As expected, accomplished Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will be the next leader of Team USA. Sportsnet’s Frank Seravalli reports that USA Hockey has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday where they will officially name Bowman as the GM for the U.S. entry into the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Given the NHL’s absence at the most recent Olympics paired with the quality of American players who have blossomed into superstars over the past eight years, expectations are high for Team USA. A two-time Stanley Cup winning GM, whose current rebuild seems to be moving along nicely as well, Bowman has found great success in his career and appears ready for the challenge. With a familiar face in Chicago icon Patrick Kane leading the way, Bowman’s Team USA could be legitimate contenders for gold. He won’t be alone in the decision-making, either; Seravalli notes that Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin will be named an assistant of Bowman’s as well. Nashville’s David Poile and Carolina’s Don Waddell are also likely to be considered for the brain trust, among others.
- North Dakota defenseman Matt Kiersted, considered by many to be the top college free agent available this year, is already having to chip away at his list of suitors. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports that 20+ NHL clubs have already shown interest in the dependable puck-mover, and he has begun to whittle that down to a “workable” number. What criteria Kiersted is using to choose between what are virtually identical entry-level offers is unknown and there has been few whispers of which teams might remain in the running. However, Russo notes that the Elk River, Minnesota native will definitely keep his hometown Minnesota Wild in consideration. Russo adds that the impending Expansion Draft could strip the Wild of one of their starting defensemen and there could be NHL opportunity right away for the local product. Among other likely landing spots, it is hard to ignore the immense North Dakota presence in the Ottawa Senators’ pipeline, which could link the team to Kiersted and fellow premiere UFA Jordan Kawaguchi.
- The OHL’s shortened season is expected to begin soon and teams would prefer that their players return as soon as possible. However, the league has yet to set a firm date, seemingly dragging its feet with actually opening up play as opposed to merely discussing it. This is posing quite a conundrum for some top prospects, writes Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Many top junior-age draft picks in recent years have been playing in the AHL this season with the OHL out of commission. This includes Washington’s Connor McMichael, Los Angeles’s Quinton Byfield, Montreal’s Jan Mysak and Carolina’s Ryan Suzuki, while Anaheim’s Jamie Drysdale would have to stay put with the Ducks. Per the CHL Transfer Agreement, these players must return to the OHL once the season begins if they are not on NHL rosters. However, without a solid start date and facing a quarantine period, it is a difficult ask to suggest that these talented young players leave their AHL clubs and head for the unknown. McMichael has been outspoken on the subject, stating “I honestly want to stay here and just play pro hockey. I think it would be best for my development” and Friedman feels the others likely share in that sentiment. Will there be an exception made to allow this group to stay put to close out the season? Or will they be forced to take yet another break from hockey to quarantine only to return to a junior game that they have outgrown?