Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
JETS’ BYFUGLIEN NOT ON TRADE BLOCK
The Winnipeg Sun details how Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff says he has not seriously explored the possibility of trading Dustin Byfuglien.
“Buff is a very unique player,” Cheveldayoff said. “He has the size a lot of players, a lot of teams, would covet in this league, with respect to the push to get a bigger, harder player to play against. I could see where teams would have interest. I could see where rumours would start.
“But it’s not something I’ve contemplated or I’ve talked about in great detail with any other team about trading him.”
On the same Byfuglien rumours continually coming up: “Last summer we were talking about this situation, this summer it seems we’re talking about it, and if I could venture a guess, next summer we’ll be talking about it as well,” Cheveldayoff said, adding no player is untouchable.
REPORT: OILERS CHASING WILD’S CLUTTERBUCK
In recounting Niklas Backstrom’s three-year extension with the Wild, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune also reveals some very interesting news for Oilers fans as it relates to Minnesota’s need to squeeze under the shrinking NHL cap.
The salary cap hit of roughly $3.42 million leaves the Wild with about $2.8 million with which to work this summer — not a lot of room to re-sign restricted free agents Cal Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon, keep veteran Matt Cullen or improve by adding free agents.
The Wild will create more cap space via trades and possibly buyouts.
Clutterbuck might be willing to sign a cap-friendly one-year deal, but he also has value on the trade market. One team hot after him is Edmonton; the Wild has talked to the Oilers about a deal that would include Minnesotan Tyler Pitlick.
Three other players on the block are defensemen Tom Gilbert and Justin Falk, and center Zenon Konopka.
CONTRACT TALKS CONTINUE BETWEEN COYOTES, SMITH
The Arizona Republic asserts Dave Tippett’s contract extension has already has galvanized talks with goalie Mike Smith — who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent July 5 — to the point that both sides are volleying term and dollar amounts back and forth.
Management, along with Tippett, met with Smith and his agent, Kurt Overhardt, in Vancouver last week. That’s measurable progress considering talks were superficial in the previous few weeks when there was no clarity regarding Tippett and the franchise’s potential landing spot.
“I really have a clear idea where he stands, and I think he has a good idea of where we stand right now,”
General Manager Don Maloney said. “We’re still kind of working the process to see if there’s a gap to be bridged. Is there a line to be crossed or nobody’s going to go any further?
“We feel comfortable with what we’ve thrown his way, and he feels comfortable where he’s at right now. The good thing for us is this isn’t July 4 where we have to make a decision … We have time to sort of mull it and digest it and figure out whether we want to go this route or not.”
SHARKS MULL BURNS’ POSITION DECISION
CSNBayArea.com describes that when it comes to Brent Burns’ position for the 2013-14 season, it’s still TBD, according to GM Doug Wilson. Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan mentioned after the season that they would like the 28-year-old to know what they have in mind for him, and Burns himself said it would affect how he trains in the offseason.
Wilson also suggested that even if Burns returns as a forward in the fall, the option still exists of him returning to play defense at some point. Burns is signed through 2016-17.
“He can be a dominant defenseman in this league, he’s proven that in the past,” Wilson said. “It’s where we need to use him, and the timing of that this year, was we needed him up front. He filled a need for us. We wanted to play an attacking game. I don’t know how you defend against him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, so how do they know? But, that was part of how we wanted to play. We’re coming after you, we’re attacking, and he fit perfectly.
“But he can also, when we get to the decision point, it could be a different decision this year than it could be next year.”
RUFF LOOKS AHEAD AT STARS’ SEASON
The Dallas Morning News relays that new Stars coach Lindy Ruff joined the Chuck Cooperstein Show on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM on Monday. Two key highlights…
On puck possession: “Puck possession is a big deal. Puck possession allows you chances, and it’s what you do with that puck possession. Sometimes it’s how many times you shoot it and how many times you get it back. If you shoot it and never get it back you don’t have very good puck possession. If you hang onto the puck, cycle puck but never shoot it, you never get anything funneled to the inside. Today’s game is all about trying to get the inside, trying to get inside the dots, try to pay that extra price for that first opportunity and then an even bigger price for that second opportunity. I think when we go through how we want to play it’s going to be a quick-based, shoot-it-and-get-it-back type of team that the second and third opportunities are there.”
On if he’ll play Kari Lehtonen less: “There’s always an ideal number that a goalie likes to play. Last year was an extreme situation where there was a lot of games back to back in a few number of days. I think when you look at the schedule as a whole you can have a goaltender range in the 60-65 or you can have a goalie go in the high 40s into the mid 50s. If you’re in that area, you’re definitely going to need a backup that can win games, and that’s equally important as your starter. I think in Kari’s case, he’s at the point in his career where he’s really close to taking the team over the hump and I think that supporting him real strong as a team in the defending area that we can get him there and he can get him over the hump.”
FRATTIN, SCRIVENS WELCOMED TO LOS ANGELES
LA Kings Insider has the transcript of an introductory conference call for two newest Kings, Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens. A few quick hits…
Frattin, a natural right wing, on his ability to compete for a top-six role as a left wing: “I played a few games with Toronto on the left side. I’m definitely comfortable over there. My strong side’s my right side, but I’m just going to come to camp and just try and earn a spot. That’s what everybody’s going to be doing, and I’m just going to do that myself too.”
Frattin, on Dean Lombardi’s assertion that he had been interested in him for some time: “Yeah, that’s definitely exciting knowing that the team that just traded for you definitely wanted you for the past couple years. I’m definitely excited for an opportunity, and wherever they kind of slot me in, that’s where I’m going to try and play my best. Personally, I did not know there were too many trade talks. I mean, you hear rumors within the media, but you don’t try to think too much of it, because Toronto and the media is pretty crazy up there. But other than that, most of it was probably behind closed doors, and I don’t think too many people knew about the trade rumors.”
Scrivens, on entering a situation as the clearly defined back-up goaltender: “I mean, that’s the problem no matter where you go. Everybody wants to be the guy. Everybody wants to be the number one. Obviously I’m still a young guy in the league, and for me to come in behind Quickie and learn as much as I can with him and work with Billy Ranford, it’s a great opportunity but also a great challenge. That was my role in Toronto by the end of the year, was trying to push James for ice time and for starts. So I really don’t see it as too much of a change coming in to L.A. You have to earn every minute you get on the ice. But, saying that, the better you play, the more chances you get. Hopefully I can provide a good counterpunch when Quickie needs a break, and hopefully I can force the coaching staff into a difficult decision into how often they want to play me because I’m playing well. That’s all you can do, and that’s all I’m going to focus on.”
GM TRAINS LIKE BLUE JACKETS PLAYERS
The Columbus Dispatch outlines how Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has always been a hardcore, marathoning workout fiend.
Blue Jackets strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins provided each of the players with an off-season workout routine before they left Nationwide Arena in late April. He printed off a copy for the GM too.
“This is classic Jarmo,” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said. “He’s always been a workout guy, but this is jumping in with both feet, understanding what the whole program is about. Not that any of our guys would try to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes — we’ve got a real good group of guys here — but there’s no chance of it now, because the GM knows exactly what the program is.
“It sends a message. There’s no doubt it sends a message.”
Beauty Kekalainen quote: “It’s not my intention to impress the players, and I’m not trying to apply any sort of pressure on them this summer. That’s not what it’s about. I’m just doing it because I’m interested in what (Collins) has them doing.
“I want the players to impress me, not me to impress the players.”
CAPITALS WILL NOT TRADE NEUVIRTH
The Washington Post indicates Capitals GM George McPhee said he has no intentions of trading goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
“We’re not interested in trading him,” McPhee said during his pre-draft news conference Monday. “As we’ve often said it’s the most important position in the game and we’ve got two good ones there a couple of good kids down below in Hershey. We don’t want to weaken that position.”
The Capitals signed Neuvirth, 25, to a two-year, $5 million extension in late April at the conclusion of a regular season that saw the Czech native appear in only 13 games. It was something of a surprise, given that last season’s starter Braden Holtby received a two-year, $3.7 extension in February, but offered an indication of the organization’s continued confidence in Neuvirth.
“Goalies get hurt, goalies can be off their game for a little bit and why not have as many good ones as you can?” McPhee said. “So let’s see how this year goes and we’ll go from there but they’re both good goalies and I think you need both of them. It’s hard to go with one for 60-70 games so we’ll see how that goes but we don’t anticipate doing anything there on the trade front.”
PENS GAIN TOUGHNESS WITH ZOLNIERCZYK
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes the Penguins became a little tougher Monday.
General manager Ray Shero dealt defenseman Alex Grant to Anaheim for forward Harry Zolnierczyk.
“It was shocking news,” said Zolnierczyk, 25. “But to be honest, I’m really excited about this trade. I hope I’ll be a great fit. I’m really looking forward to being in Pittsburgh.”
Shero had this to say: “What attracts you to him is that speed and that he is physical. He’s never proven to be an elite finisher at any level, but he plays with a lot of speed and he’s shown that he can be a bottom-six guy in the NHL.”
Zolnierczyk is a restricted free agent, but neither he nor the Penguins believes reaching a contract agreement will be a problem.
WHAT THEY’RE TWEETING ABOUT
The Cup! Of course! Check out sweet tweets from NHLers on Monday’s momentous night for hockey.