With the divisional playoffs now over, the days of the North, East, West, and Central (sort of) are over. Teams are already shifting their mindsets back to the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Pacific, and the true Central, working out how best to beat out their division rivals and make the postseason next year. After taking a step forward this season, albeit against lesser competition, the Ottawa Senators are no exception. The long-time bottom-dwellers are just as cutthroat in their pursuit of success, even if that means handicapping one of their own. Joe MacDonald of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that the Senators have blocked associate head coach Jack Capuano from interviewing for the Buffalo Sabres’ head coach vacancy. Buffalo will be Ottawa’s divisional rival once again next season and beyond and the team will not lose a valued member of their staff with inside knowledge of the organization to one of their most frequent competitors. After leading Team USA to a bronze medal and the best record in group play at the recent IIHF World Championships, Capuano’s name is back in the mix as a head coach candidate. The long-time New York Islander bench boss is still held in high regard around the league and the Sabres may not be the only team kicking his tires. Perhaps the Senators will let him go elsewhere, just not within the Atlantic Division.
- After wrapping a strong junior career in the QMJHL, capped off by a stellar run with the Victoriaville Tigres that ended with a league title, Ben Tardif was expected to have some NHL interest. The 21-year-old forward had scored at better than a point-per-game clip in each of the past two seasons, culminating in 11 goals and 22 points in 19 games for Victoriaville en route to the President’s Cup. However, Tardif seemingly did not receive the attention he might have expected and has settled for an AHL contract. The Colorado Eagles announced that they have signed Tardif to a two-year contract. The Colorado Avalanche obviously have some stock in the move as well, hoping that Tardif can use the time to round out his game and show that his offense can translate to the pro level. If he succeeds, Tardif will find himself in a great spot as part of an Avs club that looks like it will contend for many years to come.
- One player whose career Tardif will likely be following is Samuel Asselin. A QMJHL star himself – a Memorial Cup champion and league-leading goal-scorer – Asselin too was surprisingly unable to land an NHL contract after his junior career ended. Like Tardif, he signed a two-year deal with the AHL’s Providence Bruins instead. Following a point-per-game, All-Star season in the ECHL last year, Asselin was a full-time member of the P-Bruins this season and showed that there is more to his game than scoring ability with a gritty, high-energy style. And other teams took notice. Mark Divver of The New England Hockey Journal writes that NHL competitors are sniffing around Asselin and time is running out for the Bruins to lock him in to an entry-level contract. The club holds the right of first refusal to match any competing offer, but only while Asselin remains under contract. Once the off-season arrives, Asselin could depart with Boston having nothing to show for two years of development.