As the calendar flipped to May, there was quite a bit of news around the hockey world. The top ones are covered here in our key stories of the week.
McCrimmon Named Vegas GM: Multiple teams were believed to be interested in Vegas assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon but it turns out he won’t be leaving after all. Instead, the team announced that McCrimmon has been promoted to the GM role with the Golden Knights with George McPhee shifting his focus to his role as president of hockey operations effective September 1st. This means that Edmonton will be turning to a different direction in their GM search as will Seattle, who was believed to have McCrimmon high on their list.
Johnsson Turned Down Extension Offers: The Maple Leafs are going to be an interesting team to follow this summer as they navigate through a tricky salary cap situation. It turns out that Toronto GM Kyle Dubas was trying to get some cost certainty with one of his younger players as he offered a pair of different extensions to winger Andreas Johnsson but both were rejected. The offers were two years at a $2.1MM AAV and four years at a $2.6MM AAV. Johnsson opted to take his qualifying offer last summer in the hopes of landing a larger payday this offseason and after collecting 43 points in 73 games, he will certainly do so. He has been a speculative target for a potential offer sheet given the cap issues the Leafs face and with the various threshold levels being revealed, that’s likely going to continue until a deal ultimately gets done.
Rangers Get Fox: After Adam Fox had indicated that he had no intention of signing with Carolina, there was plenty of speculation that he was going to wind up with the Rangers. That wound up being the case as New York acquired him in exchange for their 2019 second-round pick plus a conditional 2020 third-round selection. That pick will upgrade by a round if Fox plays in 30 NHL games in 2019-20. The Rangers then quickly signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract. The deal will carry the maximum base salary ($925K including a 10% signing bonus) as well as $850K in performance bonuses in each season, the type of contract that is often handed to players selected in the middle of the first round.
Kelly Passes Away: Hall of Famer Red Kelly passed away at the age of 91. He split his career between Detroit and Toronto and his story was particularly interesting. After winning four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings as a defenseman, he wound up briefly retiring before joining the Maple Leafs where he won four more titles while playing as a center. Overall, he wound up playing in 20 NHL seasons and won four Lady Byng Trophies along the way. Upon retiring, he quickly transitioned to coaching and spent ten seasons behind the bench for three different teams, wrapping up with Toronto in 1977.
Women’s Boycott: Following the surprising folding of the CWHL, more than 200 of the top female hockey players announced they will be boycotting leagues in North America this season until they “get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves”. In the short-term, that has put the viability of the NWHL into serious question after they had plans to expand into Montreal and Toronto, a pair of cities that previously had CWHL franchises. From a broader perspective, it would appear that the players are hoping that the NHL steps up and invests in a more lucrative league, similar to what the NBA does with the WNBA. That could at least create the potential for a livable wage and insurance, elements that weren’t available in either of the North American leagues.