DENVER — Double off days at the Stanley Cup Final makes for a good time for some fresh rumblings. So let’s get at it.
We should get some clarity from Barry Trotz on his NHL future in about two weeks or so. He intends on making a decision around July 1, I’m told.
It’s been widely reported that he’s talked to Winnipeg and Detroit, among other clubs, regarding their vacant head coaching jobs. The Jets are patiently waiting and hoping they can land the Manitoba native. And my TSN colleague Darren Dreger reported Friday that Trotz was scheduled to speak with the Jets again next week.
According to sources, Trotz has also talked to his old club in Nashville about a potential role in the front office. We’ve mentioned before after Trotz was let go by the Islanders that management was something that could appeal to Trotz whether that’s now or down the road. So let’s see where those conversations with the Predators go. But I also think there’s always been some form of understanding between the organization and Trotz that he would be welcomed back one day in an organizational role if that’s something he wanted.
So lots of things for Trotz to think about over the next two weeks before he decides what’s next for him.
There’s certainly no coaching opening in Nashville. Predators GM David Poile announced a two-year extension for head coach John Hynes after their season ended. Technically the Preds picked up Hynes’ option year for next season then tacked on another year after that. So he’s signed through the 2023-24 season.
Jeff Petry trades next for Montreal?
The Canadians are still looking to move Jeff Petry and it could very well happen over the next few weeks. Dallas, as I’ve mentioned before, remains a potential option if the Stars don’t re-sign pending UFA John Klingberg (there have yet to be talks on that front between the Stars and Klingberg’s agent and the sense I got Thursday is that Klingberg is most likely headed to market).
I’m also told Detroit could be a potential fit for Petry, a Michigan native. A handful of teams have shown interest in Petry, who has three more years on his deal at a $6.25M AAV. He has some measure of control with a modified no-trade clause but clearly still wants a change of scenery despite finishing the season strong in Montreal under Martin St. Louis.
Meanwhile, teams keep calling on Josh Anderson (among them the Oilers, I hear) and what they’re being told by Canadiens GM Kent Hughes is that he doesn’t intend to move him. They want him to be part of their rebuild. Having said that, there’s a sense if teams step up with a serious package led by a top prospect plus other assets that he could be pried away. But all things being equal, the Habs don’t really want to move him.
Oilers want to re-sign Kulak, interested in keeping Kane too
Oilers GM Ken Holland met with Brett Kulak’s agent Gerry Johansson this past week, indicating he wants to try and re-sign the pending UFA. The next step is to make an offer which should come soon enough. Can they make it work under the cap?
Holland has also expressed to Evander Kane’s camp that the Oilers are interested in trying to re-sign the pending UFA winger. Agent Dan Milstein is slated to meet with Kane next week to formulate a game plan. I think Kane is interested in hearing from the Oilers but there also might be too much allure to hear from the open market.
Meanwhile, there’s potential for a Jesse Puljujarvi trade depending on other moves with the Oilers. Not guaranteed they move him but it’s among the possibilities being discussed, which my TSN colleague Ryan Rishaug recently suggested. Puljujarvi’s usage was reduced under new head coach Jay Woodcroft. The 24-year-old is an RFA with salary arbitration rights this summer.
Blackhawks’ ongoing trade talks on Alex DeBrincat
The re-building Blackhawks are having ongoing discussions with teams on a potential Alex DeBrincat trade. No guarantee they move him, but they’re listening for sure. If it happens, it would be a future assets type deal. The Blackhawks would want a young player/high picks/top prospect type return.
It would take a serious haul if they decide to make that move. As it should for a 24-year-old winger coming off a 41-goal season. He’s got one year left on his contract at a $6.4-million AAV and then next summer he’s RFA with salary arbitration rights. So part of what teams are trying to figure out within their pursuit of DeBrincat is what that next contract may look like. This might scare off a team or two, but overall my sense is the interest is pretty significant nonetheless.
The Kings are one of several clubs that I believe have shown interest.
Two AGMs in final on the rise
This Stanley Cup final not only features two elite programs but also two assistant GMs who are on the rise.
It would be pretty surprising if Avs assistant GM Chris MacFarland and Lightning assistant GM Matthew Darche aren’t GMs within the next couple of years.
Darche interviewed in Montreal, Vancouver and Chicago this season for those GM vacancies and left an impression.
“He comes from a winning program,” Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford told me back in January. “And he has some good experience working in Tampa. I did not know him, I met him one time before, but I did not know him very well. But his interview was very good.
“And it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a GM somewhere.”
The Ducks, I believe, had hoped to interview MacFarland earlier this year for their GM search but it didn’t happen. MacFarland has a great working relationship with GM Joe Sakic, for one. I don’t know this for sure but I suspect the two of them have a pretty good shared vision of the path ahead for MacFarland. A rival team executive wondered to me recently about whether MacFarland could become GM here in Colorado one day and Sakic move up to president of hockey operations, similar to how George McPhee made way for Kelly McCrimmon as GM in Vegas.
Either way, the Sakic-MacFarland partnership is clearly one with great chemistry. The Avs front office as a whole doesn’t get nearly as much credit as they should for the pieces they’ve brought in to build around their star-studded core. Signing Valeri Nichushkin for one year, $850.00 back in August 2019, for example. Or getting Devon Toews for a pair of second-round picks? Or refusing to take no for answer from Montreal on Artturi Lehkonen. The Avs do their homework in pro scouting as good as any team in the league.
• There’s been ongoing dialogue but sources say no numbers exchanged yet between the Maple Leafs and Jack Campbell’s camp led by agent Kurt Overhardt.
• The Sharks are hoping to have a new GM hired in time for the opening of free agency but won’t rush it. They’re down to 4-5 candidates and I hear only two of them have previous GM experience.
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