The NHL has released their three stars of last week, and in the lead is a player who has had quite a roller coaster season. Vladimir Tarasenko had seven points in four games to help secure a Central Division playoff spot for the St. Louis Blues, just months after being one of the players rumored to be drawing interest in trade negotiations. The Blues went from a team considering blowing up its core to one that very well could contend for the Stanley Cup, and Tarasenko’s turnaround is one of the reasons why. The 27-year old sniper scored 46 points in his final 39 games and was a +23 during that time, finishing the year with his fifth consecutive season of 33 or more goals.
It’s not just the Blues who have hot players heading into the playoffs though, as Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Alexander Radulov of the Dallas Stars take home the other two stars this week. Rinne is proving once again that he is one of the most reliable goaltenders in the entire league and enters the playoffs as Nashville’s presumptive starter despite a strong push by backup Juuse Saros. Radulov meanwhile finished his season strong and crossed the point-per-game threshold for the first time in his career, ending with 72 in 70 games played.
- The Edmonton Oilers will let their next GM decide what to do with the coaching position, as CEO Bob Nicholson told reporters today that Ken Hitchcock’s time behind the bench has come to an end for the time being. The legendary coach was only meant to be in that position for the rest of this season, and though Nicholson wouldn’t rule out the idea of him returning, said the new GM will be able to hire who he wants. Hitchcock will stay in the Oilers organization as an advisor, something the incoming front office will need as they try to turn things around for the organization.
- After a disastrous season in Buffalo the Sabres fired their coach and held frustrated media availability today, but the focus will now turn to pending unrestricted free agent Jeff Skinner. The team has been in contact with Skinner’s representatives for some time, and the talented forward once again reiterated that he loves the city and organization and has “had a great time.” Skinner scored 40 goals for the first time in his career and could potentially be one of the very best forwards available this summer. The clock is ticking for the Sabres, as every day that passes makes the chance at free agency that much harder to resist.