As the calendar turns to the month of May, there was quite a bit of news around the league. Here are the top stories from the past week.
Lamoriello Out As Toronto GM: When Lou Lamoriello came to Toronto to take over as general manager, his deal was for three years and then he would become an advisor. Considering how the team fared under his watch, many wondered if that plan would change. Team president Brendan Shanahan put an end to that speculation, confirming that as originally intended, the 75-year-old will no longer serve as GM. The team has a pair of internal candidates to replace him in Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter and while many expected Dubas to be the favorite, there are some around the league that believe Hunter may be in line to get the GM job.
Goalie Signings: A pair of teams have made an early splash on the free agent market when it comes to goaltenders for next season. The Oilers announced that they agreed to terms with Mikko Koskinen on a one-year, $2.5MM deal and he is expected to serve as the backup to Cam Talbot for 2018-19, leaving Al Montoya’s future in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the Avalanche also looked to the KHL as they signed Pavel Francouz to a one-year, $690K pact. Current backup Jonathan Bernier is slated to hit unrestricted free agency (as is Andrew Hammond) so Francouz will give them some insurance at the very least but he certainly could contend to backup Semyon Varlamov after another stellar season with Traktor Chelyabinsk.
Werenski Out Long-Term: The Blue Jackets may find themselves without the services of one of their top defensemen heading into next season. The team announced that Zach Werenski underwent successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of five-to-six months. It turns out that the 20-year-old initially sustained the injury back on October 30th and played through it the rest of the season and their first-round playoff loss to Washington. If he’s able to return at the short end of that timeframe, he could be ready for the start of the season but he wouldn’t have much, if any, of a training camp. If he’s out any longer, he’s likely going to miss some regular season action in 2018-19.
Hurricanes, Coyotes Make Swap: Trades don’t often happen in the playoffs but a swap was made between Carolina and Arizona. The Coyotes acquired center Marcus Kruger along with a 2018 third-round pick in exchange for winger Jordan Martinook and a 2018 fourth-rounder. The Hurricanes will also retain 10% of Kruger’s $3.083MM cap hit. Kruger struggled considerably last season and eventually cleared waivers although it was revealed that he played through a hernia issue. Martinook, meanwhile, has one year left on his contract with a $1.8MM cap charge. Interestingly enough, Carolina made the trade with an interim GM at the helm as Ron Francis, who was officially fired earlier in the week, has still not been replaced; Don Waddell continues to hold the title on an interim basis.
Stars Hire Montgomery: The Stars have found their replacement for Ken Hitchcock behind the bench as they’ve hired Jim Montgomery as their next head coach. The move came as a bit of a surprise as he appeared to be the early favorite for the Rangers’ vacancy but instead, New York will continue their search (as will Carolina, the other team still looking for a new head coach). This will be Montgomery’s first foray into coaching at the professional level as he is making the jump directly from Denver University of the NCAA.
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