florida’s remarkable resurgence this season.

Trending down: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks -- It’s been a rough stretch for the Sharks goaltender, who has surrendered 13 goals in his past three starts, and in two of them he was chased from his own net. The most recent performance was the Sharks’ embarrassing 7-2 pounding by the St. Louis Blues during which Niemi gave up five goals on 21 shots. Things are starting to look dire in San Jose, and Niemi is at least one of the main culprits.

Surprise of the Week: Niklas Svedberg, Boston Bruins -- Boy, did the Bruins need this win, and Svedberg can take a bow for his stellar effort between the pipes in his 3-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devils. The 25-year-old Swede had to make just 14 saves, but it was a critical performance nonetheless with Boston’s frustration reaching a boiling point earlier this week.
James Neal has the unfortunate, dubious honor of being the first NHL player singled out by the new rule designed to punish repeat divers.

The league announced Wednesday that Neal received his second citation for diving and thus a $2,000 fine, which automatically triggers an official announcement. The first citation nets only a warning and stays under wraps.

[+] EnlargeJames Neal
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyA source said James Neal was not happy to be the first player publicly singled out under the new diving rule.
A source told that Neal was none too pleased about being the first guy singled out publicly, and you obviously can’t blame him.

But this is what the league and NHL Players’ Association agreed upon last summer in order to crack down on diving.

Of note, Neal’s first diving citation actually wasn’t a penalty on the ice but was flagged by hockey operations in Toronto. And that’s the interesting twist in all of this -- the diving infractions could come from calls on the ice, or from Big Brother watching.

The reason the league waited until now to finally have its first public announcement is that it gave its system a dry run early in the season. The league gave players free passes, or mulligans if you will, but also were informing teams and players of how this was going to work once it became public. The other reason for the dry run in October and part of November was for the league to get right how it wanted to handle this.

The real deal began in the fifth week of the season, and every player started with a clean slate.

The league has a "tagging system" in place:

• Any dive called on the ice is clipped and cataloged
• Any potential dive that isn’t called on the ice but seen by the war room is also cataloged
• All of these dive clips are distributed to nine individuals in hockey operations and NHL player safety and critiqued. Each of the nine members vote as to whether the tagged play was worthy of a dive/embellishment call. At least six votes are needed to qualify the play as being a dive/embellishment.

Neal was the first second-level offender, but he won’t be the last. This is just the beginning.

It’s not the fine that hurts -- $5,000 is the maximum; that’s like taking out lint from a player’s pocket. It’s obviously the public embarrassment of it all that hopefully will act as the deterrent.

TORONTO -- Nicklas Lidstrom will obviously be an automatic selection next year among the first-year players eligible for induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he could be joined by another all-world defenseman depending on the outcome of a meeting Tuesday.

A source told that when the Hockey Hall of Fame’s board of directors meets Tuesday, among the matters at hand will be clearing up the ambiguity in the current three-year, post-playing waiting period bylaw for players to gain Hall of Fame induction.

Chris Pronger hasn’t played since the 2011-12 season but still gets paid by the Philadelphia Flyers, which leaves his eligibility in a gray area. Since he hasn’t officially retired, should he be eligible or not? After all, he hasn’t played in three years and has no plans to do so.

If the HHOF's board of directors votes in favor of the new language for the bylaw, the source told that Pronger would be eligible for induction next year.

Whether or not the selection committee would vote him into the Hall in his first year of eligibility is another matter, but I can’t imagine Pronger wouldn’t be seen as first-ballot material.

Burns finally inducted
New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello walked into the Hockey Hall of Fame before the induction ceremony on Monday evening and said he got "chills" just thinking about what Pat Burns would be feeling if he were still alive to see his place finally among the Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.

The wife of the late coach, Line Gignac Burns, as well as Pat’s son, Jason, delivered the induction acceptance speech Monday night.

Jason brought up the fact that while many people were angry his dad wasn’t elected four years ago when first nominated, the former coach was not.

[+] EnlargeHall of Fame
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesRob Blake, Pat Burns, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
"A lot of people were outraged, but not him," Jason said during his speech.

Burns knew the day would come when he’d get elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame, even if it would happen after he passed. He was at peace with that.

Hoping for Gordie
With hockey icon Gordie Howe battling for his life, the great No. 9 was at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts Monday at the Hall of Fame.

"I’m like everybody else, I’m sad by it," Jim Devellano, senior vice president of the Detroit Red Wings, told "I remember him as a player, later I got him to know as a person when I joined the Red Wings front office. It’s just a tough time for everybody. The Red Wings organization has its fingers crossed, he’s in our prayers."

AHL three-on-three OT
The NHL’s 30 GMs meet Tuesday here in Toronto and it’s expected among the many agenda items will be an update on how three-on-three overtime in the AHL is working so far this season. The NHL is keeping a close eye on it.

"I’ve only been to a couple of AHL games this year and none of them went to overtime, but I would vote for anything that reduces the number of shootouts," Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, said Monday night at the Hockey Hall.

"They could go to two-on-two, they could go to one-on-one as far as I’m concerned," added Burke. "I know [Flames GM] Brad [Treliving] feels the same way. So Calgary’s vote I think would be in favor of a change like this."

Expanded video review, the dry scrape before overtime, as well as Stephane Quintal’s first presentation to GMs since officially taking over the chief discipline job, will also be among the many agenda items Tuesday.

Poile's eye injury
David Poile’s long road back from the awful eye injury he suffered last season when he took an errant puck to the face doesn’t have a great ending.

The Nashville Predators GM said Monday that after a number of operations over the past year, it’s been determined that he won’t ever get any vision back in that right eye.

"Yes it’s done," Poile said. "I’m not down on it, it was a freaky accident and it was nobody’s fault. It just happened. I was certainly hoping that I wouldn’t lose sight in the eye and there was some hope originally ... and I got a second opinion and did everything I could and so did doctors.

"But it’s not like there’s nothing I’m not doing. I’m fine."

Babcock's future
One storyline that won’t go away is the future of head coach Mike Babcock. Will he re-sign with the Red Wings or not?

Jim Devellano, senior vice president of the Red Wings, says GM Ken Holland will do his best to bring Babcock back.

"We respect Mike as a coach, we respect the job that he has done over the past decade, he took over a Stanley Cup-type team, we’re not that team anymore," said Devellano. "We’re a team that has to work hard with a lot of young players to try to make the playoffs. He’s done a superb job the last few years with no [Nick] Lidstrom, no Tomas Holmstrom, a ton of injuries, and he’s guided us in the playoffs. We’re appreciative of that. We also understand his stature in the game. All I can tell you [is] Kenny is working hard between now and the end of the year to keep him on board."

Forsberg's fan club
Former Avs teammate Joe Sakic said he marveled at what Peter Forsberg could do on the ice, pointing to the combination of his physical prowess and offensive genius.

"Honestly I was a fan just watching him play," Sakic said. "He was such a special player."

McCreary and Forsberg
Bill McCreary, inducted into the Hall Monday night in the referee/linesman category, was asked by which of the four inducted players from this year’s class was the hardest to officiate during his time.

"The one that was probably the most difficult to officiate, not because he was a bad person, was Peter Forsberg," said McCreary. "He was just so strong, so intense, as an offensive person going into the corners first all the time and throwing that reverse bodycheck, and getting the puck, it was always a real tough judgment. Peter made it hard on you to officiate but he was always a great guy."

That reverse bodycheck by Forsberg, when he was holding the puck and opposing players came at him only to get decked upon their arrival, was certainly the Swede’s trademark physical play.

McCreary now works with the NHL’s head office as an officiating manager, helping the current referees around the league.

"I’m really enjoying it," he said. "I try to leave the guys with some positive reinforcement. We all make mistakes, we’re humans. I always tell them, 'You’ll never officiate a perfect game, that just doesn’t happen in our career. However you strive to be as consistent as you can be.' I always feel that if we can keep them on a positive frame going from one game to another, it helps them in their own mind to be consistent. I enjoy my role and I hope I can do it for a long time."

Media inductions
Kevin Allen of USA Today and Pat Foley, the voice of the Chicago Blackhawks, were this year’s Hall inductees in the media wing.

Both got their HHOF jackets at a luncheon earlier Monday. Foley -- winner of the Foster Hewitt Award -- began his speech in surprising fashion by using the opportunity to implore the HHOF’s selection committee to consider former Blackhawks Steve Larmer and Doug Wilson for induction. Both former stars have long been passed over by the selection committee, and Foley is right, both former players had Hall of Fame playing careers.

Allen was a terrific choice for the Elmer Ferguson Award, which annually goes to the hockey writer honored by the HHOF. His work over 29 years covering hockey has helped the sport gain a stronger foothold in the U.S.
Two teams in the Western Conference have a donut in the loss column.

That one of them is the Chicago Blackhawks, well, ho-hum indeed.

That the other is the Nashville Predators, well, who knew?

The clubs meet up Thursday night in Music City, the Hawks having prevailed 2-1 in overtime over the Preds on Saturday in Chicago.

"A chance for a little redemption," Predators captain Shea Weber told on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeJames Neal
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyThe Predators acquired James Neal from the Penguins at the draft in June.
Fans and media all over the league are waiting for the Predators to come back down to earth after a 4-0-2 start. Games like Thursday night are a measuring stick to help answer the question: Are these guys for real?

"The Blackhawks are in town Thursday night and then the Penguins on Saturday, so yes, absolutely, we’ve got games against top teams," Predators general manager David Poile said Wednesday. "It’s been a real good start for us."

The Predators' story has to begin with Poile, the veteran hockey man who worked tirelessly in the offseason to continue reshaping his club. He tried to get in on the Jason Spezza sweepstakes at the draft in Philadelphia in late June but was told by the Ottawa Senators that the star center would not waive his no-trade clause to go to Nashville.

That same weekend, Poile acquired winger James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a bold move that brought the Preds the pure goal scorer they have lacked for years.

Then three centers, all reclamation projects of sorts, were hauled in via free agency: Olli Jokinen (one year, $2.5 million), Mike Ribeiro (one year, $1.05 million) and Derek Roy (one year, $1 million).

Even if just one of those centers rediscovered his past form, it would be well worth the modest investment as a whole. Another buy-low candidate, Anton Volchenkov (one year, $1 million), was added on defense.

"We’ve brought a lot of quantity. Hopefully in that quantity we’ve got some quality," said Poile of his offseason.

The efforts by the GM did not go unnoticed in the dressing room.

"The guys that we got have been great for us so far," said Weber. "It’s only going to keep getting better as they get to know the guys in the room better and build some chemistry as the season goes on. We’re happy to have them and fortunate we did some good work there to bring some guys in to improve our team."

Truth is they’re still not totally clicking on offense. The Predators were 18th last season at 2.61 goals per game and, as of Wednesday morning, were 18th at 2.50 this season.

But with all the new parts, it’s going to take some time.

"I do think it’s still a work in progress with our forwards," said Poile. "We’re still not where we want to be offensively."

Ribeiro is the ultimate gamble, a former point per game player with huge offensive skill who was bought out by the Coyotes last summer amid comments of his off-ice problems.

"Obviously he has some baggage coming from Arizona. He’s been very forthcoming as to his issues and what he’s had to do to take steps to resolve them," said Poile. "It’s a situation that has no guarantees. As a hockey player, we are and we will be very satisfied with him. Hopefully the other things will be something in his past. But only he can take care of that."

Another newcomer has already had an impact, coach Peter Laviolette. Longtime coach Barry Trotz parted ways amicably with the Preds and is off to his own solid start in Washington, but it was clear a new voice was needed in Nashville.

"It was a very competitive training camp. Guys didn’t know what to expect," Weber said of Laviolette. "I think it’s brought out the best in a lot of guys so far. We’re excited to keep going. It’s still early and we’ve got a way to go, but it’s a good start."

The most important factor of all, though, is having a healthy Pekka Rinne. The All-Star goalie missed a huge chunk of last season battling a serious hip issue, and the team could not overcome his absence.

"There’s no doubt in my mind it starts with our goaltender," said Poile. "Pekka has played fabulous. He wasn’t with us for 51 games last season, and I think it makes a world of difference for the level of confidence that we have going into every game."

This team is about Rinne and Weber, both among the best in the world at their positions.

The hope is the supporting cast around youngsters such as Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg will help fill out a playoff team.

But is their 4-0-2 start for real?

"Great goaltender, very good group of D," one NHL head coach from the Western Conference told via text Wednesday. "Forwards may have issues against heavy defending teams. Center is small and light. [Mike] Fisher will help, but interested to see how things go with 'hard' teams. Looks like they have some new life from the changes."

And that’s just it. There just seems to be new life with this team.

It’s been an interesting few years to say the least, from the devastating free-agent loss of Ryan Suter, the Weber offer sheet, Alexander Radulov's curfew controversy, Martin Erat's trade demand and finally Trotz’s emotional farewell.

This is a team that many believed was a Cup contender in 2011-12 before all of that happened.

Now they hope they are on the road back to respectability.

"It's been a tough couple years after the high expectation we had [in 2011-12]," said Weber. "There’s been a lot of changes. I look around the room and there’s not a lot of guys here that I’ve been here [with] for a long time. It’s taken a little bit of time to get the new guys here and adjusted. This year it’s been a quick turnaround, and I think we’ve done a great job of accepting everyone in and they’ve accepted their roles well so far. We’re just looking to build off that."

It’s only six games, to be sure, but in the NHL’s toughest division, the Central, digging an early hole could be deadly.

"Yeah, definitely, it’s something we talked about all through training camp, the importance of getting off to a good start," said Weber. "Especially with the strength of our division, how good those teams were last year and they got even better throughout the summer. So we knew we had to get off to a good start."

Central Division wrap

October, 13, 2014
Trending Up
  • Peter Laviolette: Laviolette’s first week as coach of the Nashville Predators (at least the first week that actually counts) has gone according to plan with the Predators starting the season 2-0-0 with wins over the Ottawa Senators and the Dallas Stars.
  • Minny’s blue line: With the announcement that the Minnesota Wild inked 21-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin to a six-year contract extension, the team further solidified its defense -- anchored by stalwart Ryan Suter -- for years to come. The Wild lead the Central Division with four points and a plus-8 goal differential after their first pair of games this season.
  • Corey Crawford: The Chicago Blackhawks netminder was tested in his first game of the season against the Dallas Stars and he was credited with helping the team “steal” two points. Crawford made 32 saves and went on to stop 21 of 23 shots in a 6-2 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
Trending Down
  • Colorado Avalanche: Plenty of people predicted that we would witness a regression by the Avs after a stunning about-face last season. Well, that certainly seems to be the case with Patrick Roy's squad still searching for its first win of the season following a pair of losses -- both shutouts -- to begin the 2014-15 slate.
  • Power play in the 'Peg: Granted, the Winnipeg Jets are likely to experience a whole host of issues this season with expectations pretty low, but the team’s power play is already off to a rough start. The Jets are 0-for-9 on the man advantage through their first three games of the season.
  • Stars’ offense: The Dallas Stars were a preseason darling with a bevvy of bold moves made to improve an already potent offense. But adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky to the mix has yet to yield the desired results. The Stars have managed only three goals in their first two games.
Injury Update
  • Versteeg out three weeks: Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg is expected to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury, according to coach Joel Quenneville.
  • Kane suffers knee injury: Though it is not believed to be too serious, Winnipeg’s Evander Kane left the team’s first game of the season with a knee injury. According to the Winnipeg Sun, Jets coach Paul Maurice said Kane will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks.
What to Watch For
  • Tough trip: The Minnesota Wild face a tough task ahead with a West Coast road trip this week that features stops in both Anaheim and Los Angeles. Should be interesting to see how netminder Darcy Kuemper fares against the big boys out in California after stopping all 46 shots he faced in his first two games of the season.
  • Home Sweet Home: The Jets have a favorable schedule to pad some points if they make the most of the opportunity. Winnipeg begins a five-game homestand against the Nashville Predators on Friday. The Jets also have five days to regroup and recover following their 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

Ryan Johansen isn’t the only restricted free agent who remains unsigned in the NHL.

Not sure I can remember the last time there have been this many RFAs still unsigned with preseason underway, but whether it’s the effect of the new collective bargaining agreement or not, a handful of players are still waiting for new deals.

[+] EnlargeRyan Ellis
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesRyan Ellis had his best season in 2013-14, with six goals and 21 assists in 80 games.
In Nashville, blueliner Ryan Ellis, 23, still doesn’t have a deal with the Predators.

"This is clearly one of those cases where we want to pay him X and he wants Y," veteran Preds general manager David Poile told on Tuesday. "We’ve tried to justify our position, they’ve tried to justify their position, and we just disagree.

"I mean, we’re not trading him. We want him. He really played well at the end of last year. I think with Peter Laviolette's new system, it plays really well into Ryan’s game. The sooner we get it done, the better it will be for everybody."

Poile would not discuss specifics, but it’s thought the Preds have offered two-, three-, four- and five-year deals, so there are options on the table and it may not necessarily end up being a two-year bridge deal. I say that because you have to assume the four- and five-year deals are worth more money per year than the two-year offer.

• Center Cody Eakin and defenseman Brenden Dillon, both 23 and RFAs, aren’t close to new deals with the Dallas Stars. What’s interesting is that both players are represented by Jarrett Bousquet, who happens to be based in Dallas. Eakin switched agents last season, leaving Gerry Johannson for Bousquet. That doesn’t appear to have made things any easier for the Stars. You get the sense, though, that Dallas GM Jim Nill is willing to be patient and wait this out.

• Similarly in Boston, the Bruins have a pair of unsigned players in forward Reilly Smith and blueliner Torey Krug, both 23. A source told on Tuesday that there is nothing new on either front, very much status quo for the time being. Given Boston’s tight cap situation, not sure you can bank on the Bruins changing their position much.

• Blues RFA forward Jaden Schwartz, 22, continues to wait things out. I’m surprised this one has lasted as long as it has. It never felt like both sides were that far apart, but as of Tuesday still no deal. Word is the Blues improved their offer to north of $2 million last week. My guess is Newport Sports (Wade Arnott), which represents Schwartz, would prefer somewhere north of $2.5 million, so both sides are still in the ballpark of half a million apart per season on a two-year bridge deal. It doesn’t seem like much, but it remains an important gap.

• A quick follow-up on Johansen: Sources confirmed the counteroffer from the player’s camp is two years and $9.5 million in total, so a $4.75 million average. It’s believed to be $3.5 million in the first year and $6 million in Year 2 (when he’s eligible for salary arbitration). The Jackets as of Tuesday are remaining firm on their offer of two years at $3 million per. Neither side sounds one bit willing to move at this point. So it’s a waiting game, and a very bitter one at that.

Junior-eligible players
One issue that crops up from time to time every September is that of junior-eligible players and the rules that govern them in the CBA. Quite simply, if a player remains junior-eligible, he either has to make the NHL roster (past the nine-game NHL regular-season audition) or return to junior.

But what if a prospect can’t learn much by going back to junior for a fourth year, yet perhaps isn't ready for full-time NHL duty? In other words, he's in between. Why can’t he play in the AHL to further develop his skills?

Case in point, Max Domi, 19, and the Arizona Coyotes. Perhaps Domi will make the Coyotes outright and it’s a moot point. But if he doesn’t, he will need to go back for a fourth year of junior where, frankly, he has very little to prove.

"It's hard to imagine any NHL GM would argue against adding additional flexibility to the current CHL rule," Coyotes GM Don Maloney told via email to on Tuesday. "We all understand top junior players are valuable assets for their junior Clubs. However, for any elite junior player who has played three full CHL seasons (in Max Domi’s case, three straight Memorial Cup appearances), the option to place the player (perhaps restrict it to one player per Club) in the AHL would be invaluable to us and a real benefit to the player’s development."

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that while the issue comes up from time to time, it hasn’t warranted enough support to change the existing rule with the Canadian Hockey League.

"I don't think this is as big an issue as you think -- although people always focus on it this time of year," Daly said via email. "We actually surveyed the GMs before last year's CHL deal and it wasn't an overwhelming need.

"Any change -- even on a restricted or limited basis -- would be devastating to the CHL. So, no, I don't see this changing in the near future (and at least for the term of this CHL Agreement)."

No question you understand where CHL clubs are coming from, but if a new rule limited exceptions to one prospect per NHL team, I don’t see that as that big a deal. Food for thought ...

Offseason player movement of all 30 teams

September, 19, 2014
Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny USA TODAY SportsRyan Kesler and Paul Stastny will be wearing different colors this season.
Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 14: Acquired C Louis Leblanc from Montreal for a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
June 27: Acquired C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa, and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in 2014.
June 30: Acquired C Nate Thompson from Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay’s 4th- and 7th-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Clayton Stoner (Minnesota) and G Jason LaBarbera (Chicago).
July 9: Signed LW Dany Heatley (Minnesota).
Offseason Departures
RW Teemu Selanne (retired); C Saku Koivu (retired); C Nick Bonino (traded to Vancouver); D Luca Sbisa (traded to Vancouver); D Stephane Robidas (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); G Jonas Hiller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C Mathieu Perreault (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Daniel Winnik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C David Steckel (unrestricted free agent); D Nolan Yonkman (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 29: Acquired C Sam Gagner and RW B.J. Crombeen from Tampa Bay for a 6th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed C Joe Vitale (Pittsburgh), G Devan Dubnyk (Montreal), G Mike McKenna (Columbus) and D Andrew Campbell (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
C Mike Ribeiro (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Radim Vrbata (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); G Thomas Greiss (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Andy Miele (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); LW Tim Kennedy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); LW Paul Bissonnette (unrestricted free agent); C Jeff Halpern (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Morris (unrestricted free agent); RW Brandon Yip (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Christopher Breen (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW Jarome Iginla (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); D Andrej Meszaros (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); LW Shawn Thornton (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); G Chad Johnson (unrestricted free agent, signed NY Islanders); D Corey Potter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); RW Nick Johnson (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Brian Gionta (Montreal), LW Matt Moulson (Minnesota), D Andrej Meszaros (Boston) and C Cody McCormick (Minnesota).
July 1: Acquired D Josh Gorges from Montreal for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
July 3: Signed D Tyson Strachan (Washington).
July 13: Signed C Zac Dalpe (Vancouver).
July 23: Signed D Andre Benoit (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
D Christian Ehrhoff (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kevin Porter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Detroit); C Cory Conacher (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW John Scott (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); RW Matt D’Agostini (unrestricted free agent); C Zenon Konopka (unrestricted free agent); LW Ville Leino (unrestricted free agent); D Jamie McBain (unrestricted free agent); D Alexander Sulzer (unrestricted free agent); D Henrik Tallinder (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Brad Treliving general manager.
June 28: Acquired LW Brandon Bollig from Chicago for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed LW Mason Raymond (Toronto), D Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh) and G Jonas Hiller (Anaheim).
Aug. 23: Signed RW Devin Setoguchi (Winnipeg).
Sept. 5: Signed D Corey Potter (Boston).
Offseason Departures
LW Mike Cammalleri (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); C Ben Street (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Joey MacDonald (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); D Chris Butler (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Christopher Breen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Boston); LW T.J. Galiardi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); C Blair Jones (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Shane O’Brien (unrestricted free agent); D Derek Smith (unrestricted free agent); RW Kevin Westgarth (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
April 28: Named Ron Francis general manager.
June 19: Named Bill Peters head coach.
July 1: Signed C Brad Malone (Colorado) and G Drew MacIntyre (Toronto).
July 2: Signed C Jay McClement.
July 3: Signed D Tim Gleason.
Offseason Departures
G Justin Peters (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Manny Malhotra (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); LW Brett Sutter (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); LW Drayson Bowman (unrestricted free agent); RW Radek Dvorak (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Komisarek (unrestricted free agent); C Andrei Loktionov (unrestricted free agent); RW Aaron Palushaj (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Brad Richards (NY Rangers), C Cody Bass (Columbus) and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Tampa Bay).
July 2: Signed D Kyle Cumiskey (Modo, Sweden).
Aug. 18: Signed G Michael Leighton (HC Donbass, KHL).
Offseason Departures
LW Brandon Bollig (traded to Calgary); G Jason LaBarbera (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); G Nikolai Khabibulin (unrestricted free agent); D Sheldon Brookbank (unrestricted free agent); C Michal Handzus (unrestricted free agent); C Brad Mills (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired C Daniel Briere from Montreal for RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired D Brad Stuart from San Jose for a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a 6th-round pick in 2017.
July 1: Signed RW Jarome Iginla (Boston), D Zach Redmond (Winnipeg), D Bruno Gervais (Philadelphia), C Jesse Winchester (Florida) and C Ben Street (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
RW PA Parenteau (traded to Montreal); C Paul Stastny (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andre Benoit (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Brad Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); LW David Van der Gulik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); D Matt Hunwick (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (retired); D Cory Sarich (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 23: Acquired LW Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia for LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Toronto for RW Matt Frattin.
July 4: Signed C Brian Gibbons (Pittsburgh).
Offseason Departures
LW R.J. Umberger (traded to Philadelphia); D Nikita Nikitin (traded to Edmonton); RW Matt Frattin (traded to Toronto); C Derek MacKenzie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); RW Jack Skille (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Nick Schultz (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); LW Blake Comeau (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Cody Bass (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); G Mike McKenna (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson from Ottawa for RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Anders Lindback (Tampa Bay), RW Ales Hemsky (Ottawa) and RW Patrick Eaves (Nashville).
Offseason Departures
RW Alex Chiasson (traded to Ottawa); C Chris Mueller (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); C Dustin Jeffrey (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); D Maxime Fortunus (unrestricted free agent); LW Ray Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Aaron Rome (unrestricted free agent); G Tim Thomas (unrestricted free agent); G Cristopher Nilstorp (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Kevin Porter (Buffalo).
July 2: Signed C Andy Miele (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C David Legwand (unrestricted free agent, signed by Ottawa); RW Daniel Alfredsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Todd Bertuzzi (unrestricted free agent); C Cory Emmerton (unrestricted free agent); RW Mikael Samuelsson (unrestricted free agent); RW Jordin Tootoo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 25: Acquired D Nikita Nikitin from Columbus for a 5th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 29: Acquired RW Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay for C Sam Gagner.
July 1: Signed D Mark Fayne (New Jersey), LW Benoit Pouliot (NY Rangers) and D Keith Aulie (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
LW Ryan Smyth (retired); C Sam Gagner (traded to Tampa Bay); D Taylor Fedun (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose); D Anton Belov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ben Eager (unrestricted free agent); D Mark Fraser (unrestricted free agent); D Denis Grebeshkov (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Jones (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 21: Named Gerard Gallant head coach.
July 1: Signed C Dave Bolland (Toronto), LW Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh), LW Shawn Thornton (Boston), C Derek MacKenzie (Columbus), D Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles) and G Al Montoya (Winnipeg).
Offseason Departures
D Tom Gilbert (unrestricted free agent, signed by Montreal); C Jesse Winchester (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Scott Clemmensen (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); RW Krys Barch (unrestricted free agent); D Matt Gilroy (unrestricted free agent); C Scott Gomez (unrestricted free agent); D Ed Jovanovski (unrestricted free agent); D Ryan Whitney (unrestricted free agent); D Mike Mottau (retired).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed RW Adam Cracknell (St. Louis) and LW David Van der Gulik (Colorado).
Offseason Departures
RW Linden Vey (traded to Vancouver); D Willie Mitchell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); D Andrew Campbell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); C Colin Fraser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Thomas Vanek (Montreal), D Stu Bickel (NY Rangers) and LW Brett Sutter (Carolina).
July 11: Signed C Jordan Schroeder (Vancouver).
Aug. 1: Signed D Justin Falk (NY Rangers).
Offseason Departures
LW Matt Moulson (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Clayton Stoner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); LW Dany Heatley (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim); D Nate Prosser (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Cody McCormick (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Ilya Bryzgalov (unrestricted free agent); C Jake Dowell (unrestricted free agent); RW Carson McMillan (unrestricted free agent); LW Mike Rupp (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 30: Acquired RW PA Parenteau and a 5th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Colorado for C Daniel Briere.
July 1: Signed C Manny Malhotra (Carolina), D Tom Gilbert (Florida) and G Joey MacDonald (Calgary).
Offseason Departures
C Daniel Briere (traded to Colorado); D Josh Gorges (traded to Buffalo); C Louis Leblanc (traded to Anaheim); LW Thomas Vanek (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Brian Gionta (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); G Devan Dubnyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); RW Mike Blunden (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); C Ryan White (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia); D Francis Bouillon (unrestricted free agent); D Douglas Murray (unrestricted free agent); RW George Parros (unrestricted free agent); C Martin St. Pierre (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 6: Named Peter Laviolette head coach.
June 27: Acquired LW James Neal from Pittsburgh for RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling.
July 2: Signed C Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg).
July 7: Signed D Anton Volchenkov (New Jersey).
July 15: Signed C Mike Ribeiro (Arizona) and C Derek Roy (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
RW Patric Hornqvist (traded to Pittsburgh); C Nick Spaling (traded to Pittsburgh); RW Patrick Eaves (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Michael Del Zotto (unrestricted free agent, signed by Philadelphia).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW Mike Cammalleri (Calgary), RW Martin Havlat (San Jose) and G Scott Clemmensen (Florida).
Offseason Departures
D Mark Fayne (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Anton Volchenkov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); G Martin Brodeur (unrestricted free agent); LW Ryan Carter (unrestricted free agent); LW Rostislav Olesz (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 1: Acquired G Jaroslav Halak from Washington for a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Chad Johnson (Boston), C Cory Conacher (Buffalo), RW Jack Skille (Columbus) and LW Harry Zolnierczyk (Pittsburgh).
July 2: Signed C Mikhail Grabovski (Washington) and LW Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto).
Offseason Departures
G Evgeni Nabokov (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Radek Martinek (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed D Dan Boyle (NY Islanders), D Mike Kostka (Tampa Bay), D Matt Hunwick (Colorado), C Chris Mueller (Dallas), LW Tanner Glass (Pittsburgh) and G Cedrick Desjardins (Tampa Bay).
July 16: Signed C Matthew Lombardi (HC Geneve-Servette, Switzerland).
July 19: Signed RW Lee Stempniak (Pittsburgh).
Sept. 11: Signed LW Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay).
Offseason Departures
RW Derek Dorsett (traded to Vancouver); C Brad Richards (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Brian Boyle (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); D Anton Stralman (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); LW Benoit Pouliot (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Justin Falk (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Arron Asham (unrestricted free agent); LW Daniel Carcillo (unrestricted free agent); D Raphael Diaz (unrestricted free agent); C Darroll Powe (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Acquired RW Alex Chiasson, LW Nick Paul, LW Alex Guptill and a 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Dallas for C Jason Spezza and RW Ludwig Karlsson.
July 4: Signed C David Legwand (Detroit).
Offseason Departures
C Jason Spezza (traded to Dallas); RW Ales Hemsky (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Joe Corvo (unrestricted free agent); LW Matt Kassian (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 7: Named Ron Hextall general manager.
June 23: Acquired LW R.J. Umberger and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Columbus for LW Scott Hartnell.
July 1: Signed C Blair Jones (Calgary).
July 2: Signed D Nick Schultz (Columbus).
Aug. 5: Signed D Michael Del Zotto (Nashville).
Aug. 7: Signed C Ryan White (Montreal)
Offseason Departures
LW Scott Hartnell (traded to Columbus); LW Tye McGinn (traded to San Jose); RW Steve Downie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Kris Newbury (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Hal Gill (unrestricted free agent); RW Adam Hall (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 6: Named Jim Rutherford general manager.
June 25: Named Mike Johnston head coach.
June 27: Acquired RW Patric Hornqvist and C Nick Spaling from Nashville for LW James Neal.
July 1: Signed D Christian Ehrhoff (Buffalo), G Thomas Greiss (Arizona) and LW Blake Comeau (Columbus).
July 2: Signed RW Steve Downie (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
LW James Neal (traded to Nashville); D Matt Niskanen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); D Brooks Orpik (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); C Joe Vitale (unrestricted free agent, signed by Arizona); D Deryk Engelland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Pittsburgh); C Brian Gibbons (unrestricted free agent, signed by Columbus); LW Jussi Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Harry Zolnierczyk (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); LW Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Lee Stempniak (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); RW Chris Conner (unrestricted free agent, signed by Washington); G Tomas Vokoun (unrestricted free agent); RW Chuck Kobasew (unrestricted free agent); LW Taylor Pyatt (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed LW John Scott (Buffalo) and D Taylor Fedun (Edmonton).
July 2: Acquired LW Tye McGinn from Philadelphia for a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Offseason Departures
D Brad Stuart (traded to Colorado); D Dan Boyle (traded to NY Islanders); RW Martin Havlat (unrestricted free agent, signed by New Jersey); LW John McCarthy (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); LW Bracken Kearns (unrestricted free agent); RW Matt Pelech (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft from Toronto for D Roman Polak.
July 1: Signed C Paul Stastny (Colorado) and C Jori Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL).
July 4: Signed LW John McCarthy (San Jose).
July 16: Signed D Chris Butler (Calgary) and RW Benn Ferriero (Vancouver).
July 21: Signed C Jeremy Welsh (Vancouver).
July 22: Signed D Nate Prosser (Minnesota).
July 29: Signed C Peter Mueller (Kloten, Switzerland).
Sept. 5: Signed C Colin Fraser (Los Angeles).
Offseason Departures
D Roman Polak (traded to Toronto); C Derek Roy (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); LW Brenden Morrow (unrestricted free agent, signed by Tampa Bay); RW Adam Cracknell (unrestricted free agent, signed by Los Angeles); G Ryan Miller (unrestricted free agent, signed by Vancouver); LW Vladimir Sobotka (restricted free agent, signed by KHL Avangard Omsk); C Keith Aucoin (unrestricted free agent); D Carlo Colaiacovo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 27: Acquired D Jason Garrison, LW Jeff Costello and a 7th-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from Vancouver for a 2nd-round pick in 2014.
July 1: Signed D Anton Stralman (NY Rangers), C Brian Boyle (NY Rangers), G Evgeni Nabokov (NY Islanders) and RW Mike Blunden (Montreal).
July 11: Signed LW Brenden Morrow (St. Louis).
Offseason Departures
C Nate Thompson (traded to Anaheim); RW B.J. Crombeen (traded to Arizona); RW Teddy Purcell (traded to Edmonton); G Anders Lindback (unrestricted free agent, signed by Dallas); D Keith Aulie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Edmonton); D Mike Kostka (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); G Cedrick Desjardins (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Ryan Malone (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Rangers); LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago); C Tom Pyatt (unrestricted free agent); D Sami Salo (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
June 28: Acquired D Roman Polak from St. Louis for D Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Acquired RW Matt Frattin from Columbus for RW Jerry D’Amigo and a conditional pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed D Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) and C Leo Komarov (Dynamo Moscow, KHL).
July 3: Signed C Mike Santorelli (Vancouver) and C Petri Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk, KHL).
July 22: Signed LW David Booth (Vancouver).
July 28: Signed C Daniel Winnik (Anaheim).
Offseason Departures
D Carl Gunnarsson (traded to St. Louis); RW Jerry D’Amigo (traded to Columbus); LW Mason Raymond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); G Drew MacIntyre (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Jay McClement (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); D Tim Gleason (unrestricted free agent, signed by Carolina); C Dave Bolland (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); LW Nikolai Kulemin (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Paul Ranger (unrestricted free agent); C Jarred Smithson (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 21: Named Jim Benning general manager.
June 23: Named Willie Desjardins head coach.
June 27: Acquired C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa and Anaheim’s 1st- and 3rd-round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft from Anaheim for C Ryan Kesler and a 3rd-round pick in 2015.
June 27: Acquired RW Derek Dorsett from NY Rangers for a 3rd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
June 28: Acquired RW Linden Vey from Los Angeles for a 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
July 1: Signed G Ryan Miller (St. Louis).
July 2: Signed C Dustin Jeffrey (Dallas).
July 3: Signed RW Radim Vrbata (Arizona).
Offseason Departures
C Ryan Kesler (traded to Anaheim); D Jason Garrison (traded to Tampa Bay); LW David Booth (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Mike Santorelli (unrestricted free agent, signed by Toronto); C Zac Dalpe (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); C Jordan Schroeder (unrestricted free agent, signed by Minnesota); RW Benn Ferriero (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); C Jeremy Welsh (unrestricted free agent, signed by St. Louis); D Andrew Alberts (unrestricted free agent); LW Pascal Pelletier (unrestricted free agent); D Yann Sauve (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
May 26: Named Brian MacLellan general manager and Barry Trotz head coach.
July 1: Signed G Justin Peters (Carolina), D Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh), D Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) and RW Chris Conner (Pittsburgh).
July 3: Signed LW Tim Kennedy (Arizona).
July 4: Signed C Kris Newbury (Philadelphia).
Offseason Departures
G Jaroslav Halak (traded to NY Islanders); C Mikhail Grabovski (unrestricted free agent, signed by NY Islanders); D Tyson Strachan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Buffalo); D Julien Brouillette (unrestricted free agent, signed by Winnipeg); RW Dustin Penner (unrestricted free agent); C Nicolas Deschamps (unrestricted free agent); C Peter LeBlanc (unrestricted free agent); C Ryan Stoa (unrestricted free agent).

Offseason Acquisitions (w/ previous rights)
July 1: Signed C Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim).
Aug. 1: Signed LW T.J. Galiardi (Calgary).
Aug. 8: Signed D Julien Brouillette (Washington).
Offseason Departures
D Zach Redmond (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado); G Al Montoya (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida); C Olli Jokinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville); RW Devin Setoguchi (unrestricted free agent, signed by Calgary); C James Wright (unrestricted free agent).
It's not a conscious effort, but former NHLer Scott Walker can sense that he is incorporating certain techniques and strategies from his playing days into his current routine as coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm.

How he manages practice, what he likes in a team meeting, how he likes to send a message -- all those areas have been shaped by his previous experiences.

And having played for the likes of both Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette during his 17 seasons in the NHL, the 41-year-old former Nashville Predator has a unique perspective on the changing of the guard in Music City, where Laviolette replaced Trotz, who was the longest-tenured active coach in the NHL when he was dismissed following his 15th season in April.

[+] EnlargeScott Walker
Don Smith/Getty ImagesScott Walker played for Barry Trotz in Nashville from 1998 to 2004.
Both men are tremendous coaches, according to Walker, but given the amount of time Trotz spent in Nashville, a significant adjustment period should be expected.

"It’s funny because I had both of them and they’re both great people. The overall thing is, it’s going to be different,” Walker told in a phone conversation Tuesday. “It’s going to take a bit -- some players have been through this once or twice, but some players have only heard one voice and it’s going to take them a little while to adjust.”

That’s not a bad thing for the Predators, who finished this past season in 10th place in the uber-competitive Western Conference. A new voice and fresh ideas can be a good thing for everyone involved.

“Sometimes, it can infuse a little bit of excitement amongst the players, not because one guy is bad or good, but just because it’s different. You want to prove to the new coach, that ‘Hey, I’m a good player.' Sometimes, it can be a positive,” Walker said. “Some players will adapt and do well and some will struggle because they like to play under Trotz."

Walker described both men as “very detailed, very prepared,” but there are some obvious differences.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that Lavy is a more offensive coach and Barry is a bit more defensive-minded. [Trotz] got the most out of our team. There weren’t too many years where we underachieved. I think that comes from the coach,” said Walker, who played for Trotz in Nashville from 1998 to 2004.

Walker described Trotz as the type of coach who really took time to know each and every one of his players. He cared about them individually. Walker said Laviolette’s strength was his ability to inspire his charges. Having played under Laviolette after being traded to Carolina in 2006, he knows that the Predators' new coach will light a fire under the team.

“Peter was very emotional, very inspirational,” said Walker, who amassed 151 goals and 391 points in 829 career games. “He knows just what to say and when to say it.”

That may be the type of spark the Predators need to get back on track this season. In addition to hiring Laviolette in May, Predators GM David Poile acquired winger James Neal in a trade with Pittsburgh and signed veteran centers Olli Jokinen and Mike Ribeiro.

Walker tries to keep tabs on his former teams -- he also played for the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks, in addition to the Predators and Hurricanes -- but there isn’t a ton of time what with coaching one of the top junior teams out there.

Walker led the Storm to an OHL championship last season, with his team losing to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Memorial Cup championship.

He was always intrigued by the possibility of returning to junior hockey -- he played for Owen Sound as a teen -- and pursuing ownership opportunities (he also serves as owner of the Storm). Developing young players has become his niche, where he remains committed to helping each player develop individually in hopes of reaching the pros.

“For me, my biggest philosophy is, every day helping them get to the next level,” he said.

Seeing that process take shape and the advancement of junior hockey as a whole has been a treat for Walker.

“It’s amazing to see how far junior hockey has come. The talent level is amazing,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to see and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”

West: 30 cheesy songs for 30 teams

July, 31, 2014

Hair bands and hockey hair: a marriage made in heaven. So, we're dropping the needle on 30 songs that say something about each of the 30 teams -- using nothing but cheesy videos from the 1980s. The Western Conference list is below, so feel free to mullet over. (Eastern Conference is here.)

ANAHEIM DUCKS: "Maniac," Michael Sembello

Those crazy kids on the left coast will try pretty much anything. Which means it's all or nothing for the Ducks, who, if it weren't for their downtown neighbors, might be living the high life instead of never seeing the third round. But real life is hard, so that's why the Ducks went out and got Ryan Kesler and are sticking with young hotshots John Gibson and Fredrik Andersen in net, no matter what. And they mean it this time. Carpe diem, ducklings!

On the ice-blue line of insanity, it's a place most never see
It's a hard-won place of mystery, touch it but can't hold it
You work for your life for that moment in time, it could come or pass you by
It's a push of the world, but there's always a chance

ARIZONA COYOTES: "Livin' On A Prayer," Bon Jovi

Arizona Coyotes, Phoenix Coyotes ... does it really matter? With the team's arena deal hitting an unexpected bump in the road recently, this team's off-ice fortunes continue to cloud the future. Not to mention that said arena is still so far out in the boonies that no one goes to the games.

We've got to hold on to what we've got
'Cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot

CALGARY FLAMES: "Holding Back The Years," Simply Red

What's the deal with these perennially lousy teams in Alberta? Not all the Brian Burkes in the world seem to able to fix this broken franchise. Jarome Iginla must be so happy he's not there anymore.

Holding back the years
Chance for me to escape from all I've known
Holding back the tears
'Cause nothing here has grown
I've wasted all my tears
Wasted all those years
And nothing had the chance to be good
Nothing ever could yeah

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: "U Can't Touch This," MC Hammer

"The Blackhawks are so good." "Break it down,!" "They are so good, no one in the West will be able to touch them. Er, until the playoffs." "You had me and then you lost me,!"

Cold on a mission so fall them back
Let 'em know that you're too much
And this is a beat, uh, you can't touch

COLORADO AVALANCHE: "Beat It," Michael Jackson

Time to see what you're made of, Avs. You had an overachieving season followed by a disappointingly early departure from the playoffs. How you respond after all the Patrick Roy glass-pushing and novelty wears thin will reveal your true character. Show us how funky strong is your fight. And, by the way, let's see you do it without Paul Stastny.

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it

DALLAS STARS: "Hip To Be Square," Huey Lewis And The News

We're watching you, Tyler Seguin. The fate of the Stars rests on your considerable shoulders. Show us what you've got.

I used to be a renegade, I used to fool around
But I couldn't take the punishment and had to settle down
Now I'm playing it real straight, and yes, I cut my hair
You might think I'm crazy, but I don't even care
Because I can tell what's going on

EDMONTON OILERS: "We're Not Going to Take It," Twisted Sister

All those high draft picks, all those low places in the standings, all that disappointment for a passionate fan base, all those seasons of missing the playoffs. Will the fans bail on the Oil?

If that's your best
Your best won't do

LOS ANGELES KINGS: "We Are The Champions," Queen

C'mon, you knew this one was coming: Kings, Queen, defending champions. But, seriously, can anyone dethrone the Kings?

We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions

MINNESOTA WILD: "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band

Who's playing net here? Is it a revolving door again? That never works.

I heat up, I can't cool down
You got me spinnin'
'Round and 'round
'Round and 'round and 'round it goes
Where it stops nobody knows

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: "Notorious," Duran Duran

The Predators never seem to learn. A couple of years ago, they brought in bad boys Andrei Kostisyn and Alexander Radulov late in the season, and their late-night carousing -- in the playoffs, no less -- helped bring the previously rolling Preds machine to a grinding halt. Now, they sign Mike Ribeiro and his ambiguous "behavior issues." Ribeiro -- whose camp sought out the Predators -- says he's changed his ways. Whatever. GM David Poile must be the king of second chances, or he likes living life on the edge.

That's why I've done it again

ST. LOUIS BLUES: "Don't You Want Me," Human League

"Sorry, Ryan Miller, but we've decided to go in another direction. It just wasn't a good fit. No, no, it was us, not you. Yes, we can certainly be friends."

Don't, don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me
Don't, don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me

SAN JOSE SHARKS: "The Breakup Song," The Greg Kihn Band

Some feel the underperforming Sharks would be best to start from scratch. Will fans forgive them if they don't?

Now I wind up staring at an empty glass
Uh uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh
Cause it's so easy to say that you'll forget your past
Uh uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: "Separate Ways," Journey

Poor Canucks fans. Too many good goalies, not enough good goalies, fired coach goes to the Cup finals with another team ... so confused by the unrequited love they have for their mixed-up team. Everyone who comes to this team and isn't a twin seems to eventually go his separate way.

Troubled times
Caught between confusions and pain, pain, pain
Distant eyes
Promises we made were in vain
In vain, vain

WINNIPEG JETS: "The Way It Is," Bruce Hornsby and the Range

You know the Jets aren't really that far away from being the Thrashers, right? And you remember how crappy the Thrashers were, right? This team seems to spin its wheels no matter where it is or who is coaching it. Shame, really.

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is

#ESPNplayerNHL: Best Predators player?

July, 10, 2014
The Nashville Predators don't have the longest history. After all, it was just 16 years ago that the franchise was created. (Their first game was Oct. 10, 1998.)

But a short history doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty of talent to pass through Bridgestone Arena.

[+] EnlargePredators
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesDespite the Predators' short history, the franchise is long on talent.
David Legwand, the first pick in franchise history (No. 2 overall in 1998), played 956 games and posted 566 points (210 goals, 356 assists) before getting traded to Detroit this past season. Martin Erat was in Nashville for 11 seasons before requesting a trade in 2013.

You can't forget about departed defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter.

And what about the goalies: Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne?

Last, but obviously not least, the current face of the franchise: defenseman and three-time Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber.

Weber has 131 goals and 216 assists in 607 games for the Predators.

So who is truly Mr. Predator?

You can cast your ballot in three ways: in the comments section below, through our Facebook page or, if you're hitting us up from Twitter, use the hashtag #ESPNplayerNHL.

PHILADELPHIA -- Perhaps emotionally driven and certainly frustrated, veteran general manager Bryan Murray revealed more than a little after the NHL draft Saturday regarding his failed attempts so far to trade star center Jason Spezza.

For starters, the Ottawa Senators GM said a potential deal with the Nashville Predators was scuttled because Spezza didn’t want to go there -- the Preds are on Spezza’s list of 10 teams he won’t go to.

"[Preds GM] David [Poile] talked to me, and we couldn’t go there," Murray said. "I told [Spezza’s agent] Rick Curran that today, I had a deal sitting there if I wanted to do it, but he was on the list of no-goes."

Poile also confirmed the potential deal.

“I've talked to Bryan about Jason, and I was told through [Spezza’s] agent that he didn’t want to play for us. And that was confirmed by Bryan," Poile said Saturday.

The hint was that Murray could have gotten Patric Hornqvist and Nic Spaling, the two players who went to Pittsburgh for James Neal.

“They’ve done their James Neal trade, so that has gone away,” Murray said. "Anaheim’s gone away with Kesler, so the field narrows a little bit. But yeah, they might need to have a little change in approach, as well as I do.”

The question now is whether Spezza would consider changing his mind on Nashville if his situation drags on. After all, he is the one who asked for a trade.

“Maybe David and I will have a conversation later on, I don’t know that,” Murray said. "We talked today but didn’t indicate anything about a trade because of the Neal trade. But he may come back to me.”

[+] EnlargeJason Spezza
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyNashville is one of the 10 teams that Jason Spezza will not accept a trade to.
But a source close to Spezza told that, at this point, he has no intention of changing his mind on Nashville.

It’s clear that the classy Poile had a hint of frustration in his voice as he talked about Spezza not wanting to go to Nashville.

“I’m not going to pitch somebody if they don’t want to play for us,” Poile said. "This game is hard enough as it is. You’ve got to be fully committed.”

Poile sees Nashville as an attractive place for a player with a team that’s improving.

“I want to be optimistic. I think we’re closer than a lot of people are giving us credit for," Poile said.

“I have no problem selling my team, and I think it’s an easy sell. What we have on the ice, what we have off the ice, the city, the atmosphere, no state taxes, there’s a lot of advantages to playing in Nashville.”

And what he’d dearly love is a center of Spezza’s talents, or perhaps Paul Stastny (UFA on Tuesday).

“If I had it on my wish list, I would like to get a No. 1 center, and we’re going to try to get that,” Poile said. "If that happens the next couple of days or it happens in free agency or it happens through a trade that would be great. If it doesn’t happen right now, I have patience. I don’t think we really have an age problem on our team, but I think we’re really getting the correct pieces in place to be a more competitive club than we’ve been in the last couple of years.”

For the Senators, it may very well be that once Stastny is taken off the market, some of the teams who were chasing him will come back on Spezza.

"We’ll continue to talk and, over the course of time, I’m sure people that miss out on July 1 may come knocking, but we’ll have to wait and see," Murray said.

"Jason’s a 80-90 point guy, and you don’t get that return in any kind of trade in this league today, but I’m hoping we get something fair for the organization, so that we can put a player on the ice and maybe get a prospect or two and go from there."

A source told that Murray had another conversation about Spezza with St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong on Saturday morning, the Senators trying to pry the Blues’ second-round pick in a possible package. But the Blues stood pat for now, although it’s believed their interest in Spezza remains strong. The same can be said for the Chicago Blackhawks, although they’ve got to figure out their salary-cap situation to have any chance to make a deal work with Ottawa.

The Blues also have interest in Stastny, so that’s another potential avenue, although half the teams in the league have approached Stastny’s camp.

Talk about out of left field, news broke by my TSN teammate Bob McKenzie on Saturday that the Maple Leafs and rival Montreal Canadiens had talked about a potential Josh Gorges trade. Only one problem, Toronto isn’t among the 15 teams that Gorges has listed on his partial no-trade provision as clubs he’s willing to go to. But what it does tell you is that Gorges is in play, only thing is, Montreal needs to find a partner among those 15 teams listed.

Gorges, 29, has four more years on his deal at a $3.9 million cap hit.

The Leafs did trade for a blueliner, getting Roman Polak from St. Louis in exchange for Carl Gunnarsson and the 94th overall pick. Toronto retained $200,000 of cap space in the transaction.

Perhaps the biggest buzz item of the weekend was the salary cap, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announcing Friday that it would be $69 million for next season.

That’s about $1 million less than what most teams had budgeted for, which is no small deal.

For teams like Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, every dime matters when you’re a cap team and having a lower-than-expected cap greatly affects potential moves and certainly the ability to spend.

"Yeah, it affects every team that’s close," Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Saturday. "It affects us for sure. We’ve got to find a way to get below it. It was a little lower than we thought and hoped."

The Blackhawks are trying to find a No. 2 center, the Bruins had hoped to re-sign Jarome Iginla, the Rangers have Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman headed to free agency, and the list goes on.

Having a cap that’s a $1 million less than expected is far from ideal for many of these cap teams.

What’s most interesting is that in the negotiations over setting the cap number, it was the NHL Players’ Association wanting it at $69 million while the league wanted it at $70 million. The NHLPA’s concern was that a $70-million cap would lead to more escrow payments for players next year.

That’s a valid point, it’s just rare for the players to be arguing for less spending and the league wanting more.

"Role reversal," chuckled one team executive.

Stars GM Jim Nill said he’d like to add a piece or two to his forward group but did not divulge his specific targets.

Sources suggest he’s talked to San Jose about Joe Thornton and also to Ottawa about Jason Spezza.

What he found out is that Thornton at this point has no intention to waive his no-movement clause.

Agent Matt Keator was a popular man this week in Philadelphia, courted by half the teams in the league on the subject of his client and pending UFA center Paul Stastny.

It’s clear Colorado will need to boost its last offer to Stastny (believed to be a number that starts with 5) in order to retain his services.

"We’re going to continue talking, I’m going to talk to him probably tomorrow," Avs executive Joe Sakic said Saturday. "We’ll see where we’re at."

Stastny dearly wants to stay in Denver. But he’s going to get offered more money elsewhere, so he will have to balance those two thoughts.

"That’s what you get when you’re an UFA, the ultimate decision is Paul’s," Sakic said. "I’m sure there’s lots of teams that have interest, where they’re going to go financially, I don’t know, but I know what we can do. Hopefully it will work out, but we’ll see."

Daniel Alfredsson, 41, continues to mull over his playing future.

"I think right now, Daniel -- not unlike a lot of veteran guys in his situation and his age -- just wants to take his time and make the right decision," his agent J.P. Barry of CAA said Saturday. "He wants to feel 100 percent before he makes any decision.

"I think he’s leaning towards playing, we all think that, but at the same time he needs that time in the summer to feel 100 percent."

If Alfredsson does return, it’s likely only for Detroit.

Matt Niskanen is almost surely gone from Pittsburgh, the cap-challenged Penguins unable to match what the UFA blueliner will fetch on the open market both in term and dollars.

Don’t be surprised to see Niskanen and his agent Neil Sheehy fetch north of $5 million a year and term around five or six years for the puck-mover.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he was close on one particular offer to trade away the No. 1 overall pick Friday night.

And while Philadelphia and Vancouver made strong pitches, the club that made Tallon think the most was Tampa Bay, a source said.

Imagine if the two Florida clubs had gotten together for that kind of blockbuster.

PHILADELPHIA -- In the midst of an offseason of tremendous upheaval, the Pittsburgh Penguins were determined to change the complexion, the character of their team following another disappointing playoff exit.

And so it wasn’t a complete surprise that on Friday winger James Neal was dealt to the Nashville Predators. The question, though, is whether the Penguins believe they may have added by subtraction with the deal because, in terms of straight-up skill, the Predators ended up with the best hockey player in the deal that saw Patric Hornqvist and center Nick Spaling go to Pittsburgh.

Neal, when he’s on his game, is a 40-goal threat and instantly becomes the Predators’ most dangerous offensive weapon. The 26-year-old should help the Predators’ power play and he is under contract through the 2017-18 season at a relatively modest cap hit of $5 million.

Did we mention when Neal is on his game?

Because there are times when he’s not on his game -- as in during most of the Penguins’ past three postseason runs -- when he was only occasionally engaged.

He had just two goals in 13 postseason games this spring and was held without a point during a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals.

Worse, Neal has a penchant for taking undisciplined penalties, some of which have led to suspensions.

Will that matter to an offensively-challenged Predators team that has missed the playoffs two straight years and will have a new coach behind the bench for the first time in franchise history next fall in Peter Laviolette?

Not really.

Perhaps this trade will represent something of a wake-up call for Neal, and he certainly will be counted on to be a front-line performer in Nashville as opposed to a complementary player in Pittsburgh, where he was able to exist in the shadow of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Indeed, assuming Pekka Rinne returns to form after an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign, Seth Jones continues his evolution and Shea Weber is rolling along in Norris Trophy form, Neal may be the kind of addition that propels the Predators back into the playoffs.

As for the Penguins, Hornqvist, 28, will fill some of the offensive vacuum created by Neal’s absence and, if he ends up playing with Malkin or Crosby, he could return to the 30-goal plateau for the first time since 2009-10. But Hornqvist, who has the distinction of being the very last person selected in the 2005 draft, is not particularly speedy. And with a cap hit of $4.75 million through the 2017-18 season, he doesn’t represent much in the way of savings for a Penguins team that has significant salary-cap issues.

Spaling, a restricted free agent, will add depth down the middle and had a career-best 13 goals for the Predators last season.

NEW YORK -- It has been speculated for a while now, but Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray confirmed for the first time Wednesday that his star center Jason Spezza has asked out.

And Murray’s phone has been ringing.

"There are a few teams that have asked me about him, what the cost is," Murray said after the GMs meeting Wednesday. "I suggested at least we'll have discussions. I don't want to trade the guy, really, and I know I won't get the value, in all likelihood that I should get for him. But I think that Jason feels maybe there's a change that he would like to have happen, and if that's the case we'll try to do what we can."

The asking price won’t only include futures in return.

"Obviously I'd like to win a hockey game next year, so getting a player back that can play in the league, that has played in the league, would be important," Murray said.

Murray said Wednesday’s GMs meeting is not really much of an opportunity to get a lot done in terms of trade discussions.

"It's such a short time together," he said. "You get a chance to talk to two guys, but not widespread by any means. We're all kicking tires right now. It'll probably be another few weeks, at least, before anything comes down that might be a worthwhile trade talking about."

[+] EnlargeDan Blysma
Chuck Myers/Getty ImagesDan Bylsma interviewed for the Florida Panthers' head coach position on Tuesday.
Florida GM Dale Tallon said his exhaustive coaching search is down to six candidates: Dan Bylsma, Ron Wilson, Gerard Gallant, Marc Crawford, Bill Peters and Tom Renney.

Tallon also told my TSN colleague Darren Dreger that Bylsma had a strong interview on Tuesday.

Had a chance to chat with new Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford and he’s got his hands full with a team that has seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie all headed to unrestricted free agency on July 1.

Are more changes afoot in Pittsburgh after GM Ray Shero and head coach Bylsma were let go? You bet.

"Well there’s going to be changes because we have so many UFAs. And we don’t have a lot of cap space," Rutherford told a small group of reporters.

"Are you asking me are there going to be major trades? I don’t know. Talked to some people, some people came after me today and there’s ideas out there. I haven’t been throwing any ideas out but I’ll listen. But obviously there’s going to be some new players there because just the position we’re in with the cap."

It’s believed the team will move on without veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik and there’s a possibility the Pens could move scoring winger James Neal to get younger up front and to free up cap space.

One player Rutherford is intrigued by is defenseman Matt Niskanen, who had a breakout year for the Penguins and is slated for free agency but would like to stay in Pittsburgh.

“He had a good year," Rutherford said. "And trying to figure that out. It’s not going to easy but certainly with the year he had we’d like to take a look at him."

The longtime Carolina GM has not yet talked with captain Sidney Crosby.

“Maybe at some point. Right now we got the coach and the draft and free agency," Rutherford said. "Been calling trying to say hello to players and half of them are wrong numbers and they’re off on vacation somewhere. I’m trying to get as much done as I can in a short period of time."

He would like to have a coach in place before free agency starts July 1.

Confirming what we quoted agent Pat Brisson as saying last week, the Chicago Blackhawks are in talks to extend the contracts of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and would like to get it done by July 1.

"I've had discussions with Pat, I'll continue that," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said after the GMs meeting. "I'm very optimistic about that. We've been very consistent with we're going to make it happen. I know [from] talking to Pat they certainly want to be in Chicago. It's a negotiation. I would say nothing has changed my thoughts all along, which is we'll get it done. It's still June 11 or 12th, and we've still got a few more weeks before we do anything."

As per the collective bargaining agreement, July 1 is the earliest players could be signed to extensions, one year out from the expiry of their current deals. But it’s clearly important to Bowman to get it done by July 1 because that allows him to plan out the rest of his offseason moves.

"Very eager," Bowman said of getting it done by July 1. "That's been our No. 1 objective all along and I'm expecting to meet that."

Trying to keep his team together and keeping an eye on the salary cap remains as always a challenge for the Hawks, who spend to the max.

"I always have concerns. I wouldn't be, that's part of my job looking forward," Bowman said. "You can't look year to year, you have to look two or three years out and obviously you know a year from now there should be a kind of bump with the new TV deal, but you still don't want to assume anything. You have to be planning your moves two and three years ahead, which we're doing. We have ideas what that entails. We're not going to share that. We've been doing this long enough that we know what has to happen. Then if the cap goes up more than you expect, that's great. We're not assuming anything. We realize it's a puzzle to put together and we'll make it work."

For whatever reason, every once in a while another Shea Weber trade rumor pops up.

It befuddles veteran Nashville Predators GM David Poile because he remains adamant he’s not moving his star blueliner.

"We’re keeping him, we’re building our franchise around him," Poile said after the GMs meeting. "I think we’ve got one of the best young defenses in the league. I think he’s got an excellent chance of winning the Norris Trophy in 11 or 12 days from now. Why wouldn’t we build our team around him? That’s exactly what we’re doing. We just need one or two forwards and when we get that, you’ll be saying, 'Imagine that someone ever thought they would trade Shea Weber?' No, we are not trading Shea Weber."

Sabres GM Tim Murray says he’d like to pick up another first-round draft pick to add to the second overall pick he already has.

"I can’t imagine I would trade the second overall pick," Murray said. "I’d like to get a couple of more first-round picks and I have those three third-rounders to us. I certainly know you can’t trade a second for a first, but you might take some money back in a deal to do that and I do have to get to the [cap] floor. There are different ways to get to the floor so I’m exploring all that."'s Scott Burnside contributed to this report