The latest on the Canucks coaching search, the Canadiens free agent plans, the Jets off-season plans, Nikolai Khabibulin’s future, and more speculation of Brendan Shanahan joining the Flames front office.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma suggests if the Canucks hire John Tortorella as their new head coach, he’ll need a good “foil” (like Craig Ramsay, his former assistant coach during their championship run with the Tampa Bay Lightning) or he could fail with the Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good suggestion by Kuzma. It’ll be interesting to see who Tortorella brings in as his assistants.
TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin hinted to reporters yesterday he won’t look at making any major free agent signings this summer. “History shows that free agency isn’t the best tool,” he said. “Free agency to me is a tool but it’s not a way to make your team a top team. It’s overplayed. You have to be careful.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun recently claimed Bergevin was very interested in Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell, but doesn’t believe he’d overpay to land him. Bergevin may have been merely engaging in misdirection, but he’s right that history shows free agency isn’t the best tool for team building. You can bring in good complimentary parts (provided you don’t overpay), but you won’t land a superstar who’ll turn you into a Cup contender. I expect Bergevin will see what’s available and I won’t be surprised if he contacts the Bickell camp should the winger tests the UFA market, but if the asking price is too expensive, he’ll pass.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen notes Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff continues to play his cards close to the vest, giving no hint as to his off-season plans for his club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One certainty is Cheveldayoff will re-sign key RFAs Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. Another is he’s not re-signing UFA defenseman Ron Hainsey. I anticipate he’ll shop Alex Burmistrov, who’s reportedly unhappy with his role under coach Claude Noel. There’s speculation Dustin Byfuglien is available, but unless Cheveldayoff gets a significant offer, I don’t see him being dealt.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples explains why the Oilers won’t re-sign Nikolai Khabibulin.
CALGARY HERALD: George Johnson recently speculated NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan could soon join the Flames front office.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell, but there’s no question the Flames are very interested in hiring Shanahan for a top role in their front office.