With the New York Rangers being the first team in almost a year to be looking for a head coach after firing Alain Vigneault Saturday evening, the team has said it will commence with their search immediately. The team must decide whether they are looking for a big name coach, a up-and-coming coach or a coach that is good at working with young players.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks offers 10 potential candidates to replace Vigneault, leading those suggestions with three collegiate coaches, including the University of Denver’s Jim Montgomery, Boston University’s David Quinn and Union College’s Rick Bennett. He also suggests Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe of the AHL would be a good fit.
- Andrew Gross of Newsday reports that veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk will undergo surgery Monday, but would not reveal what it is for. The 34-year-old defenseman missed quite some time this season, playing in just 58 games this season. He is expected to be 100 percent by June.
- Arthur Staple of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that while little has gone right this year, one bright spot has been the strong finish of rookie defenseman Ryan Pulock. The 23-year-old blueliner finished with 10 goals, most in the NHL for rookie defensemen. His 18:24 of average ice time was second among rookie defensemen behind Boston’s Charlie McAvoy. Staple suggests that his improvement on the defensive end could potentially make him a top-pairing defenseman.
- The Charlotte Observer’s Chip Alexander wonders what will happen to long-time goaltender Cam Ward now that the season is over. The veteran goalie who has spent 13 years with the organization will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and at 34 years old, the team must decide whether they want to bring him back or go in a different direction. Despite taking a backup role this year, Ward still played in 43 games and finished with a 2.78 GAA and a .906 save percentage as he had to fill in for a struggling Scott Darling. Of course, with no general manager in place yet, it might be a while before the team sorts that out.
- After going out a year ago and trading for star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and then being eliminated in the first round, the Washington Capitals have taken the opposite course this year, quietly trading for Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks. While hardly a headlining defenseman, Kempny has been a good fit with Washington and has changed their defense for the better, according to Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. Kempny, who was often a healthy scratch for Chicago has filled in as a top-four defenseman and is averaging 16:46 per game. As the team prepares for a matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, they hope the improvement of their defense might help them with a long playoff run.