Has once-and-current Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle (left, being welcomed by GM Bob Murray) forsaken his abrasive, demanding style? What kind of impact might he have on the Ducks' outstanding young blueline prospects?
The hockey world is in the calm before the storm, which is the annual NHL entry draft June 24 and 25 in Buffalo, followed by what promises to be a combination free-agent frenzy/trade tsunami.
For an off-season preview of important dates, see Peter Harling’s excellent Ramblings column from June 13.
In the meantime, let’s examine this week’s most-significant transactions, beginning with the league’s coaching carousel coming to a stop for awhile:
Filed under the the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same category, the Ducks replaced fired head coach Bruce Boudreau with former Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle. Calgary replaced deposed head coach Bob Hartley with Vancouver assistant coach Glen Gulutzan.
Intriguingly, the Flames are believed to have also considered Carlyle, among others, for the position. Since Anaheim hired him June 14, three days before Calgary added Gulutzan to the payroll, it’s fair to speculate whether the Canucks’ assistant was a fallback if the Flames couldn’t land Carlyle.
No matter, Gulutzan has NHL head coaching experience (former Flames’ star Joe Nieuwendyk hired him with Dallas in 2011). A point-per-game center in junior and minor pro, the Saskatchewan boy never cracked the NHL as a player, but he made a smooth transition to coaching. He was GM and head coach of the Las Vegas ECHL franchise for six years, then coached in the AHL before two seasons as head coach of the Stars.
Responsible for the Canucks’ penalty killing, Gulutzan will pay attention to the Flames’ NHL-worst PK. He’s regarded as a players’ coach and a good developer of young talent, which could benefit forward prospects such as Emile Poirier, Mark Jankowski and Hunter Shinkaruk.
New head coach Glen Gulutzan could have a positive influence on young Calgary prospects, including Hunter Shinkaruk:
Unless GM Brad Treliving improves the team’s porous netminding, however, Gulutzan’s best efforts might not be enough to get Calgary back into the post-season.
Carlyle’s hiring was a real head-scratcher after acrimonious departures from the Maple Leafs and Ducks. The former NHL blueline star wore out players on both teams with a demanding, hard-nosed approach.
Worse, his old-school strategy resulted in his teams being consistently outshot and outscored. It doesn’t matter what your coaching philosophy is if you’re winning. If your team is not, you will walk the plank.
Maybe Carlyle has learned from his mistakes and will be more forgiving of mistakes by players, especially young prospects such as Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore, Jacob Larsson, Brandon Montour and Marcus Pettersson. Maybe Carlyle will even use the benefit of his blueline experience to help the last four on that list, all outstanding young defensemen.
If this controversial hiring backfires, though, GM Bob Murray has put one foot on the plank himself.
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In a trade, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired RW Teuvo Teravainen and LW Bryan Bickell from cap-strapped Chicago.
The deal, which allowed the Blackhawks to shed Bickell’s unpalatable contract, will give Teravainen much more quality ice time than he ever would have received in the Windy City. The move will undoubtedly kneecap his plus-minus rating for a time, but it should overall be good for his short-time development with the rebuilding ‘Canes.
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Assorted signings were topped by RW Dmitrij Jaskin, 23, signing a two-year extension with the St. Louis Blues. The Blues’ second-round pick in 2011 has great hands, which he uses to shoot or pass with aplomb, giving opposing blueliners a real headache.
Because he hasn’t shown it often yet at the NHL level (four goals and nine assists in 65 regular-season games last season), Jaskin settled for a two-year show-us deal of only $1 million per season. Watch him closely for signs he’s willing to earn a richer contract.
Calgary castoff Sven Baertschi signed a two-year contract extension with the Canucks. The mildly encouraging agreement worth a total of $3.7 million is a raise from his previous one-year $900,000 contract and a reward for mildly encouraging totals of 15 goals and 28 points in 69 games.
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By this time next week, we’ll be agog with first-round draft selections and well into the second round. There will be no shortage of things to discuss, as the calm will be shattered.