While it was a fairly quiet week on the ice with only one game being played as the Blues punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final, there was plenty of news off the ice. Those get the spotlight in the top stories of the week.
Smith To Ottawa: After a lengthy coaching search that saw seven candidates get an interview, the Senators have found their new bench boss as they hired Toronto assistant coach D.J. Smith, inking him to a three-year contract. This will be his first time running an NHL bench after spending the past four years as an assistant to Mike Babcock. Prior to that, Smith spent three years as the head coach of OHL Oshawa, winning the championship in 2014-15. He’ll be tasked with working with a very young roster as Ottawa is in the midst of a full-scale rebuild so his experience working with younger players should be an asset.
Ownership Change Coming In Arizona: The ownership situation for the Coyotes franchise has been murky for many years now and it appears more changes are on the way. Current majority owner Andrew Barroway will soon only have a minority stake in the team with a new, yet to be identified owner, taking on the majority stake. Arizona’s arena in Glendale has been a contested issue over the past several years with potential new homes falling through. It will now fall to this new owner to find a more suitable place to play in the area.
Six Years For Nelson: The Islanders have one less potential unrestricted free agent to deal with after they signed center Brock Nelson to a six-year, $36MM contract. The deal also contains a full no-trade clause in the first two years of the deal and partial trade protection in the other four. The 27-year-old is coming off of a career season that saw him reach the 50-point mark for the first time of his career while spending a lot of time on the front line; his ATOI of 17:58 per night was also a career best. While the $6MM AAV may seem steep, the UFA market for top-six centers is quite thin which certainly worked in Nelson’s favor. With this deal done, GM Lou Lamoriello will likely turn his focus to trying to get new contracts for winger Anders Lee and goalie Robin Lehner. Winger Jordan Eberle is also a pending UFA but it’s expected that he will test the market.
Wild, Penguins Discussed Kessel Trade: After Pittsburgh bowed out quickly in the postseason, there has been an expectation for big changes. Winger Phil Kessel has been in trade speculation for a while and that’s going to continue on as he has passed on an opportunity to be dealt to Minnesota by invoking his partial no-trade clause. The proposed trade would have also sent defenseman Jack Johnson to the Wild while winger Jason Zucker and center Victor Rask would have gone to Pittsburgh. This actually marks the second time that a deal involving Zucker has leaked with the other coming at the trade deadline when a move to Calgary fell through. By all accounts, it appears that Kessel’s time with the Penguins may very well be numbered but at this time, his preference is to be moved to one of the teams on his eight-team trade list.
Voynov Suspension Reduced: Independent arbitration Shyam Das has reduced a couple of lengthy suspensions from the NHL over the past twelve months and he has done so again with defenseman Slava Voynov. Instead of the blueliner being suspended for the entire 2019-20 campaign for a domestic violence incident from 2014, that duration has been cut in half. The Kings, who terminated his contract at the time of the incident, still hold his NHL rights but announced that they will not be signing him. If another team wants the 29-year-old, they will have to make a trade with Los Angeles to acquire his negotiation rights.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.