I absolutely love the Jacques Martin hire for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And I'm not buying for a minute the notion that Martin is there to hold Bylsma's feet to the fire, in the event that the Penguins don't come out of the East once again next season...
I think part of what's going on is that Bylsma, who will be coaching the US Olympic Team in Sochi this February, can probably use every bit of additional support he can get this upcoming season (as Greg Wyshynski suggested).
But I also think the Penguins were pretty woeful, frankly, at playing without the puck last season. Their defensive short comings were often masked by their complete offensive dominance, but yeah, anyone who was paying attention knew that was Pittsburgh's Achillies heel last season. I tend to think Martin can help.
Martin coached teams don't play the most entertaining hockey (though his reputation as a defence only coach is overstated in my view) but they usually execute a detailed defensive game plan. Having another voice to help with the defensive gameplan and to correct some of the issues the Penguins had on D last season can't be a bad thing I figure.
Whenever I covered Penguins games and asked Dan Bylsma questions last season (primarily during Pittsburgh's second round series against the Senators) I was blown away by his hockey intelligence. In particular, Bylsma loves to talk about "entering the zone with speed" (or clean zone entries, in fancy stats speak).
Another feature of Jacques Martin coached teams: crisp 200 foot set plays designed to gain the blue-line with possession. It'll be damn fun to watch what the Penguins can do with Letang, Crosby and Malkin executing those sets...
On the financial woes of the New Jersey Devils: the comparison between Glendale, Arizona and Newark, New Jersey as hockey markets is flimsy. In fact it's non-existent. After all the Devils fill the Prudential Center on a regular basis while charging a non-embarrassing price for tickets. You just can't say that about the 'Yotes...
Essentially what's happening with the Devils of late has very little to do with the team itself or the Newark hockey market. It has everything to do instead with Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek's particular, personal financial issues.
So yeah I don't think these latest issues tell us anything about Newark as a hockey market at all, and indeed I'd expect the Devils to be among the NHL's more stable franchises if the sale of the club to a group led by Josh Harris goes through as expected.
Bettman and Daly both rejected the Forbes report this week, which claimed that the NHL has a plan in place to takeover the Devils if a buyer can't be found before September.
For what it's worth Daly also told Vancouver reporters that the NHL never had a plan B in place for the Coyotes when that sale seemed to be totally up in the air. Of course the league totally did have a plan B in place, and that plan B was Key Arena...
Here's an educated guess, then, on what's rgoing on here. It seems likely that Vanderbeek literally can't afford to cover operating costs for the Devils if he's still owning the team in September. I'd imagine that the NHL is prepared to step in, in that case. If Bettman and co. weren't prepared to prevent a broke owner from defaulting on SPCs, I mean, they wouldn't be doing their job right?
Anyway, with Harris' group bidding for the club this situation probably doesn't get to that point.
The Avalanche are planning to move two-way ace Ryan O'Reilly to the wing because they've got Pal Statsny, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene on the roster, and are obviously projecting O'Reilly as the odd man out. I think I'd move any of those three other centreman to the wing over O'Reilly, frankly. After all, O'Reilly is far and away the best face-off man of the four and probably the best defensive player too (Statsny is massively under-rated defensively).
Did you see this Max Domi setup of a Connor McDavid goal at the U20 Junior Development camp this week? Because it's pretty much completely ridiculous.
The player who impressed me the most at the Junior Development Camp this week was Kerby Rychel (non-Connor McDavid or Teuvo Teravainen category, of course). Hadn't realized this until I looked into it a bit further this week but Rychel led all draft eligible OHL forwards in even-strength goals last season (or tied for the lead with Domi). I think Columbus has themselves a hell of a prospect in Rychel...
Teuvo Teravainen is the real deal. From his skating, to his puck handling, to his passing, to his rifle shot - he's just so skilled that it's ridiculous. I wouldn't be even remotely surprised if Teravainen slotted into Viktor Stalberg's role next season for the Blackhawks and laid waste as a rookie.
A related thought: is there a better General Manager in the entire National Hockey League than Bowman the younger? Doug Wilson and Dean Lombardi are the only two guys in the same stratosphere, I think.
Mikhail Grabovski remains unsigned, and that is crazy (still). We're talking about a top-20 centreman in the NHL here. Some team is going to ink him for well below market value and laugh as he goes off next year...
This particular rambling point is due to repeat every Sunday between now and the beginning of the regular season...
Thomas Drance is a news editor at theScore.