Rumblings: Callahan staying in Tampa? Canucks making changes?
April, 1, 2014
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning made it clear to Ryan Callahan’s camp that they want the player past this season.
The pending UFA's agent, the veteran Steve Bartlett, told ESPN.com Tuesday that he chatted with Steve Yzerman in Buffalo over the past weekend, at which point the Bolts GM made it clear they'd like to talk extension after the season.
Yzerman, also reached Tuesday, said for now the focus is on hockey, on making the playoffs and on doing well in the playoffs. The GM will focus on Callahan’s future later.
"He’s just going to play hockey and we’ll talk when the season’s over," Yzerman told ESPN.com.
But it’s clear the Bolts hope the former Rangers captain is more than just a rental.
"Yeah, we’d love to sign him," said Yzerman. "He’s a good fit, a good person, a good player, has style of play that really complements our group well; he’s fit in really well. So we hope to sign him. But we won’t talk until after the year."
Tortorella could be outEven though he still has four years and $8 million left on his deal, I think it is more than likely that John Tortorella will be fired as head coach after the season in Vancouver.
I like Torts, but he was never the right fit for that team.
The Canucks built a blue-line corps meant for a quick transition game, but the club has played more of a chip and chase, shot-blocking game this season. As one NHL scout told ESPN.com, "The wrong system for that set of players."
The real question in Vancouver is whether that’s going to be enough change. I suspect ownership continues to debate internally whether or not to fire GM Mike Gillis and that’s really going to be the biggest decision of all.
Personally, I would allow Gillis at least one more year to redirect the ship. I think he’s earned that.
Gillis, by the way, also has four more years on his contract.
Talks renewed between Markov, HabsThings went quiet between the Montreal Canadiens and Andrei Markov's camp after both sides talked on the eve of the March 5 trade deadline.
Markov’s agent, Sergei Berezin, however, said the dialogue with Habs GM Marc Bergevin was renewed over this past weekend regarding the pending UFA blueliner.
"I met with Marc a couple of days ago when they were here [in Florida]," Berezin told ESPN.com Tuesday.
"I don’t think we’re in any rush to get anything done. I have an idea what they’re offering, they know what we want, and I don’t actually think we’re that far apart. I’m hopeful in the end it will work out."
Jagr, Devils to talk extensionThere was also activity on the Jaromir Jagr front. The future Hall of Famer is a pending UFA but has really enjoyed his time in New Jersey.
A source told ESPN.com Tuesday that Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, met with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello a few days ago and both sides expressed a desire to get Jagr extended. However, those talks would wait to get going for real until after the season.
Wild win Folin derbyThere was massive interest in college UFA blueliner Christian Folin, 23, and as colleague Craig Custance first reported Monday night, the Minnesota Wild won the derby.
One of the hot rumors that’s made the rounds around NHL circles is that Folin’s camp was demanding a guaranteed NHL roster spot for next season, which was a deal breaker apparently for some teams.
"We weren’t demanding, we were seeking, there’s a difference there, there are no guarantees," Folin’s agent, Dan Plante, told ESPN.com Tuesday.
Plante said it wasn’t a formal request, it was more about the process and wanting to know where the Swedish blueliner would fit in the organization’s plan. But yes, teams that communicated a real chance for Folin to play in the NHL season obviously got a leg up.
"The message to teams was, 'When Christian decided to leave school, he wanted to have a real shot to be on your team next year,'" Plante told ESPN.com Tuesday. "But there’s no guarantees, we know that. We said, 'Hey, do you see him fitting in on your team next year and challenging for a spot?' We got lots of 'yes' responses to that.
"We wanted to find the safest environment for the kid."
They feel they found it in Minnesota, where there’s a Wild blue-line corps that’s still a little thin overall and where Folin can definitely step in next season and be a contributor.
"He’s what we need," Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told ESPN.com Tuesday. "We love his combination of size and mobility plus he’s a right-handed shot. We’re just so happy and thrilled to have landed him."
The Wild had shown interest in Folin for more than a year, in fact.
Just what kind of player can the 6-foot-3 right-handed blueliner be?
"He has a chance to be a real good No. 4 [defenseman]," said one NHL team executive.
Said an NHL scout: "A very late bloomer. Big, skates well and has a hard shot; needs work defensively, average passer."
Bruins winning in notable waysWhat pleases Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli the most about his team’s incredible run over the past two-plus months is the consistency in his team’s game, which is so important with the playoffs around the corner.
"We don’t always win in perfect ways, but when we have deficiencies, we tend to take care of them, which is nice to see at this point in the season," Chiarelli told ESPN.com Tuesday.
Most notable is the way in which the Bruins’ blue-line corps survived the injury loss of Dennis Seidenberg.
"It’s given a few of our young guys more opportunities to defend, which is important come playoff time. To really know how to defend in our system," said the Bruins GM.
Seidenberg was an especially impactful player on the penalty kill, but the Bruins entered Tuesday night’s NHL action eighth overall on the penalty kill, not to mention third overall on the power play.
It’s worth mentioning because the Bruins most often get lauded for their five-on-five play, which as always has been top-notch this season under head coach Claude Julien, but it’s not the only reason they’re winning.
"Sometimes overlooked in all this is that our special teams have been really good," said Chiarelli.
One of the major power-play contributors has been Jarome Iginla, who seems to have found the fountain of youth this season in Boston. He's slated to be a UFA July 1, and there has been expressed mutual interest on both sides to continue the relationship, although contract talks between the Bruins and veteran agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports would wait until after the season.
"Absolutely," Chiarelli responded when asked about having interest in bringing back Iginla.
"I’ve talked to Donnie and we’ll look at it, like we look at everything else, after the playoffs."
Carlyle's futureThere are some people who have wondered over the past few days if the Toronto Maple Leafs might be contemplating a coaching change this late in the season to try to salvage their playoff chances, the reeling club having lost eight straight before hosting Calgary on Tuesday night.
I don’t think that’s going to happen in terms of right now. That’s just not the style of GM David Nonis, whose patient approach since taking over the club has been his best attribute -- even if Leafs fans are angry and disillusioned right now. I don’t think Nonis would see any benefit at all in a coaching change this late in the season.
Randy Carlyle’s future, however, will no doubt be on the table after the season if Toronto misses out. That’s not to say for sure he’d get canned, but I think Nonis will have no choice at that point but to evaluate whether Carlyle is the best choice in terms of bringing along the team’s young talent.
Regardless of whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not, I expect Nonis would continue with his patient approach going into next season, preaching the development of young players. Nonis has a long-term view for this club, which has been rare for a Toronto GM over the past 30-odd years.
I suppose what’s going to be interesting in that regard is just how patient Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke will be if the Leafs miss the playoffs.
One thing to keep in mind: The Leafs GM who hired Carlyle was Brian Burke. Yes, Nonis was Burke’s right-hand man at the time, but the fact is, as Leafs GM, he hasn’t yet hired his own coach.