Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher gave head coach Mike Yeo a vote of confidence on Saturday, according to Michael Russo on Twitter.
Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo will speak at a news conference Saturday, a good sign both will be back next season. That leaves the goalie situation as the franchise’s top priority for 2013-14. Niklas Backstrom is 35 and an unrestricted free agent, and as well as Josh Harding played in the playoffs, he is battling multiple sclerosis and has never been the No. 1 goalie for an entire season. That position would seem in line for some changes. The rest of the team is expected to remain intact.
The Philadelphia Flyers own the 11th overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and are in position to draft a high-impact/near-NHL-ready player. Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports the club may have an eye on a “tough” defenseman like Rasmus Ristolainen (Finland) or Darnell Nurse (OHL). However, Nurse and/or Ristolainen may not be available by the 11th selection. If they aren’t available ESPN Insider/NHL scout Grant Sonier suggests another imposing defenseman Mirco Mueller of the Everett Silvertips (WHL) may also suit the Flyers.
Sonier says “Mueller is a big, elite, smooth-skating D-man, he has an excellent first pass that will help the Flyers get the puck out of their own end and to the firepower up front. I don’t think Mueller really knows how good he can become, but over time I see him playing in the top-two parings. His transitional game, lateral mobility and puck-retrieving are all dimensional, and when he physically matures, he has a chance to be one of the top players out of this draft class. Added strength is needed, but that can be addressed easily enough at the pro level.”
The NHL continues to work toward an agreement for participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with a tentative two-week period slated for February.
According to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s website, the NHL would take its break from February 9-24, 2014, assuming NHL players participate.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed those dates via email but said the participation has yet to be finalized.
“Still working through issues and making slow progress,” Daly told ESPNNewYork.com. “Not a done deal yet.”
IIHF president Rene Fasel expressed optimism about resolving the remaining issues and reaching an agreement after a meeting among the main stakeholders, including the IIHF, IOC, NHL and NHLPA, in Stockholm, Sweden, this week.
“We are working hard to putting together the last pieces to ensure NHL players’ participation in Sochi,” Fasel said, according to the IIHF website. “We have some issues left, but I, as always, remain optimistic.”
Josh Kroenke was announced Friday as the new president of the Colorado Avalanche. He will take over for Pierre Lacroix, who’s stepping down after 18 seasons and two Stanley Cup titles. Lacroix will stay with the team as an adviser.
Former team captain Joe Sakic also received a promotion as the Avs overhauled their front office. He’s now the executive vice president of hockey operations and will have a big say on just about everything, including the next coach after Joe Sacco was fired last month.
Greg Sherman will remain the team’s general manager as the Avalanche try to get back on track after finishing last in the Western Conference and missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
“I like challenges. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge in my entire life,” Kroenke said. “I don’t sleep a lot, because I’m constantly thinking about teams. I’m always paying attention and watching. I’m looking forward to taking these things to new heights.”
The Colorado Avalanche announced a press conference for 3 p.m. ET on Friday, where team governor Josh Kroenke will make an announcement regarding the club’s front office.
We reported earlier that the announcement will involve Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic to be introduced in a new role with increased responsibilities. Sakic currently serves as an executive advisor and alternate governor, a role he’s held since March 25, 2011.
Sakic spent his entire NHL career with the franchise, dating to its days as the Quebec Nordiques. He retired following the 2008-09 season with 1,641 points, eighth-most in NHL history. He led the Avalanche to a pair of Stanley Cups, and served as team captain for 17 seasons.
New York Islanders center John Tavares joins Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin as finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the “player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Crosby, who previously won the Hart in 2007, finished tied for third in the League with 56 points despite sitting out the final month of the regular season with a broken jaw. He still managed to hold the lead in the League scoring race until the final week of the season, and his 1.56 points per game led the League. He also had 15 goals and a career-best plus-26 rating. His strong play helped the Penguins win the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the 2007-08 season and earn the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Hart Memorial Trophy, originally known as the Hart Trophy, the oldest and most prestigious individual award in hockey, is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team in the National Hockey League.
Last night, the Montreal Canadiens season came to an end, with a 6-1 defeat. Looking ahead to the 2013-14 campaign, the team must make decisions on their impending free agents.
The biggest name on the Canadiens list of impending unrestricted free agents is Michael Ryder. Ryder has done well in a Canadiens’ uniform and has expressed an interest in staying with the club; however, he wants a multi-year deal, and it’s unclear whether Montreal is willing to accommodate that request.
In addition to Ryder, the Habs also face decisions on Colby Armstrong, Jeff Halpern and Petteri Nokelainen. The RFA situation brings a little more intrigue, as youngsters Ryan White and Ian Schultz are up for new deals; as we saw with the drawn-out negotiations with P.K. Subban this season, there may be some foot-dragging that goes on with the new pacts for the RFAs.
- Look for Joe Sakic to fill a more significant front-office role with the Colorado Avalanche in the not-too-distant future. As relayed by the Denver Post, an NHL source says such a promotion is in the works. No word yet on the exact position, but Adrian Dater suggests a prominent gig on the hockey operations side feels about right.
- If not Patrick Roy or Dean Chynoweth, maybe the current bench boss of the Phoenix Coyotes might be the ideal figure to fill the head-coaching vacancy with the Colorado Avalanche. Dave Tippett‘s current contract with the Coyotes expires June 30; and the uncertainties in regards to ownership and relocation could push the 51-year-old to pursue employment options elsewhere. Mike Chambers of the Denver Post suggests Tippett would be a “home-run hire” for the Colorado club.