It’s a Stanley Cup playoff release of screenshots where we take a relatively quick look at some hockey related topics. Not all of today’s topics are playoff-related, but this is always a fascinating time on the NHL calendar because, in addition to the aftermath of the first round of the postseason, there are also significant moves by non-playoff teams. Let’s get straight to the point.
– As someone who’s watched Lou Lamoriello at his work and success over the years, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the Islanders GM fired Barrydiot as coach earlier this week. But I was, if only because it wasn’t Detroit’s fault that the islands were struggling badly with the COVID-19 pandemic that dashed the team’s playoff hopes ahead of the halfway point in the season. However, Lamoriello is famous for making moves that some find harsh, occasionally walking behind one of his team’s benches when he sees the need to.
Nonetheless, I suspect that the services of Defiant will be in high demand this summer. He may wait until the playoffs get a little more out of hand before deciding on a new home, but Defiance might not find a better spot competitively than the Winnipeg Jets bank chief. The Jets have been underwhelmed this season and their veteran lineup couldn’t find a way to make the playoffs, but with Defiance’s famed defensive structure executed correctly, Winnipeg could likely get back into the playoff race in 2022-23. The Jets have some notable roster decisions to make, but they’re unlikely to find a coach as accomplished asdio. He would bring instant credibility and professionalism to an organization that needs a boost of a different kind of energy. We’ll see where Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff goes, but don’t be shocked if he chooses defiance to lead the team in a new direction.
There are ramifications for both teams: For the Blues, even if they are eliminated in the second round, GM Doug Armstrong will be entitled to keep his lineup relatively intact. Veterans David Perron, Tyler Bozak, Nick Leddy, and Ville Husso are their most notable unrestricted free agents, and according to CapFriendly.com, they’ve signed 17 players for next season and only $9.775 million in salary cap to try and cover them all keep. That means there will be some changes, but after their impressive game against Minnesota, there’s no good reason Armstrong needs to disband the group.
In the meantime, the Wild and their long-suffering fanbase must be extremely disappointed to see them fall to a key Central Division rival in the Blues. Minnesota GM Bill Guerin has made big strides this season to bolster his team’s depth, but his decision to buy out veterans Ryan Suter and Zach Parise will yield a huge cap hit — more than 12.7 Millions of dollars combined – severely reducing wild options will change the lineup. Their biggest concerns are restricted free-agent winger Keviin Fiala and UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, and with just $3.5m in cap space for next season, it’s unlikely either will return ( with Fleury being the more likely exit).
Guerin knows he can’t narrow the roster, so there’s a very good chance he’s back in the trade market to try and bring talent into the wild. But no rival GM will be charitable to him. The He must either go for a high-risk, high-reward transaction or settle for a handful of smaller steps that complement Minnesota’s current talent. But he can’t stop. Although the Wild finished runners-up in the Central in the regular season, they are not on the same level as Central Division (and NHL regular-season) champions Colorado Avalanche. Getting you there will be a tightrope act for him and the organization.
– After the New Jersey Devils were smiled at by the gods of the NHL Entry Draft lottery and picked up their second overall pick in this summer’s draft, there was speculation that Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would and should be willing to trade the pick for the help of a veteran do something immediately. That’s exactly what he should be doing, because as we’ve seen with them this season, New Jersey doesn’t have nearly enough experienced depth to make them contend for a playoff spot in the hard-fought Metropolitan Division.
If you’re a Devils fan, you must be wondering which of Metro’s four teams can beat New Jersey from a playoff berth next year. The hurricanes? nope The New York Rangers? Do not think so. The aging Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals? One of those teams might be their best target, but now you’re talking about unseating either Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin or fellow stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. A tall order, to be sure.
New Jersey could always use more talent at all positions, but at this point, will an 18-year-old boy be the addition that transforms them as a playoff team? m. However, if Fitzgerald can find a trading partner who is able and willing to place them young, capable players, they can add rising star Jack Hughes and premier defender Dougie Hamilton by a massive move on the trade front and/or via free agency. The Devils have been linked to Calgary Flames star, soon-to-be UFA, and New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau, but that won’t be the only marquee name of interest to the Devils.
Right now, Fitzgerald has more than $25.3 million in cap space for next season. This puts the Devils in a position to be one of the biggest players in the trading and free agency markets. And if it means giving away the No. 2 overall pick to take her to the next level and become a legitimate playoff contender, so be it.