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: , 18 2018 15:16:18

Its been a whirlwind two months since Barry Trotz took the Islanders coaching job. His new team has changed quite a bit and, while hes been adjusting to his new gig and bringing on a coaching staff, hes also been planning his day with the Stanley Cup, which comes on Aug. 22 in his hometown of Dauphin, Manitoba.

Trotz took some time this week to chat with The Athletic while back in his office on Long Island for a few days.

Youve been on the job here for just about two months and a lot has changed in that time. Whats the process been from hiring to now?

Ive had a lot of things on my plate this summer. We obviously went deep in the playoffs and then the celebration of winning a Cup, followed by a quick transition over to the Island. Im actually, for the first time since I resigned in Washington, Im actually getting back to Washington. My daughters getting married, weve got a Cup date, looking for a house. Been a very busy summer. Weve gotten a lot done and theres still a lot to do. Its good that weve got a month to go before training camp. I feel very confident in what were doing. Communicating with Lou (Lamoriello), were knocking out one thing at a time. Romes not built in a day so we dont expect it to be.

Speaking of that day with the Stanley Cup, it must be a bit strange to plan a celebration of a win with your former team. Is that a strange scenario?

Its obviously a little different. Youre focused on winning a Cup in Washington, you work with some great people and have some fantastic memories and all of a sudden youre with another organization and your focus is on your new team, getting to know the people there and how things are done, how youd like things done, all that. I probably havent been able to celebrate the Cup victory as much as probably other people in the organization, but its still been very special. And when Im able to have that day with the Cup, bringing it to the people who are incredibly special to me, especially the family members who have made the sacrifices for so many years, bringing the Cup back to my hometown, thats really who its meant for. Its meant for my mom and dad, my immediate family, my wife and children, as well as my sister and her family and some very close friends.

When it arrives, I think it gets there at 9 a.m. Im going to take it to some people who cant get out to see it, be it the hospital, the senior center, a home for special-needs children and maybe ARC Industries, one of the big employers in town. From there, I think theres a parade my hometown (Dauphin) is 8,000 people, so theres a little parade. My town is known for the National Ukrainian Festival, so were going to have some Cossacks who are going to secure the Cup and protect it. Itll bring some pride to the town.

Well end up at the arena (Trotz coached the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL until 1987) and well share the Cup the rest of the day with anyone who wants to share it. Well do a little bit of a fundraiser so we can leave a bit of a legacy for the town, the place where my parents still live and where I grew up. At night, well have a friends and family supper where I can share that with my immediate family. They can do the cool things people get to do with the Cup.

And then around 10 p.m., well have some alone time with just my folks, my immediate family. I think thats the time thats most special its sitting in the living room, the backyard, thats when you learn how special it is to have the Cup around. Thats what I learned from the few days we had it in Washington. You want to share it with the world, but the really great thing is when you have a small group and you relax with it, you study it and look at it. Its almost like when youre relaxing in the summer, just staring at the fire and you feel completely relaxed. The Cup has that same effect.

Youve been balancing a lot with planning that day and the new job. Once that day comes and goes, will that feel like closure with your time in Washington?

It is, it is quite symbolic actually. That will be the closure for me recognizing we did something fantastic in Washington with some great people, winning a Stanley Cup for the first time after winning championships in some other leagues. The one thing all those championship teams have in common is that bond that never goes away. Time doesnt erode it. Its always there. That group will always be closer to each other than any other team. Thats my experience from winning at the AHL level (Trotz coached the Portland Pirates to the 1994 Calder Cup). The players and coaches from that team are still close because you understand you did something together that very few people get to do.

For me, that will be closure. Theyre going to go on, drop the banner for the Cup, the White House tour. Ive had someone from the White House reach out to me but obviously I wont be there, that would be a little awkward I think. You miss out on a couple things that are special with that group.

When I went to Washington, the first thing I did once we picked our team was we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington. I had everybody put the jerseys on and I said, We need to raise our flag. We need to raise the Cup flag and when we win the Cup, I want to take another picture here. I didnt get a chance to do that, but Todd Reirden is still there and hopefully he remembers what we did and maybe they do that.

My job now is to see if we can raise the flag on Long Island. Theres some great traditions here, the teams that were the best in the league for a number of years. The Trottiers, the Bossys, the Torreys and those people. We need to get back to that tradition. Theres some good pieces here and we need to get back to the Cup again. What intrigued me about coming here was working with Lou. Hes won in this league. And I can bring a lot to the table in terms of culture. Ive won a lot in this league. I think we have the same sort of moral basis of how we do things.

We can get this going in the right direction. The changes Lous made to this point are extraordinary were under construction. Its a great thing. We want to build something great here.

Between the time you were hired and barely two weeks after, the team changed pretty drastically, including John Tavares leaving. When that all happens right after you sign on, are you prepared for it?

I think you go in with a plan, knowing we want to put the best possible team we can put out there. Theres windows of opportunity to go out and add players and Lous certainly done that. Now its our job to find out how all these pieces fit together. Obviously, we have a vision we want this guy to fill this hole, is this a long-term or short-term player? You go in hoping they all fit. If they dont, then you adjust. Quite honestly, until we get on the ice were not going to know who works best with who. Were watching some film, doing all our due diligence, talking to players, finding out what worked and what didnt work.

And also getting out some of the clutter. Theres going to be change. Its going to be structurally, on and off the ice, expectations are going to change. Nothing against any former regimes, but we have our own vision of what we want to do, how were going to do it. Lou has painted a good picture of where he wants this organization to go and I want to be a part of it. On the ice, I have a vision of how we can play to be better.

This team can score, with John Tavares or without John Tavares. The area its failed in maybe the last year and a half is on the defensive end. Just looking at the trends over the last four years, its clear thats an area we need to fix. The great thing about the game, one of the hardest things to do in this league is create offense and score goals. This team has been able to do that in the last four years.

One of the easiest things to correct, if theres a commitment and a buy-in, is keeping the puck out of your net. Well need a bigger buy-in, well put some structure, well make sure the details are there and well make players accountable. If theyre not, well get someone who can be accountable. And weve got to build our players. Weve got some unfinished products who can certainly be better. Get them to play to their capabilities, thats all we ask. We want them to be consistent and play to their capabilities, we never ask guys to do more than theyre capable of.

Thats one of the things we were able to do in Washington. In the four years we were there, we became a pretty consistent team. After the first 20 games of my first year, we became a consistent team that didnt go into six or seven-game slides. We lost one game and the next game was the most important game of the season, then we moved in. I didnt look at 10-game segments, I looked at the week ahead and how many points we needed to get. And I didnt care how we got them.

When you use that phrase culture change, what does that mean to you?

Sometimes when you say that it comes off as a slam to the previous regime. Theyve done a lot of good things here. Theres certain things in the way things are managed or established, the rules or how you do things. To me, culture change is an attitude getting the right attitude, standing for something.

A small example: If a guys late for a meeting, late for a bus, you have to wait for him and nothings ever addressed, then things start to slide. Your standards slip. What you want to do is hold a high standard and make sure everybody understands what the standard is. Once thats established, then you can create something pretty good. In a couple areas, the standard needs to be a little higher. What were trying to do now is figure out where that standard is, where the bar needs to be set. We have a lot of experience between Lou and myself, weve seen a lot on our own teams and other teams. You see what works.

Ive been very fortunate to work with great people like David Poile and Brian MacLellan, my staff in both those places. And you work with other coaches at the World Cup or World Championships. Some of my best friends are in the coaching fraternity the Ken Hitchcocks, the Mike Babcocks, the Joel Quennevilles, the Claude Juliens. We share ideas and you see what works for their teams. What you do with all those experiences is you take note. What experience does, it takes all the clutter out. When I was younger I thought you needed to control 100 things and everybody and everything. What experience does is it helps you filter things out. If you get the four or five things corrected, everything else falls into place.

When youve got a situation like you have, with your longtime captain and leader gone, are you already having conversations with players about leadership roles and filling that void?

I think you wait to see who emerges. Leadership doesnt have to be your best player, its the guy that drives your team. That could be a fourth-line guy. Its the guys who drive your team and stand for the right things. Those are your leaders and sometimes youll be surprised when youre in the inner sanctum about which guys step forward. With the John Tavares situation, we look forward, we cant look back. Guys are up to the challenge. Johns a fantastic player, face of the franchise and its a hole you cant fill with one guy. Its collectively with the group.

The one thing thats great is when John decided he was going to Toronto, the guys I was in touch with said, Dont worry. Were still a really good team. I wasnt worried at all because those guys were saying they can still be a good team, that they are a good team. Thats the attitude you need. Everybodys going to step up their game and were going to be a good team.

When you look at some of the analytics from your time in Washington, in particular last season, your team was last in shots on goal but tied for first in shooting percentage. Was that a byproduct of something structural or was that a stated goal, to focus less on attempts and more on creating good shooting opportunities?

It was a goal. Were looking for quality. A lot of people put a lot of value in analytics into shots on goal, or shot attempts. I put more value on quality shots. Its like quality chances vs. regular scoring chances. An unscreened shot from the blue line goes in maybe one percent of the time. If you get into the hash marks, below the circles, lateral plays, they go up to 20, 30, 40, 50 percent. Id rather have one 40-percenter than 40 one-percenters. And thats where the league is going I think. Most of the high-scoring teams arent just putting pucks to net for volume. Sometimes the analytic world puts a lot of value on shots for, but if youre shooting from the blue line 100 times a game, my Corsi is going to be fantastic but Im not scoring any goals.



: , 17 2018 11:59:06

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: , 04 2018 23:48:46



: , 03 2018 20:33:28

She always found a way: Behind Jordan Greenways success is a mother who did whatever it took

Every​ person​ in every hockey​ family remembers​ the car rides ​ early-risers​ in the minivan​ for​ 6 a.m. practice, late​​ nights following a game. Its a time made for questions on the game, and on life.

For Shannon Sullivan, mom of Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Greenway, those questions were sometimes harder than most.

One of the things (Jordan and his brother JD) would always talk about when they were younger, back and forth in the car rides from games, was their biological father. Why isnt he here or what have you, Shannon recalled in a recent interview. When they got older 10, 11, 12 those questions went away because they just knew he wasnt going to be around.

Those car rides and those conversations, whether they be about their father or the game, it made them understand my world as a single mom, and it made them understand the struggles that I had.

Jordan Greenway may share the same last name as his biological father, but thats where the relationship ends. When Jordan was 3, his dad walked away from the family, leaving Shannon to raise two toddlers in Jordan and his younger brother JD, 14 months and 11 days Jordans junior.

Hard as it was, if anyone was up for the task of being a young, single mom, it was Shannon.

Its never easy, you know, growing up with a single mom, but thats the thing about my mom, she made it work, Jordan said. She always found a way. All of the sports we wanted to play, or whatever, she always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. She really allowed me to chase my dreams.

Those car rides were pivotal for Shannon and her family, often trekking back and forth from their hometown of Potsdam, N.Y., to various cities throughout Canada for hockey tournaments. After the game was over theyd load up the car and head home in an effort to save money on overnight hotel stays.

Whether it was Shannon in the drivers seat or any number of relatives quick to help aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa Jordan and JD learned about hockey and life from that backseat.

I was never ashamed of (our situation), and I explained it to them, Shannon said. I think thats why my boys are so strong today. I guess I take credit for that because Jordan saw the struggles I went through and those car rides were part of that motivation to help him move forward.

Still just 21, Jordan is embarking on what promises to be a bright NHL career. At 20, Shannon was pregnant with that same kid whose dreams are coming to fruition.

Then a student at Canton College (finishing her bachelors degree at Clarkson University after JD was born), Shannon was thrilled to become a mom. She already had the multitasking quality down, waiting tables at a local restaurant and bartending in the evenings to make additional income, all while trying to balance college classes and pregnancy.

On Feb. 16, 1997, she gave birth to seven-pound, eight-ounce baby Jordan.

All throughout my pregnancy I was so excited, and then he finally came into the world and it was so amazing, she said. I loved being a mom from the instant it happened.

Shannon grew up in a hockey-crazed family. Her three brothers played growing up and the entire family attended local Clarkson and St. Lawrence hockey games on the weekends.

Jordan had a surplus of energy from the get-go and by age 3, he was on the ice with a mix of hand-me-down pads and new hockey sticks a thought that still makes Shannon cringe remembering how often those sticks broke.

We always took hand-me-downs, and to this day we still take hand-me-downs. But I worked and eventually owned my own business for eight years and we did what we had to do, she said. When we traveled, we brought our lunches. We didnt eat out like all the other hockey families every single weekend, so we did little things to save money, but at the same time my boys were never without. They had everything. I think my biggest expense would have been those sticks because they broke every other game.

But the cost was worth it. By age 7, Jordans abilities were being recognized.

It was during those Canadian hockey tournaments that Shannon realized Jordan had an immeasurable amount of hockey talent. The family began getting approached by coaches for travel teams, and there were often whispers of how gifted and skilled Jordan was.

You dont really think that your son is going to go to the NHL, Shannon said. Its just not something that happens often here (in Potsdam). Its not something that entered my mind. I thought, Oh, great, I have a gifted kid. Maybe hell do well and go to college. Maybe hell go to St. Lawrence or Clarkson, but the NHL never entered my mind until he brought up going to a prep school. Thats when I sat back and said OK, hes looking to make this his life and thats how that started.

Shannon put the onus of finding a preparatory school on Jordan. She also told him that if she was going to pay for prep school, he would need to work hard and earn a college scholarship if this continued to be the path he wanted to pursue.

That path led him to a noted hockey factory in Faribault, Minn.

I went through the research, gave her the layout, took a visit to Shattuck-St. Marys, and she made it happen, said Jordan, who at 13 made the move to play at Shattuck. It wasnt easy going so far away from home at a young age. It was pretty hard at first, but its what I wanted to do. Its what I signed up for (and) once I got into a routine and started playing hockey and everything, all those things went away.

Fears might have disappeared for Jordan, but tears for Shannon took a little bit longer to clear out.

Ill tell you, the first year he was there, I cried a lot, Shannon says now with a laugh. I cried a lot because No. 1, I missed him, and No. 2 I didnt know what was going on over there. Was he getting meals? Was he having fun? All the normal worrying a mom does.

Shannon and her kids, which now included a younger sister, Maria, made it to plenty of games in Minnesota to ease the angst of missing her eldest. She continued a mix of flights and road trips to watch Jordan play when he moved to Plymouth, Mich., to suit up at USA Hockeys National Team Development Program. He earned gold with Team USA three times (2014 U-17 Hockey Challenge, 2015 U-18 Championships, 2017 World Junior Championships), earning even more attention, leading to fulfillment of his moms college wish with a Division-I scholarship to Boston University.

In three years and 112 games at BU, Jordan scored 28 goals and totaled 92 points along with 192 penalty minutes as Shannon looked on with pride.

Things just kept happening the right way for Jordan, Shannon said. He worked so hard to get to each next level. It was and has been really awesome to see.

Shannon remembers the first time she had to literally look up to her Jordan, who now towers over most NHL competition at 6-6, 226 pounds.

It was during his timem at Shattuck when the 6-foot Shannon had to reach up to give her son a kiss on the cheek.

But Shannon admits shes always looked up to Jordan in a way.

I used to call him the little man of the house, she said. Hes very protective of JD, his sister and myself. We are an extremely close family and Jordan, if I had to say, he would be the man of the family. Hes the glue that holds the family together besides myself.

That protective behavior is why Shannon and Jordan agreed it was best for Shannon to stay home and cheer on Jordan from afar while he was with Team USA in PyeongChang, South Korea, at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Jordan had one goal in five games during his Olympic debut, with the U.S. finishing seventh.

The reason he did not want me there was because I would be by myself and he didnt want me in a foreign country by myself being shuttled back and forth to the arena, she said. Im OK with that too, so we decided I would stay here, and we watched everything on TV.

Having my son in the Olympics was a very surreal time for me. I think when I first saw him on TV is when it first hit me that, holy cow, my son is in the Olympics. Its almost like its unreal. Its a very exciting thing for him. Its awesome.

The only thing that could top that excitement was an NHL debut, which came 34 days later on March 27. The Wilds second-round draft pick, 50th overall, in 2015 signed an entry-level contract on March 26 after forgoing his senior year at BU and slotted in to the lineup right away against one the leagues best squads in the Nashville Predators.

That was scary because the Predators are this crazy good team, so I was scared for him because it was his first (NHL) game, Shannon said. But it was one of the best games Ive attended in his hockey career.

Shannon and JD were in the crowd, cheering Minnesota and Jordan on in what ended up as a 2-1 shootout loss at Bridgestone Arena. Jordan suited up for six games during the regular season, tallying one assist against the San Jose Sharks on April 7. He played in all five of the Wilds postseason games against the Winnipeg Jets, recording his first NHL goal in Game 3 in Minnesotas lone playoff victory.

But Shannon knows the best is yet to come. Like any mom who has been through the car rides, the highs and lows and ups and downs, the single mom couldnt have scripted a better life for Jordan or herself.

Its very exciting. I would not have expected this in my wildest dreams for this to happen, she said. This has been an amazing year and watching him, Ive watched every single game on TV and Im one of the proudest moms in the world, for sure.

And Jordan is not one to lose perspective about his biggest fan.

Shes always been my No. 1 supporter, and she did a great job always finding a way to make things work, he said. I think it gave me a lot of motivation growing up just seeing all the hard work that my mom and family put in to helping us out. It gave me the sense to work hard and showed me what I had to do to make it to the next level.

(Making it to the NHL) is a way of paying them back.



: , 03 2018 20:31:40

On the mend from injury, Luke Kunin attends draft with friend Brady Tkachuk

DALLAS​ ​ Luke Kunin was​ a lot more​ at ease Friday night​ than​ he was two​ years​ before in Buffalo when​​ he was drafted 15th overall by the Wild.

The 20-year-old was relaxed while attending the first round of the 2018 draft to support his childhood friend, Brady Tkachuk, who went fourth overall to the Ottawa Senators. Kunin is best friends with Tkachuks brother, Matthew Tkachuk, who plays for the Calgary Flames. When Bradys name was announced, Kunin was sitting right there with Tkachuks family, including his father, former NHLer Keith Tkachuk.

Its a lot nicer to be on this side of it, Kunin said, laughing. Growing up with the Tkachuks and the whole family, I wanted to be here for Brady and share the experience with him.

As a kid, Kunin and Matthew Tkachuk were always on the same team often with Keith, a former 500-goal, 1,000-point star, coaching. Brady would always play hockey with both of them, both on the ice, in the driveway and in the basement playing mini-sticks.

So, the Tkachuks mean a ton to Kunin.

Keith is almost like a second father to me, Kunin said. Having a guy like that in my life at such a young age to look up to is pretty special. Brady was always around, always right there with us, me and Matthew, and just to see him grow and see what hes turned into as a hockey player is pretty amazing. To see him get rewarded and go this high in the draft is pretty cool.

Brady is more all-around than Matthew, where Matthew might try a few extra skill plays and force it a little bit more. Both are unbelievable players and both will have great NHL careers.

As for Kunin, he scored two goals and two assists in 19 games during his rookie season and tore his ACL in only his second game after being called up for good after the trade deadline.

He says rehab is going tremendously and his goal is to be cleared by the start of training camp in September.

Feel great. Doctors are happy, everythings right on track. Things are good, Kunin said. Im going in with the same mindset as I did last year, to make the team and help contribute any way I can. Thats what Im going to try to do.



: , 03 2018 20:30:23

Never been on a team like this: Nate Schmidt on his incredible year in Vegas

Its​ about​ 3:45 p.m. when​ Nate Schmidt​ rumbles up the ramp.​ The​ 75-degree weather and​ shining​ sun make it easy​​ for anyone to smile, but theres a different reason for Schmidts grin as his golf cart comes to a halt outside the clubhouse.

Hes smiling because the last time he came to Legends Golf Club in Prior Lake for the United Heroes Leagues Camo Classic, he had no idea how his professional hockey career would turn out. He didnt know if he should be smiling. He didnt know what came next.

All he knew was that just days before, the Vegas Golden Knights had plucked him from Washington in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.

But Monday, after a career year and a trip to the Stanley Cup final with the expansion Golden Knights, Schmidt couldnt be happier about his hockey future.

Our group of guys, being in Vegas, being part of something for the first year, thats something that guys dont ever really get a chance to do, Schmidt told The Athletic behind his golf cart Monday. We had so much fun while doing it this year that it was the most fun I had playing.

It was the last thing Schmidt, a St. Cloud native and former Gopher, expected when he golfed in Prior Lake in 2017. The golf tournament was his first public appearance since the expansion draft. And other golfers that day wanted to know his thoughts.

I really didnt have an answer at that point, Schmidt said.

He might not have had an answer, but he couldnt hide how he felt from his father, Tom Schmidt.

He was devastated, Tom Schmidt told The Athletic in a phone interview Monday. He couldnt believe that some way, somehow, he couldnt fit into the Washington package.

Going into the expansion draft, Schmidt thought backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer would be the exposed Capitals player whom Vegas would select. When Vegas took Penguins goaltender Marc-André Fleury, Schmidt knew he might be in trouble.

Thats when he called and said, I think Im out of here, Tom Schmidt said.

To make matters worse, he joined a crowded blue line. The Golden Knights, at one point, had 12 defensemen on their early 23-man roster. Schmidt expressed to his dad that he didnt know how he would fit with that group. Capitals associate coach Todd Reirden told Schmidt he had nothing to worry about, though.

And Reirden was right. Schmidt worked his way to becoming a mainstay in the top defensive pairing. He finished the season with a career-high five goals, 31 assists and 36 points. He also finished with a +/- of 19, the second highest of Schmidts five-year career. In 20 postseason games, he scored three goals and registered four assists.

Still, Schmidt was not much of a believer in the Golden Knights as a team early on. He first told Tom Schmidt that he worried Vegas would not be good. After a couple weeks, Schmidt admitted he had some solid teammates and the team had potential.

They got into the season and he said, Were going to make waves, Tom Schmidt said. That confidence just rolled and he would start talking how all the guys pulled for each other. He said, Dad, Ive never been on a team like this. This is incredible.

Schmidt said the formula was simple display character, surround yourself with good people, work hard and things will work out.

We didnt have the talent that other teams had, Schmidt said. We didnt have the superstars. We had a group of guys that was so committed to playing hard for each other, that was the only thing that mattered.

The magic ran out when Vegas mustered only one win against the Capitals in the Stanley Cup final, as Washington won its first Stanley Cup in its 44-year history.

We found out who the problem was, right? Schmidt said, laughing.

He laughs now, but he did not laugh then. Not when he watched his former teammates hoist the Stanley Cup. Many were his good friends. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had just visited Schmidts cabin on Big Birch Lake located in Todd and Stearns Counties the summer before.

Tom Schmidt said his son was a better man than he was. Hes not sure he could have stomached walking through the handshake line as his son did.

As crappy as it is as a player, as a friend, I could still put that in perspective, Schmidt said. Just because they beat me doesnt mean I still couldnt be happy for those guys.

Still, Schmidt admitted the next four days were difficult. He said he thought it would be easier to face his former team.

Once the initial emotions wore off, Schmidt realized that although he doesnt have a Stanley Cup, hes got a team that values him and he values it. Much of that is attributed to Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, for whom Tom Schmidt said his son would run through a brick wall.

I have never seen a bigger smile on the kid, Tom Schmidt said. He was so happy to have the chance to show what he could do.

Schmidt, 26, doesnt plan to go anywhere for a while. He just bought a house in Vegas, his first house. Its got a pool and sits nearby Vegas practice facility.

Hes training, making cabin trips and golfing in Minnesota right now, however. But his minds in Las Vegas. Normally, he said, hes excited about time off. Its time to rest the mind and the body.

Not this year.

I cant wait to get back working this season because of how much fun we had, Schmidt said. We have some unfinished business to take care of.



: , 03 2018 20:29:03


A look at the Wilds possible targets in free agency

OK,​ Im​ not going to​ beat around​ the bush.

Youre probably going​ to​ read this and​ give​ it a meh rating at​​ the end because until or unless the Wild make a trade, the Wild will almost surely be tweaking in free agency.

(Yes, Im tired of that word, too).

But I am about to provide you a list of players that make sense for the Wild based on their available salary cap space and the open spots on their depth chart (you can read a constantly updated version here all summer). A few of the players I do know for a fact the Wild have chatted with this week (and a couple that look like theyre coming).

But none of the names are going to whet your appetite the way a John Tavares or JVR would.

By now, youre aware the Wild didnt get to woo Tavares at CAA headquarters in the City of Angels. If they had, I would have been in the bushes with a camera and recorder, no doubt.

And, frankly, the reason why this post is going to be so meh is because until the Wild make a trade, we must assume the available salary-cap space is what it is and Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba will eat in the $10 million neighborhood of the approximate $17.1 million in space. The Wild can create another $2.433 million of cap space if they buy out Tyler Ennis before Sunday (hell need to be placed on waivers Friday or Saturday for that to happen by the first window).

But again, if you look at the depth chart, the Wild have open spots to fill, either externally or by youngsters vying for roster spots, so the rest of that cap space beyond Zucker and Dumba will go to them.

So that limits what the Wild can do in free agency.

Now, teams can surpass the $79.5 million cap ceiling by 10 percent during the offseason, but it just seems doubtful the Wild would sign a free agent to a lucrative, long-term contract unless a trade is executed before the opening bell of free agency Sunday at 11 a.m. central time.

Of course, its possible.

The Wild have made June 30th trades before, including last June 30 when they acquired Marcus Foligno and Ennis for Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella.

But, for now, Im assuming the Wild will look for bottom-six forwards, bottom-pair defensemen, a third goalie to push Alex Stalock and a bunch of minor leaguers in free agency.

Incidentally, this may be the correct path for the Wild to take.

Scouring the available free agents (go to capfriendly.com, check out Dom TooManyConsonants awesome The Athletic piece here and make sure to follow our free agent tracker), unless youre landing Tavares, the best way for the Wild to improve is via the trade route rather than overpaying for a free agent that could become another problem contract in a few years.

And I still truly believe at some point this offseason whether its in the next few days, next week or some point in the next two months that general manager Paul Fenton will pull the trigger on a bold trade.

Frankly, at this point, its probably prudent for Fenton to wait for Tavares to make a decision and some of these other expensive free agents, like James van Riemsdyk, to sign.

Then, a second later, Fenton should be on the horn with some of these teams to see if he can unearth via trade some quality players those teams suddenly cant afford now or in the future.

So, without further ado, lets take a look at the depth chart and see what the Wild may be looking for.


A few days ago, I didnt think the Wild would be looking for a right-shot defenseman, but I have learned that the Wild appear to be signing one and it makes sense the player theyve identified because I think wed all agree the Wild defense, albeit one of the most mobile in the NHL, is extremely undersized and, lets say, feeble physically.

Now, the signing of a right-shot D could be a way to strengthen their depth (that will directly affect Nate Prosser by making him the seventh defenseman or ultimately, gulp, waiver-bound once more) or maybe its a way to add insurance if they were to trade Spurgeon or Dumba.

So here are some players that could fill this role:

GREG PATERYN: Sportsnets Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Wilds interest in the Dallas Stars defenseman, and I have confirmed via a source that the Wild have had positive conversations with Pateryn. Which means, its probably a done deal. The right-shot, 6-foot-3, 221-pound blue liner is very physical at the puck and a quality defensive defenseman who makes a good first pass. Decent on the penalty kill and plays a real simple game. OK shot, but rarely shoots. Decent skater. He played with Dan Hamhuis all last season and former coach Ken Hitchcock used him in a shutdown role. Michigan native, attended University of Michigan, apparently a quality human, per somebody who knows him well.

OTHERS: If for some reason signing Pateryn doesnt come to fruition, some other right-shot defensemen include familiar face Christian Folin (in and out last season for Los Angeles), Dylan DeMelo (not tendered a qualifying offer by San Jose), Andrej Sustr (giant 6-foot-7 blue-liner for Tampa Bay). Prior to signing Kyle Quincey last summer, sources say the Wild did investigate signing Roman Polak, but the medical reports on his ankle/leg halted any of that thought. But hes available. Theres also Cody Franson and Luke Schenn.


Personally, assuming the top-four remains Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, I think the Wild should pencil in that third-pair left spot for Nick Seeler.

He proved more than worthy during his 22-game regular-season look and the playoffs. Hes mean, hes physical, hes mobile, he makes a good first pass and has a heavy shot.

The Wild have depth with Carson Soucy and Gustav Olofsson, so acquiring a left-shot third-pair defenseman doesnt seem like it should be a priority unless Fenton feels Suter may not be ready by opening night (Suters goal is to be ready) or hes planning to trade Brodin.

But itd be a shame to make a Quincey-like mistake and block out a youngster like Seeler.


PAUL MARTIN: Veteran San Jose Sharks defenseman and former Gophers national champ is as good a guy as they get, and I hear there may be some interest from the Wild. He came into camp hurt and only played 13 games last season and was an extra soon after the playoffs started. For the Wild to go this route, Martin would have to fully accept being an in-and-out defenseman at this stage in his career. Thats not easy for such a proud guy, but hed be a welcome presence in the Wild room.

OTHERS: Even though there are some other intriguing names, Im going to gloss over them in list form because it just seems if they sign Pateryn, there are other priorities up front to fill before looking at a left-shot defenseman unless they truly are worried about Suter or know theyre dealing Brodin. Some others: Well, Brooks Orpik would be a strong addition (go-to quote, so thats all that matters), but hell be pricy. Jack Johnsons reportedly going to Pittsburgh. Theres Hamhuis, so maybe you reunite the Hamhuis-Pateryn pair! To use a hockey front office term, I have time for John Moore, Brandon Davidson and Ian Cole. But again, if you assume Suter is healthy and Seeler and Soucy werent mirages last season, I dont see a big need. But if you want to peruse, check out the free-agent tables on capfriendly.com.


If one considers everythings status quo and Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu and Joel Eriksson Ek are the Wilds Nos. 1-3 centermen next season, the Wild could really use a right-shot center. It was a big need last season and particularly in the playoffs. The easy solution would be to play Charlie Coyle at center rather than right wing, but then Eriksson Ek would have to play wing (coach Bruce Boudreau and Brent Flahr, the man who drafted JEE, like him at center) or center the fourth line.

So, a right-shot center would be ideal, particularly one who can win draws.


RILEY NASH: The problem with the Boston Bruins center is he could command a contract approaching $3 million or more and hes more of a third-line center, so that could present the issue above: Acquire Nash, and where does Eriksson Ek play assuming Staal and Koivu werent dealt? But the Wild have talked to Nash, I hear, and its well known that Nashville had a terrific relationship with his agent, Kurt Overhardt, so one assumes Fenton does. Nash can also play right wing, but hes a center by trade. Very good third-line center and penalty killer, somebody who scored 41 points last season. He took Patrice Bergerons spot on the first line when he was hurt. Said to be a great teammate and adored by coaches. The problem: The Wild were an average faceoff team last season and he only won 48.4 percent of his draws.

JAY BEAGLE: This could be buyer beware. Hes 32 and coming off a Stanley Cup in which he played well, so he could be looking at big term and big dollars for a fourth-line center. But Boudreau loves him from his days coaching Washington and the guy is a faceoff stud, winning 58.5 percent of draws last season.

NICK SHORE: Jason Zuckers former teammate at University of Denver, Shore is responsible defensively but wasnt qualified by Calgary. Has lacked finishing skills and only won 47.7 percent of his draws last season.

ERIC FEHR: Doesnt look to me to be the same player he once was in Washington, but Boudreau has always talked highly of him. Checking center from San Jose.

DEREK RYAN: Can put the puck in the net (38 points for Carolina last season) and won 56.5 percent of his draws. But indications out there in the hockey world is he wants to rejoin former Hurricanes coach Bill Peters in Calgary.

KYLE BRODZIAK: YESSSSSSS, bring back the longtime Wild player and Chuck Fletchers first player acquisition as the Wild GM in 2009!!!! Checking center, great penalty killer, wins draws, good guy and drives Wild fans nuts. Thats five things I love in a player.

OTHERS: Tyler Bozak would seem too expensive money-wise and term-wise, but if the Wild signed him, they could drop Koivu to the third line. But what to do with Eriksson Ek again? Theres also lefty Antoine Vermette if you want a faceoff master and linesman slasher. Theres also Mark Letestu if hes a center and lefty Tim Schaller.


Because of Luke Kunins torn ACL and the departure of Chris Stewart via waivers in order to bring up Kunin, the Wilds only right-shot forward in the playoffs was Coyle. The Wild would really like to pick up some right-shot wingers this offseason, but its pretty bleak in free agency.


DAVID PERRON: Ive long been a big fan of Perron, both the player and the person off the ice. Always accommodating and seems like a good locker-room guy. He has skill, works hard, but after a strong season with Vegas, hes going to be very costly. Probably too costly. He did play for Boudreau in Anaheim, and Ive gotten mixed reviews league-wide about how that went.

JAMES NEAL: OK, OK, OK, I know hes a left-shot off-winger, so it defeats the whole right-shot thing. But I actually think hed be perfect for Minnesota. Can skate, one helluva shooter, plays with an edge, hates my guts. Thats four things Wild fans love in a player.

THOMAS VANEK: He played great for Columbus after being dealt from Vancouver at the trade deadline, and Detroits pursuing again. The Wild, who are trying to quicken, probably feel, Been there, done that, with the formerly bought-out Wild player. I get the sense the Wild havent called on him.

OTHERS: Nobody, but bottom-six right-shot wingers start with Joel Ward, who is one of my favorite people. But hes 37. Theres Matt Read (Bemidji State alum) and J.T. Brown (Beloved UMD Bulldog). Theres Drew Stafford, Alex Chiasson, Blake Comeau and Stalocks pal, Tommy Wingels.


I do think the Wild have made a bad habit of overspending in free agency for grinding forwards when most teams should be able to fill these roles from within (Kyle Rau?). But with Daniel Winnik likely not returning, the Wild do have a fourth-line winger spot or 13th forward spot available.


One of every reporters favorite interviews, hes coming off a solid postseason, so he could be too expensive. But if you want a very physical, right-shot fourth-liner, he makes all the sense in the world.

MATT HENDRICKS: Boudreau absolutely loves the guy from his days coaching Hershey and Washington. If anything, Hendricks would be a tremendous guy for the room. Hes 37, but would love to play and told our Nick Kelly on Monday that hed love to stay here at home in Minnesota. It would be a lot of fun to play in front of family and friends, Hendricks told Nick. He said in free agency, hes just looking for an opportunity. Im kind of role-specific now in the way I play and where I am in my career with my age. Im looking for a team that will give me an opportunity to come into the room and help not necessarily change culture or change anything, but help strengthen it.

OTHERS: Scott Hartnell wants to keep playing at the ripe age of 36. Leo Komarov.


When I made a round of calls Monday and frankly all week, I did hear the Wild had at least called on a few goaltenders, so they could be looking for a goalie that can contend with Stalock for the backup position or be the third goalie and No. 1 in Iowa.

Stalocks contract allows for some flexibility with him because hes on a two-way, meaning he can head to Iowa if he slips through waivers. The Wild didnt re-sign Niklas Svedberg and cut loose Steve Michalek and Adam Vay, so the Wild need a goalie or two in the system.

The problem is most the experienced free-agent goalies will be expensive and arent about to be put in a position where they lose out on the backup and end up in the minors.

According to The Athletics Pierre LeBrun, Chicago will likely land Cam Ward, Buffalo will likely land Carter Hutton and Detroit will likely land Jonathan Bernier.

Other free-agent goalies include: Robin Lehner, Jaroslav Halak, Kari Lehtonen, Petr Mrazek, Anton Khudobin, Michael Hutchinson, Chad Johnson and Eddie Lack. So Fenton will either have to invest a good chunk of his cap space into this position, hope one of these guys cant find a job and comes in bargain basement or go with a more traditional No. 3, which are a dime a dozen.

So, thats it. If the Wild dump a bunch of cap space with a trade or two by Sunday, Ill rewrite this on maybe some of the more expensive guys they could be after.

But for now, meh this. I dare you.



: , 03 2018 19:59:05



: , 30 2018 16:02:19

Dominik, .





: FrodoBeggins (, 30 2018 19:07:27), 4 ()



: , 28 2018 14:49:52

Winnipeg Jets

Grade: C

I didnt have Nathan Smith as a pick, but I appreciate his skills and his trajectory and see the case for him. Same for Declan Chisholm and Giovanni Vallati, where I saw shifts or games where I liked them but it wasnt consistent. David Gustafsson at No. 60 made me cringe a little given I dont see much upside with him and there were chances to draft more talent there. The Jets did OK with what they had, some of the guys have upside, but nothing here really excites me.

Draft Class:

David Gustafsson (No. 60 overall): Gustafsson is an advanced two-way center. Gustafsson has a lot of versatility in his game. He can be a net front guy on the power play, he can kill penalties and he can make a skilled play to gain the zone. Hes strong for a player his age, protects pucks well and isnt afraid to play physically. His hands are fine, enough to capably handle the puck, but hes not a primary guy to create chances. He shows intelligence moving the puck, which is his biggest offensive asset. A slugging stride limits his offensive potential, though.

Nathan Smith (No, 91): Smith is a highly skilled puck handler. He had some good moments this season, but I never saw him impact a game when I watched. If you believe in the trajectory, as a guy who was playing high school hockey in Florida last season, and that he can add more pace/better decisions with good development, he could be a player.

Declan Chisholm (No. 150): Chisholms a good skater, who can move the puck well and has decent hands. He lacks next-level skill to make me think hell make an impact, but he has enough potential to have a chance to be a player.

Giovanni Vallati (No. 153): Vallatis a very good skater, particularly at 6-foot-2. Hes able to use his feet to escape pressure, exit and gain the opponents zone with control. He can be decent defensively due to his size and ability to close on guys quickly. While he has decent hands and vision, hes inconsistent offensively, and Im not sure if his instincts are high-end enough to be a scorer as a pro. On defense, he needs to be tougher on his checks, as well as he can lose a few too many battles.

Jared Moe (No. 184): Moe is big, athletic, and can make tough saves without looking all over the place in the net. He really came as the season progressed.

Austin Wong (No. 215): Wong is a tough forward with decent touch on the puck and a good shot. Hes overly physical, arguably to his detriment and has discipline issues.



: , 28 2018 14:48:52

Vegas Golden Knights

Grade: C-plus

Vegas got one of my crushes in Ivan Morozov in the late second, which is right around where I had him pegged. I liked Stanislav Demin in the fourth round, too. After that, it was a bunch of average guys for me. Paul Cotter is OK, Peter Diliberatore is OK, Connor Corcoran is OK, Jordan Kooy is OK. They got some players but not a ton of guys I feel strongly about despite how many picks they had.

Draft Class:

Ivan Morozov (No. 61 overall): Morozovs a smart two-way center who can drive play fairly well. I dont think his skills are high end, but he has good hands and can make plays in open ice. Hes a good-to-very good playmaker who sees the ice well, moves the puck with pace and can be the type of player who quarterbacks a power play from the side wall. Morozov also has a very good shot and can snipe goals from a distance. Hes a reliable defensive player who wins battles, can PK and get the puck going back up the ice. He does have a lack of speed in his game to push defenders back.

Stanislav Demin (No. 99): Demin is 6-foot-2, skates well and can move the puck at a reasonably high level. Hes not going to have an incredibly flashy shift, but he can lead the rush and QB a power play. Defensively hes OK. He has a fine stick, but his positioning and decisions arent perfect, and Ive seen him get beat on occasion.

Paul Cotter (No. 115): Cotter has nice hands and decent feet, as well as a little edge to his game. I saw good flashes from him, but Im not sold he has the hockey sense for the NHL level.

Brandon Kruse (N0. 135)

Connor Corcoran (No. 154): Corcoran never blew me away, but he does a lot of things at a reasonable level. He can skate, move the puck and battle. He may not be more than a AHLer, but he has some tools at the very least.

Peter Diliberatore (No. 180): Diliberatore is a very good skater with fine puck-moving skills, albeit not high-end, and his size will leave questions about how well he will defend.

Xavier Bouchard (No. 185): Bouchards a quality two-way defenseman. Hes got solid mobility for a big defender. He can competently move the puck, has good overall instincts and can play on both special teams. The thing with Bouchard Im concerned about is the lack of next-level skill to give him much upside.

Jordan Kooy (No. 208): Hes athletic and has good hockey sense but needs to refine his game. I didnt see enough of him to rank him, but I like what little I did see.



: , 28 2018 14:48:04

Vancouver Canucks

Grade: B-plus

Hughes is a game-breaking talent on defense and becomes the top D prospect the Canucks have had in a long time. I didnt love their first pick on Day 2 with Jett Woo. Love his name, love his skating and compete level, but dont buy a ton of upside in his game. I think hes a prospect but would have preferred in the later rounds. I had time for nearly all their Day 2 picks. Woo, Tyler Madden, Toni Utunen and Artyom Manukyan were all late cuts from my final draft board. I dont love any, but they are fine players. The draft hinges on Hughes, though, which I think is a good kid to bet on.

Draft Class:

Quinn Hughes (No. 7 overall): Hughes is the best skater in the draft class, and one of the best skating defensemen Ive ever seen at his age. He has incredible agility and ability to get up to a dangerous top speed quickly, and the power he gets from each stride is special. Ive never seen a defenseman that can pivot from backward at full speed to dashing up the ice like he can. He can transition the puck well due to his feet, but his great puck skills and IQ allow him to drive play. He processes the game so well at both ends of the rink and is extremely creative with the puck, allowing him to make unique rushes and distributions. He controls the puck in a unique way and is very tough to dislodge due to his skating, skill and work ethic. The main drawback on him is his size, and its valid; but his sense and feet allow him to disrupt enough plays to be useful defensively, and hes not a huge liability. His point shot could be a tad stronger, as well.

Jett Woo (No. 37): Woo is a very good skater with the mobility to lead a rush and stay with fast forwards. Hes a hard-nosed defender who leans on his checks and is often described by scouts as a throwback type of player. His value leans to his defensive game more than his offense. His hands are just OK, but he moves the puck reasonably well. Realistically, he wont be a power play guy in the NHL and he has limited upside.

Tyler Madden (No. 68): The son of former NHL player John Madden, his vision and offensive instincts are high-end, as he understands how to create chances and move the puck at a top level. His puck skills are quite good, too. Maddens skating is his most noticeable weakness, given hes 5-foot-11 and lacks an explosive top gear. His side-to-side agility is fine, though. Off the puck, he shows a real willingness to compete, and has good strength but needs to continue to bulk up to play at his size.

Toni Utunen (No. 130): Utunen was one of the last cuts for my rankings. Hes a very smart all-around defenseman. He has great poise moving the puck, makes plays at a pro pace, and despite being undersized, he can defend well. His skill level isnt super high, just fine, and hes a just decent skater.

Artyom Manukyan (No. 186)

Manukyan has top-end puck skills. He looks to make plays, showing good vision and can be a guy who make plays from the perimeter on the powerplay. Hes not an explosive skater, which isnt ideal at 5-foot-7, but he shows above-average speed and can make plays with pace. Given his diminutive frame there are reasonable questions about his projection.

Matthew Thiessen (No. 192)



: , 28 2018 10:55:12

Sakhalin ():
vasiek ():
Dominik ():
Nashville Predators

Grade: D

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: vasiek (, 28 2018 11:00:47), 1



: , 28 2018 08:28:14

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(2863) , 09 2011 05:39:05
: claude, DEN, XAM1975