- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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The offseason activity is beginning to pick up around the league as the games wind down. We made a few phone calls Wednesday to catch up on a few interesting situations around the league:
Now that Jim Benning was officially announced as Canucks GM, the search will be on for a head coach in Vancouver. Barry Trotz will likely be among the top candidates. The well-respected bench boss, who was Nashville's coach for 17 years, has already met with the Washington Capitals, and word is he’s also going to meet with the Florida Panthers about their coaching vacancy.
The Canucks, by the way, sped up the process on Benning once Pittsburgh fired GM Ray Shero on Friday, apparently fearful that the Penguins would be all over Benning, Boston’s assistant GM.
Speaking of the Penguins, after mega-agent Pat Brisson turned down Pittsburgh’s overtures to fill the GM void, the search continues. Six or seven candidates are in play as of Wednesday, two being Tampa Bay assistant GM Julien BriseBois and Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Norm Maciver. Don’t have a feel yet for who’s the front-runner but those are two of the guys who will get a look at the very least.
Despite repeated reports linking Wayne Gretzky to Washington, it doesn’t sound as though The Great One and the Capitals are a match at this point. Whether it’s for president of hockey operations or another high-end executive job, at this hour, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Which is too bad, because No. 99 in that kind of role would be a great asset. The Maple Leafs talked to Gretzky about a similar role last summer but talks didn’t produce a deal. That job went to Brendan Shanahan last month.
Sticking with the Caps, one industry source (not a Caps source) believed Wednesday that Washington will most likely reach out to fired Penguins GM Ray Shero at some point. It’s believed Paul Fenton (Preds assistant GM) and Don Sweeney (Bruins assistant GM) are among other candidates in the mix for the GM job.
And finally, where will Ryan Miller land? The decision by the St. Louis Blues to not try to re-sign him after a first-round playoff exit was probably a mutual decision anyway. It means Miller is headed to the July 1 unrestricted free agency market for the first time in his career, which was pretty much always the plan. He’s been linked for almost a year to the Anaheim Ducks, perhaps because Miller’s wife, Noureen DeWulf, is an actress, so the fit would certainly work from that perspective. But a source told ESPN.com Wednesday that the Ducks have decided to stick with the kids in net, John Gibson and Frederik Andersen, and do not plan on courting Miller. You can also rule out fellow California club San Jose. The word out of there is that the Sharks are going to continue to focus on their mini-rebuild and it’s about youth for them. Adding veteran players is not in the cards in San Jose.
14dScott Burnside and Craig Custance