NHL Gossip: Seattle expansion? Hurricanes GM search, underrated O’Reilly

March 12, 2018

Carolina Hurricanes goalie prospect Alex Nedeljkovic scored a goal over the weekend as a member of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reports the Hurricanes interviewed Buffalo Sabres assistant GM Steve Greeley.

Pierre LeBrun on The Athletic discusses the possibility of an expansion team in Seattle and candidates for the GM job (paywall alert).

This column began as an idea to present some logical candidates for the Seattle GM job.

And I’ll look at those options, but the more I got to thinking about things with the potential expansion team in Seattle, the more I realized I might be getting a little ahead of myself with the GM speculation.

For starters, they can’t drop the puck in Seattle for a real NHL game until the fall of 2020, and that’s if the major gutting, renovation and re-design of Key Arena go as scheduled (it is supposed to break ground by the end of 2018).

The Athletic’s Craig Custance has a list of assistant GMs ready for a promotion (paywall alert).

The list includes Nashville Predators’ Paul Fenton and Los Angeles Kings’ Mike Futa. Both rumored as top candidates for Hurricanes GM Job.

Allan Mitchell of The Athletic has ideas on how the Edmonton Oilers can win the summer without breaking the bank.

The ideas include the Oilers signing Thomas Vanek or trading for Calgary’s Sam Bennett.

The Edmonton Oilers have been bleeding talent in the final week of June for three straight seasons and approach this summer with a similar scenario playing out. Faced with enormous holes and little available internally to address those problems, the fixes available from other teams will require a great deal of talent heading out.

What if the Edmonton Oilers opted out of the trade market at the high end this summer? Just avoid the big money table, told the other players to deal them out? Played the nickel slots?

Winning the Hart Trophy in the NHL is a hard task, winning it on a lousy team is nearly impossible.

Michael Traikos of National Post explains how Edmonton’s season is not helping Connor McDavid’s MVP chances.

The easiest — and some might say laziest — thing to do when trying to come up with potential candidates for the Hart Trophy is to simply cut and paste the names from the top of the scoring list.

Nikita Kucherov. Evgeni Malkin. Connor McDavid.

Based on history, one of those players should be crowned MVP. And based on history, it probably won’t be McDavid — not with that giant asterisk attached to his name.

It’s not because of something nefarious. But in the minds of potential voters, his season is tainted. Call it guilt by association.

Paul Hamilton of WGR 550 explains how Ryan O’Reilly is considered the fifth most underrated player in the NHL.

Number 1 is Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom.

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) – Ryan O’Reilly was voted by the players around the league as one of the top-five most underrated players in the National Hockey League. O’Reilly came in fifth behind Aleksander Barkov of Florida, Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay, Jaden Schwartz from St. Louis and number one was Nicklas Backstrom from Washington.

O’Reilly has been an up-and-down player since being acquired from Colorado. He was very humbled that he finished so high in the NHLPA players poll, “It was nice to see, it means a lot when guys think that of myself and it’s just a cool thing.

“It was unexpected, but truthfully I don’t really think about it that much, it’s not something I worry about getting ready for the next game, but it’s guys looking and saying maybe he affects the game more and it’s nice that guys recognize those little things, so it’s a compliment.”

NHL.com reports Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet is taking a leave of absence to deal with a family illness.

“Family comes first,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with [Tocchet] as he deals with this personal matter. It’s important that he takes the time to be there with his family.”

John MacLean, named a Coyotes assistant on July 26, will serve as coach until Tocchet returns.

Pauck Gackle of The Mercury News reports San Jose forward Jannik Hansen says the Sharks are not a good fit for him.

Prior to the trade deadline, Hansen, a pending unrestricted free agent, told the Mercury News that he wanted to finish the season with the Sharks even though he’s struggled to earn playing time under DeBoer. Now, he appears to be stuck in purgatory for the remainder of the season.

“That was obviously for family reasons,” Hansen said. “For hockey reasons, this obviously isn’t a very good fit for me. It’s been proven now. It is what it is. Show up at work every day, good attitude. That’s about all I can control.”

Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post says Barry Trotz’s status remains uncertain.

Trotz is in the final year of his contract.

There is still plenty of time left for Trotz — and by extension his players — to make that decision for management over the final few weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. Saturday’s victory — combined with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ loss at Toronto — briefly put Washington (83 points) atop the Metropolitan Division with 14 games to go. The Penguins (84 points) reclaimed the division’s top spot with a 3-1 victory over Dallas on Sunday, but they now have played two more games than the Capitals. And the Philadelphia Flyers (81 points with 13 games left) remain in the mix, too.

And while the Capitals will not be receiving the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular season team for a third straight year, managing to finish atop the Metropolitan would mean a first-round series against one of the two wild-card teams at the bottom of the conference — as of now, the New Jersey Devils or Columbus Blue Jackets — as opposed to potentially facing the Penguins or Flyers in the opening round.

NHL 3 Stars of the Week

1. Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine

2. Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand

3. Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin

Chris Hueber
About Chris Hueber

Known as @NHLGossip on Twitter, Chris has covered NHL rumors for 6+ years.

Browse more articles by Chris Hueber.

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