BY FAN FUEL – HOCKEY CENTRAL INSIDERS
In this week’s edition of Hockey Central Ask the Insiders, several fan questions are answered including whether the Rangers will use a compliance buyout on Brad Richards and who the next coach of the Canucks will be.
David asks: What do you think the odds are of the New York Rangers exercising a compliance buyout on Brad Richards?
Nick Kypreos: David, as far as Brad Richards is concerned he’s already on borrowed time. The Rangers can’t afford to keep his long term deal that might not be played out. No matter how much his play could improve next year contracts like Richards with retirement years are a disaster for teams and their future cap hit. The Rangers have one more “amnesty buyout” remaining and have the option to use it now or in the summer of 2014. Pick your poison.
Scott Morrison: It will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with Brad Richards, whether they use a compliance buy out or hope with a normal training camp he can bounce back next season. They have to do something to improve their offence next season. Get Staal back will be a huge boost to the defence.
Jesse asks: Who do you think Mike Gillis will turn to as his next coach for the Vancouver Canucks? Do you think there is someone out there that is perfect but won’t get the job?
Doug MacLean: Jesse, not sure who will get the job but it is an interesting situation. This is a veteran team that needs to be successful as their window of opportunity is closing. They are a good team in the last two regular seasons that has to find a way to have success in the playoffs. Will they go with an inexperienced coach or an NHL vet? I suspect a Lindy Ruff or a Dave Tippett if he decides to leave Phoenix would be leading candidates. Not convinced Mike Gillis can afford to gamble on this hire.
John Shannon: Jesse, it’s difficult to handicap the Vancouver situation right now. Mike Gillis has said publicly that he is in no hurry to find the right person. When you consider there are still some qualified candidates under contract with other teams, you have to assume Mike’s timeline is much longer than most of us think it is. As far as perfect candidates, I’m not sure there is one out there. My personal favourite would be Lindy Ruff. He has the ability to use speed and structure at the same time. Others, like Dallas Eakins, might be short on NHL experience but are used to the fish bowl of a large market and obviously Dave Tippett in Phoenix (who is under contract until July 1) have to receive some consideration as well. If the Coyotes situation isn’t resolved by then, Tippett might become the best free agent available this summer. Mike Gillis is a thorough, progressive manager. I suspect there are a couple of names on his list that are on no one else’s.
Chris Johnston: It would seem to me that both teams currently looking for a coach — Vancouver and Dallas — are waiting to see what happens with Dave Tippett in Phoenix. The highly respected veteran still hasn’t signed an extension with the Coyotes while waiting to see what happens with the ownership situation and could become a free agent in July. I believe it would be a savvy move for the Canucks to give Dallas Eakins his first crack at a top job in the NHL — he earned rave reviews in the AHL and is ready to take the next step.
Jeff Marek: I think it has to be someone with a significant amount of NHL experience for starters. It would be a challenge for a rookie NHL coach to walk into that room of vets (Sedins, Kesler, Bieksa etc…) and have much credibility let alone authority. Lindy Ruff makes a lot of sense to me right now but if I’m Vancouver I wait until the end of the playoffs when there may be more coaches available. Another issue remains style of play. Gillis complained about the way the game has changed in the past few years and how the Canucks have not been able to adapt which many read as the team needed to play a more physical, defence-oriented style yet he’s also mused openly about wanting to play a more wide open brand of game. Any coaching decision the Canucks make will have to reflect the way in which Vancouver approaches the game.
Gary asks: The Bruins and Penguins seem to both be surging at the right time. So who do you like in the series?
Doug MacLean: Gary, tough to go against Sid but I’m picking Boston. Getting healthy on the blueline is critical for Boston and their depth up front with the ability to play four lines has been very important. I picked Pittsburgh and Chicago to go to the finals this year but with the Fleury collapse I just don’t see Vokoun getting it done. Then again, betting against Sid may be a big mistake.
Scott Morrison: I agree, both teams appear to be on their games. It should be a great series, with some terrific story lines, such as Jagr playing his old team, Iginla having rejected going to Boston. I like the Bruins because I think they are stronger in goal, have been solid on the blue line despite injuries and can roll four lines effectively (witness their fourth line outscoring the Rangers 5-0 in the previous series). The Penguins will be tough with Crosby et al., but barring the unforeseen I like the Bruins.
Jeff Marek: I like Pittsburgh in the series, and mainly because of their depth up front. They also have an underrated blueline and seem to be getting saves from Tomas Vokoun (I say that knowing full well that eventually this team will get back to Marc-Andre Fleury at some point these playoffs). Having said that I could still see Boston taking it provided they get the goaltending from Rask and players like Krejci, Bergeron and Marchand play at a top level. Should be a great series with both teams also being to draw on Stanley Cup experience.
Patrick asks: What kind of contract extension is Tuukka Rask looking at? I would think he’d deserve max dollars but can the Bruins afford that and still ice a competitive team?
John Shannon: Patrick, it’s all about comparables. Who do you put in Rask’s company? Jimmy Howard at $5.2 million a year for six years? Corey Crawford at $3.8 million? Corey Schneider at $12 million for three years? There’s no doubt getting to the third round of the playoffs solidifies Rask’s position with the Bruins, and at 26 years of age (with unrestricted free agency not that far away) he should be able to parlay a new long term agreement with the Bruins.
Chris Johnston: This has been an interesting case. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has openly acknowledged that he wanted to see what Rask could do in the playoffs before negotiating the extension and the Finnish goalie has come up with an impressive response. Even if the Bruins now get bounced in the Eastern Conference final, I would think he’ll get somewhere in the $5 million range annually. If they were to go on and win the Stanley Cup, he’d be in line for a heck of a lot more than that.
John asks: I was somewhat surprised that Patrick Roy was given the title of vice-president of hockey operations as well as head coach. Combine that with executive vp of hockey operations Joe Sakic, what exactly are the duties/power responsibilities of GM Greg Sherman. Is he effectively on the outs and does the coach now have more power than the GM?
John Shannon: With all due respect to Sakic and Roy, the 2013 world of the NHL and the CBA requires a ton of attention to detail, as well as some institutional knowledge. Greg Sherman’s role may not reflect his old title or his new position, but he will be a huge asset to both Joe and Patrick. Titles have changed in this league over the past few years and workloads have increased. Sherman may be number three on the depth chart, but he will be key in helping rebuild this team. As far as Roy getting the extra title, he has always been able to use his status in the game to leverage his authority. Sakic and Roy will rely on people like Sherman and Craig Billington to re-build a once proud franchise into a contender.
Scott Morrison: Sherman will likely be the contract guy, working the cap, while Roy and Sakic will make the personnel decisions. Ultimately, Sakic gets the last word but Roy will obviously have some influence.
Chris Johnston: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that Greg Sherman has the least amount of power among any “general manager” today. In fact, it’s still unclear what exactly his role entails. During Patrick Roy’s introductory news conference, he mentioned that he will be in charge of talking about trades with other teams and even mused about potentially dealing the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Perhaps Sherman will be part of those discussions as well, but it’s clear he won’t be the one with the final say.
Rob asks: Following the Memorial Cup, at this point who do you think goes No. 1 in the NHL draft — Seth Jones or Nathan MacKinnon?
Nick Kypreos: Let me put it this way Rob, if I was Patrick Roy I would ask Nathan MacKinnon to skip the draft in New Jersey and opt for a one-way ticket to Denver. I like Seth Jones and value the hell out of 6’4 mobile D but to be blunt I found him too soft at this point of his development to be my number one. He can certainly grow into a meaner role down the road but I wouldn’t bet the house on it. MacKinnon on the other hand with all that skill, also portrays a powerful explosive edge that I love. During our Memorial cup coverage last week I did a split screen comparison of MacKinnon’s one-on-one vs. Jones and Sidney Crosby’s vs. Eric Karlsson during the second round and they were eerily similar. As I stated last week I’d don’t know if MacKinnon will ever be as good as Crosby but I wouldn’t bet the house against it.
Jeff Marek: Interesting question. There are a number of scouting services (I.S.S the most recent) who after the Memorial Cup have MacKinnon ranked higher than Jones but it all comes down to what Colorado feels they need most. That’s most likely Seth Jones. With the abundance of great young forwards on the team already (O’Reilly, Duchene, Landeskog) the feeling is the Avs will go with the stud defenceman. Plus, from a marketing POV it makes sense. Jones fell in love with the game and learned to play it while his dad played for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Joe Sakic taught him how to skate. The story kinda writes itself. Also, while Nathan MacKinnon may be the better of the two prospects right now, drafting is all about projecting. Colorado needs to ask themselves – who will be a better player not just right now but also five years from now?